Ins and outs

Warning

Since the terrorist attacks that began in Middle Egypt in 1992 and climaxed with the 1997 massacre at the Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor, Middle Egypt and, for a brief time, Egypt at large, was on the travel advisory lists of the US State Department and Britain's Foreign Office. In order to remedy the tourism slump, the government trampled on the Islamist uprising and developed a security system to ensure tourists' safety. As a result, visitors to the region will find themselves under the constant eye of the tourist police. Though the extent of this protection is highly variable, you may find yourself escorted around some towns by a guard and confined to your hotel after nightfall. It can be quite an annoyance and a bit of patience and humour go a long way. Luxor and Aswan are security 'bubbles' in the Nile Valley, and as such do not require the perpetual presence of tourist police. Since the temples of Dendara and Abydos, the most significant sights in Middle Egypt, are a day trip from Luxor, it is easiest to stay in Luxor and take the daily convoy to the sights, however this means you have to share the space with coach-loads of others.

Restricted travel

Though there are more than a dozen daily trains travelling from Cairo to the provincial capitals of Middle Egypt, foreigners are technically only permitted to ride on three (0730, 2200 and 2400), which are guarded by policemen. However, with insistence and persistence you can board any train at Giza or Ramses stations and pay on board. For train travel once in Middle Egypt, purchasing tickets is easy or again just board the train and pay the conductor once in motion. Service taxis in Middle Egypt sometimes do not accept foreigners when travelling between towns, though this precaution seems to be slackening off, and services/micros are a flexible and very cheap option. Since there are no scheduled convoys to Middle Egypt (except for the convoys bound for Dendara and Abydos from Luxor), technically foreigners are not allowed to ride buses into the region. There are frequent buses from Cairo that will probably let you on, but you never know. Because of these restrictions, travel by train offers the most reliability to and through Middle Egypt. It's also faster, more consistent and comfortable. If you want to drive, inquire with the tourist authority.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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