The road from Hurghada to Luxor is not a safe drive
The road linking the ancient city of Luxor in southern Egypt and Hurghada, the regional hub for several scuba diving resorts on the Red Sea, is a death trap. It's extremely dangerous with many head-on collisions and fatal accidents.
How long is the road from Hurghada to Luxor?
The road is 303 km (188 mile) long and has been more or less completely renovated so it’s a much better drive than before. Avoid traveling the route at night due to the standard of some of the driving. The tarmac road is relatively well-marked and frequently patrolled by security agents, on the lookout for bandits and extremist militiamen who reside in the rugged terrain.
How is driving the road from Hurghada to Luxor?
Driving in Egypt is very different to driving in other countries. There seems to be no set rules of the road, so to speak. The journey from Hurghada, a main tourist center and third largest city in the country located on the Red Sea coast, to Luxor, frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open air museum", as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city, is through a mainly inhabited landscape and if you had a breakdown that could be a problem.
Is the road from Hurghada to Luxor dangerous?
We could write a whole (and lengthy) article on Egypt's numerous dangerous roads - and perhaps one day, we will. They're a subject that's been covered extensively elsewhere, and there's a running joke that anyone who gets in a taxi in the country does so at their own risk, but this road stands out from the crowd. It perhaps wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't a major transport link within the country, but it is. This treacherous beast of a road runs almost three hundred kilometers across the spine of the country and takes four and a half hours to drive at every a moderate pace. In practice, though, it's likely to take you longer because there will be times when you want to slow down to a crawl just to stay in control of your vehicle. At other times, you might want to speed up to get away from your surroundings as quickly as possible.
If, for any reason, you ever find yourself forced to drive on this road, make sure you do it in daylight. It runs through the desert, and there are no lights in the desert. When it gets dark, it gets seriously dark. That would be bad enough, but for reasons that we’ll touch on in a moment, many local drivers choose to try to navigate it in the dark without their lights on. This, combined with the dust that’s kicked up from the desert in the wind, means that you might not see any impediment until it’s right on top of you, and it’s far too late to brake. Given the apparently-relaxed attitude some drivers in the area have when it comes to which side of the road they drive on, fatal head-on collisions are not uncommon.
The above paragraph might make it sound like driving the route during the daytime might be a pleasant experience. After all, what could be more relaxing than a long desert road in broad daylight with clear visibility on all sides, and nothing to distract you? Unfortunately, that idealized vision is a long way from the reality of losing the road. It might wind through the desert, but you won't be alone out there during the day. Thieves, carjackers, bandits, and (allegedly) some terrorist groups lay in wait by the side of the road during the day and prey on unsuspecting tourists who’ve taken a wrong turn and found themselves out there alone, without protection. Choosing between the risk of a head-on collision at night or being jumped and left without your car in the middle of the desert during the day isn’t a decision anyone should relish, and it’s a very good reason to avoid this road like the Biblical plague that once swept through this country. It’s possible for advanced drivers to enjoy the experience of driving down some of the roads we’ve highlighted on this website before. This isn’t one of them.
Even though warnings are given at several major hotels, and most major travel websites advise against using this road, people still take their chances on it because it connects several major scuba sites - and scuba is a big tourist attraction in Egypt. There are very few ways to get between some of the Red Sea resorts that don’t involve using the road, and the bandits know that. They know you want to use the road, and they’re more than happy to use that fact to their advantage. If someone tries to flag you down to assist with what appears to be a breakdown or a puncture, keep on driving. There are times when you can afford to be a hero and save the day for a stranded driver, and there are times when heroism is foolhardy. When it comes to Luxor-al-Hurghada Road, any attempt at heroism falls into the latter category.
A little earlier, we said we’d elaborate on the reason that local drivers don’t turn their headlights on when they’re on this road at night. It’s the most horrific reason imaginable. Some of the bandits don’t go home when the sun goes down, and so headlights are a dead giveaway that there’s a car approaching. The lights give them time to organize themselves, but they won’t risk standing on the road and trying to flag you down. They’ll just try to shoot your tires out instead and bring your car to a stop that way. The fatality rate on this stretch of road is terrifyingly high, and it’s made worse by the knowledge that not every driver who meets their end on it dies because they’ve been involved in a road traffic accident.
We have nothing to recommend this road for. It won't provide you with white-knuckle thrills. It won't be an exhilarating, liberating feeling as you cruise down it at high speed. You'll feel uneasy and on edge for the entire four-to-five hours it takes to get across it, and even if you do manage to navigate it in one piece, you'll feel exhausted by the time you get to the other end. Avoid at all costs.