There are some places you visit in real life and when it comes to describing them to others, words fail you. This post is full of images that attempt to describe to you the truly magnificent temples that we saw in Egypt on our Luxor trip. I’m just sorry that it took this long for us to visit. It hadn’t panned out until recently and of course one tries to pay attention, maybe too much attention to the Egypt travel advisory. While it is prudent to be aware of the happenings in the world, no place is truly safe as l have stated before and I feel now is the best time to travel to Egypt, thanks to the thin crowds. We felt both safe and welcome. Here is a recap of our Hurghada to Luxor trip with one of the best transfer companies we have used to date. Egypt truly impresses and we visited Luxor the right way..stress free.
Visit Luxor from Hurghada the best way (This is how to do it):
Two words. Private Transfer. Sometimes when we visit places, I will do a whole lot of research. More often than not, I just fly by the seat of my pants and go with the flow. The major reason is that we like to truly enjoy places. For us, it’s not about number counting and bragging. Some of my greatest memories from travel are about food and hanging with the locals, be it when l go home to Nigeria, or talking with a bartender over a beer in Amsterdam. Despite the fact that l was disappointed with Amsterdam, the memory of his warmth towards us will forever be with me. I remember wanting to visit Krakow only after a lengthy conversation with a waiter on a rooftop in Stockholm. Those little moments l cherish. This trip to Egypt, I will cherish memories of talking to the shopkeepers in El Gouna (most called me cousin since l was from Nigeria :-) ) and little snippets of conversation with our guide at the pyramids and at Luxor, both young men with surprising extensive world knowledge.
Our Hurghada stay was really nice. We knew we wanted to visit Cairo, we did, and it was a great time. We also knew we wanted to visit Luxor and the Valley of the Kings amongst others. The owners of the house we were staying at suggested Moh at Hurghada Luxor Transfers and being the stubborn idiot that l am, I went ahead and contacted 3 other companies in addition to his. His is a small outfit and he certainly pays attention to details. He eased my thoughts right away once l spoke to him. He asked the right questions and he tailored our Luxor trip to my specifications. I peppered him with lots of questions, which he answered patiently. His price was fair and right in the middle. l chose him over the others because he knows his stuff. I highly recommend using his services. Once again, I have nothing to gain as l have no affiliation with him.
Traveling from Hurghada to Luxor via private transfer:
The car picked us up at 6:30AM sharp as promised. It was a late model sedan, clean as a whistle and had the most pleasant driver. Our three and half hour drive was wonderful and we talked about a variety of topics, from marriage to cultural differences (that was funny to put it mildly as he had such macho bullshit beliefs that l shot down consistently much to his amusement) to soccer. Sometimes l surprise myself with my knowledge of the sport, I think it’s osmosis and the fact that Federico constantly talks about it and l have no choice but to retain some of the information.
There were lots of check points along the way which put my mind at ease. Every car that goes through that valley is documented. It was a breeze because our driver was so used to driving that route and l swear he was related to a lot of the policemen along the way. He lives in Hurghada but was born and grew up in Luxor. Pretty sure that by the time he drove us back to Hurghada, he was into having a “westernized” wife. The scenery along the way differed from when we went to Cairo. They were more like humongous sand dunes, not the Red Sea. After a while, you begin to picture everyone of them a yet to be discovered temple. They had that look.
Where is Luxor in Egypt?
Luxor is located on the east bank of the Nile river in the south of Egypt. Thebes was the ancient capital during the pharaohs pinnacle of power (16th-11th centuries BC) and Luxor occupies that site now.
Where to stay in Luxor Egypt:
I had originally wanted to stay in a five star hotel, thanks to the really favorable exchange rate which was $1 to 17.3 Egyptian Pounds so l thought we would splurge. What l realized in time was that because of the unfortunate downturn in tourism, a lot of hotels were going for cheaper and therefore were good deals. In the end, we stayed at the hotel recommended by Moh, the really nice Lotus hotel Our room had a gorgeous view of the Nile and a cute balcony from which to enjoy it. The room was a great size and the bathroom luxurious. I’m glad we didn’t upgrade because this was plenty great.
Things to see in Luxor: (Luxor Itinerary Guide)
Moh had arranged an English speaking guide for our Luxor two day tour and it was nice not to worry about anything but showing up. It saved us having to haggle to find the right person. Our guide was a very, very knowledgeable young man who was college educated and a budding Egyptologist. He had wonderful insights and added another layer of understanding to what we were seeing. He gave us space and plenty of time to appreciate all Luxor had to offer. I am not a historian and so l will not go too deeply into the specifics on Luxor and Egyptian history as a whole, but l would offer you this advice… pay the extra and have a guide. You will definitely appreciate it more.
