Good trip, probably the best you can get in Egypt
David_J, Mar 2021
Luxor Full day "Valley Of Kings" & Hatshpcout & Karnak Temple - From Hurghada
This trip was good, much better than trip to Cairo that we did as well. Most of this will be because of the destination – Luxor is a small city positioned on the nile and around it are green fields where Egyptians harvest their crops, so the athmosphere is much better here, the air is better and importantly, you also get to enjoy more sightseeing than in Cairo (which is also a bigger city, with bad air and no green around, just dirt). The monuments in Luxor are plenty and its nice to walk through the temple of Karnak and Hatshpcout temple. Some difference in our experience of Cairo vs Luxor is also due to travel agency – we have been to Cairo with Egyptra Travel and it was bad, we were in Luxor with YourTripsGuide and it was good (and previously we have been with the same travel agency on dolphin trip and it was also very good).
Also, the food on this trip was brilliant.
However, here are some things they could improve:
1) no covid safety measures – although they had advertised there will be covid safety measures in place (e.g. bus capacity will be limited to 50 %, everyone will be given mask and hand sanitiser, guides will wear masks at all times) and we explicitly asked them in a chat whether they will stick with those rules, they did not in the end. The bus was basically full, no one was offered masks or sanitiser, guides were not wearing masks almost at all. They basically lied to us in the chat.
2) guidance – we had guide called Mimo who was very energetic and much better than guide in Cairo. However, the content of what he was talking about was not that interesting and important – he mostly talked about what does various signs on the monuments mean, how to read them and did not talk about the history enough. When we reflected upon this, it would be better for us if we just downloaded some online voice guide which we would listen while sightseeing instead of follow Mimo and listen to him. If we went on this trip next time, this is what we would do – find and download the online guide before the trip and when entering Karnak Temple (and other monuments), just make arrangement with the guide that we will do the disghtseeing separately and meet them at the entry gate at a given time.
3) pricing – when you pay for the whole trip (which feels already pretty expensive for egyptians standards of living and for the value you’re getting), you kind of expect it is a bundle with everything included. I still don’t understand and not really like that they charge you 10 EUR more during the trip to visit the banana island. You don’t have to pay for that, but then you spend about 1,5 hour in a bus driving around Luxor (which might not be that bad btw, the countryside around Luxor was nice to watch). They should include this in the original price and if needed raise that original price, but the fact that they ask you for extra money for something that feels like a natural part of the trip, after you have spend some significant money on the whole trip already just feels weird and bad.
4) acting in tourists’ interests – as we experienced multiple times in Egypt (and especially in Cairo), the travel agencies put much weight on extracting as much money as they can from you. In this case it was not that bad, but still, between sightseeing, they drove us to some nearby shop where they “showed us how local people make things from alabaster stone” – basically 30 seconds presentation and then 20 minutes time for us to buy things. Almost no one was interested in this and so most people spent these 20 minutes waiting outside the shop or in the bus, waiting until 2 people (out of all the bus) get persuaded to buy some stuff. This part of the programme was not interesting and we felt like they actually acting against our own interests (while being paid by us to do us).
5) departure time – we departured from Hurghada at 5am when the sun was rising. Because the sun was shining the whole journey to Luxor, it was hard to get some extra sleep. If the departure time was a bit earlier - at 3am or 4am, we would be able to fall asleep when there is still dark outside and spend most of the long journey sleeping.
We think this trip is approximately the best you can get from egyptian travel agencies. Since we were not completely satisfied with this, we also thought about some alternatives, but there dont seem to be any feasible ones – private tours are much (2-5 times) more expensive and we would not bet that they are better quality, perhaps just fewer people. I would probably also be too complicated to go to Luxor on your own – it is pretty far away from hurghada and we found only one public bus per day doing this journey (though we are not sure whether renting a car could be an option). You would also likely not be able to visit all the places in one day – the programme of the travel agency is pretty packed and since they move around by bus and know their way around, they can keep the programme packed, which you likely couldn’t.