Hooves Equestrian meet-up in Luxor Egypt 2024


Riding Arabian horses through the banana fields, cantering on the dirt roads and racing in a full speed gallop through the desert. We did it all on this horse riding holiday in Luxor, Egypt. This was our third year in a row of organising equestrian meet-ups in Egypt. This year we also added a new activity - camping with our horses in the desert - it was truly magical and any horse rider's dream! Once again, we had an overwhelmingly great meet-up, with a charming group of horsewomen. Every time I come back from such a trip, I think that no meet-up could ever top it!

Group of horse riders walking on a road underneath hot air balloons at sunrise

Our next equestrian meet-up in Luxor, Egypt is from 5 to 12 February 2024. We also have a trip (not hosted) for experienced riders to Luxor from 19 to 26 February 2025. Also feel free to reach out to book your private horse riding holidays to Luxor, available to all experience levels and between October and April.

This blog is written by Luzia Montag. Feel free to reach out to Luzi with questions about our Egypt meet-ups, Namibia trail, Botswana horse safari, or our Lesotho trip. You can contact her on Instagram, or on luzi@hoovesaroundtheworld.com.

Also read: Equestrian meet-up in Luxor Egypt 2023

Group of horse riders on a hill under hot air balloons at sunrise

Our amazing group of horsewomen

I couldn't have been luckier with my guests, the group dynamic was absolutely perfect and lively from the very first moment (even though or maybe precisely because we had an age range from 21 to 65 years). We got along incredibly well, and just one week with the ladies was enough for me to really miss them now and can hardly wait to go on the next trips with them. Which, by the way, will be Lesotho in October and Botswana in January! I can hardly wait...

Group of tourist on camels in between banana fields
The group went for an hour-long camel ride through the banana fields!

An early start for our sunrise ride

The entire week was a series of highlights that closely followed one another. One highlight surpassed the next, and every time we thought it couldn't get any better, we were proven wrong. On the second day, we started at 4:30 am, as we wanted to be on the horses by 5:00 am. Needless to say, we were pretty tired, and our conversations were accordingly limited, but we were all quite excited nonetheless.

Gray horse ears looking over lush green fields surrounded by palm trees

When we arrived at the stable, the horses, as always, were perfectly prepared and saddled with a lot of love. So, all we had to do was mount and make sure not to fall off the other side due to tiredness. Once that was accomplished, off we went. It was still dark since we wanted to watch the sunrise at a very special place. So, we rode through the dark and very deserted West Bank of Luxor, which was a truly strange sight. Normally Luxor is very busy, it's always loud, there's always a lot to see, and it definitely never gets boring.

Luzi riding her favourite horse Morgana!

A magical sunrise surrounded by ancient temples and hot air balloons

We rode to the city limits, and slowly, a bright orange strip appeared behind us. Slowly but surely, the sun made its way to the horizon. Finally, we arrived at the city limits, where a series of fascinating ancient ruins, monuments, and temples lined up directly, and behind them, the infinite expanse of the desert unfolded. A truly fascinating sight. We rode up a small, unremarkable hill, and I was a bit confused about what we were looking for here. But when I reached the top, I saw it.

Horse riders in front of hot air balloons at sunrise

Below us, an estimated 50 or so hot air balloons were getting ready to take off. The balloons were still lying folded together on the ground, but the gas burners were already working, and slowly, the balloons were inflating. No balloon resembled the other; they were all colourful and in different colours. The sun was not yet visible, but as always, the sky was about to become even more beautiful.

Horse and rider on a sand hill in front of hot air balloons taking off at sunrise

And then, all 50 balloons (or more) rose into the sky almost simultaneously, while the horizon behind them glowed in orange, red, and pink. It was simply a beautiful and absolutely dramatic moment! We just stood there and admired as the balloons slowly rose above us into the sky. And our horses were true champions. They couldn't have been more relaxed.

White horse ears watching hot air balloons in different colors taking off at sunrise

Breakfast at a temple and galloping through the desert

As the balloons slowly spread out above us, we continued riding along slowly. Past all the historical statues and temples, which rounded off the picture perfectly. It's just such a fascinating thought to be essentially in the midst of Egyptian history. To our left, the sun was now slowly rising between the palms of the green oasis that stretches along the Nile, and to our right lay the endless expanse of the Sahara Desert. We had plenty of time to admire the spectacle of the balloons above, in front, and behind us as we slowly headed for our favourite spot: our "race track".

Shadow of horses on a temple while hot air balloon rises with mountains and desert in the background

But before we got there, we made a stop at a small and very cute café right in front of Habu Temple. The table overlooking the temple was reserved for us, and since they were already expecting us, we were served our breakfast the moment we arrived. It had everything you could wish for from Egyptian cuisine: falafel, omelet, fries, vegetables, the best bread ever, and the best hummus with honey. It's simply the best combination ever - I still dream of it! After we were all full, we went back to the horses and finally to our race track!

