Don’t miss the experience of drifting over the Theban Necropolis in a hot-air balloon, which affords an awesome view of the temples, villages and mountains – you’ll probably spend about 40 minutes aloft, depending on the wind. Above the west bank villages, you can hear people in backyards and smell their cooking stoves amidst an eerie silence, broken only by the roar of the balloon’s gas-burners.
Booking a balloon-ride through a foreign tour operator will only push up the price. Contact the balloon companies directly to compare quotes. At the time of writing, a ride costs £E250–300 if booked through companies or budget-hotels such as the Oasis and Happy Land; local tourist agencies charge £E600. Prices may also reflect the size of the balloon-basket (the largest hold 28 passengers), and your departure “slot”. The first flights each day are timed to catch sunrise, but the second series may provide a finer view of the Necropolis in winter time, when mist often lingers over the west bank. The deal should include an early-morning transfer from your hotel to the launch site near Hatshepsut’s temple.