It is always with sadness that I leave the wonderful city of Luxor, but this time seems particularly pronounced after seeing how her people are suffering. I have visited Luxor a number of times since the revolution and this is the quietest that I have seen it during these three tumultuous and challenging years.
Following events in Egypt last summer all direct flights to Luxor and Upper Egypt stopped, only resuming a few weeks ago. My flight there was extremely quiet, not the usual packed plane which leaves London. Even in the run up to departure I didn’t quite trust all was going ahead until we finally crossed the Egyptian coastline and I could look down upon the baking desert and the River Nile snaking far below.
Apart from a couple of small planes destined for other parts of the Middle East, our flight was the only one from Europe to arrive that day, normally there would three or four full flights from the UK alone.
Following blogs and hearing from friends in Luxor between visits I had expected to see the streets quieter than usual but first seeing the Corniche which runs along the Nile for the first time, and being completely empty was a shock.
Without tourists Luxor suffers greatly, the people there have no other income; hotels, apartments, restaurants, cafes, shops, taxis, caleches, feluccas, balloons, cruises, tours and tour guides, and so on, the list of areas affected within the tourist industry could go on.
I always visit my friend Raouf’s giftshop in Gezeera village, but this time the shutters were down and he hadn’t opened the shop for over a year. It was heartbreaking to see how dust and sand had blown in and clogged the normally shiny jewellery boxes, glass and alabaster vases on the shelves. Fabric goods were ruined. With the cruise boats stacked up to ten deep in the nearby dock he had given up.
If you have ever wanted to visit the beautiful and remarkable sights of Luxor and the West Bank, or to travel down the Nile now is the perfect time to do so. All the major sights are extremely quiet, not the usual jostle of trying to enter the sanctuary of one of the temples. You may even find that you are the only one there as I found during a recent trip to Dendera.
Luxor is safe. I walked around Luxor and the West Bank and felt completely safe. Don’t take the British media at their word. Yes, I was approached by taxis and Caleche drivers and they don’t like to take no for an answer, but these people are so desperate for work try not to be too hard on them.
If you have always wanted to visit Luxor and the Nile Valley and experience its awe-inspiring history, art and culture you will never have such a golden opportunity to see the sights without the crowds.
You will receive the warmest of Egyptian welcomes.