Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

For as long as I can remember we have wanted to visit Egypt and immerse ourselves in the ancient wonders that it has to offer. The jewel in the Egyptian crown has always been the Valley of the Kings for us and that was one of the major reasons for us coming on this particular trip. Another early start was on the cards from our berth in Luxor with several points of call on todays expedition.

Now apologies before we start for the huge amount of history in this post. What was I supposed to do with a visit to one of the oldest and most historic places on earth? It’s more for us to remember perhaps so just skim by if it’s all too much.

The Colossi of Memnon

After a short boat ride across the River Nile and a shorter bus trip we stopped at the edge of a tiny settlement to see the Colossi of Memnon. These are two huge 3,500 year old statues of the Pharoah Amenhotep III that stand side by side in the Theban Necropolis and are all that is left of one the biggest tombs ever built in Egypt.

Colossi of Memnon

Unfortunately a combination of the Nile flood plain and a couple of devastating earthquakes, the worst of which took place in 1200 BC, all but destroyed the original tomb which was actually bigger than Luxor Temple. All that remains are the two Colossi. Badly damaged but still standing protecting Amenhotep III’s final resting place.


The Valley of the Kings

A short ride from Memnon and we were in the world famous Valley of the Kings. Vast stone walls lined the road from the banks of the Nile as we headed for what the locals call The Valley of the Gates of the Kings. A subtle visitors centre and ticket office shepherded us all through into little yellow trains that would transport us up the valley. No vehicles are allowed past this point and also no photography is allowed without the purchase of a fairly expensive ‘camera ticket‘.

Valley of the Kings

So apologies for ‘borrowing’ these photos of the Valley from elsewhere. We decided to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the experience rather than shell out on a ‘camera ticket‘.

valley of the Kings

The little yellow trains drop visitors at the centre of the valley where there are numerous tombs that can be visited. The standard entry ticket allows you to enter any three tombs but of course you can pay for more if you choose. The only exception is the tomb of Tutankhamen which requires a special ticket. It was pretty early in the day when we were there so the crowds weren’t too bad and we didn’t have to queue for a single tomb. Apparently it can take a long time in the busy season to get in the popular ones.

map

We had a quick briefing on the history of the Valley of the Kings from Nabil where he recommended a couple of tombs as being the biggest, or the deepest, or the oldest, before heading off to explore. First stop the tomb of King Rameses IV which is the biggest one in the valley. What blew us away was the quality and colour of the hieroglyphics all the way from the entrance to the main sarcophagus. So well preserved and colour absolutely everywhere.

Tomb

Nabil had briefed us on what different symbols meant and what to look out for but it wasn’t easy with every surface covered and in brilliant condition. It truly felt like we were stepping back in time.

Following this we headed for the deepest tomb of Merenptah which again was astounding in its colour and preservation. Have to admit that we were surprised that the tombs were not air conditioned at all to preserve the painting or that nothing was really covered to stop visitors touching. Seemed odd.

Tomb

Finally we visited Rameses IX’s final resting place. Impressive again but it’s at times like this you really do need a guide that knows the intricate history of each pharaoh because the vast number of tombs and the amount of history is astounding and difficult to take in.

Probably the most interesting part for us was when we went into the entrance to Tutankhamens tomb and there was a line of information boards with history, time lines, and photos of the discovery of the tomb. Fascinating. It all makes you realise how little you know about Egyptian history though, it’s vast.

Valley of the Kings


Hatshepsut Temple

After a couple of hours we left the valley for a short drive round to the edge of the Valley of the Queens where we were visiting the Hatshepsut Temple. Now the pharaoh Hatshepsut was the second female pharaoh of Egypt and according to Nabil spent part of her reign pretending to be male. Not sure about that as he also told us that she sent and expedition to Somalia and was the first to bring chickens back into Egypt. Could be true, could not be.

Hatshepsut Templ

Hatshepsut Temple

hatshepsut Temple

Hapsheput Temple

Our final stop was the huge Habu Temple on the way back to the banks of the River Nile.


The Mortuary Temple of Rameses III at Medinet Habu

The temperature was seriously high by now and many of our party were visibly wilting with this fourth temple stop being a ‘Temple Too Far‘ for many. It is possible to get historied-out I think and a few of our fellow travellers were thinking of cold drinks and dinner at this stage. Not us of course, we loved it ……….

Habu Temple

Habu Templ

Habu Temple

Once again the quality of the preserved hieroglyphics astounded us. With so much flooding over the centuries and so much looting it’s amazing any of these places are still standing.


Interestingly, as we wandered through the temple we were waved over by a machine-gun wielding police officer at one end of a row of columns. We approached wondering if we’d done anything wrong but he led us forward and started to point out intricate drawings and hieroglyphics on the columns. ‘How nice‘ we thought. Then he offered to take a photo of the two of us, ‘even nicer‘. How refreshing to meet someone here who wasn’t trying to rip you off. Then as we made to leave he blocked our path, lifted his automatic weapon and thrust his hand forward! He wanted cash! We were so appalled that we just pushed past him and stormed away not even considering the fact that he was armed until much later. Unbelievable.


JWalkers in Egypt

27/04/2019

32 comments

    • That’s exactly why we were so desperate to go Kate. Absolutely fascinating place and not as expensive as you would think. Highly recommended.

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  1. I’ve been really enjoying your travels in Egypt. Takes me back to when I was there nearly 30 years ago, we had to navigate the cliff edges into the Valley of The Kings on donkeys!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s such an iconic place and we felt so privileged to see it
      The policeman didn’t manage to spoil it really as we just took that as part of the experience but it’s a shame they are all so corrupt.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it’s not unbelievable. When we went to Giza 12+ years ago we were stopped by a policeman on a camel. He was trying to get us to follow him. We were on a Red Sea cruise and had been warned of not following the police. We ignored him. But we did have other dramas on the coach back to the cruise ship. But that is another story lol!!! We personally would not want to go back to Egypt. Yes, it was good to see the sites, but would rather stay closer to home.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t get over the scale of it. I’ve never seen a a map of the Valley of the Kings before so had no idea there were that many tombs. And to do all of that without our modern machinery. Amazeballs. I’m surprised you hadn’t learnt to give everyone a wide berth after your shirt experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fabulous experience, definitely one to tick off the bucket list. How much was the “camera pass”? I’d certainly want some sort of personal record of all that history, but it probably depends on the $$ involved. Obviously you could take photos at Ramses III – but the cost might have been even more? A bit of a spoiler for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it was a real shame as we love recording our days out but the camera pass was something like £5 each and to be honest we just didn’t want to do it for the principle. I’m not sure any of our photos would have done the tombs and valley justice though.

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