Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ballooning in Luxor

Our "Sister Balloon"
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.
A while ago I posted extensively about a balloon flight that I did from Perth, Scotland. At that time Wosog declined the offer to join me, but she did take some excellent photographs of the event. At the end of the first week of our holiday in Egypt I had the chance to take a flight in Luxor, and this time the wife decided to join me. I thought there were some interesting differences between the flight in Luxor and the flight in Perth.

The first difference was the fact that the Luxor flight was early in the morning. This had the twin advantages of (a) being cooler, and (b) allowing us to see the sun rising over the River Nile. The second difference was in the number of personnel involved in the process. On the Virgin flight in Scotland (which was much more expensive) the passengers were expected to help the pilot and his assistant inflate the balloon and carefully fold it up after the landing. In Egypt a veritable army of burly wee guys was provided to (a) inflate the balloon, (b) literally lift the female passengers into the basket, and (c) hastily bundle up the balloon after the landing. Virgin would claim that their set-up provides the passengers with a more complete experience of ballooning but I suspect the difference has much more to do with relative labour costs in the two countries!

The balloon in Egypt was much larger and carried almost twice as many passengers as the Virgin one. The crew timed the launch to perfection, and we got a great view of the sunrise. We also had great views of several other balloons flying at the same time. Highlights of the trip included Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple and an amazing overview of Karnak. The views of the river as we crossed the Nile were stunning. The only slightly scary part of the flight was when we came down in a fairly small piece of waste ground next to a road in the middle of a built-up area. This was definitely more worrying than coming down in a field in Scotland. If anyone is interested we have gathered pictures from both of us of both flights in a Flickr Group called "Flights of the Sogs".

All in all, it was a marvellous experience, and one I'd highly recommend!