It’s time for another adventure and we are still taking a glimpse at the wonders that Egypt has to offer. There is just so much in this wondrous country and it is somewhere I have wanted to go since I was at school and we studied the history and mythology of Egypt. These days it can be a pretty dicey place to go and I know a lot of people have probably been turned off. In truth, we are lucky that we went when we did and probably would rethink it if going now.
That said, I love sharing my experiences in Egypt and I sincerely hope you enjoy the “seeing the sights.”
People often ask me what was my favourite thing in Egypt and it really is hard to choose an outright winner. Not just the temples but also the unique experiences, sailing and swimming in the Nile River, going inside the Great Pyramid, seeing the Mummies in the Cairo Museum, even witnessing the historical changes happening during the election when were were there – though the unrest was sometimes frightening and required changes of our itinerary.
The Valley of the Kings was yet another highlight of a trip crammed so full of highlights, we were so spoiled for choice. On this particular day we traveled by bus, boat, hot air balloon and donkey, creating some amazing memories.
During our several month trip we had planned on doing a hot air balloon ride and we knew we had two specific choices – The Valley of the Kings in Egypt or Cappadocia in Turkey. Both would be spectacular at dawn. We weighed up the safety factors and decided there were just too many balloons in the sky all at once in Turkey so we opted for Egypt. As it turns out not long after there was a tragic ballooning accident in Egypt so you just never really know. One thing to remember I guess is safety in these countries – while they do try their best is not always up to standards we might expect in Australia and other westernised countries.
The day began with a very early start (which you kind of always have in Egypt anyway due to first of the call to prayers.) Crossing the river by boat with the moon setting on the horizon was such a beautiful start to the day. Despite tourists jostling to get their perfect photographic shot, there was still something mesmerizing, about the stillness of the river with the moon’s reflection.
Following the ferry ride we were quickly shuffled on to buses out to the fields, which were a flurry of activity for so early in the morning. The roar of the hot air inflating the balloons and the glow from the flames made me start to question the sanity of participating in such an activity in a country whose safety standards I seriously doubted were up to scratch.
This was probably the one time in my travels I really did question myself… ironic being that Egypt at the time was still in a lot of civil unrest and we were more likely to get kidnapped trying to cross the Sinai in a few days time. And that I was still trying to see if there was anyway I could get into Syria to see Damascus and the Crusader Castles… but there you go… (PS Sadly I never did get to Syria and it looks less and less likely 🙁 but sensibility needs to win out occasionally.)
Without too much time to think about it we were gathered up and shuffled over to one of the balloons. The balloons took anywhere from 8 to 16 people so our small group of new friends managed to stay together to share the experience. Shuffled in to the one of the 6 compartments in the balloon, my time to renege was quickly running out. Now I’m not afraid of heights – I deal with them quite well. But in a balloon you are in the open and there’s not much between you and the ground…except a lot of space!
The pilot hopped in the centre of the balloon and ran through the safety instructions… good, they had safety instructions… maybe this would be okay after all.
Slowly we started to rise as the crew on the ground waved good bye.. that was it then.. I was stuck in the balloon for better or worse. That being the case there was nothing left to do but take deep breaths and enjoy the experience.
And what an experience. The view over the temples and Luxor is simply quite stunning. The balloons are roomy and offer everyone a perfect view to take photos.
The balloon took us over the Statue of Ramesses, The Valley of the Queens, a view of the Valley of the Kings and for me a crowning moment – the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. I clearly remember a seventh grade project I did on that very temple – and that was the moment I decided I wanted to go to Egypt. It was simply stunning to think that a school assignment I’d done 28 years earlier led me to that very moment that I was floating over the top of the temple.
We were incredibly lucky with the path we took as many balloons simply floated over the River… we had a beautiful clear day and an experienced pilot. And for all my nervousness at the beginning the flight was safe and uneventful (well apart from the sights of course.)
I was excited for the rest of the day to come.. it was only still early and we were to meet the rest of our group in town to continue on to the Valley of the Kings, where we would spend the day exploring…
My excitement lasted until we joined the others.. patiently waiting for us with our next mode of transport.
Did I ever tell you I HATE donkeys…. and I’m pretty sure they hate me….
Tune in for Part 2 – where I share the dos and don’ts of donkey transport, how to make yourself a tourist attraction and of course the wonders of the Valley of the Kings.
I truly hope some of our adventures inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and see the world, experience different and amazing things.