Abu Simbel, an UNESCO World Heritage site
A felucca – the local traditional sailing boat – on the Nile
We decided to take a private minibus, which for a
minimum of four people, costs £69 each. Although I was
delighted to have chosen this manner of travelling, I can
understand why this is not promoted. Firstly, we had to get
up at 3am for a 3.30am departure. Secondly, all the coaches
that were departing from Aswan had to meet at a given point
from which a cavalcade of buses, escorted by police, departed.
This entailed hanging around until 4.30am before we actually
began the journey.
Rather than seeing miles and miles of white sand, our route
also had interesting black mounds – pieces of rock which had
scattered on the sand. Given that we were supposed to drive
in convoy, our chauffeur hurtled along at breakneck speed,
and we arrived well ahead of the other 20 or so coaches.
The temples – there are two – are particularly impressive,
as originally they were carved out of the rock in one piece.
With the building of the High Dam in the 1960s, the water
levels were raised to create Lake Nasser, which flows past
the site. At that time, to prevent flooding, both buildings
were moved several metres to a higher level.
Planned activities finished in Luxor around lunchtime on
day six of our seven-night cruise, leaving us 24 hours to relax.
This gave us the opportunity to visit Luxor Museum, in
which the antiquities are extremely well presented. A bonus
to the collection is the more or less complete statues that
were unearthed in 1989 in the grounds of Luxor Temple.
If you really want to make the most from visiting the
numerous temples and tombs, it is well worth researching
the Egyptian gods before you go, as the walls are covered
with reliefs. Many of the carvings are featured time and time
again, and knowing who they represent will enhance the
Timing is everything when planning your trip, as
temperatures can soar well into the 100ºs, while at other times
you can be caught in a horrendous sandstorm. Our trip at the
end of May had very high temperatures. This was particularly
difficult when visiting temples where there was often limited
shade. It also meant that a lot of the time we were suffering
from upset tummies. The plus point, however, is that we
were able to visit sites and enjoy them without being
hampered by loads of fellow tourists.
Keeping money for tips is important. Initially, our guide
asked for the equivalent of £7 per person for the drivers and
porters. On top of this, it is suggested on board that we give
at the end of the trip, £2–£3 a day to the guide, and a similar
amount to the boat staff. Although Egyptian pounds can be
bought in the UK, the exchange rate is actually better at the
airport on your arrival.
Our trip was organised by The Classic Traveller, a division of Titan Travel Ltd.
Gatwick Express www.gatwickexpress.com Tel. 0845 850 1530