While in Luxor, the group had the opportunity to go on a hot air balloon ride over Valley of the Kings. That morning, we all awoke well before dawn and took a boat across the Nile to our launch site, where we rubbed our bleary eyes and watched in awe as the gigantic hot air balloons were blown up right in front of us. When our (appropriately) red, white, and blue balloon was inflated, we clambered into the large 20-person basket and readied ourselves for takeoff.
A few of us were apprehensive about dangling 2,000 ft in the air in a wimpy basket (myself included), but all our fears were quelled when we lifted off from the ground and smoothly began our trip over Valley of the Kings just as the sun was appearing in the sky. As the morning sky brightened, we marveled over the sites we had toured just days before – the Temple of Hatshepsut, the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, and the Colossi of Memnon, to name a few – as they appeared dwarfed below us. We even spotted a few foxes scampering across the desert!
As our balloon captain joked about our voyage being his first-ever flight (humor appreciated by only a few members of the group) we ascended to a height of 2,000 ft, far above the valley and much higher than any of the other balloons out that day. The sight was truly breathtaking – Luxor appeared calm, serene, and peaceful in the morning light, much different from the tourist-filled, busy, and noisy Luxor we had been introduced to.
After a good 45 minutes, we gracefully floated down over fields of corn and wheat, waving at the field workers as we went until our captain yelled “Landing position!”. We all grabbed on to the handles on the side of the basket and bent our knees to a sitting position, and as we scraped ground we were swarmed by workers who held the basket down until it could be tied down. The landing was a bit bumpy, but even that couldn’t affect the huge grins on our faces. Hot air balloon ride over Valley of the Kings? Check! And it wasn’t even 7 a.m. yet. What a way to start the day!