Our first view of Luxor was from above from a hot air balloon. We woke before dawn, were shuttled ashore from our ship and then took a short van ride to the area where dozens of hot air balloons were in different stages of filling up and lifting into the dark morning sky. The roar of flames greeted us as the van door slid open and our pupils dilated at the sight of giant rainbow colored canvases laying in prone position with jets of flame shooting into them like angry dragons defending their loot. The noise was deafening and it was a bit chaotic as we were led to our balloon that had a multi-basket which fit 32 people!
It was very peaceful once we were airborne. Soon the sun crested the horizon and light illuminated the land below with its distinct line between lush green farmland and the tan sandy desert of the Valley of Kings and Valley of the Queens.
After our thrilling ride we returned to our ship for breakfast followed by a trip to Luxor Museum (with some mummies!) and then the grand Luxor Temple.
The next day was full of famous stops as we visited The Valley of the Kings and The Valley of the Queens. The hieroglyphs inside The Valley of the Kings were the best preserved we had seen. The astonishing colors have remained for 3,400 years!!!
If you want to see King Tut’s tomb it’s a small extra fee which I felt was well worth it. TRAVEL TIP: there is no photography in some of the tombs except for cell phones. Hence my somewhat blurry photos taken inside. Throughout the tour there was sometimes a fee (up to $20 US, depending on the site) to bring in professional cameras.
The next day we visited Karnak Temple which is the biggest temple in the world and took about 1,800 years to build. It’s actually closer to a small city with temples, sanctuaries, chapels and other buildings. It was humbling to walk through the famous Hypostyle Hall with it’s 134 columns in 16 rows, covering 50,000 square feet.
Here’s a picture of how the ships on the Nile tie up to each other over night. We would actually walk through the lobbies of other ships to get to the shore.
We had an excellent time in Luxor and were a little sad to say goodbye to our ship early the next morning for a flight back to Cairo. Up Next: Old Cairo, the Egyptian Museum and the oldest pyramid in Egypt!