So I just returned from a trip to Luxor and wanted to share some of my experiences with you 🙂
We went from feb 4-feb 16, with a group of friends. Most of us have an MA in Egyptology. All of us have been to Egypt and Luxor multiple times, though never in this exact group setting.
It’s quite a long post, but if there are any other questions or whatever, just let me know!
Luxor Pass: three of our group, me included, are officially still students, all three in possession of an ISIC-pass. However, there seems to be a new rule in Egypt, that, in order to receive a student discount you cannot be over 30 years old. Well, all three of us are over 30. One is a PhD-student, I am doing a second education and the other one is a retired man now finishing his degree in Egyptology. However, as none of us knew of this new rule, we were not prepared for it. With a bit of persuasion, and the exact amount of money in euros for the student Luxor Pass, two of us did get the student discount. The retired man however, did not get it. So in the end I paid 80 euros for the Luxor Pass including Seti I and Nefertari.
This new rule for no student discount over 30 was again enforced at the ticket office, however at the Luxor Museum I did get the student discount.
Photo ticket: as you probably know by now, there are photo tickets available for several sites in Luxor. They are promoted at the ticket counter for the Valley of the Kings, but can also be bought at the regular ticket office and at the ticket office at the Valley of the Queens. I am not sure about the ticket office at Hatshepsut, as we did not try it there.
This ticket is valid for photography and video in three tombs, but there are restrictions.
– For the Valley of the Nobles one photo ticket allows you to take photos in one group of tombs you have a ticket for. They check this! So if you are like our group and use the Luxor pass to just visit all the tombs you want, you have to plan carefully where you want to take photos. On top of that, several gafirs told us they would rather take baksheesh then accept the phototicket. At Qurnet Murai they even tried to tell us the photo ticket was not valid there, only baksheesh was possible if we wanted to take pictures.
– For the Valley of the Kings you can take pictures everywhere, except Seti I and Tutankhamun. Sometimes we knew at the entrance of the tomb we wanted to take pictures and presented the phototicket. The ticket was then punched, just as with a normal ticket for three tombs in the Valley. In some tombs we had to see first in order to decide if we wanted to take photos. We then simply asked the person halfway down the tomb if we could take photos and present him with the phototicket. They then would punch a hole in the ticket. If we decided halfway through we wanted to take photos, we always asked first.
– In the Valley of the Kings some other visitors warned me about not taking pictures, some out of concern, some in anger. This was especially so in the tomb of Ramses IX. When I told people that it was allowed with a ticket, most were surprised and some didn’t believe me..
– We went to the tomb of Ay and the man there also accepted the phototicket and punched a hole in it.
– In the Valley of the Queens they did not punch holes in the ticket. Maybe because there are only three tombs open where you are allowed to take photos, so there is no need for that.
– In Deir el Medina there are more than three tombs you can visit, so we were told we had to choose which ones. We asked however if we could decide once we entered the tombs and this was allowed too. However, they did not punch holes in our ticket here.
– The LE 300 phototicket is not the one you use in the museum. You can buy a cheaper one at their entrance for LE 50.
Tomb of Ay: You can visit this tomb without having to purchase a ticket for the Valley of the Kings, but you do have to buy the ticket at the counter over there. Our driver drove us out to the entrance of the tomb of Ay, we only had to climb a little to enter the tomb. However, as we really liked the scenery, some of us decided to walk back to the main parking lot. This took us about an hour, but we walked slowly, exploring the landscape.
Karnak: I had hoped that the sanctuaries of the Khonsu temple were open for public, but unfortunately they were not. There was still work being carried out, but I managed to take a sneak peek, and it is gorgeous. Hopefully on our next visit it will be open for visitors.
Transport: In the past we had taken these local taxis on the east and west bank for LE 1. However, this time we found that we were often asked for more, sometimes LE 1,50, sometimes LE 2. I don’t think that this is just for tourists as some of the locals also paid LE 1,50. However we did not manage to get a straight answer when we asked what the exact rate was.
We stayed at a hotel on the west bank and the National Ferry still costs LE 1 for foreigners. Sometimes we took a private motorboat, but mostly we used the ferry. The price from the ferry landing to Karnak was LE 70 or 80 I think, but this was arranged for us by the hotel. Maybe we could have gotten it cheaper, but with a group of 7 this was much easier and cheap enough.
In the past we had taken a private motorboat to the east bank and gotten off through one of the fancy hotels, I think the Sonesta Saint George. This way we didn’t have to walk all that way from the ferry landing or take a cab to go have diner at Pizza Roma or eat ice cream at Wenkys. However, this year we were stopped at the docks by a man from the hotel and we were not allowed to enter since we were not guests of the hotel. Even when another boats with actual guests appeared, they were allowed because they were recognized, and we were sent away. I know part of our group tried again at the Steigenberger and did succeed, but not without some talking. Security is a good thing of course, so I am not sure this is a bad development, but it was a shame we had to walk back even further than we would have had to walk in the first time if we had just taken the ferry…