The Traveling Steve's

Long but Exciting Day Touring Luxor Egypt!

In what was perhaps our longest shore excursion ever, Steve (DOS) and I took a nearly 16 hour tour from our port stop in Safaga, Egypt to Luxor Egypt.  We had an early breakfast in the outdoor section of the Colennade Restaurant at 5:30am, before boarding our tour bus at 6:20am for the 4 hour journey to Luxor.

As the saying goes, “The journey is a fun and exciting part of the destination”. (Well at least the outbound trip to Luxor, not the late night return journey to the ship!?)

We knew going into this tour it would be the longest of the trip, and we would have some sea days following it to catch up with our sleep (and sore muscles!).

On the trip, there were a dozen large tour buses, (as well as some smaller vans passengers had arranged for their own tours) and we all traveled in a convoy to Luxor for our tours.  As this was such a unique tour, it seemed like 90% of the 452 cruise passengers went on one of the tours to Luxor.   Although Seabourn doesn’t usually fill the buses to allow for people to spread out, on this trip due to the remote port location and availability of that many buses, the tour buses, including ours, were almost full. 

DOS and I managed to each get a seat to ourselves in the very back of the bus though, and it made the journey a bit more comfortable for the long travel day.  A guest services Seabourn manager from the ship sat in the last row behind us, and we enjoyed her company and the Australian couple nearby on the journey and stops along the way.

Along the way to Luxor, we went thru no fewer than a dozen check points along the way, (basically each small town we went thru) and our guide assured us we were quite safe. We found out later on the way back there was a suited security officer onboard (i.e.dressed like a secret service man in coat and tie) each bus.  While most of the checkpoints were fairly quick and we didn’t have to get off the bus, they did want to verify the number of people aboard, origination, destination etc.  I guess with the world situation now it’s a must for security, and this is one time we were glad we didn’t have a private tour, as I think the checkpoints for a single car would be much more strict and inquisitive.

The first few minutes of our journey was thru the port City of Safaga, which our guide described as a mostly working-class town, with many of the people involved in some way with the port, although it does have a few lower end tourist accommodations as well. Safaga was quite off the beaten path, and really was not a place you want to tour, but driving thru the town we saw some of the local community, housing, mosques and billboards here (and throughout the day) of the Egyptian President (who is up for re-election in December 2023), before leaving the city and heading thru the mountainous terrain.

We drove for about an hour thru the mountains and dessert terrain, which changed gradually throughout the drive, later becoming greener and more fertile with flowering bougevvilla and farming vegetation. We passed thru several small towns, all complete with checkpoints.

The Security man for our bus also went with our group into town, staying with our group the whole time.  He was very polite, and while he didn’t speak much English, he was especially helpful to DOS and myself when we went thru the security screening points at each museum, temple stop etc., by interpreting to the local security staff that we had pacemakers, and couldn’t go thru the metal detector.  It was kind of odd actually as he just had us walk around the metal detector and no one ever patted us down, and we must have gone thru at least 6 or 7 metal detectors throughout the day.   Maybe he told them we were VIP’S and not to bother us! LOL!?. On the golf card transport we had to take from the entrance of The Valley of the Kings to the actual “pyramids” for touring, the security man actually stood on the back of of our golf cart looking out for us.

I’m posting lots of photos below as a Luxor gallery in the interest of time and bandwidth while enjoying this sea day on Seabourn.  Seabourn sea days such as this, are jam packed with things to do, and it takes time to write these posts and upload photos, so for a while I’ll just post pics along the way.

In a nutshell though, we visited the Valley of The Kings, which was an ancient burial ground on the east side of Luxor.  (As explained, the east side of Luxor was for the “dead”; I.e. tombs of the kings and queens), while the west side of Luxor was for the living, and separated by the Nile River.

The Valley of the Kings (VOTK) was absolutely fascinating and dates back to 1,500 BC. (All links on this page are from Wikipedia.com). Because of the sandy and hilly terrain, The VOTK was a perfect place to create tombs in the hillside, many of which resemble natural pyramids, such as in Cairo. 

I haven’t been to Cairo before, but our guide who was from Cairo, explained that the pyramids in Cairo are open to the public inside, but only have a clearance inside of 3 feet high or so, making them difficult to tour.

The natural “pyramids” in the VOTK’s however were quite spacious inside with high ceilings of some 10 feet or more, enabling you to easily walk thru.  Unfortunately over the years most of the tombs had been pilfered of the jewels and sculptures, and it’s estimated there are some 16 or more tombs in this area, some possibly undiscovered as of yet.  

Fortunately  we went thru two of the King Ramsey tombs that were left more or less intact, and while there were others such as another King Ramsey’s tomb and King Tutt’s tomb, we only had time to view two of the tombs, which were incredible!

  Our guide had told us on the drive that we were actually doing a three day whirlwind tour in 1 day, so it was quite a busy, busy, busy day for everyone, and it was the longest walking and sightseeing tour I’ve taken since my heart surgery last year.  I did well on the tour, but towards the end of the day I (and I think everyone else was exhausted!)

We finished the touring portion of the day with an OUTSTANDING early dinner around 5pm, which held at the Sonesta Resort Hotel along the Nile River.  The hotel had set up a huge outdoor area to accomdate all the tour groups from the different buses, and it was a huge buffet with fire pit grills, white table cloth tables, red carpet VIP entryway, and a stunning sunset view overlooking the Nile and River Boats.  It was truly a memorable event to end the day!  And with a couple brewskis everyone slept pretty well on the 6:15 bus ride “home” to the ship.

When we arrived back at the ship around 10:15pm, we thought it would be quiet with everyone heading to bed after the long day. But no, not on Seabourn! They actually had a late night pool party going on with a buffet open late so all of us Luxor tour passengers could eat and drinking a bit more before bedtime.

While a long day it was, Luxor was absolutely a must see excursion if traveling in this part of the world.  In the future though, I think a Nile cruise with a stop in Luxor for two or three days would be much easier and relaxing instead of trying to see Luxor all in one day.  But what a day it was!

Here are some more photos more or less in chronological order of the day, starting with the Valley of the Kings, the Queens Temple of Hatshepsut, The Karnak Temple Complex (dating back to 1970 BC), the Avenue of the Sphinx’s (which connects the Karnak Temple to the Luxor Temple).

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