Gray horse and rider on a sand dune in the desert in front of mountains

It's the perfect sandy track framed by sand dunes on the right and left. Here, we can let the horses go full speed completely risk-free. And when I say full speed, I mean full speed. If I thought the horses in Mexico or Turkey were fast, I was sorely mistaken. These horses are the fastest I've ever ridden, and at the same time, they are absolutely bulletproof, not crazy but forward and energetic, and just so relaxed when the time comes. We flew along the track! Since we couldn't get enough, we rode it several times in a row. Whenever I thought of letting Arabians go full speed, I always had a horse in mind that would remain hysterical and not relaxed for hours afterward. Not here. We galloped, and ten minutes later, we walked home at a relaxed pace. So cool!

Horses galloping through the desert

Relaxing at the hotel

Back at the stable, we were all very glad to have a few hours of rest to catch up on some sleep or enjoy the sun by the hotel pool. Sounds simple, but for me, it was definitely one of the highlights, as we had very cold weather at home in February, it was a true dream to lie in the sun with a good book for a few hours. By the way, the service at the hotel and at the pool is really extremely good. A small but important goodie that made our lunch break even better.

People sitting around fireplace
And in the evening - drinks around the fire at the hotel!
(Sanne & Ahmed)

Sailing over the Nile at sunset

In the afternoon, we were picked up from our hotel by our tour guide. From here, we walked about 10 minutes to the Nile, which separated the West Bank (where we were) from the East Bank. Here, we first got into one of the beautifully decorated motorboats, which took us only to the other side of the Nile, where we changed to one of the traditional feluccas - the Egyptian sailboats, which were much more relaxed than the first boat, simply because they didn't have an engine and were therefore very calm and didn't smell of diesel. We sailed leisurely along the Nile, and since the wind wasn't particularly strong, we had plenty of time to watch all the hustle and bustle on the banks.

Boats in the Nile in Luxor

At Banana Island, we made a brief stop and were served freshly harvested bananas before heading back in the opposite direction. Now the sun was slowly setting, and the atmosphere was like something out of a movie. Everywhere on the Nile, old traditional sailboats were underway, on the shore, the large ferries docked, with which you could travel on the Nile for several days or even weeks, taking you all the way to Aswan. In the reeds on the West Bank, water buffaloes grazed, and on the East Bank, you could admire all the old and famous hotels that carried so much history within them. It was absolutely magical. As the sun set, our skipper served us tea while our guide Ahmed told us stories about the Nile or the weather. When it hailed for the first and last time in his life, they thought war had broken out because they didn't know hail and wondered who was attacking them with these projectiles from above...

Boats in the Nile in Luxor at sunset

Exploring the East bank of Luxor and buying dates

We spent the rest of the evening strolling through Luxor. We visited the "Winter Palace" hotel, which had flamingos freely roaming in the garden and was also very famous for a story. Ahmed got us typical Egyptian desserts since we were all slowly getting hungry, and when we were back on the West Bank, he showed us the famous sugar cane juice and got us dates since we had been talking about nothing else all evening. The selection was insane! They come filled or unfilled, coated with dark, milk, white chocolate, or in strawberry or mango flavour. And about 100 other variations. I was definitely in heaven. Back at the hotel, we all quickly went to bed, we were absolutely tired from the day, it was beautiful.

Winter palace hotel in Luxor

Visiting the Valley of the Kings

The next morning, we met at 8 am for the hotel breakfast, which was relatively simple but extremely good. In general, I will rave about the food in Egypt for a long time. It is so different from what we eat in Europe in the mornings but simply so incredibly delicious. At around 8:30 am, our guide Ahmed picked us up from the hotel again. This time with a minibus, which took us directly to the Valley of the Kings. And we were all really excited about that. There we could admire the tombs, the sacred burial places of famous Egyptian kings and pharaohs. There are long tunnels that were cut into a mountain at the birth of the king. They were built until the kings died, so the longer a king lived, the longer his tomb/grave was.

Inside Valley of the Kings in Luxor

At the end of the tunnel, a small chamber was found, where the body of the king was laid out. Fake walls were sometimes built further up the tunnel to protect the tomb from grave robbers because the kings were always buried with a lot of jewelry, gold, or other valuable things. The walls of the tunnels, which were sometimes up to 100 meters long, were adorned with hieroglyphs, pictures, and characters down to the last centimeter. Simply absolutely fascinating. We visited a total of 6 different tombs, including those of King Ramses 9,10,11, and King Tutankhamun. It was one of the most beautiful and interesting cultural experiences I have had in a long time, and even for people who are not usually the biggest fans of culture or history, it is absolutely recommended. It is simply beautiful and extremely fascinating.

Inside Valley of the Kings in Luxor

Riding our horses into the desert

Then the really exciting part began! We had a short time to go back to the hotel, get our luggage, which we had packed the night before or that morning, and then we went directly to the stable and to the horses. There, a fully packed jeep was already waiting for us; we just threw our luggage in and off we went on the horses. We rode again through the West Bank of Luxor, to the city limits, past all the temples and ruins, and straight into the desert.

