Posted on Nov 7, 2016 |
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Floating around in a balloon... Egypt trip
Floating around in a balloon...
I’ve never been up in a hot air balloon before, so needless to say I was quite excited! The hot air balloon trips in North America are prohibitively expensive, whereas those in Egypt are only sort of expensive. It was only $70 for the 1 hour trip. Not that $70 isn’t a lot of money, but generally one only goes up in a hot air balloon once in their lifetime, perhaps twice if you really enjoy them. My wakeup call came at 4:15am which I have to say was waaaay too damn early! Fortunately my ride didn’t come for an hour after that since it took me that long to wake up and get ready. My ride came by at about 5am, but took off before I got to the outer door of the hotel. I was stressed, I thought I wouldn’t be able to go on the balloon trip. Fortunately they are used to tourists not being ready yet, and he came back 15 minutes later :).
We then went down to the little private ferry dock to pick up the balloon pilot. All of the other people who were riding in the same balloon had some other sort of transportation apparently. I did get to sick on a tiny dock on the Nile before sunrise though which was really pretty. Once we got to the site, there were several balloons being inflated and people getting in them. It was pretty neat to watch them being inflated. Then once they got all the people in, they would keep filling the balloon with the last bit of hot air. So there were huge flames above us as we waited for the air to get to the right temperature. I got some photos of the other balloons being heated up, since it was difficult to get photos of the balloon I was actually underneath.
As they were heating up the air inside, the dozen or so ground staff had to hold the basket down so we didn’t take off until the balloon was ready. Then we finally lifted off. The interesting bit is that the pilot was talking to air traffic control in much the same way an airplane pilot does. We got to go directly overhead of the Rammesseum which was quite cool. The pilot managed to get the balloon so low into the temple that some of the Chinese tourists were getting really worried we would crash. The pilot made jokes about how there would not be an extra charge for the temple entrance fee. Since the Rammesseum is the temple which happens to have those neato old priestess houses right next to it, I enjoyed getting a view above them, as well as many photos of course.
A few years back photography and video was officially prohibited from hot air balloons due to army activity below. Fortunately they seem to have lifted this restriction as nothing at all was mentioned. There were some gorgeous views of the Hepatchupset temple, valley of the Queens, Medinat Habu temple, the village of the workmen, the Collossus of Memnon, and the tombs of the nobles. Unfortunately we didn’t go directly overtop of all of these since it was the hour long flight, not the 2 and a half hour version. We did come up right next to the Habu temple though.
It was quite hot in the balloon since they kept sending the flame up into the balloon to adjust the temperature of the air inside it, but the nice breezes up high did help. There were about 10 balloons out on the West bank this morning, which made for some pretty photos. Unfortunately one was in the way of a couple of good shots of the Habu temple lol. This is getting towards the low season for tourism in Egypt, so I figure there are twice as many balloons about during the wintertime.
Both the takeoff and landing were extremely smooth, and there wasn’t even a hard bump. I heard from one of the other passengers that with some of the other hot air balloons (not in Egypt) that you suddenly shoot quite a bit upwards all at once. Apparently they don’t do it this way in Egypt. I’m guessing that in many other countries you want an overall view quite high above, whereas in Egypt you want to be sort of low to see the monuments close up. We did go quite high for a time as well to get the overall view of the area. The Nile and farmlands at sunrise viewed from a hot air balloon was just beautiful. See the photos for more details. Btw, the photos are quite a bit behind this blog, by at least 2 weeks.
Afterwards we were given our flight certificates and the free t-shirt. This particular flight didn’t have the champagne and drumming afterwards, but then again it costs half of what most do here in Egypt. After the flight I was driven back to my hotel, and was quite happy to have some breakfast. It was only 7:30am when I arrived back.