Luxor's bad before good

Ah Luxor, one of the many true lands of the pharaohs. A beautiful city situated on the banks of the Nile and surrounded by pharaonic history and culture. The temples and tombs here truly are a sight to behold, comparable only to the stunning Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom temples in Cambodia.

Sadly, since the revolution in 2011 with the Arab spring Egypt has suffered an economic crisis and subsequently, many historical sites are being leased to richer Emirate states. Salehadin Castle in Alexandria is an example of such practices. The repercussions of such have affected Luxor in many ways but it is most apparent as a traveller in the prices that are demanded of you for various commodities. Many taxies harass to the point of exhaustion unless you adopt an aggressive tone. People will pretend to befriend you to help you with any task only to hold out their hand in anticipation of compensation at the end. For myself, even after haggling I was often left feeling disappointed in the knowledge that I was still being over charged. Sure, wherever you go there is always a ‘tourist price’ but the attitude here made me lose many moments of enjoyment because I was frustrated that even the simplest of tasks were elevated to unnecessary battles.

An example of the ‘tourist price’ occurred in the Valley of the Kings; an incredible spectacle in itself. However, your 200EGP ticket only buys you entry into three tombs with no photography allowed inside. However, if you pay 600EGP you’re allowed to take photos inside three tombs of your choice. I chose not to trust this and stuck with the normal priced entry ticket. Sure enough, outside the first tomb that I wanted to explore there was a plaque prohibiting photography within. Nevertheless, if you threw the guide 20-50EGP he was more than happy to turn a blind eye while you snapped away. I personally don’t use photography on old historical pictures because they get hammered day after day with flash. If the lighting is okay for a snap on my phone and something really stands out to me I’ll take a shot as a memento, but I don’t encourage the use of DSLR, photography equipment and especially not flash as it just ruins images over time.

In another post I will explore the mental checklist that I believe is essential when planning a trip to Egypt. Even as a seasoned traveller and someone who speaks basic Arabic I was pushed many times to the limit of my patience, so the post will provide useful tips to bear in mind. 

However, Luxor was not without its good bits, as with all adventures! The above are just a few simple things I struggled with in Luxor, especially because the Pharaonic history here is grand and under viewed because of this situation. But I will soon post about the best things I found with my time spent there.


Defining My Long Trip to you

My Long Trip is about many things…

First of all it’s a site that I started to get hired, I have a range of equipment and photography skills that I get contracted out for. But photography isn’t easy. It's a complicated market full of other keen hard working people and you need to stand out. And many have niches in areas I simply don’t and that’s okay. 

But Im different, just like everybody else. My niche though is my ability to travel, to willingly go anywhere I need to, and get you images. Be it volcanos, the vast ocean, arctic land scapes or scolding sun that. Combined with my passion for my work means contracts are there, I’d just like more of them.

I truly don’t think the world has been drowned by many like me, willing to go anywhere anytime in any circumstance just to capture the beautiful images our planet has to offer. And because of that I have been in many ‘hairy’ and fantastic situations. Like anything there’s high’s and lows.

Second half of My Long Trip is about inspiration, getting people out in the world again realising there’s more to it, more importantly more to traveling than a gap year party between college and University with your current or new travel buddies. 


Theres thousands of cultures across our globe and billions of people. This fact a lone means something out there is going to interest you, much more than that latest console, car or sofa. So set goals and realise you can get there and experience anything you want, if you do a bit of research it won’t even cost you an arm and leg either because hostels, tuk-tuks and rooftop train seats create stories and when you can’t do certain things anymore its these stories that you keep forever. I promise that.

Snowdonia

I wanted to share a few things about staying around and venturing up Mount Snowden. I will discuss the paths I experienced and give some detail as to how long it took. This advice is only from my experience and I would always suggest you research the trip for yourself prior to your own adventure.


Staying in Snowdonia

Pod rental

The first time I visited Snowdonia I wasn’t sure what to expect so I decided to spend a couple of nights at Bryn Dinas Camping Pods (www.bryndinascampingpods.co.uk). I had access to a heated pod which contained two private beds and some storage. Wi-Fi was available for a small fee. The pod also contained plug sockets to charge my equipment. The site itself had shared toilet and shower facilities, full kitchen access and a washing machine / dryer. If you do decide to stay here please consider using my Booking.com link below as any support goes a long way.

https://www.booking.com/s/52_6/tamim574

Camping

In my opinion, Snowdonia doesn’t get any better than Llyn Gwynant (gwynant.com). On site is a beautiful lake which is perfect for water activities such as paddle boarding and canoeing. There is also a side track leading onto the Pyg or Miners track to Snowden summit. This camping site has everything you need for a chilled camping experience with sinks, microwaves, hot water tap, showers, toilets and access to washing and drying machines for a small fee. I honestly cannot express how good [another word for good? Serene, amazing, relaxing, invigorating] camping here is. Waking up at the base of a mountain adjacent to the lake is something that you must experience for yourself. If you do decide to stay here please do share your story with me via social media.

My two trails to Snowden summit

There are six paths leading to the summit. I will only mention the paths I have ventured on myself but will link a site at the end of the page detailing other trails to the top of Snowden.

The Watkin Path - My choice for the climb - 4 hours (one way)

Officially opened in 1892 by William Gladstone, the Watkin Path is named after Sir Edward Watkin, Liberal Member of Parliament and a railway entrepreneur. Watkin was responsible for creating the path from South Snowdon Slate Quarry to Snowdon’s summit. Notably the path has a summer house by the start of the trail. 

The reason this path was so special to me is not only the stunning views into the valley but the lack of human traffic during the climb. Compared to the other paths this is quite possibly the emptiest and visually most stunning of the paths due to the terrain that surrounds you as you climb.

The Ranger Path - My choice for the descent - 4 hours (one way)

The path begins near the ‘Snowdon Ranger’ youth hostel, close to Llyn Cwellyn.  John Morton, the self-proclaimed 'Snowdon Ranger,' used the path to guide Victorian tourists to the summit. He opened a tavern where the youth hostel site stands today and called it the ‘Snowdon Ranger Inn’. 

This was the path my friend and I used to descend from the summit of Snowden. I will advise that this route is quite bare as hiking paths go since there is almost no signage on the way down. Please also be aware that the terrain is often unpredictable and consequently sometimes you must climb and shimmy down some interesting rock faces and loose gravel tracks. However, the reward is undoubtably worth it. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the day as I could see into the other valleys of Snowdonia, the beautiful lakes and of course the incredible sunset in the distance.

  • There is little to no cell signal around most of Snowdonia until you get higher into the terrain

  • There will be other people on the various trails most of the time within a certain range of you but you should always tell people you’re going up Snowden and roughly what time you are expected back

  • Basic first aid kits will go a long way. Blisters and headaches are possible with dehydration, especially in Welsh wind and rain

  • A ration pack will go a long way. Remember to pack a snack just in case anything could possibly go wrong, I personally use Carb Killa protein bars, roasted peanuts and always have biscuits or cookies with me for fast glucose release.

  • Respect the nature and please don’t leave litter. It breaks my heart seeing people leaving trash now and again on a path

- Be smart about your trip to Snowdon. I will discuss this further in another post named ‘Snowden - a Mountain of Lies’

Sources to help you plan your own journey

https://www.visitsnowdonia.info

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/forecast/gcmjghxpx#?date=2019-03-31