Horse riders in the desert in front of mountains

No matter where in the world I ride in deserts, it is always a completely unique feeling to ride a horse into the infinity of a desert. On the one hand, it is a stifling feeling because you automatically always have all the movies in mind where all the people get lost without water in the desert, and at the same time, it is simply the best feeling in the world. It is a feeling of absolute freedom!

Group of horse riders in the desert in front of mountains

The wind blows in your face, you leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind, all the noise, all the smells, and suddenly find yourself in the simple nature of the desert. I love it every time! And in my opinion, everyone should experience this at least once. And the riding is just extremely fun too! Since this part of the desert was more rocky than sandy, we couldn't ride extremely fast, but still, we had many and long very nice canters.

Group of horse riders on top of a sand dune in front of the city of Luxor

Always towards the sun, which slowly approached the horizon. And even if you initially think that it could be boring in the desert because there doesn't seem to be much to see at first glance, it's never like that. To our right, the mountains piled up, which turned more golden from minute to minute as the sun sank lower. The atmosphere in the group was super lively, everyone was in a good mood and very excited about our camp, and since both the horses among themselves and the riders got along great, we didn't ride strictly in a row but constantly exchanged our positions so that everyone could chat with everyone.

Group of horse riders in the desert riding towards mountains on a clear day in Luxor

Camping in the desert

When we finally arrived at the camp, the sun was just setting. Our timing couldn't have been better once again! First of all, of course, the horses were taken care of, i.e., unsaddled, tied with long ropes to pegs in the ground, fed, and blanketed, as it could get really cold in the desert at night. Then it was time for us to explore the camp, and it was just beautiful! We had a fire pit where we could sit on small sofas around it, we had a beautiful main tent for sleeping and a dining tent. Behind that was the kitchen under the open sky, where cooking was done on a small campfire, and the toilet was the wilderness.

Campfire in the desert with horses next to it and surrounded by mountains

While our guides once again heartwarmingly took care of the horses, we made ourselves comfortable at the campfire with the first drinks. The atmosphere was simply overwhelming. It was cozy and warm by the fire, in front of us, the mountains slowly turned pink in the sunset, and around us, the horses ate their lucerne and snorted. When the sun had completely set, and it was completely dark by now, dinner was served. And once again, it was extremely good. There was a selection of vegetarian tagines, separately served chicken and lamb, a lot of vegetables, hummus, bread, cheese, fresh salad, and much more. In short, everything you could wish for, and whether you eat vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, there is something for everyone.

Campsite with horses in the desert with mountains in the background

A night to remember

We already had the first drinks, so the mood was already quite lively. The first party tricks were shown, and we couldn't stop laughing. After dinner, we returned to the campfire, where the mood continued in more or less the same way. The guides had organised everything we wished for, and so we sat around the campfire with gin and tonics, a shisha with apple tobacco, and a speaker playing the best Egyptian music. And as it had to be, we eventually started playing the drinking game "Never have I ever...". What exactly came to light remains between us, of course, but it was incredibly funny. There is simply no better way to get to know each other. So, after we had covered just about every topic imaginable, the music slowly got louder.

Group of people sitting in the Sahara desert
The hill next to our camp - you can see the East bank of Luxor far in the distance

At some point, I had to visit the wilderness bathroom, which was even quite exciting this time because I suddenly heard a noise in the darkness, and when I turned on my flashlight, one of the wolves that the guides had already told us about suddenly stood in front of me. However, they were very shy, so he immediately disappeared when I got up. Still very exciting. And when I returned to the fire, it got even wilder. I found my group dancing around the fire. From the outside, it was really a strange sight, but it was just incredibly funny. Of course, I joined in. So it went on for a few hours, and as it always is when different cultures meet, we learned the Egyptian dances and taught our way of dancing. Then the best moments on these trips always happen!

Horses on a hill in the desert at sunset

When we really had no energy left to dance, we took our drinks and climbed the next hill. When we arrived at the top, we found a small plateau, which was perfect for sitting or lying down and watching the stars. After a while, the laughter and conversations subsided until suddenly everyone was very quiet. And it was a magical moment. The starry sky was absolutely clear, and we could see so many stars, as you can't imagine in cities or inhabited areas at all. And occasionally, a shooting star streaked across the sky. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Horses on a hill in the desert at sunset

After what felt like an eternity (you never want to end such moments), we climbed down again and slowly searched for our sleeping places. Most of the girls slept in the tent, but Sanne, Ahmed, and I took our blankets outside and built ourselves beds by the campfire! Above us, we had the perfect star panorama, the campfire gave off enough heat so that we weren't cold, and so we fell asleep to the crackling of the fire and the snorting of the horses. And in the distance, we could hear the wolves howling. It was a dream!

Horse galloping through the desert
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