16 Tourists injured in Luxor hot air balloon accident

Yesterday, a hot air balloon crashed in Luxor, the city of the pharaohs, in Egypt. Sixteen people were injured in the incident. For those of you with an axe to grind about cell phone towers, you just got some ammo. The hot air balloon hit a cell phone tower on the west bank of the Nile River, near Gourna village.

Identities of the injured haven’t been released yet, but we do know that they come from Canada, Denmark, England, France, South Korea and the United States. All were taken to a hospital in Luxor for treatment.

This event is not without precedent. A year ago, a similar situation led to the injury of seven tourists.

The Classic Nile Cruise Gets an Upgrade

Travelers to Egypt generally share a similar experience. They arrive in Cairo, visit the Pyramids and Sphynx, swing by the Egyptian museum to check out Tut, then leave town for Aswan to scope out the dam, before boarding a Nile riverboat for a leisurely cruise back down the world’s longest river. Along the way, they’ll visit more ancient ruins, before ending up in Luxor a few days later, where they’ll tour, you guessed it, yet more ancient ruins.

The Nile Cruise has been one of the staples of tourism in Egypt for years. But according to a new story from the Daily Mail the classic cruise is undergoing major changes at the moment, with larger, more luxurious boats, longer cruise options, and more amenities.

The typical Nile cruise ship has roughly 15-20 small cabins, but the newest vessels to hit the river are much larger in size, including the Sonesta St George I, a boat with 57 cabins, a full service spa, and five-star service. Not to be outdone, the recenly launched Royal Viking cruise ship has 68 suites, most of which are twice the size the cabins on standard vessels, with four over sized rooms that include a whirlpool tub, large windows, and plasma TV’s.
Luxor is undergoing some changes of it’s own. While the amazing Egyptian temples remain as they have for 4000 years, the hotels and restaurants in the city are undergoing massive restorations, with a number of new additions being built as well. To cater to the increased traffic, the port has also been expanded to more comfortably accomidate more boats and the new larger ships as well.

It seems that the Nile Cruise is going upscale, with more options for travelers than ever before. Lets just ohpe the classic experience doesn’t change dramatically as well.

History’s Most Famous Travel Adventures

There is no doubt that history has a level of influence on the places that many of us visit. We read about far off places and exotic adventures, and it fires our own imaginations, sometimes compelling us to take a journey of our own, and experience the things that we’ve dreamed about.

Forbes Traveler has put together an excellent list of the greatest travel adventures from history, not only putting them in historical context, but also explaining why they remain a great travel experience even to this day. Each of the journeys on this list include a link to a travel service than can help organize your own adventure, following in the footsteps of explorers and adventurers from the past.

Some of the famous journeys that make the list include the Lewis and Clarke Expedition’s exploration of the American West, which modern day travelers can experiencing for themselves by spending five days paddling more than 60 miles of the Missouri River. Prefer something a bit more exotic? Then how about a 34-day, 4850+ mile journey through South America, by motorcycle no less, that retraces the travels of Che Guevara. Want to go even further back in time? Then head to the Far East to travel the Silk Road, much the same way that Marco Polo did in the 13th century.

There is a little something for everyone on this list, from the physically demanding to the luxurious. But they all share one thing in common, they are some of the greatest journeys in history, and they are still inspiring travel years, and sometimes centuries, later.

A&K does the unimaginable

Luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent is getting ready to surprise you. On February 19, 2009, it will celebrate its newly redesigned website with an unusual discount program. Starting at 9 AM (CST), a savings of 5 percent will be offered on each of five itineraries. Every half hour, another 5 percent will be cut from the price. By 3 PM, the discount will reach its final level of 60 percent off. Of course, departures are limited and on a first-come, first served basis.

So, this is your chance to spend for an A&K experience what conventional travel would normally cost.

For example, the “Once in a Lifetime Egypt” trip could sell for as little as $3,328 (a savings of close to $5,000). You’ll get 10 days that include the Four Seasons Cairo, not to mention a Nile cruise on Sun Boat IV. “Once in a Lifetime Kenya” consists of eight days for possibly as little as $2,118 (with a stay at the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel, among others), and the experience in Spain could cost $6,000 less than usual. The other destinations are Botswana and Zambia and a voyage to Melanesia aboard “Clipper Odyssey.”

Remember: the sale begins at 9 AM (CST) on February 19. Put a reminder in your calendar and be ready to click fast!

Off the Beaten Path in Egypt

Egypt is one of those countries that is incredibly rich with history and culture that it’s nearly impossible to see it all on just one visit. Traditionally visitors to the desert country fly into Cairo and experience its wonders, including the legendary Egyptian Museum, the ancient Kahn el-Khalili Bizarre, and of course the Pyramids and Sphynx. From there, most travelers take a Nile cruise, visit Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and then head home.

While that may be the classic list of things to see and do in Egypt, there are plenty of others as well. For instance, Alexandria lies to the north on the Mediterrainian Coast, and has its own array of ancient wonders to explore with surviving relecs from the Roman, Mesopotamian, and of course Egyptian civilizations. And while the Great Pyramids of Giza are the typcial stop for anyone wanting to see those architectural marvels, the much older Step Pyramid is worth the journey as well.

One of the more unique and hidden gems of Egypt is the Siwa Oasis, which is located in the Sand Sea, about 50 miles from the Lybian border. The ancient settlement has existed since at least the 10th Century BC, and is mostly inhabited by ethnic Berbers. Its big draw is the ruins of a temple that were said to be the home of a powerful oracle. There are also a number of tombs from a variety of eras.

Adventure Journey has all the details on how to get to Siwa, and do so on the cheap. The trip requires a bus ride through Alexandria, giving travlers the opportunity to really get off the beaten path and explore a side of Egypt that few ever experience.