A day trip to Luxor

Hatshepsut Temple, Luxor

I have visited Egypt three times, but it was only on the third time that I got to see a different Egypt, one that I still did not know. Since all my trips to the country are with the purpose of diving, I always end up staying on the coast and never really see any real city. However, on my recent visit, together with Memphis Tours I took a day trip to Luxor from Hamata, where I was diving.

Luxor is located 440Km from where I was, which means that with the Egyptian roads I was looking to over 5 hours by car one-way, 10 hours in total. I have to confess that I was a bit skeptical as for the long time we would have to stay on the road just to spend 1 day a few hours in the city. However, it was the only day W and I could take this trip, and if I really wanted to finally visit a real Egyptian town this time, I had to make it work and hope that it was worth it. And it was.

Our driver and tour guide from Memphis Tours picked us up at the hotel in a private car, and we left for Luxor between 4am and 5am local time; it was still dark. In the next hours we drove from the beach through the desert, then passed by little towns in the middle of nowhere. It is incredible how the scenario changed along the way; I was beyond excited to finally arrive in Luxor.

Desert in Egypt

In total we spent 7 hours in town, and you won’t believe when I tell you – and show you – all we visited, did and saw in this time frame. We certainly made the most of our time in Luxor:

Valley of the Kings

Our first stop already made my jaw drop. The Valley of the Kings is where the tombs of all the Pharaohs from the Dynasties 18th, 19th and 20th can be found, which include Ramesses III, Ramesses VII and the so famous Tutankhamun. Unfortunately it is not allowed to take pictures in the tombs, but at least I got one from the outside.

Valley of the Kings, Luxor

Entering those tombs was one of the most amazing feelings I ever had while traveling. All my life I heard and watched stories of Egypt, the tombs, hieroglyphs, and Pharaohs, but never thought about the moment when I would see them with my own eyes right in front of me. Just to think that humans built these tombs with no machines and before Christ, it’s surreal.

A little bit of history behind it

This place was chosen for the tombs because of its location: in the middle of the deserted mountains where the waters of the Nile are not able to reach it. As of today, 65 tombs were found here, where 63 are known, meaning they know to whom it belongs. The first tomb to be discovered was Ramesses VII in the 1800’s and the latest was found in 2008, possibly from someone of the 18th Dynasty.

They keep finding new tombs and archeologists believe that there are still more to be uncovered.

Tips:
  • To see the tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramesses VI and Ay, you need to buy separate tickets;
  • Just for your information, many tombs are closed for visits, as archeologists are working on them most of the time;
  • Inside the tombs there are always a staff member of the Valley of the Kings trying to give you some explanations in exchange for money, so try to avoid them – maybe pretending you don’t understand them will work.
  • The mummies are not at their tombs anymore, that’s because when they are found and have their tombs open, the mummification won’t work anymore, so the mummy needs to go to another process in order to be preserved. Most of them are in museums, like the Louvre in Paris.

Colossi of Memnon

It was just a stop and go from the car to get a photo while our guide told us a brief story about it. The Colossi of Memnon or el-Salamat/el-Colossat for the locals, are two huge statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotel III made of quartzite sandstone brought there all the way from Cairo. Even though pretty damaged, they are still very beautiful.

Colossi of Memnon, Luxor

Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple

In ancient Egypt, no woman could assume the role as Pharaoh, only men. However, it has been said that Hatshepsut assumed this role and she was probably the first powerful and important woman in the world. Egyptologists say that she was one of the most successful Pharaohs.

Hatshepsut Temple, Luxor

Interesting fact:

Being a female Pharaoh – the first of its kind – Hatshepsut considered important to remind people that she was a woman, and in her temple, her statues have their faces painted in red.

Hatshepsut Temple, Luxor

Hatshepsut Temple, Luxor

Hatshepsut Temple, Luxor

Shopping at local Bazaars

We made a stop at a local store where men make from little to big statues, of every Egyptian god, famous Pharaohs, temples and so on, of different types of stones. These people carry the heritage of their ancestors, who were the ones to draw and paint the hieroglyphs. How awesome is that? They simply passed this from generation to generation, from before to after Christ.