Karnak Temple (Temple of Karnak):
The only way to describe this is simply wow! The Karnak complex is huge! The first time l saw it was on a Poirot episode and l was intrigued. Seeing it in real life was just mind blowing. Allow yourself at least two hours or more to see everything and walk through the grounds. There is constant excavation and they are finding new things all the time. There was a newly opened portion on our trip and you can’t help but imagine what it must have looked like back in those days. The ways the columns were built to catch the light for instance, the various markings and signatures and their meanings, all patiently explained by our guide.
Some of the pharaohs histories were quite amusing, like the one who became Egyptian by being creative with his semen. We were all positive that his “tool size” was greatly exaggerated in the artwork. We would have missed that whole scene without the guide, and that would have sucked :-) . Don’t miss the Hypostyle Hall contained within. A World Heritage Site as of 1979.
Karnak Temple Hours:
Monday through Sunday 6AM – 5:30PM
Ancient temple complex dating back to 1453 BCE. Luxor Temple is believed to be where the pharaohs were crowned and is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship as opposed to death tombs. This temple will eventually be linked to Karnak temple and we saw men working on the pathways when we visited. It was interesting to find out how deep below sea level the temple is. There are various chapels contained at Luxor, including ones built by Amonhotep III, Tutankhamun, and Ramesses II.
Luxor Temple Hours:
Monday – Sunday 6AM – 10PM
Colossi of Memnon:
This massive stone statues were meant to stand guard at the temple mortuary Amonhotep III. They have survived for over 3400 years through floods and other natural disasters. You feel so tiny when standing next to them for sure. It’s also a nice area to pick up your souvenirs as we felt the hawkers were not as pushy as in the other places.
Colossi of Memnon Hours:
Monday – Saturday 6AM – 5PM
Sunday 6AM – 6PM
Needless to say, these things are so massive, you can see them from the street even if you can’t get up close.
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut:
I think this was my favorite site and it was clearly the favorite of our guide. I loved learning her story. She was the only female pharaoh of ancient Egypt and outfoxed them all using the peoples beliefs. A lot of the statues have been either stolen or destroyed, some on the orders of her stepson Thutmose III, but it’s understandable given their history.
Hatshepsut Temple Hours:
Monday – Sunday 6AM – 5PM
Valley of the Kings:
One of the world’s most important archeological sites. Rock cut tombs for the pharaohs and noblemen of the kingdom are located here, almost five hundred years worth of nobility represented. So far there are about sixty three tombs, but of course there is a constant search for more. There is a bit of a distance uphill to reach the valley. You can choose to wait for the little tram that ferries people up and down (recommended) or you can be brave and walk up. We rode up and had maybe a ten minute wait and walked down afterwards.
Your entrance ticket allows you to visit only three of the total number of tombs opened to the public and our guide advised on the best ones. This was the only place where the guides could not come in with you, so he told us the stories before we entered and so knew what to look for. I have to say that l felt quite smug explaining some of the paintings in a loud voice to Federico when we were inside and watched people listen intently and had no idea l was just spouting what l had been told :-) . The passages were amazing and so colorful. Work stopped on the tombs upon the death of the rulers and noblemen so you sometimes saw like insane colors and then just slab left as is after death. If you intend on taking pictures, even with a cell phone, you need to pay extra before entrance. I think it was $18 additional which l thought was worth it and Federico thought was too much. I had to remind him it was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity and l was not going to be looking back with regret. Needless to say, he loves what he captured and wants to frame quite a few of the images :-) . Stubborn l tell you :-) !!!!
You know my post wouldn’t be complete without images of some of the food we had. Our package with Hurghada Luxor Transfer included a delicious meal in downtown Luxor. I can still taste the hummus, so fresh. The restaurant at the hotel was also surprisingly cheap and very tasty, I think less than $6 per person, wine included. It’s kind of sad that people are missing out on a great country because of safety concerns. I daresay if this was a situation in the first world, people would carry on traveling. I have yet to hear people stop traveling to Paris, Belgium and the U.S especially. let’s just say right now, I would feel safer going back to Egypt than the U.S, and so should you.
In conclusion, I think a Hurghada to Luxor private transfer is for sure the best way to have a pleasant trip as part of your Egypt visit. It offers as part of the package:
– hotel accommodation with buffet breakfast
– entrance fee inclusions to the Luxor Egypt points of interest
– Egyptian lunch at a beautiful restaurant
– Private car for your drive from Hurghada to Luxor and back
– English speaking and knowledgeable guide
– Personalized service
– Fair price
There are plenty of things to see in Luxor, and while you can do a one day Luxor trip, I highly recommend two days to see it all and not feel rushed. For sure, we will go back to Egypt as there are other parts of the country we want to see, including Aswan and Alexandria, not to mention a return trip to both Luxor and Cairo, as well as Hurghada. So yes! Egypt is safe to travel as long as you take the usual precautions and keep your wits about you.
Have you been? If yes, which was your favorite city and one you would recommend to others? Did you feel safe or were you concerned about your safety in Egypt? Are you like us and can’t wait to experience a return visit. If you haven’t visited Egypt, is it on your list of places to visit in your lifetime?