If there could be ONE THING that I would HIGHLY recommend from my trip that each & every person reading this blog should add to your bucket list... besides wild gorilla trekking and sailing down the Nile River in a bed... it would be a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Luxor Valley.
It was magical.
Our day started early, at the gruesome hour of 3:30AM. We were instructed to be in the hotel lobby and ready to go by 4:00AM.
Rumour had it that the ideal time to float high up into the air was sunrise, so an early wake up call was just part of the adventure.
At the very beginning of my tour, when we had all been given the full list of optional experiences we could sign up for, I was slightly hesitant about the balloon trip. I emphasize the word 'slightly,' as my slight hesitation was fleeting.
Very, very brief. My brain went something like this;
Yes... a sunrise balloon trip in Egypt sure sounds incredible.
Yes... it's a bit expensive ($124US)... I'm running out of money rapidly.
No... it's actually not tooooo expensive (compared to the $800+US Serengeti balloon experience I had momentarily toyed around the idea of doing)... plus this is a once in a lifetime experience.
Yes... a sunrise balloon trip sounds more than incredible.
Where do I sign????
That thought pattern took a total of 2.3 seconds. My credit card was out and ready to rack!
Did I regret my decision after the money was paid? Hell no.
4AM came too soon, but our enthusiasm for the adventure trumped any fatigue we might have had.
A small bus was waiting outside of the hotel to take us to the dock on the Nile. There we caught a small river ferry, transporting us all to the west bank of the river. When we disembarked, there was another bus waiting to deliver us to balloon central. It was a bus-boat-bus-balloon day.
There is no other way to describe the area except as balloon central.
Everywhere you looked were colourful hot air balloons, all preparing to launch. The balloon crews were all running around, firing up the inflation fans and getting them all ready to rise. I don't really know all the balloon terminology, so bear with me. I do try...
When I think of soaring up into the heavens under a massive balloon, I think one might be transported in something quite tiny. I don't know? Maybe a lovely little woven basket with the capacity to hold a total of... maybe... 4 people?
Believe me... I know nothing about the logistics or technicality of hot air ballooning. I merely assume.
Turns out I was wrong because nay, nay... this balloon basket held 28 people!
TWENTY EIGHT PEOPLE.
29 if you included the pilot.
We all clambered into the basket, which was a bit of a feat... and the first (and only) thing the pilot taught us was how to do the emergency landing position. Hmmm.... quite alarming imagining that there is a possibility we may crash??
Guess it pays to be prepared...
Within only a few minutes, we were up! 🎶Up, up and away... in our beautiful, our beautiful balloon. 🎶It was magic. Pure magic. It was as if we were weightless... drifting over the Nile River Valley. All 29 of us!!!
Imagine... just imagine... the euphoric thrill of being so high up...
We were up above the ancient history of the Valley of the Queens and Kings. We were floating along peacefully, gazing down at the lush Nile countryside and the sandy canyons... admiring the sun appearing in the horizon, casting its golden light over the day.
I almost half expected to see Ra, traveling across the sky in a burning boat.
I didn't see that... but I did keep my eyes peeled.
It was a high like I have never known. Seriously... I challenge anyone to find something more delightful and captivating than being part of a party of colourful balloons dotting the skies over a picturesque Egyptian landscape.
The smiles on our faces definitely rivalled the sun's beams that morning.
When it was finally time to come down, our very funny guide informed us he only knew how to go up. They hadn't taught him how to go down yet. It was all in good fun, but still... a wave of panic temporarily shot through everyone, thinking, "could it possibly be so?"
We survived though... and managed to land gracefully, without having to engage the emergency crash landing pose.
If you're in Luxor... and you're given the opportunity to do a sunrise balloon ride, DO NOT HESITATE!
Book right away.
It's a once in a lifetime experience and I would have kicked myself (hard) had I not signed up.
The sky's the limit.
"Lantern chases the dusk. Hot air balloon chases the dawn. But both touch the sky."