Flying balloon.. 34 years of adventure in the sky of Luxor

When the clock strikes 4:45 a.m., the Luxor Temple area on the Nile Corniche is crowded with foreign tourists from hotels and floats, while tour guides and balloon company representatives set off for the Nile, boarding on riverboats heading for the West Bank, waiting for buses and cars.

They head as a group to the hot air balloon airport near the temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari in al-Qarnah.

As soon as the groups reach the airport compound, its yard turns into a hive of workers in the balloon companies, everyone waits for the decision of civil aviation at Luxor International Airport to know the time from meteorology.

This requires that the take-off be at a temperature not exceeding 35°C and the weather be free of fog and haze, so that the horizontal visibility is greater than 4 km and the wind speed is not greater than 8 knots, to protect tourists and travel participants.

Eyes looking and heading towards (the weather vane) with the green flag on top of a building, which determines the direction of the wind, from which the trajectory of the ball is determined after take-off.

The balloon worker on the ground begins to pump cold air into it and heats the air, then the tourists climb into the box intended for them, and the balloon is filled.

The adventure journey begins amid the cries of the participants, decorating the sky of Luxor with vivid colors in a creative scene and an artistic image watched by the people of Luxor during 45 minutes of flight at a height of around 2000 feet.

The journey passes by the temples of Ramesses II or the Ramesseum, Amenhotep II and the tombs of the Valley of Kings, Queens, Princes and Nobles, looking at impressive landscapes, palm trees and the immortal Nile which embraces mountains, cultures and ancient Egyptian monuments.

■ History of hot air balloon trips in Luxor:

In 1988, the first hot air balloon flight took off in the sky of Luxor, and it was led by British pilots who worked for the British Virgin Company, which established the first hot air balloon company in Egypt, and the company was called ” Ballonza Over Egypt”. .

In 1994, the creation of the first balloon companies began with Egyptian funding and expertise, where Hodhod Soliman Company and Sinbad Balloon Company were established, until the number of companies operating in flying balloon tourism in Luxor reaches 10 companies, employing hundreds of Egyptians.

In 2019, the flying balloon was enhanced with GPS and “black box” technologies to monitor balloon flights and track their trajectory and landing site, as part of a package of measures taken by the Authority of civil aviation, with the aim of protecting tourists and achieving the highest degree of assurance and surveillance of balloon flights over the city of Luxor.

Tharwat Agamy, head of the Luxor Chamber of Tourism Enterprises, said hot air balloon tourism is unique to the governorate and has witnessed a large influx of tourists this season, and government support for the sector has helped revive hot air balloon tourism, which is tourism that is unique to the governorate among the various Egyptian tourist destinations.

Agamy praised the government’s support for the tourism sector and expects Egypt to achieve strong growth in the number of inbound tourists and the volume of tourism investment in the near future.

Ayman Abo-Zeid, head of the Egyptian Association for Tourism and Archaeological Development in Luxor, said the city of Luxor ranks third in the world for the rate of balloon trips and the number of tourists boarding it. from the balloon on daily trips to enjoy view of the temples of the pharaohs, the eternal Nile, the plants, the palm trees and the picturesque nature of the city.

He added that the city of Luxor, before the Corona pandemic, witnessed around 11,000 balloon flights in its skies every year; it carried about 216,000 tourists throughout the year, and it is unique among all Egyptian tourist destinations by the presence of hot air balloon flights flying in its sky.