Taking to the air offers a new perspective on the intricate mosaic of habitats that make up this rich and diverse continent. Add to this the joy that comes with feeling the wind in your hair, and spotting wildlife from above, and you have an experience that will take your African safari to a whole new level.
For me there is only one roar that comes close to the sound of a lion, and that’s the noise of the burners beneath a hot-air balloon. Other than the balloon’s shadow occasionally startling an animal, this is the most sensitive way to fly over wildlife areas.
It’s hard to pick one single place to balloon, so you’ll need to do this a few times. Floating above the Okavango Delta feels entirely appropriate, as much of what you see below you is floating, too … in fact it’s not dissimilar to the swamps and streams you’ll see when ballooning over the Busanga Plains. Try and count wildebeest as you drift over the Masai Mara, or give in to abundant alliteration as you soar above the Serengeti or navigate the Namib Desert.
Add a propeller or rotors to your aircraft, and you fly further and faster. Whizzing across northern Kenya by helicopter, you can drop in on sacred mountain tops for picnics, or land by trout-filled tarns for a spot of fly-fishing.
Kenya has a rich aviation heritage, with a biplane from the era of Out of Africa’s Finch-Hatton still being airworthy – imagine soaring over Kenya in it!
There’s sometimes an inverse relationship between the power of your engine, and the power of the scenery it takes you over. A case in point is a microlight flight with the angels over Victoria Falls, one of the wonders of the natural world. The tiny flying machine, in contrast, is a wonder of the mechanical world.