Luxor/West Bank

The Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el Bahari

The West Bank of Luxor in Egypt is even more of an archaeological paradise than the East Bank. A string of pharaonic mortuary temples vies with the richly-decorated Tombs of the Nobles and the Workmens' Village of Deir el-Medineh for the traveller's attention. The West Bank is also the gateway to the amazing Valley of the Kings. Although the vast majority of visitors to Luxor still tend to stay on the East Bank, a growing number now consider the West Bank as a good accommodation option - once you're awake, no need to bother crossing the river.... all the sights are right at your doorstep.

Get in

(See the Luxor page for getting to the Luxor area.)

From the airport

Taxis (100LE) are the only reasonable option. It is easy to find taxis when you arrive but, unless you are adept at bargaining, it is better to arrange a pick-up in advance from your hotel. Expect to pay anywhere between 50LE and 100LE depending on your bargaining skills for this 20km ride.

From the train station

Taxis are available but, if on a budget and if you're reasonably mobile, it is a short walk to the ferry jetty from the railway station. Walk straight up al-mahatta and then round the tip of the Temple of Luxor to get there. A taxi ride from the station to the jetty should run to about LE10. Hotels on the west bank are all within easy reach of the jetty.

By ferry from the East Bank

By far the quickest, most authentic and romantic manner of crossing the Nile to the west is by ferry or motor launch.

There used to be two ferry services until recently: a tourist ferry (now superseded by the road bridge) and the local residents' ferry (baladi ferry). The baladi ferry costs 1LE for foreigners, 25 pt for locals, and departs from its dock close to the ticket gate for the Temple of Luxor. There is no set schedule: ferries depart when they have filled up or until a decent period of time has passed.

Make an effort to smile and chat with the locals - you'll be using their ferry boat after all! But do be wary of the very few high pressure salesmen who might be on board, hoping to snare you for a taxi fare or accommodation offers - check their offer out, feel free to bargain.... if it's good, take it, otherwise a firm, but polite "No, thank you" (la shukran) should do the trick.

Motor launches have no set dock - they set out from wherever they can pick up an agreeable customer. Prices shoulf be around 5-7LE, 1-1.50LE per person if travelling in a group of 5 or more. The advantage of a launch, of course, is being able to get going immediately.

Get around

Taxi

The West Bank sites are spread out and the temperature varies from hot to extremely hot so the easiest way to get around is by hiring a taxi for the day. This will set you back about 250 LE from the East Bank and about 100-150 LE from the West Bank (*). For a return trip to a particular site the price should not be more than LE100 for a minibus that takes up top 9 people. If your negotiation skills are reasonable, it is cheaper to hire a taxi by yourself, if not, you'll save yourself a lot of grief by asking your hotel to arrange one. In either event, bargain a bit because in Egypt the first price is always on the high side. (*) Mohamed Omran Ali (+201225578071, taxi no. 421) offers a trip to the major attractions (Colossi of Memnon, Valley of Queens/Kings, Hatshepsut) for about 4-5 hours from the West Bank for 60 LE + tip (December 2011).

Bicycle

Bicycles are available at hotels (LE10-20/day) as well as near the ferry jetty (first left after you leave the ferry area). Be aware that the heat can be quite intense and the bikes tend to be primitive. Carry plenty of water. Also, with a bike, you cannot walk over the hills from one valley to another.

Pick ups

Regular pick-ups leave from the ferry to Gurna and if you can find your way onto one you'll get there on the cheap for less than 1LE. Note, however, that the sites are usually 0.5 to 1km away from the main road so you'll have to walk to get there. The best way to use pick-ups is to take one to old Gurna, walk to Deir al-Bahri along the road (or hitch a ride), then walk to the Valley of Kings over the mountains (about 45 minutes), then walk back to Deir al-Medina (or even Valley of the Queens if the heat hasn't got to you), ending up in New Gurna for a pick-up ride back to the jetty.

On foot

Once you get to the tombs area, by taxi or bus, it is entirely possible to hike the hills in-between each area. There are small police stations setup along the hill tops. They shouldn't give any hassle to hikers. The trail going up from Deir el-Bahari is just outside the ticket booth along the road. The trail going into Valley of the Kings drops in behind KV42, next to the "No Climbing Mountain" sign. The trails into Valley of the Queens, Deir el Medineh and Gurna are also outside the ticket areas. Don't forget your water!

Donkey

For an amazing experience take a donkey ride or horse ride through some of the villages on the west bank,to where the real people live,and see them go about their daily lives.You will get plenty of smiles and waves(especially from the children)and no one will try to sell you anything.Go to Pharaoh's Stables by following signs to the Amon Hotel. It's just a short walk from the ferry terminal,so don't be convinced that you need a taxi! They have wonderful horse trips too,and some of the temples can be visited on horseback.The sunset evening ride is an experience not to be missed.They will take you places where the big coaches can't get to,and you will see more of the real Egypt,and its friendly people.Well worth a visit. www.pharaohstables.com

See

Be prepared!

The sites in Luxor are nothing short of spectacular so it is best to be organized.

  • A flashlight! It is dark in the tombs and the lights don't always work either because they don't or because the caretaker can't be bothered with turning them on.
  • Plenty of small bills. Parting with 1LE bills is almost the cost of being a tourist in Egypt and can magically open 'closed' tombs, light up dark chambers, or get rid of a particularly pesky tout.
  • Water. Water is available outside most of the sites but not always readily available inside.
  • If you don't know your Osiris from your Anubis, it might be a good idea to read up a bit before you go. Otherwise, you'll wonder what the fuss is all about!

Medinet Habu

Valley of the Queens

Deir el Medineh

admission LE25

Gurna

Ozymandias of Egypt

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley (1818)
Ozymandias "King of Kings"

Asasif

Deir el-Bahari

Dra Abu el-Naga

Mortuary temple of Seti 1

Do

Buy

Souvenirs, alabaster, perfume, etc....(Note added...but don't use a credit card. Some shops there are masters at credit card fraud. You may get your money back at home, but best to USE CASH and BARGAIN!

Eat

Sleep

Splurge

Stay Safe

Cope

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, September 13, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.