I boarded my flight from Phuket and headed for Dubai then onto Cairo again. I’ve had previous experience in Cairo airport so I knew how to manage my way through. This time however, security was tight and I was detained and questioned about my trip to Egypt, proof that I was kiteboarding and that my luggage was in fact my own. I found it quite different from my first trip but little did I know that in a few days, terrorists would set an explosive off on a plane from Egypt to Russia…
After clearing security I made my way to the taxi stand and took a ride over to Terminal 3 to catch my EgyptAir flight to Hurghada. I arrived in Hurghada without issue and had prearranged with my resort for a pickup. I arrived in late evening to the Movenpick, arranged for a day trip at 5am the next morning to Luxor, ordered room service and went to sleep.
It was a 4 hour drive to Luxor so the tour van picked me up at 5am. It was just me and a family from Belgium who were very nice. On arrival to Luxor we were taken straight to the Valley of the Kings. This is one of the places where you can really see the decline in tourism to Egypt. On average, the Valley of the Kings would receive 10000 visitors a day, but now they average 300 which was clear when there was one car in the parking lot.
I went through 3 tombs, but opted to skip Tut`s since it was relocated to a replica location that I didn’t feel would be authentic. There was big news about Tut`s tomb and the secret chamber they believed they found in scans so that area was pretty tight with high security.
I purchased a new GoPro Hero 4 Session for the trip. It’s a small black cube GoPro that I thought I would test. They are no cameras allowed in the tombs, so I was caught by the guard, camera confiscated and was being taken to the authorities. Our tour guide pleaded with the guard that I didn’t know and it was a misunderstanding, and after a bribe was paid I received my GoPro back and off we went to the next tomb. The guards called ahead and I was no longer allowed to tour the empty tombs in peace, closely watched to make sure I wouldn’t film anymore.
After we finished at the Valley of the Kings, we drove past the house that Howard Carter lived in when he was on his archeological expedition to Egypt and stopped as a local store that sold Egyptian carvings. They showed us how they still make the carvings by hand like their ancient ancestors did. I purchased a few items to take home and got back in the van for our next tour.
We headed up the mountain to Hatshepsut`s temple, this magnificent structure that is one of the defining photos to portray Egypt. Hatshepsut was a queen who decided to give herself Pharaohic and God powers, which the people weren’t happy with and the next ruler removed all hieroglyphs depicting Hatshepsut, including at her temple. The walls are covered in hieroglyphs telling all sorts of stories and the ceilings are still colourful with the original paintings from construction. The temple sits on the sit of the mount and in the distance across the river you can see that it lines up perfectly with the Temple of Karnak. It’s a magnificent site for any ancient history or architectural interest.
We left Hatshepsut`s Temple and stopped for a quick lunch, then proceeded to the Temple of Karnak on the side of the Nile. The temple is a massive facility that you could spend a full day exploring all the rooms and passages through the labyrinth of pillars and walls. Hieroglyphs cover the walls, some carved deeper than others due to the flooding of the Nile that would wash them away.
You can see the erosion on the pillars of the old water level before the Nile level was controlled. This pillar room is massive, and you have to sit and wonder how people could build such structures thousands of years ago that still stand today. I think of all the spots in Luxor, Karnak was definitely the most magical and imaginative that we visited.
Close by there was a papyrus shop that we stopped at. They have all sorts of types and sizes of paintings on papyrus that could be purchased. I spent some time sifting through all the prints to find three perfect complimenting depictions of the process of a royal ceremony. When we were done it was late afternoon, the sun was setting and it was time to head back to the Red Sea. The 4 hour drive speeding through the mountains in the dark was intense, but I am starting the get used to the different driving habits of other cultures. If you get a chance, you won`t regret a visit to Luxor.