If you drink from the Nile you will keep coming back, so goes the saying. It’s our fourth trip, our 16 year old son’s first, he asked if we could come and I had booked it within 30 minutes!
It was day three and the short hop from Cairo to Luxor was over before it started, soon we were on the coach bound for our vessel for the week, M/S Tulip. We booked our adventure package with DISCOVER EGYPT they were very good. Two Cabins, one for the other half and junior opp, the second for me, I snore, loudly!
A lovely compact ship, not too big, not to small she was perfect. We had been briefly introduced to our guide Ahmad (and now very good friend) he was with us for the week, there was more to him than met the eye as were to find out later.
We were shown down to the restaurant for lunch, the afternoon was at leisure, to get used to where everything was, It was definitely hotter 1 hour south! The food was of very good quality with a variety of Soups each day, Salads, various Meat and Vegetarian courses, a live cooking station for Omelettes at breakfast, and assorted options for lunch and dinner there was something for everyone including ‘local’ food to try. Oh, and lots of sweet things!
Deir el-Bahari is famous the world over, the facade has been on so many TV programmes and magazine front pages, and unfortunately the scene of a horrific act on November 17th 1997. Security in Egypt is extremely tight, tourism is critical to the nations economy and it has not stopped us coming, we feel very safe here.
There are some historically significant paintings in one of the rooms at the ‘Temple of Hapshepsut’, depicting people from Africa. Robert Bauval a famous Belgian author and lecturer has written a book exploring the link between Egypt & Africa, Black Genesis: The Prehistoric Origins of Ancient Egypt (with Thomas Brophy PhD, April 2011), a copy was waiting for me on my return home, recommended by our guide Ahmad!
We were up early for breakfast and then onto the coach for a full days sightseeing, guided by the lovely Ahmad who was to bring our visits to life during the day, he definitely did that.
There is some evidence that Hatshepsuts physician was very skilled, using opium and other barbiturates to assist with curing a variety of ills, and also relieving pressure off the brain by making small incisions in the skull!
So, the ancient story about Pharaoh’s being entombed in/under a pyramid, if you look closely at the 1st picture below you will see the Pyramid shape at the top of the hill, overlooking the awe-inspiring valley we were to visit next, but not any old valley!
On the way to the Valley of the Kings we visited an Alabaster factory, this is standard for most of the trips to Egypt where a Nile cruise is involved, you get to see skilled craftsmen make some beautiful objects using natural and unique materials, and by buying something put some money back into the local economy.
We had purchased a very nice vase in 2000 on our first trip, which got destroyed when our house was flooded in 2007 so an opportunity to replace it with something was an opportunity not to be missed. They supply refreshments free of charge at the factories and have clean toilet facilities which are usually very welcome!
The Valley of The Kings had changed considerably since our last visit. Previously you would have to walk up the road in intense heat to reach the numerous tombs, they now have electric carts, although you can walk if you want! Not us, I remember the heat as the sun reflected off the side of the hills from before, it’s a hot barren place.
The valley is known to contain 63 tombs but that’s just what has been discovered so far. I have been fortunate to enter 13 from memory, over the 4 trips. They rotate those open to the public each year, the entry ticket includes three visits and optional tombs are available for a few extra Egyptian Pounds.
They tombs are all completely different, unique and beautiful. We saw the tombs of Sety I, Rameses I, Rameses V/VI and of course Tut-Ankh-Amun the only tomb with the preserved remains on view in an atmospheric controlled cabinet.
Unlike before, no extra paid ticket is required to take photos with your smartphone, in fact, I had a Leica D-Lux 7 medium sized digital camera with me, and was not questioned by the wardens as I snapped away, trying to capture the essence of the atmosphere which cannot be described!
The easier tombs are just short(ish) tunnels, King Tut-Ankh-Amun is just some stairs and you are in, medium look to 50m – 100m and steeper entry the most difficult up to 250m!
In the ticket office there is a very clever model showing the Valley and tunnels, tombs in a 3D model which gives you an impression of the magnificence of the whole area, how they managed to work in scorching conditions and create all the tombs with their stunning work is beyond belief, and still amazes me when I visit, junior opp was totally blown away by the place!
Ah, the Colossi Of Memnon, Amenhotep III in fact, standing since 1350BC so doing quite well in the open air despite an earthquake which destroyed the mortuary temple which stood behind. If you look closely at the picture on the right you can see graffiti, from circa AD 121.
This was our last stop before heading back to the boat and relaxing for the evening, having some great food and chatting with the other guests.
………………………Until next time……………..L8ers………..
Creating wonderful memories with your family Jules – priceless.
Only another 6 – 7 posts to write for this trip!!