Artisans in Luxor

At this shop there is no price on the objects, so be prepared to negotiate – as in most cases in Egypt. We wanted to buy a little statue of the god Anubis, smaller than my hand, and the vendor started his price at $120! We ended up taking it for $35. He wasn’t happy about the negotiation, we were.

Riding a boat on the Nile

So all those stories we hear about the Nile, how important it is to Egypt and how huge it is, well, they are all true. This river is huge, in every way, after all it is the second largest in the world. It divides Luxor in two parts, the West – where the dead are – and the East, where the center city and temples are. InterestingΒ thing is that there are almost no bridges that connect one side of the river to the other, they are found mostly already outside town, for this reason taking a boat to cross from one side to the other is very common among the locals.

Nile River, Egypt

Nile River, Egypt

Nile River, Egypt

Nile River, Egypt

We had the chance to ride a boat in the Nile from the West to the East side, where we headed to have lunch. It was one of my moments of feeling like I am part of the world.

Lunch with a view over the Nile

Our little boat disembarked at the door of the Sonesta St. George hotel, the best in Luxor and where we had our lunch overlooking the Nile. The food was delicious – that was a first for me in Egypt – and we had a great time filling our guide with questions about Egypt’s ancient history.

Nile River, Egypt

Hotel Sonesta St. George, Luxor

Luxor Temple

Unfortunately, because of our short time we didn’t step inside the Luxor Temple. We passed by two times and I got to get a picture of it. The temple was founded in 1400 BC (in Thebes, nowadays Luxor) and it is a UNESCO Word Heritage Site. I wish we had more time to go there, but we had another very important place to make a stop.

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple

Karnak Temples

One of the most amazing and stunning places I have ever been in this life, jaw dropping, breathtaking, call it whatever you want. Even though it is popular known as the Karnak Temple, in reality it is Karnak Temples, as there are many temples constructed by different Pharaohs of different Dynasties. It is basically a city of temples, which were devoted to the gods Amun, Mut and Khonso.

Karnak Temple, Luxor

The Karnak Temples (where Karnak means sheep) are dated all the way back to around 2055 BC, and covers around 200 acres. It is nothing less than the largest religious site ever built in the world, so you have an idea, 61 acres are the sacred area of the god Amun alone, which easily fits St. Peter’s, the Duomo di Milano and the Notre Dame of Paris! There are over 130 columns, a lake, obelisks and pylons to name a few. The temples are separated by sections, each constructed by a different Pharaoh.

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Karnak Temple, Luxor

Interesting fact:

3 of the obelisks that used to be here are now in 3 different European cities: Berlin, London and Rome.

Karnak Temple, Luxor

My thoughts

After 7 hours in town we headed back to our hotel in Hamata, happy that the 10-hour-car-ride was totally worth it. Of course, there is much more to see in Luxor, but Memphis Tours made sure we didn’t miss the main attractions and left us craving for more. I wish we could have stayed longer. There is so much history to take in, I’m glad our tour guide studied Egyptology and have lots of stories to tell. I could go on and on telling you all that he told us, but I will leave some of the information for when you visit Egypt!

Karnak Temple, Luxor

My tip

Exploring Egypt is not the same as Europe, where you can simply take the public transportation and do everything by yourself. I highly advise you to hire a company to organize your visits and take you to the monuments, they know how everything works and how to optimize your time.

Otherwise, you will have to do all by yourself and either rent a car – which I don’t advise you to do in Egypt if you don’t know the local rules – or take taxi, carriage or something of the genre – which means you will have to negotiate prices all the time, and this can be very frustrating.

