Luxor : treasures & tourists



Luxor : treasures & tourists
After a short week spent touring from oasis to oasis in the Western Desert, it is for several reasons that we were happy to arrive in Luxor. After a stint at being a normal tourist and diving in the Red Sea, a week of quiet desert landscapes in the Western desert, we were keen to see some culture and history. Something Egypt doesn't lack, of course. Also, Christian was looking forward to having some decent food or at least a change from our desert picnics. Finally, we were happy to have been able to arrive in Luxor the way we did, from the desert road. Since the tourist killings of 1997, the Egyptian Police strictly controls the movement of tourists along the Nile river. All tourists leaving Luxor will at least have a police escort. It was possible to arrive in Luxor from the desert but the opposite is not as the police will apparently not arrange an escort for that destination. 



Luxor and its tourists
Capital of the Middle Kingdom (2000 to 1500 B.C.), Luxor is rich because of its past and desperately trying to get rich again in present times. Despite a very strong presence of security forces everywhere, tourism has apparently not yet reached its pre-1997 levels. We, for one, do not wish to see what those times were like. Luxor is a bubble in which tourists are made to believe they are visiting Egypt. This is accentuated by the fact that most tourists fly in to Luxor and are driven around in coaches. There is very little independent travel within Luxor and independent travel around the city is forbidden. Those on packages in and out of Cairo are hurried in convoys of more than 50 coaches accompanied by green armoured Mercedes Benz jeeps with machine-gun turret (G-wagen) along Hurghada and the Red Sea instead of straight North along the Nile. We have been disgusted to see female tourists in short tight pants, high heels and bikini tops (and men without shirts) with no respect whatsoever for local customs. To top it all, the sheer number of people who are hurried in for milking on charter flights (US$ 350 per week e-ve-ry-thing included) means that there are crowds and noise everywhere. As a result, we have developed very un-democratic ideas about tourism ! 


Hot pants, a see-through blouse and high heels (left), an armoured G-wagen (centre), queues going in & queues going out in the Valley of the Kings (right)


It takes the most stoic of characters not to get in mad when visiting Luxor. Children seem to focus on a few words (pen, bonbon or baksheesh) and every single man in the street is sure to ask you one of the following : caleche, taxi, shoeshine or wanna visit my shop ? We have counted that on the corniche running along the Nile or in central Luxor, the rate would be about 1 attempt at doing business every 1 minute. To shrug them of in less than a minute would mean being impolite. Being interrupted when talking, shouted or whistled at from the other side of the street is common practice. The most common pick-up line is "where are you from" that usually comes out as "from where ?". To this we would answer "from Egypt" or "from my mother" depending on our mood or the state of our nerves. The sole purpose of every blunt attempt is to milk every tourist from every single possible cent. Not a particularly pleasing experience. 


Luxor and its treasures

The temple of Karnak, just North of the modern city


A statue at the wonderful Luxor Museum



Inside the Royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings


Lotus columns of the Temple of Luxor


In the city : a row of Peugeot 504 taxis (left)



Eager to make a baksheesh (left), Felucca boats and sunset on the Nile (right), Luxor


We were glad to leave !

Here are our extra pages on Egypt II :

Luxor : treasures & tourists Cairo : pyramids & traffic Alexandria & the coast


Egypt, part I Back to Trip page Heading to Libya