Luxor, Hot Air Ballooning & Karnak Temple to Cairo – Day 07 Travel Talk Egypt & Jordan Discovered Tour


Egypt / Travel Talk Tours Egypt & Jordan Discovered / Travel Talk Tours Jewels of the Nile
Luxor & Cairo Highlights & Recap

On this portion of the Travel Talk Tours Egypt & Jordan Discovered Tour the group completes its first week on tour and will get to experience another one of Luxor’s famous temples as well as one of the main highlights of the entire tour, Hot Air Ballooning. We have come a long way now, returning back to Luxor after travelling on our five star Nile Cruiser, spending three nights on board and visiting Edfu Temple and the amazing Luxor Temple at night.

Advertisement

RECAP: Nile Cruse, Edfu Temple & Luxor Temple to Luxor – Day 05 & 06 Travel Talk Egypt & Jordan Discovered Tour

Luxor is a magical place and home to some of Egypt’s most stunning attractions from the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut to the Luxor Temple on the opposite East Bank. As the group continues on this Travel Talk Tours adventure of Egypt and Jordan we’ll take in more of Luxor, this time flying high above the city in a Hot Air Balloon.

Sites & activities include…

  • Hot Air Balloon over Luxor
  • Temple of Karnak
  • Papyrus Government Shop

Day 07: Luxor to Cairo – 02 December, 2016

This morning the group once again finds themselves in Luxor waking up at the stunningly located Steigenberger Nile Palace Luxor Hotel on the banks of the River Nile. As I have stated previously this is probably one of the best hotels we stay in along this entire journey in both Egypt and Jordan. Despite it being very early in the morning, most of my fellow Travel Talk Tours companions are up well before the crack of dawn for an unforgettable experience, catching a Hot Air Balloon from Luxor’s West Bank.

This is an optional extra activity offered by Travel Talk, the cost of the Hot Air Balloon trip is GBP 75.00 (EGP 1,720.00, AUD $120.00) which is excellent value for money considering back in Australia to catch a Hot Air Balloon over the city of Melbourne you are looking at paying above $450.00 each. We are all up at 4:00am in order to meet on time in the hotel lobby where we wait for our guides from Sindbad Hot Air Balloons to pick us up and take us to the launch site. We are taken back past where we had stopped a couple of days ago to view the Colossi of Memnon statues with the launch site not too far from the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings.

A number of balloons had already started to launch as we arrived with our balloon starting to be inflated for take off. Eventually we were all instructed to jump inside the basket as our weight is strategically maneuvered so that the balloon could take off evenly. Our guides took us through some safety instructions, most importantly on how to brace yourself when the balloon is coming in to land. We were all then instructed to jump out of the basket and the balloon was deflated, we weren’t sure why (maybe a cord was tangled) but some people started to worry that we might miss the sunrise.

VIDEO: Hot Air Ballooning with Travel Talk Tours


It was only a short time later and our balloon was inflated again, we were all then able to jump back inside the basket and get set for our take off. Before you know it you’re off the ground without even realising it and we started to drift with the other balloons back towards Luxor.

From this vantage point you can really see how the River Nile is the focal point for most of Egypt and the importance it plays in the everyday life of the local people. For vast distances all you can see is desert rock and sand, but the land for a couple of hundred metres either side of the river is fertile and full of life sustaining the local crops and supporting the local people.

As we float closer and closer to Luxor we hover above some of the fertile farmland and can make out a number of aqueducts that have been constructed so that the rich waters of the Nile can be extended further inland. The balloon continues on its path towards the city as we start to approach the river, from up here it looks as if the river is ever lasting, shooting off past the horizon in both directions. As we cross the river we also cross over the top of our hotel, it would have been fascinating staying here one morning to wake up and look out the window to see the balloons passing by.

The balloon continues passing over the homes occupied by the locals, some of which you can look right down into the crumbling roof tops. We pass over a local market, being early in the morning you can just make out the hustle and bustle of getting stalls set up for the day’s local trade.

Soon enough the close-knit houses, shops and markets of the city make way once again for the fertile farm land of the East Bank fed by the River Nile. Our balloon starts to make its way lower and lower and we start to ponder where it is we will be landing, after all you can’t really land anywhere close by as it was all farms and trees. The balloon gets even lower to a hovering height and we come along and scrape some tree tops to the enjoyment of everyone on board with someone yelling out to do it again! Our pilot then obliged.

Past the trees the green lush lands suddenly turn to golden sand and we are instantly back in the desert. A balloon ahead of us has landed and everyone jumps out but for some silly reason all those people decide to stand in the path we are taking, they soon move and our pilot tells us we cannot land because it is military land. That balloon and its passengers soon get back on board and take off again. The terrain is too rocky to land here anyway and we continue on at a low altitude until we finally see a clearing with a highway, this was to be our landing spot.

