Float up in a hot air balloon – Africa

Float up in a hot air balloon – Africa

You might still be on a high from your vows, but drifting above the vastness of Africa at dawn, will raise your mood that bit higher

You might still be on a high from your vows, but drifting above the vastness of Africa at dawn, just a wicker basket between you and the wilderness below, will raise your mood that bit higher. From this serene lookout - silent save the odd dragon's breath blast, as the pilot boosts the burners - you can spot lions gazing hungrily at zebra, hover over huge herds on the move, or simply track your balloon's shadow creeping slowly across the awakening land.

"The most spectacular balloon rides are over Namibia's Namib Desert, catching the dunes' sensuous curves as they glow with the first rays of the sun," says Chris McIntyre, MD of Expert Africa (www.expertafrica.com) and author of several Africa Bradt guides. Balloons, usually carrying six to 16 people, leave from near the Sesriem area, to drift over the cracked-clay bed of the Tsauchab River, and the great dunes of the sand sea that surround it. Each flight-path is different, depending on the winds, but they all end the same way: with a champagne breakfast appearing out of nowhere, the perfect way to toast the new day.

Chris also recommends ballooning over Busanga Plains in Zambia's Kafue NP, possible August-October. Then, the waters have receded, leaving lush grassland dotted with 'islands' of wild date palms, sausage trees and fig trees - spectacular when seen from above. The area has a good population of wild dog, cheetah and even tree-climbing lions - spend a few days on safari here, and combine with a trip south to Victoria Falls.

Tanzania is Chris's third pick. "Lifting off from the Serengeti is also pretty special," he adds. "If you time it right, ideally around May or November in the Seronera area, or June in the Western Corridor, you might see the Great Migration - two million wandering wildebeest, zebra and more - from above." Combine the flight with a great safari in the Serengeti, sublime sand and snorkelling off Zanzibar, and even a Kilimanjaro climb for the ultimate honeymoon high.

Top tip

Make sure your travel insurance covers hot-air ballooning - landings can be bumpy and injuries do happen. Arrange the flight via a reputable tour operator who will have checked the balloon company's safety record.

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