2/1/10

Up, Up and Away


Like Carl Fredricksen chasing his dreams of adventure in the movie "Up", we took to the air above Luxor to fulfill a childhood dream. No, not on a house with helium balloons hoisting it but on a hot air balloon. I've always wanted to be up there, slowly rising, feeling the air and seeing the world below without peering through the Plexiglas window of an airplane. Our wake up time at the hotel was 4:30 AM but that's a small sacrifice really. We needed to be at the launch site before sunrise.

Together with Sharon, Rochelle, Jessica, Edith and Lauren, we boarded a van that took us to a boat. While crossing the river Nile, we ate our packed breakfast the hotel earlier prepared. Another van met us at the other side of the river and drove for a few minutes until we reached the launch site. What an exciting sight it was even in the pre-dawn darkness: silhouettes of enormous balloons being inflated as platoons of ground crews hold on to them. There were ohhs and ahhs even before lift off.

Mahmoud was our pilot. One by one, we climbed into the rectangular wicker basket divided into 5 compartments with the middle for Mahmoud and his large tanks of propane fuel. There were 24 passengers, 6 in our section and I stood closest to the pilot. Mahmoud gave pre-flight instructions: not to move too much (like there's plenty of space ha ha!) and more importantly, our positions during landing (we squat on our feet while grabbing the handholds facing opposite the direction of landing). As Mahmoud fired up the burner unit, I felt the heat of the flame as it shot upward. The ground crews removed the tethers and . . . slowly . . . slowly . . . we ascended heavenwards.

ground crews help stabilize a balloon on the ground

slowly rising above the launch site

a view of sunrise in mid-air

hovering above the fertile West Bank of the Nile

gliding past the enormous Temple of Hatshepsut
dedicated to ancient Egypt's only female pharaoh

some of the non-royal tombs as seen from above
a birds-eye-view of the ruins of Ramesseum

the rising sun casts a golden glow on the Theban Hills:
somewhere down below is the Valley of the Kings

flying close to the ruins of Medinat Habu

the pilot

ground crews tackle the deflating balloon
after we made a safe landing in the desert


We climbed up to 1,500 feet and felt entranced by this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The 45-minute ride was smooth and the landing was perfect. It gave new meaning to sightseeing for me - one especially involving Egypt's history that's literally set in stone. At $105 per person, it's all so worth it. Even that grumpy old man Mr. Fredricksen in "Up" wouldn't mind a detour to Luxor.

29 comments:

  1. the perspective from up there is something special. i can only imagine how thrilling it could be from up there. the only problem with me is i have a little fear of heights :)

    this is one hell of a trip. how long was it? can you share the logistics of this trip?

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  2. I initially planned to try the hot air balloon in a neighbor emirate but after reading this post, I think that one you did is better. But probably, it's more costly. Good luck to my fear of heights.

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  3. Wow that's indeed a great experience for you (or I would say one of your great among others hehehe)....I love your photos, I felt like I was there with you, can't breathe hehehe. I don't think I can ride in there, kakatakot....so how much did it cost you to ride in hot air balloon?

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  4. Charltoninho7:27:00 AM

    wow! i never knew they are offering that ride! makes me want to go back in Egypt again hehe.

    i have always loved the temple of Hatshepsut and same with Luxor and Karnak! i never really enjoyed my trip to the valley of kings maybe because no cameras allowed.

    have you tried the felluca? you should try it! i had fun riding it.

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  5. Charltoninho7:27:00 AM

    wow! i never knew they are offering that ride! makes me want to go back in Egypt again hehe.

    i have always loved the temple of Hatshepsut and same with Luxor and Karnak! i never really enjoyed my trip to the valley of kings maybe because no cameras allowed.

    have you tried the felluca? you should try it! i had fun riding it.

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  6. Charltoninho7:27:00 AM

    wow! i never knew they are offering that ride! makes me want to go back in Egypt again hehe.

    i have always loved the temple of Hatshepsut and same with Luxor and Karnak! i never really enjoyed my trip to the valley of kings maybe because no cameras allowed.

    have you tried the felluca? you should try it! i had fun riding it.

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  7. I am envious of your hot air balloon ride over Luxor. How much did this set you back? I live not very far from where balloon rides are offered but I've never seen them loaded with that many passengers.

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  8. what an amazing view of the ruins and the remaining tombs. this i should really really try. im enjoying this series. this part looks like the peak.

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  9. Oh wow! I so want to do that! That must be a very thrilling ride!

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  10. what an experience!
    luckily, my family & i have also enjoyed (not flying but) seeing flights of these types of balloons last year in clark field pampanga in the annual hot air balloon fiesta there. here's my post about it..
    http://docgelo.wordpress.com/2009/02/14/up-up-away/
    it's usually celebrated here every valentine's day =)

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  11. AWESOME! You captured Luxor in a different way. Brings back old memories. Thanks Dens for rekindling my lost heart. Hope to be in L:uxor again someday. I missed not only the place but the memories.

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  12. dennis,
    what !!!! you were in the hot air balloon? flying through and through? shock ako sa nagawa mo! ang galing mo naman. hanga ako sayo.
    ang galing galing ! kasam ba yan sa tour a chu chu chu?
    ang ganda, i understand your feeling super ganda, amazed ako sa nagawa mo.
    enjoyed the pics.

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  13. What a great experience! I have always wanted to go up there... however, wasn't it scary when you took pictures up there by looking down?

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  14. wow... that must have been one heck of a ride! the view must have been spectacular to watch the sunrise from such a height. love the photo of the glow on the Theban hills.

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  15. Amazing!! What month do they normally offer this?

    This is soooo divine!

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  16. Hi Roaming Pinoy,
    Riding on a hot air balloon is done year round during early mornings - but the best time to visit Luxor is in winter.

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  17. Hi Guys,
    I am felling that situation when the air balloon reached 1500fet up. And Yes this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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  18. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    You would have enjoyed this Mel - this is one of the highlights of the trip.

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  19. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    on my end there wasn't much logistics involved as I simply joined Gecko's adventure tour - very similar to GAP Adventures or Intrepid Travel - all geared towards the budget traveler.

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  20. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    Go and do it Witsnandnuts. I almost did not but I'm happy I changed my mind.

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  21. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    it cost me $105 dollars but it was so worth it.

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  22. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    Yes, we did the felluca but that's in my upcoming entry on Aswan.

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  23. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    I paid an extra $105. The gondola was enough to fit all 24 of us plus the pilot. They have smaller ones but I think it cost more.

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  24. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    Not quite the peak yet Dong. I'm so behind my entries - I still have stories on Aswan and Abu Simbel.

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  25. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    Do it if you can find an operator in upstate NY - it might cost more than $105 though.

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  26. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    I hear about that one in Clark Field. I wonder if the public can pay to ride?

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  27. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    I know you want to go back - perhaps another habibi might bring you there?

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  28. The Nomadic Pinoy9:51:00 PM

    It wasn't scary since the ride was so smooth we actually kept looking down. It was a thrilling ride.

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  29. sidney19:51:00 PM

    Wow...lucky you !
    What a fantastic holiday !
    I am jealous !

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