A week in Luxor leading up to Christmas — pure delight! I stayed at the Maritim Jollie Ville (formerly the Movenpick), which consists of chalets in gardens of palm-trees, and ate a fillet steak every lunchtime on the terrace overlooking the Nile. The steak, indeed, was only 6 GBP. The hotel is on an island 3 miles from Luxor, and the management take every security precaution. They also vet the taxi-drivers that are allowed to pick up passengers there, and have a price-list at the desk to which they must conform.
Luxor is much more touristified than I remember. The town has been cleaned up, and there has been massive investment, including traffic lights! The west bank feels a little more like a theme park than it did.
Tours remain expensive. My operator (First Choice) wanted almost 40 GBP a head for a morning visit to the Valley of the Kings etc. But it is still possible to take a taxi from your hotel to the Valley of the Kings for the morning. 4 hours cost 15 pounds sterling, for the taxi, not per person. This was undoubtedly the way to do it.
Unlike my former visit, it is now possible to visit Edfu and Kom Ombo; and Abydos and Dendera; as day-trips from Luxor. However these must be done in convoys under police escort, although this is rather token.
On the other hand I had a taxi-driver that I hired at Karnak try to shanghai me and take me for a ride into the backstreets of Luxor, which was somewhat frightening. Another that Walking in Luxor, you are constantly accosted by taxi-drivers and Caleche drivers. Indeed I went into Luxor Temple purely to avoid this hassle! Returning to the resort was a relief.
Edfu temple is pretty splendid as the tops of the walls are intact. I wish that I had more than an hour there. Kom Ombo was interesting, but waiting for the escort for 3 hours was too long.
I don’t recommend First Choice Airlines. The seat space was the smallest that I have ever experienced, and less still once the boor in front reclines his seat. I spent some 5 hours in cramped discomfort, experiencing actual cramp at one point. First Choice also encourages you to sign up at the start for expensive excursions which are non-refundable in the event of tummy upsets. Naturally the most expensive are scheduled for the back of the week, when the bug is most likely to have struck. I was a victim of this myself, having to cancel a trip to Abydos.
One tip: wash your hands after handling Egyptian money. The notes are filthy, and handling them is a prime cause of upset stomachs. I am certain that I ate only with the greatest caution, and still had minor cramps. On the positive side I did lose half a stone in weight — no chocolate, you see!
But a great way to spend a week in the dire run-up to Christmas. The actual price of such a week is around 400 GBP; nothing much, in other words. Recommended.