It took about 13 hours to arrive at Luxor by plane, 21 hours including connections, etc. On 11th August, the first day in Luxor, we only enjoyed the “Sound and Light Show” at the Karnak Temple and very tasty Egyptian food and beer. We spent the rest of the day making travel arrangements. The highlight of our Luxor sightseeing tour will be on August 12.


As previously mentioned, the Hot Air Balloon tour will arrive at the hotel at 3:30 AM, so I set my alarm at 3:15 AM. I know that if I set it too early, I will feel relieved and fall asleep again. I was that nervous.


Woke up on time and exchanged texts with Mr. O. Traveling by two is convenient in many ways. The person picking us up is also at the hotel punctually. The view from the hotel, the cruise ship, the Nile River, and the lights on the west bank of the Nile River, look so great.


We met up with the people staying on the Nile River cruise ship and others. We were all ready to go, admiring our names on the list, noting our weight (necessary for balloon balance) and so on.


It was an indescribable feeling when crossing the Nile River in a small boat.


In Japan, people tend to call everything “the world’s three major XXX. Among Japanese people, the world’s three major rivers seem to be the Nile, the Amazon, and the Mississippi. In my opinion, the Amazon and the Nile are the two greatest rivers in the world, boasting the world’s second longest river (6516 km) and the largest river basin area (7.05 million km2). The historical and geographical importance of the Nile River, which has brought civilization, greenery, and water to Egypt, is exceptional, and I feel that it is competing with the Amazon River for the top spot.


I arrived at the other side of the river (west bank of the Nile), completely no sleepy anymore. A microbus was waiting to pick us up and take us to the square where the hot air balloons would depart. There seemed to be a variety of travel agencies, but there seemed to be only one place for the balloon departures. Quite a lot people (about 800, I guess) had gathered. It seems that it is normal for 25 people to ride in a balloon. The balloon before being inflated with air is lying on the square.


Well, we arrived at the ballooning station, and while we were being explained, the sky gradually began to lighten up. Since we were going to watch the sunrise from a balloon, we decided to depart at that time. However, the balloon ride did not start. The guide told us that the wind was a little strong and they were waiting for the wind conditions to improve. I was not sure the wind condition in the sky, but on the ground, it was far from strong winds. Little by little, I felt impatient.


I understand that Hot Air balloon is a dangerous ride because heavily depending on winds, but the sun was coming up and I was getting impatient. We had waited for more than a hour.


The wait is getting longer, and the locals are singing and dancing while clapping tambourines and other instruments, whether to pass the time or to entertain the audience. Some of the visitors also join in and make a lot of noise. However, I was not in the mood to enjoy such music and dancing at all, and was muttering something like, “If we can’t fly on this level of wind, A lot of Hot Air Balloon Tours would be canceled, and the travel agency would suffer from refund.


It was already past 6am. After our balloon tour, we will enjoy an elegant breakfast at the hotel, and the “second day of Luxor Tour” is about to begin. If it gets too hot, we may not be able to do any sightseeing. My impatience reached a considerable level.


That moment. A rather small man wearing an outfit somewhere between yellow and orange, the kind that only high position officers are allowed to wear, came running out of the building and circled his hands (like an educational instruction in judo). The surrounding area was filled with cheers and a sudden flurry of activity.


Our Hot Air Balloon tour was given permission to begin. I am now old enough, but the joy I felt at that time was as pure as the joy I experienced as a boy.


A large fan was used to blow air into the balloons, which had been lying flat on the ground. When the balloon was inflated to a certain degree, a huge gas burner was used to heat the balloon, and it began to float little by little. Then the gondola part was brought in, people got on board, and the balloon took off.


Our balloon was getting ready. Finally, we were getting into the balloon. Inside, the captain blew gas into the balloon.


The long-awaited takeoff was underway, and my first balloon ride of my life began. The balloon itself seemed to be able to rise and fall with heat and to turn around using the holes in the balloon. I was impressed by the captain’s skill when the balloon slowly circled in the sky.


We crossed the Nile River from the west bank to the east bank. The balloons seemed to fly depending on the direction of the wind when they took off, but quite a few of them were flying over the east bank as we were. The captain did not want to be carried away by the wind, so he lowered the altitude. The balloon passed over the houses where people were living. The residents were accustomed to this and waved to us in hospitality.


Now, it was time to land. The captain carefully chose a landing spot and gradually lowered the altitude. We were instructed to take landing position and wait for the landing. Finally, we landed. The gondola shook so much that we thought it might overturn. A woman nearby screamed loudly. The captain shouted, “Don’t worry,” and we landed safely.


A microbus arrived at the landing site and returned to the hotel. The impressive balloon tour ended successfully.


I started the Balloon Tour early in the morning without any protection from the heat or the sun, so while waiting for the bus at the landing point, I was struck by the heat and the intensity of the sun. We had to be always prepared for the heat and the sun.


After we made a slight delay in the 9:00 a.m. pickup and a slightly in a hurry of breakfast (of course, we didn’t rush through a five-star hotel breakfast), the sightseeing in Luxor was in full swing.