Originally posted on November 1, 2019 @ 12:48 pm
If you’re thinking about hot air ballooning in Luxor, this is your guide!
I’ve been living in Egypt since 2016 so I know the in’s and out’s of this country and I’m sure I can help you make the most of your hot air balloon experience in Luxor.
I will speak a bit about whether you should even do the balloon ride, how and when to book, the prices as well as what to bring and what to expect from this experience.
And, of course, I will share lots of stunning images of my hot air balloon ride in Luxor!
Is the Hot Air Balloon Ride in Luxor worth it?
YES, YES and YES!!!!
I’ve been to 58 countries and have experienced some of the coolest things you could imagine, from skydiving to scuba diving to volcano climbing and whatnot.
This balloon ride was one of the Top 3 experiences of my life. I’m usually an adrenaline junkie and parasailing e.g. bores me, but this was just WOW!!!
It’s an incredibly peaceful time in the air. The balloon is literally floating, you don’t feel a thing, and it’s so silent. All the while you fly over one of the most amazing sceneries worldwide.
The height depends on the wind, so sometimes you fly so low over the sugarcane fields that you can almost touch them, and other times you fly high over all the other balloons.
If the wind is right, you even fly over the Valley of the Kings! It’s honestly so amazing, you really can’t miss this!
Matador Network ranked Luxor the second-best place to go hot air ballooning in the world!
Is the Hot Air Ballooning in Luxor safe?
So you’ve heard about the balloon crash in Luxor years ago and now you’re worried whether the balloon ride is even safe?!
I get it. In foreign countries, especially not so much developed ones as Egypt, the question of safety has to come up.
There’s no denying, there have been a handful of accidents over the last decades. Since then, the Egyptian government has increased their safety measures profoundly.
They can’t afford people being afraid of one of their most famous tourist attractions.
Just becoming a pilot takes many years of studying now and there is no reason you should feel more afraid to go hot air ballooning here than in any other country.
Civil Aviation Observer Mahmoud Zain also said that the balloons are checked daily by accredited engineers and trainers to ensure your safety.
Just walking or driving around Cairo, for example, would be much more dangerous if you look at your chances of getting hurt in traffic vs. during a balloon ride.
My friend was terribly afraid before we went and she almost canceled. Even when she was already in the basket, she was shaking and thinking about jumping out again.
But then the balloon slowly ascended and it was such a peaceful and magical experience that all her fear was gone just like that.
What is the best time for a hot air balloon ride in Luxor?
I wrote an extensive article on the Best Times To Visit Egypt and have included the best time to travel to Luxor/do a Nile Cruise, so check that one out for more information.
In short: Avoid the summer months like the plague as it gets insanely hot. The best time to go hot air ballooning in Luxor is from October to March.
I went in October and we were lucky in the sense that it was mostly overcast (which is extremely rare in Upper Egypt) so it didn’t get crazy hot during the day.
If you’re especially sensitive to heat, don’t go before November.
The good news is that the sunrises and sunsets are much more spectacular in winter, and the balloons go up for sunrise.
Unfortunately, because it was cloudy the day I went, the sunrise wasn’t as great as it usually is.
You will see from the pictures that it’s absolutely stunning either way, and most likely your experience will be even better!
Hot Air Balloon Luxor – Prices and Booking
Prices vary greatly and depend on a few different factors such as the season and where you buy your tickets from.
The balloon ride prices rise during peak seasons. It’s especially busy during the holiday weeks for Europeans, as this is where most tourists are flying in from.
Prices are therefore quickly increasing in October, December, and April and you can easily pay double.
During high season it’s also important to book ahead as spots quickly fill up.
Another major factor that determines the cost is where you get your balloon tickets from.
If you’re on a Nile Cruise, you will be able to book a hot air balloon ride through the ship/travel agency.
Since they want their commission on this sale, they obviously charge you that on top.
Also, if you are on one of the more expensive cruise ships, or staying in a fancy hotel, you will pay much more than if you book through a hostel for example.
I paid $75 for my hot air balloon ride (I went during high season in October), and that was the absolute best price you could get.
All the other people in my group paid anywhere between $140 and $250.
Since the devaluation of the Egyptian Pound in 2016, shortly after I moved here, prices in general are constantly increasing and everything is about 2-3x more expensive now than it was then.
Therefore, if you read this article even a few months after I published it, prices might have increased again. There’s no better time to go to Egypt than now!
Even though costs are going up, this is still the cheapest place to do a balloon ride pretty much anywhere in the world, especially considering the breathtaking scenery you get to see here.
The other two most famous hot air balloon spots are Cappadocia in Turkey and Bagan in Myanmar, where you pay AT LEAST twice the price, often $400-$500 for the same experience.
So where do you book your hot air ballooning experience in Luxor to get the best price?
I would recommend Sindbad Balloons, the most reputable company in Luxor from what I’ve heard.
You really want to avoid going anywhere in Luxor figuring out buying tickets by yourself, as you’re bombarded by literally everyone trying to sell you something.
Luxor is the worst city in Egypt when it comes to hassle and harassment. Honestly, if my very first trip to Egypt had been to Luxor, I surely wouldn’t have moved here.
It’s not dangerous, but it’s annoying as F***!!!
I’m usually not someone who does group trips or books much in advance, but in this case I highly, highly suggest it. It will save you years of ageing 😉
Just book the ticket online and let them pick you up straight from your hotel or cruise ship, no hassle involved.
Unless you speak Arabic and are really good at haggling, there’s also no way you’ll get it cheaper anywhere else.
Luxor Hot Air Ballooning – What You Need To Know Before
1. Go ballooning the first day you arrive
Whether or not the hot air balloons can go in the air depends on the weather conditions.
Though they fly more often than not, there is a chance that you might not be able to do the trip on the day you wish.
I highly recommend, therefore, that you book a ticket for the very first day you arrive in Luxor. That way, if weather conditions make it impossible to go that day, you can still go do it the next day (if the weather has improved).
Don’t worry too much about it, most of the time they do fly, but it’s always better to be prepared and have a buffer.
Safety Tip: I don’t know where you’ll book your ticket but if that company decides to actually fly on a day that is very windy or rainy, I recommend you don’t go with them.
Accidents only really happen because of bad weather conditions, so be sure to take care of your own safety first.
They’re pretty careful with this now due to those mentioned accidents in the past, so it’s unlikely they will go.
But you never know if there are bad sheep out there, so don’t risk anything and tell them you want to go the next day instead. Shouldn’t be a problem!
2. Dress in Layers
Since all the hot air balloon rides in Luxor take place around sunrise, it’s still a bit cooler than in the daytime.
I went in October and was picked up at 4:30 am, but that time changes depending on what time of the year you go.
Also, temperatures go down because you’ll be at a much higher altitude.
That was my thought process – I freeze easily so I always try to dress warmly.
And it was good I did, the AC was cranked up in the minivan on the way to the “balloon airport” and it was chilly on the boat.
As soon as you’re surrounded by the balloons that fire up though, it gets really warm! I guess they aren’t called “hot air balloons” for no reason 😉
Once you’re in the air, the fire is burning above your head. Not constantly, but every few seconds the captain fires it up and then lets it rest again, depending on the wind and direction he wants to go.
My best advice would be to wear a t-shirt but bring a light sweater or cardigan as well.
3. Smile for the camera!
Nowadays, everyone has a smartphone with a camera and you will surely take a lot of photos.
If you bring a DSLR ( any bigger camera), they will tell you not to use it before takeoff. Once you’re in the air, you can do whatever you want.
The reason is mostly that they want to sell you the video they’re taking of your group.
And that’s why I’m telling you you should smile 😉
From the moment you get on the boat in the morning to cross the river and get to the balloon airport until you took off, there will be a guy filming everything.
I didn’t think about the camera at first, but when I later decided to buy the video, I surely didn’t look my greatest at 5 in the morning, haha.
My facial expressions didn’t exactly show any excitement whatsoever before having a coffee, and let’s just say, it wasn’t the best part of the video.
Therefore, if you’re one of the people who would like to get a video to remember this amazing experience, make sure you at least look decent in it and don’t keep repeating the same poses, waves, at the camera, etc.
Maybe that’s a travel blogger/instagrammer disease, but I guess we all like to look good in our photos/videos.
The video costs $10 on DVD and $15 on a USB stick. Quite a steal, considering you get a 32GB USB stick with it as well.
A lot of the footage is pre-filmed as they don’t actually go up in the air with you, but all the moments before and after take-off are on camera.
Most people don’t really like to be filmed much, so if you do, you can definitely get a few good scenes as the cameraman is happy he has someone actually motivated to film and create some good scenes.
Swirl around, jump in the air, whatever you think you want to have on camera later.
They told me they would have the video ready an hour after they dropped us back at the hotel and I honestly didn’t believe that for a second, knowing Egyptians and their time management after living here for years.
I only ordered it because I was staying a few more hours and also returning to Luxor in a few days so I thought that would give them enough time and I would actually get it.
I almost couldn’t believe it when an hour later the USB stick was actually waiting for me at the reception!
So you can really trust to get your footage unless you’re leaving Luxor right away after your hot air balloon ride.
4. Bring some change to tip the crew
Before you take off and as soon as you land, there’s a bunch of guys holding down the basket to make sure you’re not flying away.
Upon landing, they gather the huge balloon and have quite some hard work to do. They follow your balloon while it’s in the air and quickly drive to the spot you’re about to land.
There is no set landing point, it always depends on the wind. So when your captain starts descending and preparing for landing, you will see they usually already arrived on ground and are waiting to help you land.
These are the guys who you’re expected to tip. Remember, people make very little money in Egypt and the rising prices are due to rising costs.
Life has become quite hard for Egyptians, so they really appreciate a tip.
5. What to expect from your hot air balloon ride
A few more things you might find interesting to know:
After they pick you up from your hotel or cruise ship, you go to the docks and cross the river with a small boat (not a felucca).
They provide tea and coffee there, much needed this early in the morning!
Oh, and they ask you for your weight so they can determine who to put where in the basket to balance it out. Maybe have a diet day before 😉
It’s helpful for them to know it in kilograms, so maybe calculate your weight beforehand if you use a different system to make it easy for them.
The hot air balloon baskets are quite big. They will take up to around 20 people in one balloon. It can get quite cozy.
You have to climb a bit to get in and out of the basket, but they help you with small stairs and lift you if needed.
It’s not important where exactly in the basket your spot is. The balloon turns around itself and in all possible directions all the time. You will get to see everything anyways, so don’t stress.
The balloon is literally floating in the air, so you don’t have to worry about motion sickness or anything. It’s as smooth as can be, you don’t feel anything.
The hot air balloon ride in Luxor takes around one hour.
The whole experience takes up more time, of course, with transportation and all that. We got picked up at 4:25am and were back at the hotel by like 7am.
What you see during your balloon ride depends entirely on the wind. It blows in different directions on different heights and the captain adjusts direction according to that.
Watch this video I took to get a better idea of what to expect from your hot air balloon ride:
They will always try to give you the best experience! With a bit of luck, you even get to fly over the Valley of the Kings!
Either way, you will see the Nile river from above, the farmland (mostly sugarcane), locals waving at you from the streets and rooftops, and for sure some of Luxor’s open-air museum.
We flew right over the huge graves and a temple, pretty cool!
After the ride was over, we got a certificate for the completion. A nice memory if you’re into collecting tickets etc.
Hot Air Ballooning in Luxor – Conclusion
Finishing up, I just want to say again that hot air ballooning in Luxor is a total bucket list experience that you really shouldn’t miss!
I loved it so, so much, and I don’t easily get excited.
Even my friend who had already canceled in her mind and was so afraid said that she would have regretted it so badly if she hadn’t gone and it was such an amazing experience.
For me, it was the best part of my entire Nile Cruise and trip to Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel.
Pin this Luxor Hot Air Ballooning Guide for later:
If you’re traveling to Egypt, be sure you make the most of your trip by reading my other articles. I’ve been based here since 2016 and learned a lot that will help you 🙂
- Best Times To Visit Egypt
- Traditional Egyptian Food
- 10 Reasons Everyone Should Visit Egypt At Least Once
- Guide to Hot Air Ballooning In Luxor
- Pyramids of Giza, Egypt – Why You Need To Visit NOW
- 5 Must-See Places in Cairo, Egypt
- 5 Mind-Blowing Secret Beaches in Egypt
- Sharm El-Sheikh: Diving Guide For Scuba Lovers
- Sharm El-Sheikh Snorkeling Guide
- 45+ Fun Things To Do In Hurghada, Egypt
- Hurghada Snorkeling Guide
- Scuba Diving Guide to El Gouna
- Ultimate Guide to St. Catherine, Sinai
- Climbing Mount Sinai – 8 Things You Need To Know Before
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- Traveling to a Muslim country during Ramadan? Here’s what you need to know!