A view of the Luxor Temple (east bank) from the River Nile. Photo by Olaf Tausch.
• Hustlers/touts are a daily hassle, a little Arabic helps a lot.
• Taxi meters don’t work so expect endless arguments if you don’t firmly negotiate beforehand.
• The big sights can get horrifically overcrowded in peak seasons at peak times. Luxor temple can see up to 15, 000 visitors a day though visitor numbers have been down in the last couple of years.
• Mass tourism and a desire to accelerate tourist revenue made a Nile bridge essential to replace the time-consuming ferry service and so it came to be, 10 miles (16kms) south of Luxor (upstream), allowing Red Sea resort day trippers to spread themselves all over Luxor’s west bank without lifting a lazy leg.
Inevitably this means a considerable loss of tranquility and rural vistas to Luxor’s quiet side as new hotels and apartment blocks pack in between the river and the rocks, replacing Egyptian peasants who have been living and working the ground all their lives with smartly suited concierges imported from Cairo.
Tutankhamen would be turning in his grave, if he still had one.
Karnak Temple on Luxor’s east bank. Photo by Olaf Tausch.
The famous Karnak Temple, just down the road from Luxor, was our next stop. This was yet another architectural wonder with its towering carved pillars that once supported a huge roof. You’ve probably seen pictures of it as it was featured in the Agatha Christie film “Death on the Nile”. We visited many other temples to various Gods and Goddesses in and around Luxor that were also truly magnificent. I could go on and on about them, but I won’t.
Luxor west bank
Luxor’s west bank (where most of the monuments are) and a Nile ferry. Photo by Marc Ryckaert.
The west bank is still a quieter place in spite of the newish bridge connecting east and west, particularly after the tourist hordes have gone back to their fancy hotels, though holidaymakers who fancy a simpler, more rustic experience can find excellent places to stay and passable places to eat on the west bank.
Hatshepsut Temple, west bank. Photo by Olaf Tausch.
On the west bank Hatshepsut temple is one of the great places of tourist worship, along with Medinet Habu, the Ramasseum and of course the externally dull Valley of the Kings.
Felucca-ing about on the Nile near Luxor. Photo by Marc Ryckaert.
Riding: camels or horses, around the west bank could be interesting.
Sailing: laze for an afternoon or voyage for a few days down the Nile in a felucca (open old sail boat) tho’ don’t bother if you’re going down to Aswan, that’s the primary activity there; a local captain is necessary.
Biking: tooling around Luxor – especially the more beautiful and tranquil west bank – on two wheels is a terrific way to see the sights.
See our Egypt Travel Guide for advice on health, safety and money.