Luxor, Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
6
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
10
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
4
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
9
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
75 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Africa / Middle East
country
Egypt
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 150
Time of year visited
January
All Tags
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
76th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 30% SUMMARY RATING: Superb

Summary

Not everyone will have heard of Luxor, and it is certainly less famous than those Wonders of the World up near Cairo, but I found them the highlight of an Egypt trip.  Wandering through the exotic stone columns of Karnak, exploring the resting spot of Tutankhamun, gawping from one of the mountains above at the seriously underrated Temple of Hatshepsut, and finishing one of the days watching the sunset from a boat on the Nile.  A wonderful few days

highlights

#1 Wandering through the exotic stone columns of the enormous and inspiring Karnak

#2 Exploring the resting spot of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings

#3 Looking down from above at the Temple of Hatshepsut carved into the bottom of a 300m tall cliff

#4 Taking a Felucca for a mini Nile cruise for sunset and relaxing after a day of seeing the sights

Travel Tips

  • Karnak is a must . . . and vast.  Rather than go the usual way that all the tourists do, trying to see everything, my suggestion is just to wander off and get a little lost – let the wonder and majesty of it all grip you for that wonderful ancient feeling of adventure.  You can always look at the map and make sure you see some of the things you want to later
  • The Valley of the Kings is a fun mini adventure – just be prepared for it to be quite crowded in some of the small tombs and the need to pay at quite a few different entrances.  Some of the spots can also be a little underwhelming based on what there is actually to see, plus the heat can sap the energy
  • Temple of Hatshepsut – I cannot believe that more is not made of this place as it is wow-factor stunning.  A wide column-faced temple that is carved into the foot of a 300m tall cliff.  I saw a photo of it and knew I had to check it out.  Biggest tip – the best way to see the Temple and to get a feel of its location amongst the surroundings is by walking to the top of the ridge from the Valley of the Kings (the ridge splits the two sites).  Only takes around 30mins to reach the top for the views and always great to get away from the fellow tourists whilst doing some exercise rather than slowly walking through the crowds
  • Taking a Felucca for a mini Nile cruise for sunset is a bit touristy, but it is fun.  A gorgeous way to end to one of the days
  • Getting there by train from Cairo – we actually travelled down to Luxor from Cairo on the overnight train.  Left at around 8pm and arrived just before 6am, and you can also take the train which is around 8am – 7pm.  I say “around” because this is Egypt and things rarely leave bang on time.  Although, the Express trains tend to be a bit better.  I found this site particularly helpful https://www.seat61.com/Egypt.htm for detailed info on the trains.  Just make sure you pay for the VIP express.  We tried to save a bit of money – which was an error on a sleeper train!!
  • Be prepared for the touts and scams – its Egypt, so they come with it.  Take a deep breath, be polite – they’ll leave you alone eventually
  • Try to learn a little bit about the history of the Pharaohs and Ancient Egypt before you arrive – as with many such sights, they are of course very impressive on their own, but having the context adds so much to the overall experience. Its worth visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo before heading to Luxor if you get the chance, or even just a 30min read on Wikipedia
  • Visiting in January was really pleasant temperature.  I’d imagine the summer heat would be energy sapping
  • Of course far off, but I wish we’d have continued down to Aswan to see Abu Simbel and the Aswan Dam

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone