Though it isn't the first mode of transport that comes to mind when planning a safari trip, a hot-air balloon is one of the best ways to look at wildlife. If you're traveling to Kenya or Tanzania, you'll find a quick and easy way to do it by going on one of AfricanMecca's Balloon Safaris. Before daybreak, a Jeep drives you down a dusty road, where all you see beyond the headlights are the white-dot reflections of hyena eyes. Ahead you spot the flames of the propane and the growing glow of the nylon balloon itself. Minutes later you ascend with the sun over the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya (or the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania). The land is crawling with nocturnal animals; the night shift is just ending. As the Serengeti Plain drops beneath the gondola, you float silently over this cradle of life, looking almost as it did before humans existed.
More Information: Balloon safaris fill up quickly, so make sure to book eight to 10 months before your trip. Go from July to October to see the wildebeest migration, tens of thousands of animals streaming across the plain. $465 for a one-hour safari, followed by a champagne breakfast. [africanmeccasafaris.com]