Hatshepsut Temple, Luxor

You can take the same trip

Either from Hamata, Marsa Alam or Hurghada, Memphis Tours organizes your visit the way you want it. If you only have one day like we did, trust me, it is still worth it, but if you have the chance to stay longer in Luxor, I would advise 2 days. What also should be amazing is a cruise on the Nile.

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Karnak Temple, Luxor

*Thank you Memphis Tours for making this trip possible, and for helping me tick off some items of my bucket list.

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • I’ve heard about Luxor a lot of times. Usually groups from Greece would visit Cairo and Alexandria and then fly out to Luxor to visit the Valley of Kings and cruise along the Nile. I’d like to visit Egypt one day, there so much history there!

    • Yes, there is soo much history in Egypt, it’s incredible!! But I’m guessing Greece too! πŸ˜€
      I hope you visit Egypt sometime, I was really impressed with Luxor!

  • Gin

    3 times already ! It’s difficult to visit everything in one go and I have the feeling that each trip would be very different, Luxor is a very iconic place and I would love to visit it

    • Yes, I can tell you that each time was very different than the other, even with regards to the diving part.
      We are not coming back for a while now, but next time I would love to finally visit Cairo.
      I hope you visit the country someday, it’s packed with history, amazing!

  • Kathleen (Kat)

    I know sometimes our schedules just never seem right, so when an opportunity like this comes even though it’s a full, day tour packed with so many sights to see, I would sign up for it anyway πŸ™‚ Hopefully next time you get to step inside Luxor Temple. #MondayEscapes

    • I agree with you Kat, I simply can’t say no to opportunities like that πŸ˜€ And it turned out to be amazing!
      πŸ˜€

  • I loved the Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple – we visited when I went with my family on a Nile Cruise. I still remember how amazed I was by it all. I am glad you found it worth all that travel!

    • Really?? That’s amazing Ting, I didn’t know you have visited Luxor already! Ohhh and the Nile Cruise, I would love to do it someday πŸ˜€

  • Oh really? Oh my I can imagine how hot it was! Even now during winter was already very warm for sightseeing!
    I hope next time I make it to Cairo and Giza and that ou get the chance to visit Luxor πŸ˜€

  • It was the best day trip I ever made, as we did so much and saw things I never imagined that were so amazing!
    Yes, it’s true about the travel industry in Egypt, pretty sad πŸ™ Interesting that I don’t think the tourism in Paris got worse after the attacks, now you made me think about it.

  • You’re welcome!! I hope one day you make it to Egypt. I’m very curious to know what you will say about diving there, since you have been diving in some amazing places πŸ˜€

  • Thank you so much Karen!
    Yes, her story is very interesting… there is much more to it!

  • Amazing that you got to stay there πŸ˜€
    One day is certainly not enough, but I’m happy we could make the most of it!

  • Really? I didn’t know that Cathy πŸ˜€ That’s awesome.
    As you I have always been fascinated by the pharaohs too, so I loved visiting this place πŸ˜€

  • Yes it is! I was very happy to be able to visit so many things in one day πŸ™‚

  • Ohh noo, sorry to know that! I hope you visit it someday with your kids, I think they will love to visit the tombs πŸ˜€

  • I agree with you Susan, it’s amazing how they accomplished so much such a long time ago!
    When I visited Rome I felt the same too, I still do every time I go πŸ˜€ I love it there!

  • Yes, you are totally right. One of the downsides of the Egyptian tourism is everyone trying to take money of you in every possible way. This is very annoying! But I also agree that it’s worth putting up with it just to visit these amazing places. And yes, an organized tour I believe is the best way to visit cities like Luxor, you don’t have to worry about much πŸ˜€

  • I hope you make it to Egypt sometime, you will be impressed! πŸ˜€
    The cake was delicious!

  • Thank you so much, happy that you liked the photos πŸ˜€
    I hope you enjoyed your time in Luxor!