Coming in to land we all prepared ourselves for the brace position, we came in ever so slowly closer and closer to the highway we were now hovering above, luckily for us there was no traffic this morning. Seemingly out of nowhere all these people pull up in their truck and come running from the Hot Air Balloon company in anticipation for our return to Earth and we then suddenly start scraping the bottom of the basket on the bitumen road. We all remain in the brace position until told to do so which is when we come to a complete stop with a heap of people clinging onto the side of the basket so we wouldn’t lift off again.

Our journey this morning followed the following course…


With that our balloon ride was over and we jumped out onto solid ground. Our rep from the balloon company then told us that we were extremely lucky today as it only happens on two occasions a year that you will travel from the West Bank to the East Bank over the Nile, due to the way the wind blows. Normally all balloons take off on the West bank and will then land again further out on the West Bank. We were all given a certificate to commemorate our journey on the Hot Air Balloon over Luxor essentially with a space for “insert your name here” on it. Our small van was then waiting for us by the basket and we then started the journey back to our hotel in central Luxor.

When we arrived back at the hotel it was straight back to our rooms to freshen up and head down for breakfast in preparation for our departure from the hotel and from Luxor for the last time.

Once the group had finished having breakfast and had checked out of our hotel we all put our bags down in the lobby to be loaded onto the Group A bus for our journey back to Cairo in the afternoon. It was time for us to all wait in the lobby for everyone to arrive, including our guide Shady who would tell us to be there no later than a specific time for him to only be 10 or 15 minutes late (Egyptian time) then we would jump on the bus and head to our next destination on the tour.

This morning we are off to visit the biggest temple in Egypt and the second largest in the entire world after Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Karnak Temple. Entry into Karnak Temple costs EGP 80.00 (AUD $6.00) and is once again payable to your guide who will then buy the tickets for the group in bulk. The temple isn’t too far from our hotel so we spent about five minutes in the bus making our way to the entrance which is once again lined with small shops with people waiting to sell you items you really probably don’t need.


Once you enter the gates to the temple grounds you can immediately get a sense of how grand this place used to be. The road leading up to the temple is this large grand boulevard heading straight in the direction of the Nile and was once a waterway to give the temple direct access to the Nile. Reaching the front of the temple the entrance is lined with a type of Sphinx only this time the heads are of rams rather than a human head still on the body of a lion. At the other side of the temple the Sphinx Avenue linking Luxor Temple can be found.

We then enter the temple with our guide Shady giving us the low down on the significance of Karnak Temple and pointing out all the main features while we stood in the Great Court. Moving on from the Great Court we move further into the temple where we are greeted with exceptionally large columns soaring into the sky that form the Hypostyle Hall. To be exact there are 134 columns with 12 of those being taller which are located in the centre of the hall.

Background Story: Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple is located on the East bank of Luxor and is the largest temple in Egypt and the second largest in the world. Construction of the temple started in the Middle Kingdom 2055BC during the reign of Senusret I, however construction continued all the way through to the New Kingdom to roughly 100AD.

The history of Karnak Temple is largely linked to the history of the ancient city of Thebes which is now modern day Luxor. The temple formed much of the city and included the Temple of Luxor with the city also consisting of the West Bank’s Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

VIDEO: Karnak Temple with Travel Talk Tours


Past the Hypostyle Hall we make our way out the side to an outdoor area where there is a large body of water called the Sacred Lake, used for ceremonial purposes for the priests living in the temple, it was also the home to many species of aquatic life. Just outside the Sacred Lake is remnants of an obelisk turned on its side, a great way to get up and close to the top point of an obelisk to see the fine detail the ancient Egyptians put into creating these soaring objects.

From here we were given free time to explore the temple ourselves. The temple is so huge that most of it is closed off to the public but you wouldn’t have enough time to explore it all anyway. The area outside the main halls looks like a construction zone with a crane flanking the skyline in the distance. In a number of years time (a long time away from now) you should expect more of the ancient structure to be reassembled. Without a doubt though the most impressive part of this temple is the Hypostyle Hall with its soaring columns that make a great photo opportunities.

Once we finished here at the temple it was time for a lunch stop. We had been teased with the prospect a couple of days earlier that we would stop off at McDonalds as there weren’t many options around. I for one was quite excited about the McDonalds stop because I was getting sick of the same ‘Egyptian food’ over and over again. To my horror Shady and the other guide Sam were able to organise an Egyptian food buffet so I was stuck with the same repetitive food again. Oh well you win some, you lose some. While at lunch the man we ordered our cartouches from came to the restaurant and we exchanged them for payment. They are really good quality and quite a cool small thing to get from Egypt.

