Riding in a hot air balloon next to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor and crossing the Nile at sunrise was one of the best experiences ever. It was breath-taking and amazing.
The ground crew seemed very experienced about getting the balloon up in the air and handling guests. It took a little while for our balloon to get off the ground. At first I worried that our balloon was too heavy because there were a lot of people in the basket, but I later learned that our size balloon was designed to carry up to 32 and I think we had about 28 people in the basket. Once the balloon got into the air, it didn't seem to matter that the basket was pretty full.
The fire in the center of the basket was quite hot. We were at the outside of the basket so it didn't effect us much, but I heard from another woman that when she went a balloon ride, she was toward the middle of the basket and put a scarf over her head because the fire felt pretty hot on her hair. So you may want to bring a scarf just in case.
Here's the link to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW7MY8y2fj8&feature=player_detailpage
Here's the pilot of the balloon with Cameron.
Here we all are with our certificates.
Here's the van after dropping us off.
While we were on the van, I interviewed the pilot of our balloon and learned a lot about what it takes to become a pilot and what logistics are involved in planning each flight. Here's the interview:
Here's the link to this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fim8ByrxyCs
And now for some logistics if you would like to do a balloon ride with this company. The company is called Hod-Hod Soliman, address: Omar Ali Street, Television Street, Luxor, Egyupt, tel/fax: (002-095) 2271116, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost can vary depending on the season and number of tourists. Our tour agency on the boat said it was 750 Egyptian pounds per person, including children, but we ended up booking a package deal through the hotel at 11:30pm the night before for about one third of this. I assume we were able to get this rate because it was the night before and the balloon wasn't filled yet and there are still few tourists here so there are discounts that won't be available when tourism is back in full swing. I think the normal rate from the Oasis Hotel is about about 450 Egyptian pounds per person.
The company did a very professional evaluation survey at the end of the tour and were very courteous throughout. All in all, this was an amazing experience. If you're planning to visit Egypt, I recommend you add it to your itinerary! Here's a link to a website that has a lot more information:
The one small thing I would mention is that if you want to be in a balloon that goes directly over the Valley of the Kings and the temples, you might want to talk to the pilots of the balloons before hand to find out which ones are going that direction. I saw a few balloons went in that direction and a few, like ours, went over the Nile. I loved crossing the Nile so that was fine with me, but if you have your heart set on flying over the other sites, you could clarify this in advance. If you'd like to see more videos of our balloon ride, I'm uploading them now to post later on this blog.