Hot-Air Ballooning

Hot-air ballooning to see the sun rise over the ancient monuments on the west bank and Theban mountains is a great way to start the day. Flights usually last an hour and the trajectory obviously depends on the wind, so there is no guarantee you will fly over the Valley of the Kings, as some outfits suggest. Expect to pay about €100 per person in high season.

Balloon operators in Luxor have come under increased scrutiny after a number of accidents that have occurred in the last decade, the latest in January 2018 when strong winds are said to have blown a balloon off course. It then crash-landed, killing one tourist.

Donkey, Horse & Camel Rides

Riding a horse, a donkey or a camel through the fields and seeing the sunset behind the Theban hills is wonderful. Boys at the local ferry dock on the west bank offer donkey and camel rides for about LE40 to LE50 for an hour. There have been reports of women getting hassled and of overcharging at the end. Some west bank hotels also offer camel trips, which include visits to nearby villages for a cup of tea, and donkey treks around the west bank. These trips, which start at around 7am (sometimes 5am) and finish near lunchtime, cost about LE100 per person.

Felucca Rides

As elsewhere in Egypt, the nicest place to be late afternoon is on the Nile. Take a felucca from either bank and sail for a few hours, catching the soft afternoon light and the sunset, cooling in the afternoon breeze and relaxing after sightseeing. Felucca prices depend on your bargaining skills, but expect to pay LE50 to LE100 per boat per hour.

A popular felucca trip is upriver to Banana Island, a tiny isle dotted with palms about 5km from Luxor. The trip takes two to three hours. Plan it in such a way that you’re on your way back in time to watch a brilliant Nile sunset from the boat. Be sure to agree in advance exactly what is included. Beware that some captains have been charging a fictitious ‘entry fee’ to the island (it’s free).

Swimming

After a hot morning of tombs and temples, a dip in a pool can be heavenly. Most bigger hotels and some budget places have swimming pools. The Hilton will usually allow you to swim if you are staying for lunch (check beforehand). Domina Inn Emilio has a small rooftop pool that you can use for LE20. In the current downturn, most other east bank hotels will also allow access for a fee. On the west bank Al Moudira has a wonderful pool set in a peaceful garden on the edge of the desert; non-guests can use it for LE100.