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Published: August 28th 2018
Today we have an 0430 start for our wake up call. Wake up calls here are a Maasai warrior calling out at our door of the tent. Unfortunately they mixed up tents and woke our neighbours who weren’t going on the flight. Then they came to us and did their bit. Never mind.
We are in the Balloon companies 4wd and off in the dark with rather slippery roads after last nights downpour. Nearly slip off the road early, but the driver saves it and we keep going. Pass the spot where the car got bogged last night. There as a school bus stopped there last night and that is still there. The driver says it is full of kids who slept there. Interesting. On we go, looking good, then bang and lean. Oh oh, in a hole. Forward, backward (sound familiar) and nowhere just a bit stuck. All out, the men push. No way this is coming out easily. He gets the jack out and lifts the back up. We find rocks and chuck them under the tyre and in front and behind. Down and push. Still stuck. Jack to the front of the car, put some rocks in then jack up the front. Lots more rocks - this means we are all around the countryside kicking rocks and bringing them back. Had thoughts about what animals might be watching us.. The driver assured us we would be ok. Eventually got enough rocks, lowers the car and guns it. Woo hoo, out. One of the crew is very grumpy now. He got his shoes dirty and cracked the absolute poops over that. All back in and away.
We arrive at the park gate, wake up the guard and go into the park. Slip sliding away in silence. Eventually the driver asks the grumpy one if he is happy. Mutters that he is getting there and eventually clams down. Some chatter starts again and we finally get to the balloon launch site. Our balloon is up and half loaded waiting for us. Get to the basket and the pilot says he wants the big fella in first (closest to the middle and his area. I make a comment and he comes back with”that’s a familiar accent”. Turns out he has the Yarra Valley franchise for Global Balloons. We chat a bit then he does his safety and landing stuff and we are off.
His wife is in here as well and she is now next to him with me beside her. We chat as we float over the land we had just been driving yesterday. Good to see from above. A few animals around, but no cats on this flight. He keeps the ballon at not much more than around 20 feet from the ground so we get great views of the area and animals. Eventually takes the balloon up to about 2000 feet. Great views now of the entire area. We have been up for over an hour and he says we will keep going as long as he has gas. He spots the breakfast area and tries to get as close as possible But eventually has to land. Smooth landing and upright as well. The land crew arrives as we stand up and start to get out. They swarm over the ballooon and basket and pull them to bits to get them back to the launch area again.
We get in the vehicles and are driven to the breakfast spot. Interesting sight. About 10 or 12 tables setup up in the bush. Full buffet breakfast with service from our Maasai waiter, Francis. Name didn’t fit the regalia, full Maasai rug, bearded headdress, necklace and belt with his Maasai sword tucked in there to boot. Champagne to greet us and we feed well.
Back into our truck for the trip back. Asked if we want to go straight home or do a game drive on the way. We all agree to do a short game drive so into the bush again. Find a gig male lion just sitting on the road. Get some shots and move on. We then find hyenas as we drive back, they are lying in puddles beside or on the road. Not really interested in us. Finally decide we have seen enough so we head home. Out of the gate we get to the scene of the earlier mornings crime. The area looks entirely different in daylight. It is on a hill, and the rut we got stuck in was pretty good. We could see the burn marks on the mud from where the tyres were spinning. All have a laugh at it now, and the driver apologises again.
Get back to the camp at 1200, just in time for lunch. Go back to the room to freshen up then back for a bite. Have a laugh with the others about the 4th episode of being bogged. Chat with Stephanie and Jessica and then Chris books a massage. We are due out at 1600 for another drive with sundowners.
I have a power nap while chris has her massage then we are out again. This time we all agree to a short drive. See a jackal the. Get excited because she has pups. We sit for quite a while getting shots but the pups start behind a shrub near their den. Drive in and find elephants and follow them for a while. They lead us to another herd and suddenly we spot lions just past them - our eyesight is getting better, we beat the driver to this sighting. Sit for a while then message comes that there are cheetah near. We arrive to find 2 cheetah sitting and watching something.
We move towards the road and I notice a strange noise. Hmm, the back tyre is now flat on the bottom and top. Simon keeps driving to the other hihcles to get hard ground and support to change the tyre. While this is happening, the cheetah start to move and chase a herd of Topi. Bugger, our truck is high and on the jack. We watch from a distance, but the Topi have fled and the cheetah go empty handed. tyre changed and we move into the next paddock where the cheetah are watching another herd. No movement and eventually they lie down so we move on again. Back to our original lions for a last few shots then we drive towards home. Stop under a tree and have our sundowners. Nice setting and good chatter. We get a group photo then one with Simon and our group. Head for home and our special dinner.
We are ushered to the conference centre for a bush BBQ. The drivers joins us tonight which is nice. We chat to Simon about his Maasai background and then the entertainment arrives. I ask Simon if he will be part of it, yes. Up he gets and in they come, singing and dancing with Simon in the lead. Good show, similar to the other Maasai stuff, but this time we get dragged up by Simon and try to look like realistic. Show ends and we sit with Simon quizzing him more about his back ground and family stuff. Great to hear and he seemed really happy to share his world with us. We decide it is time to leave, Simon says he has to go to a meeting which started earlier. We say he should have told us. He says that guest time comes first. We thank him again and go to bed. A good day but very tired now.
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