Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 7 Africa - AKA The most Awesome day EVER

Well this day we had a 5:00 wake up call I think? Wake up calls in the middle of Africa in a fancy tent are so much better than normal wake up calls. It is a nice guy saying, "Jambo Jambo" who brings you coffee and hot chocolate on a tray. My kids are MUCH bigger hot chocolate fans after this trip than they were before if you can believe that. 
 Anyway, this is all of us gathering at the crack of dawn. They told us to dress in layers and wear hats because the hot air balloon can make your head hot. (Totally didn't by the way but maybe that is because we were in hats. I don't know.)
 Anyway - this is my only kid picture pre hot air balloon and it does not reflect the fact that they were really excited and did not mind this wake up call at all. The last one where we woke up for a game drive they thought we had lost our minds but all three kids were all in for the hot air balloon.
 Blowing up the hot air balloon. Thank you Aunt Kay for some of the great hot air balloon pictures in this post.

 About to take off. Take off was really smooth.

 My family on the the hot air balloon. Can't get tired of saying that one! 
 I really love this one also of my brother in law, niece and nephew.

 Here we are - up, up and away!!!!!
 Our balloon looked just like that one. The striped balloons in the background of some pictures were balloons from another company farther away. 
 Hello Africa

 The only time on the whole trip that I ever saw the animals disturbed by us humans was the hot air balloon ride.
 The elephants HATED the hot air balloon and ran like you have never seen elephants run. 

 Run for your lives!!!!!!!

 I love this one. Look at the way that she is shielding that baby. I swear she turned around for a second and looked at us like "look - I might not understand what you are but I will protect this baby at all costs. This is MINE."

 Hello Sun

Just a hippo and a rhino out for a stroll together.

I have no idea where they were going but they seemed to be in a hurry.

 I guess the hippo was headed here.....

 It was fun seeing camps as we went by. A lot of people live in tents out there. Our hot air balloon pilot lives in a tent out here. It is a little scary how few flying hours you need to get a hot air balloon pilot's license but he has been flying for years and has lived in Africa for 15 I think?

 Hello hyena

 Crown crested cranes. I think I mentioned these guys earlier because I like them because they mate for life and can always be found in pairs in the wild. What is great is they have some of these at our local Zoo and just the other day all of my kids walked up and said, "oh look Mom - crown crested cranes!!!"

 So I am not afraid of heights and was not nervous about the hot air balloon at all. There was some question as to whether my youngest would be allowed to go so I was going to stay behind with him because I joked that I didn't want him to be an orphan if we all went down. Once we knew he was coming I was glad to go. 
 Then we started to think about landing and I was all of a sudden like "hmm - wonder how they land this thing?" Well our pilot told us there are two kinds of landings - we could have a windy landing or a not windy landing. Not windy landing we just coast right down and he sets us down in our basket. Windy landing you sit on a little padded bench inside the balloon and hang on to these handles. It was at this point that I had a quick moment of
uh oh

Well our guy says, "looks like it is gonna be a windy landing take your seats". We sit down and as we are getting lower to the ground you can sort of feel how fast you are going. Then we hit ground, bounced off of a termite mound and went back up into the air. Husband was grinning like a fool and says something like, "here we go again" and then boom, boom (but in a sort of smooth way if that makes sense) we hit the ground again. No jarring at all - the whole thing felt so smooth which I know seems crazy.

Then I could see out of the corner of my eye our pilot was standing up on the edge of our basket like he was on a catamaran hanging back on ropes getting our basket to tip one way. It was like slow motion - whoooooooooaaaaa and then -

we were on our backs

There was silence for one minute and my 5 year old sticks his little arms straight out in front of him and says

"That was AWESOME. I want to do that AGAIN!!!!!" 
I believe I said

"I cannot believe that just happened."

Our side of the basket just sort of sat there (or laid there or whatever). My sister in law's side all got out and so she ran over and snapped these pictures. 

To get out of the basket Husband just pulled himself out by reaching above him, grabbing the middle bar and pulled himself out. The kids just turned around and scrambled out and I basically tucked my knees to my chest and rotated left and got out that way. 

Here is our basket in the middle of a plain in Africa
Love this one of Aunt Kay
To say that this was the most amazing, surreal experience of my life would not be an understatement. Pretty much goes right up there after wedding and babies being born. I am glad that I didn't think too hard about the landing before we did it or I might have been nervous but now that I have experienced it I would absolutely do it again. Without a doubt. Sitting to the right of my 5 year old and watching his little arms go above his head with excitement to shout awesome was a moment that I will have with me forever.

We saw this guy on the way from the balloon to breakfast.

Here they are setting up our breakfast

Amazing much?

Can you believe that we just did that?

Here go the guys that pick up the ballon and take it back to wherever. They were waving and saying
Jambo Jambo!!! 

So after this we went on a game drive. I have to admit at this point I have been on a flipping hot air balloon, in the middle of Africa, at the crack of dawn. I was literally sitting in the back of the landrover with my eyes opening, closing, opening, closing.
Come on Holly - you can do this - stay awake. 

Then our driver gets excited. She pulls us over and says,

"Look, look at the Cheetah. She is hunting!!!!" 
So we watched her

We watched her wait
We watched her move upwind

We saw how clever she was

We watched how well she blended.

We just sat and held our breaths and we watched her.

Here we are watching her move upwind from the herd gazelle she was so patiently watching.

We watched her
and we watched them graze

and then we watched her run
We watched her run so fast

and we watched the poor little guy who had no shot literally running for his life so fast

and then we watched her kill

Then we watched her rest
We were so close we could see her sides heaving in and out.
She has to just stand over her kill for a while looking intimidating and catching her breath. This is actually a vulnerable time for her. 

and now she has dinner for her babies

Then as if the morning could not get any more awesome. We stopped at a hippo watering hole. 
I really love this four. 

Godfrey teaching

This was hands down the best day in Africa. All of the travel would have been worth it for this one day. People keep asking my kids what their favorite things in Africa were. They always say the hot air balloon and watching the cheetah kill the gazelle. I was recently asked if they were sad about the gazelle and the answer to that is no. We were happy for the cheetah and her kill. We talked so much on this trip about balance in nature and life - some pretty amazing conversation starters with your kids without a doubt.


Foursons said... I don't think anything could top that day. What an amazing experience!!!! Your kids are going to remember that for the rest of their lives and will tell their children and grandchildren about it. I have just added to my bucket list. :)

Britton said...

Wow, wow, wow! From the pictures, this looks like it was an AMAZING experience! One of the things I must do is ride on a hot air balloon! Stopping in from SITS!