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Following in the footsteps of the Pharaohs
Port Safaga (Bur Safaga in Arabic), where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, is a village on the Red Sea coast.
The town, whose economy is driven by the nearby phosphate mines, consists of a single windswept avenue running straight on, past concrete boxes with bold signs proclaiming their function.
Silos and cranes identify the port, which runs alongside (but remains out of bounds) for most of this distance. However, inland from Port Safaga, a shore excursion on your MSC Grand Voyages cruise can be the opportunity to discover Luxor and the overwhelming concentration of relics in the area.
A tourist mecca ever since Nile steamers began calling in the nineteenth century, visitors come to view the remains of Thebes, Ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom capital, and its associated sites. The town itself boasts Luxor Temple, a graceful ornament to its waterfront and “downtown”, while a mile or so north is Karnak Temple, a stupendous complex built over 1,300 years. Across the river are the amazing tombs and mortuary temples of the Theban Necropolis, an attraction not to be missed on your holiday in Egypt.
In a town where tourism accounts for 85 per cent of the economy, it’s hardly surprising that you can’t move without being importuned to step inside a shop or rent a calèche, but once you get to know a few characters and begin to understand the score Luxor becomes a funky soap opera with a cast of thousands.
Luxor Temple stands aloof in the heart of town, ennobling the view from the waterfront and Midan el-Haggag with its grand colonnades and pylons.