Our very last early morning call came at 3:00am… we were heading off for a sunrise balloon flight over the Valley of the Kings. Needing match sticks to prop open our eyelids, ten adventurers left the ship to make our way to the airfield. On the way we were required to fill in some important information to help balance the basket – our weight in kgs. Well I had an idea of what I was in stones at the beginning of the holiday. But now I’d enjoyed a whole week of all-inclusive food and drinks and I never have any idea of what I am in kg. In the end did some rough mental arithmetic and added a couple of kg just to be sure. I hoped nobody would read the weights out loud!
As we neared the airfield we passed the Valley of the Kings, tombs lit, casting eerie shadows over the land up into the mountainside. I was more than happy to observe from ground level but Mr D really wanted us to experience a balloon flight together. It’s a measure of how much I love him that I got into the basket, smile fixed in place. As our balloon inflated the basket left the ground, hovering a little to allow the ground crew to move us around to distribute our weight evenly. Satisfied that all was well, they cast us loose and up we floated. Four gas burners supplied the hot air. So powerful and loud were they that I named them The Dragons!
Our pilot was great at pointing out major features as we slowly floated skyward. Every so often he would let us know our current height. This might have been welcome information for other passengers, but for me it was disconcerting – he finally stopped calling out the height at 950m. By this time I have a death grip on the handles and am unable to take photos. Mr D, on the other hand, was having the time of his life. Borrowing some courage from him, I managed to peer over the edge and pick out various tombs and temples. As my ears popped again I realised we were on the way back to earth. Praying for a gentle landing I adopted the landing position which is more like the thigh-workout from hell. Fortunately we were blessed with a gentle landing, kissing the desert. All we had to do was stay put while the ground crew found us and began the process of deflating the balloon and packing it away. Phew! I survived.
A little later we rejoined our tour team who’d been watching us from the ground, and they brought packed breakfasts for us. What a lovely thought. Munching on a croissant and some fruit, we toured round the Valley of the Queens. The tombs don’t look like much from the outside but were amazing inside. Like the Tardis, they are deceptively large inside. The carvings and decoration still looked as fresh as the day they were completed. Same for the Valley of the Kings. The unfinished tombs indicated that their occupants died before the craftsmen had time to finish their work.
Onwards to the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. What a woman. She did a power grab for the throne and held on to it for over twenty years. Most of her statues show her dressed as a Pharaoh, complete with false beard. When she passed away, her usurped nephew was so incensed with her that he tried to erase her image wherever possible, outdoing the fleeing Christians in destruction!
On to our very last temple – Ramesses 3rd. Again the carvings and decoration are still in remarkable condition. By this time, Mr D and I were footsore and quite tired. We’d been on our feet for 12 hours without a coffee!! For this first time on this trip, I was more than glad to be back on board, even if it was to pack our cases and make ready for a few days in Makadi Bay to rest and recover.
I cannot put it into words just how amazing it has been to see the wonders of the ancient world with my own eyes. The Egyptian people are so warm and welcoming, and our security was their highest priority. Wherever you come from, dear readers, if Egypt was on your list of places to visit, please go. You’ll not regret it and will come back with amazing memories.
Thank you all for reading this little series. I wonder where we will travel to next?
Happy travels everyone xx