Dawn over the Valley Of The Kings in a Ballooon
Egypt is hot there is no getting around that, however if you get up at 4am and head out to the Valley Of The Kings to do the morning ballooning you will escape that heat for at least a few hours.
In addition to that you will experience the dawn over a stunning landscape and get to see the amazing temples, tombs and palaces that the royal Egyptian families have constructed.
What is The Valley Of The Kings?
The Valley Of The Kings is acres and acres of pharaoh's tombs, I'm pretty sure everyone knows that.
What you don't know however is that local people still live there. Its not some giant fenced off monument (well some of it is), local people still live in the hill side caves and tombs.
I'm not sure they are supposed to, but once you are up in the air, as the dawn arrives, you can see all the local people emerge from their underground hillside homes and start their daily routines.
The landscape itself looks like something out of Star Wars and you wonder how these ancient civilizations with millions of members survived here. While you are at the edge of the Nile delta, its hard to believe that water would have ever been easy to come by here and the landscape is so desolate.
The valley floor has been honeycombed out for living quarters to what must have once been tomb workers but is now displaced Egyptians. You can't seem to get a straight answer, but by all accounts it does feel like people are not supposed to be living here, but as long as no damage is done, the proverbial blind eye kicks in.
Ballooning Over The Valley Of The Kings
Its so refreshing that normal everyday people have made these caves their home and that they have zero intention of causing any damage at all to any of the world famous tombs and monuments.
There are many places in the world that the locals would be spray painting rhetoric anywhere it was likely to be seen, however that doesn't seem to be happening here which is so nice to see.
The other side of the coin is that as you are flying over, you can really imagine what it must have been like in Queen Hatshepsut's days. Well you can get a small feel of it. I guess a million souls working on the temple would look a lot different to the hundreds that live here today, but it does make it easy for your mind to wander to what must have been…
The dawn rises in an apricot pink haze and before you know it daylight is not far away. We did talk to other tourists who got a later balloon flight (which are apparently much more popular) however if you do decide to do it be sure to go with a company that does the pre-dawn start. Honestly that sky as the sun came up was one of the most beautiful dawn's I've ever seen.
Where do Valley Of The Kings Balloon Flight Go From?
Almost all the balloon flights over the Valley of the Kings start from Luxor. You will visit Luxor anyway on your Egypt adventure so its easy to add this to your itinerary.
Some Valley Of The Kings Balloon Flights
Is it safe to do a Balloon flight in Egypt?
Like anywhere, your safety depends on the quality of the tour operator you choose. We had an excellent experience with no challenges at all, however I looked closely at reviews on the tour we ended up choosing. As always make your own decision based on the operator and in particular how they might answer any questions. I feel that is always a good sign as to how professional they are.
The One Challenge With Our Balloon Flight
While a balloon landing is always slightly tense, the kids surrounding the balloon landing site made it particularly tough.
Obviously the pilots are completely used to it but to see grown men chasing these kids off with sticks seemed really harsh. Once you land though they are like locusts. The minute you step off the basket you are overrun.
There was probably only 20 kids and it comes to light that they know you get a breakfast pack on your return, so they are actually fighting for the food (which is so sad). The main challenge is that they are so aggressive and this is the only place in Egypt where I came close to loosing my s%!t.
They hang off you and are constantly grabbing and yelling and while you can understand why, (hunger is a powerful motivator) it almost ruined our morning.
We got our driver to translate for us and tell them that they were welcome to our breakfast packs but they must stand quietly, not fight over them and SHARE!
Nope – not vaguely interested. It is clearly survival of the fittest in the Valley Of The Kings. With the Brad's and Les running interference, I moved out to the outer group that consisted of kids of maybe 3-5 who were too small to compete in the melee and dished out my food among them.
Sadly though when the others realised what was going on I was literally fighting off teenage boys to keep these little kids safe. In the end we all grabbed a smaller child each and brought them into the van until they had finished eating their breakfast.
I'm not kidding about those teenage boys. I came away with cuts and bruises (some of which took weeks to go away) and came dangerously close to throwing the odd punch myself.
It is amazing how strongly your defence mechanisms kick in and I am eternally grateful that we had this experience with 45 years under my belt. Honestly if I had have been in my 20's it could have ended much differently. I'd like to think it wouldn't have, but without a few decades of life experience under my belt I honestly don't know.
We spoke to our operator the next day about it and stressed to them how much it overshadowed the wonderful experience we had. They didn't seem overly concerned and said pretty much “what do you want us to do?” which was the real question.
Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.