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Getting There

By Plane -- There is one plane a week into the airport, which is just outside town. Though this is officially a government flight, there are usually seats available for tourists for about LE413 ($75/£38). You'll probably have to pay in hard currency (dollars, euros, or pounds sterling). Flights depart from Cairo at 8am and leave Kharga at 3pm. Tickets can be booked with the very competent and English-speaking Mahmoud Shokri at the small EgyptAir office (tel. 092/7921695) in the government building on Gamal Abdel Nasser Street, open Sunday to Thursday 9am to 5pm.

By Bus -- You can arrive and depart Kharga on an Upper Egypt bus. The station is in the old town, and the local green-and-white taxis, though scarce, can take you to a hotel for around LE5 (90¢/45p). Buses leave for Kharga at 2pm, 11pm, 1am, and 5am. Buses leave for Assiut on the Nile at 6, 7, 9, and 11am. Tickets (tel. 092/7934587) for both trips cost LE12 ($2.20/£1.10).

By Car/Minibus -- Coming from Luxur or Dakhla, you could consider hiring a car and driver. The journey from either town takes around 3 hours and will cost about LE400 to LE500 ($73-$91/£37-£46). When it's time to move on, you have further options if you're headed to Dakhla or to Assiut (a town on the Nile from which you can arrange onward transport to Luxor). You can save a lot of money by going to the bus station and taxi stand in the old city and buying a seat on a microbus or shared taxi (usually a big old Peugeot 504 station wagon). Vehicles don't travel according to a schedule, but instead leave when they're full. Seats cost LE10 ($1.80/95p) to Assiut, LE9 ($1.60/80p) to Dakhla, and LE4 (70¢/40p) to Baris. The only way to get to Luxor directly is to hire a vehicle for yourself. The cost of the 3-hour trip will depend on your negotiating skills, but you should have no problem finding a minibus (7-9 seats) or taxi (3-5 seats) to take you to Luxor for LE400 ($73/£37), which is a little more than if you're going to Dakhla, which will set you back about LE300 ($55/£28). You'll notice that prices for traveling the same stretch of road seem to vary depending on which direction you're going. This is because fewer cars and more tourists in Dakhla mean that drivers can charge more for getting to Kharga than away, and the same applies in Luxor.

Getting Around

By Taxi -- The green-and-white taxis are the only option for getting around Kharga. Unless you're staying in the old town (which I don't recommend), it's not a walkable place. Prices are cheaper than Cairo, but almost no English is spoken.

Orientation

The main street in Kharga is the north-south Gamal Abdel Nasser Street. At the northern end is Nasser Square, and at the southern end is Saha Square. The museum, tourist information office, EgyptAir office, and banks are all along this street. The Kharga Oasis Hotel and the Pioneers Hotel are just beyond Nasser Square. The old town lies to the east of its axis.

Tourist information (tel. 092/7921206) is run out of a shabby office just off Midan Nasser. Ferahat Shera is there, officially, from 8am until 2pm and then again between 3 and 8pm. He speaks good English and is very pleasant and helpful, but there's really not much to tell. He has a map of the town that is almost entirely useless, but he's probably a good place to start if you have a problem or an emergency situation.

There are two banks that can change money in Kharga. The National Bank of Egypt is right across from the museum on Gamal Abdel Nasser Street, and there's a Banque du Caire on the next traffic circle south. They're both open 8:30am to 2pm.

The El Salam Hospital, across from the museum, should only be used in emergency situations. Take cash, and leave as soon as possible. There is a pharmacy next door in the same building. The El Shiffa Pharmacy, on Midan Shoban Musleem (tel. 092/7921676), has a better range of supplies, but the owner doesn't speak enough English to be very helpful.

There are two places to check your e-mail in Kharga. The Pioneer Hotel (below) has one terminal available for guests and outside customers; the connection is a slow dial-up. Prices are relatively exorbitant at LE15 ($2.70/£1.40) an hour, but factor in the taxi ride to the other end of town to old town, where the only other Internet cafe is, and back, and they begin to seem more reasonable. If you have anything heavier than a few words to send or receive, head for Al Nasiah, just around the corner from the Dar al Bida hotel and a 2-minute walk from the service bus station. The sign is in Arabic, but look for the computer parts in the window. The last time I was there, the place was being run by a child of 10 who seemed to know everything, bandwidth was more than sufficient, and the charge per hour was LE1.50 (27¢/14p).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.