  • I hope you do visit Egypt Sarah! It is an impressive place with history everywhere πŸ˜€

  • Thank you!! πŸ™‚
    hahaha yess, go sister! I loved learning about her story, I also had no idea how important she was. And there is more to the story!
    In Egypt I always recommend an organized tour, it’s the best way to get around I think.
    I hope you visit it someday πŸ™‚

  • Thank you Trish!
    I hope you get to visit Luxor someday, it’s worth it, believe it πŸ˜€

  • Thank you dear πŸ˜€
    Yes, each time was very different than the other, and I surely hope to come back and next time visit Cairo πŸ˜€

  • That’s so cool that you got to visit Egypt on your teens! haha I can imagine, I also dont remember much of many trips I did when I was younger, and I wish I could. I hope you get to return there as an adult, you will probably see it in a different way πŸ˜€

  • Thank you πŸ˜€
    Ohh that’s so cool, I hope you guys can accomplish this item of your bucket list! It’s worth it!

  • What? That’s amazing, I can’t believe that you worked on the cruise ships in Egypt πŸ˜€ Must have been a unique experience!
    And thank you so much for the compliment. A book? haha I hope one day, just don’t know about what yet πŸ˜€

  • Ohhh how awesome, I want to do the cruise someday, I heard it’s wonderful and that you visit lots and lots of temples πŸ˜€
    I also find it amazing that they know so much about things from such a long time ago! Must me interesting to study archeology and all those things πŸ˜€

  • Amazing isn’ it? I also would love to return!
    And yes, you can take tours form the coast, so next time you can combine the beach with the city πŸ˜€

  • It is amazing!! I hope you visit it someday!
    About the Nile it was totally fine, the waters a calm and the ride lasted only 10 minutes or so, just enough to cross the river πŸ˜€ I think you will be fine if you have go.

  • Yesss, it was an amazing one! I couldn’t recommend more.
    As you I also would like to learn more about ancient Egypt πŸ˜€
    I hope you get to go sometime!

  • Thank you dear πŸ˜€
    Happy to know you liked the photos!

  • I hope you do πŸ˜€

  • Hi Andrea,

    Thank you, happy to know that πŸ˜€
    Of course there are its risks, just as there are risks traveling to Paris or any major town previously attacked by terrorists. I have been to Egypt 3 times in less than 2 years and never had any problem regarding security in any way. I always have a great time there and I believe that most of what you see on TV and people talk about are exaggerations. πŸ™
    But I do hope you visit it someday, because it’s really worth it! πŸ˜€

  • Ohhh are you serious? That’s awesome! Cairo is hopefully going to be on my itinerary for next time, I want to visit it since I was a kid πŸ˜€ I hope next time you will visit Luxor, it’s really worth it!

  • Yes it is πŸ˜€

  • Thank you Jess!!
    I hope you make it to Luxor, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! It’s an impressive place!

  • It is incredible isn’t it? They were so developed back then, amazing! πŸ˜€

  • It is a very impressive place, really worth the visit!! I hope you do go there sometime πŸ˜€

  • beatravelling.com

    Luxor is so on my bucket list!! A day trip sound grueling though… But you do what you gotta do πŸ™‚

    • One day is definitely not enough, so when you go make sure to stay 2 days at least πŸ˜€

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  • The_Paris_Itinerary

    Wow! Wow! Wow! I have always wanted to visit Egypt and Luxor is top of my list. I loved your pictures. I hope one day I get to visit. #MondayEscapes (I know, I’m running late! πŸ™‚ )

    • Thank you dear πŸ˜€ I hope you do visit it someday!!
      hahaha don’t worry!

  • hahaha yess, you said it all! It was indeed a surreal feeling, and so many things came to my mind, I wish I remembered more about what I studied at school about Egypt πŸ˜€

  • Thank you sooo much πŸ˜€ Glad you liked the photos!
    I hope you do visit Luxor someday with Monkey, it’s definitely a place to be on your bucket list πŸ˜€

  • I hope you will make it to Egypt Anda! It’s no doubt a place to be on everyone’s bucket list πŸ˜€