Hot Air Ballooning in Egypt

Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall is on a mission to discover 52 of the most awe-inspiring places to visit across the world. This week he revels in the sights of Luxor, Egypt.

Luxor, Egypt

Luxor is Egypt’s greatest treasure house. The glories of ancient Thebes offer weeks of exploration and discovery, and the city’s Nileside setting adds spectacular topography to historical majesty. Such bounty, however, brings popularity.

Temples, necropoli and museums pack in coachloads of visitors who arrive curious and leave goggle-eyed at the wondrous sights around them, especially during the (slightly) cooler months.

Escaping the crowds

Come in December but have a trick up your sleeve to leave the crowds behind. Escape the hubbub for a unique view of the city and its surroundings in a hot air balloons rising silently over the West Bank of the Nile in the early morning.

The reward is incredible views over the Nile, sandstone memorials and mountains. Pondering this panorama of ancient sites (and getting a view that the builders never dreamed would be possible) is one of Egypt’s most unforgettable experiences.

How much is a hot air balloon ride over Luxor?

Unlike balloon rides in some parts of the world, these are within the price bracket of most travellers: from £50 to £70 per person. As with most things in Egypt, light-hearted haggling is expected.

Alternative ways to see Luxor

There are loads of other ways to enjoy Luxor, from a felucca ride on the Nile to seaplane flight over the big-ticket sights. If you go on foot, go early in the morning or late in the evening to get a less-crowded view of things.

If you feel like you’re suffering from temple-fatigue, a drink at the bar or dip in the pool of the iconic Old Winter Palace Hotel will refresh even the most jaded traveller.

Planning your trip to Egypt

Begin by checking the latest advice on travel to this region from the Foreign Office. Then get started with inspiration and practical information from Egypt Travel.

© 2009 Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd