On our last day in Luxor, at the end of our Nile Cruise, S and I decided to wake up at 4am just to have a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings. We'd both never been hot air ballooning before, and being both pretty well-travelled, there are very few things that BOTH of us were first-timers to together! We figured it was a great romantic adventure, and an opportunity to do it over the Nile and the gorgeous temples we'd been seeing over the last few days - SOLD.
So we woke up at 4am, and were taken to the field where all the hot air balloons take off from. Here's a shot of us in front of our balloon being pumped up with hot air. No, not Steve's head, TO THE LEFT AND BEHIND US.
It was incredible beautiful just to behold the preparations - the clear blue sky, dots of balloons already risen, and these huge majestic beauties silently ascending into the unending desert.
We piled into the basket (16 of us in each balloon), and before we knew it, we were up up and away!
And what was the 45 minute ride like? BREATHTAKING.
It was interesting too - to the left of the above, on the banks of the Nile, the plains are luscious and green - so fertile. Then suddenly, as you can see above, it breaks into unending, dry, harsh desert.
The most spectacular thing about the balloon ride was how silent and serene it was up there. The balloon made almost no noise, and it seemed being confronted by the amazing views lulled everyone up there into silent admiration - S and I just snuggled and took it all the magic in below us.
Another shot of the sharp break from greenery to desert. Even in modern times, the desert is so uninhabitable - it's pretty phenomenal to think that 3-4000 years ago, Egyptians not only managed to live but live incredible well in such punishing conditions.
And here's one for you kids that wonder where camels are made - a camel farm from aerial view!
We slowly drifted towards the plantations.
And then it was time for landing. I was worried that the landing may be bumpy and jar my back, but it turned out, we had a fine crew of men waiting to pull us into safety, bump-free.
Watching the hot air balloon get deflated was almost as beautiful as the scenery.
It was all a rather amazing experience, and one I highly recommend. It's an optional extra if you do a Nile cruise, and costs extra - many people in our group didn't end up doing it. The cost is however, extremely affordable compared to what hot air balloon rides cost in Australia, and over a landscape you'll probably never see again! Plus, the experience of overlooking 4000 years of history is electrifying - if you've read any Egyptian history at all, you'll get tingles down your spine imagining what life was like on the Nile 4000 years ago.
Simply put, it was one of our top 5 experiences in Egypt.
If you enjoyed learning more about travelling in Egypt, you can read more about our Egyptian adventures:
DETAILS OF ADVENTURE:
We booked with Seegypt, who were very professional and also more affordable than the other companies we checked with.
Phone: +(202) 378 0972
Cost: Approx $110 USD per person (payable in Egyptian Pound equivalent or USD)
(NB, we got quoted up to $190USD pp by other companies and ended up with the same experience as all the hot air balloons take off from the same place and the tour groups get mixed all in one)
Includes: Transfer from your hotel, simple breakfast on boat to hot air balloon field, hot air balloon ride, certificate of completion, and transfer back to hotel.