Our next stop now was our next government backed shop. This time we would learn the ancient art of papyrus paper making and will then have an opportunity to purchase some of our own. When we arrived at the shop we are greeted by one of owners of the shop and he took us over to a side lecturing space to demonstrate to us what papyrus looks like from its original form, to the initial stages and then shows us how it it is transformed into its final stage. It was quite interesting to see how it is all created.

We are then given free time to explore the two levels of the shop which is covered in artworks that you can purchase and the great thing here was that all the prices were listed so you didn’t have to ask all the time. On top of that, Travel Talk passengers got a 10% discount on the listed price. I hadn’t really bought anything along this trip, other than the previous night a cartouche bracelet with my name so I thought I would go all out and get something here as a memento. Rather than buying cheap tacky crap that I’ll never look at again I thought this would be a good investment to remember the trip by, so I ended up buying a large papyrus artwork that cost me AUD $500.00. Clearly blew my budget out the window with one purchase here. The next challenge was figuring out how to transport it, but by the end of the trip it was never an issue.

After a day of sightseeing and shopping the group departs Luxor and starts the huge journey back to Cairo. The roughly ten hour journey means we arrive back in the capital at about 10:00pm and once again the group will be staying at the Pyramids Park Resort Cairo. Once we arrive at the hotel everyone was pretty exhausted so once our bags were offloaded from the Group A bus we grabbed them and all headed to our rooms straight away for some shut eye. This time my room was better than the last time we stayed here but not much better, again probably the worst of the hotels we stay in along this journey.


Back in Cairo the Travel Talk Tours Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruse Tour will spend tomorrow exploring the capital in more depth with visits to the world renowned Egyptian Museum as well as the Citadel of Saladin featuring the Mosque of Mohamed Ali, the Hanging Church and the group will then have the opportunity to indulge in a little shopping at the famous Kahn El Khalili Bazaar. For some of us this will be our last night together and the last time with our guide Shady as the 9 day Egypt portion of the tour comes to a close. Some people will depart while others will stay on to Dahab with our new guide.

About this tour

Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruse
During this two week adventure with Travel Talk Tours our journey starts off in the capital of Egypt, Cairo before making our way south, down along the River Nile. Travelling by road to Luxor and Aswan, and checking out many of the famous monuments and temples along the way, we also have the choice of participating in some exciting optional extra activities. From Aswan at the bottom of Egypt and close to the Sudanese border, we jump on board a boat and spend three nights sailing along the Nile back to Luxor, checking out Edfu Temple and get a brief glance at Kom Ombo Temple along the way.

We end up back in Cairo to explore the capital in greater depth with a city tour before we start heading east towards Jordan. Before hitting the border we arrive in Dahab for two nights of relaxation by the sea and then travel by road from Egypt into Jordan via a 30 minute crossing through Israel. We spend our first night in a new country out in the desert park of Wadi Rum before heading to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra, a real highlight. We’ll go for a swim in the Dead Sea on our way to the capital of Jordan, Amman where our tour will come to an end. Before bidding farewell to our fellow travel companions we’ll spend two nights exploring this exciting capital.

This tour of Egypt and Jordan can be taken in three different forms, however a number of people on this journey travelled on nine day Egypt tours that started in Cairo and ended when we returned to Cairo. Other travellers with the group also did fifteen day tours that followed the same path to Dahab and spent just short of a week there before returning to Cairo…

GUIDE BOOKS

A guide book isn’t cheating! Before you leave on your next adventure ensure you plan to get the most out of your trip and check out the range of guide books from Lonely Planet. The comprehensive guide books on Egypt & Jordan from Lonely Planet will give you an insight on what to expect on your Travel Talk Tours journey of these two amazing countries.

ACCOMMODATION ON THIS TOUR

Booking your accommodation has never been easier with our preferred hotel partner Agoda.

Advertisement
TOUR REVIEWS

loneXplorer travelled as a guest of Travel Talk Tours on the Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruse tour. The cost of the 15 day tour was covered by Travel Talk Tours however all reviews and opinions on loneXplorer remain those of the author and have not been influenced by the tour operator, accommodation provider or anyone else. For more information on all the reviews you see on loneXplorer and the links provided to advertisers please click here.


Just your average guy doing his 9 - 5 job as a Senior Payroll Officer by day, writing about his travel adventures and hopefully giving you inspiration and ideas for your next travel adventure here at loneXplorer...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.