After buffet breakfast in the hotel, we were on the bus at 8:15a bound for the Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings is on the West Bank across the Nile river. The Valley of the Kings ticket is good for entrance to 3 tombs and NO photographs either inside the tombs or outside in the grounds are permitted. If you wanted to take photographs, you had to purchase tickets for EACH of the tombs that you wanted to use your camera, and then one for the outside area. After watching a number of people being approached for taking photos we left our iPhones comfortably in our pockets and were content to buy the souvenir book of the Valley of the Kings. It really would be pretty difficult to get any decent photos inside the tombs because of the size of the interiors as well as the number of people in each of them. Hence you’ll not see any photographs of what we saw.
Tutankhamen’s tomb has an extra fee as well as Ramses VI. King Tut’s was the most recently discovered tomb in 1922 by Carter. It was located so close to Ramses VI that no one ever considered looking there. Also. since he died at such a young age (18 yrs after only 10 years as Pharaoh), it was speculated that his tomb wasn’t his, but instead a high priest that had already started work on his tomb but when Tut died so young they used his tomb which was further along in construction. The major point of interest for this tomb was that due to it’s not having been found, everything was in tact, the sarcophagus, his mummy, the jewels everything. The paintings on the walls were also in excellent condition.
Ramses II was the largest tomb in the complex with 50 chambers for his sons from his 67 years as pharaoh dying at the age of 91 with over 120 children… but his tomb had been inhabited for years by squatters that defaced and destroyed the entire tomb.
Ramses VI was really a beautiful tomb. The paintings were more in tact.
Ramses III was the most impressive tomb for us. The long walkway down to burial chamber was in surprisingly good condition. They claim amazingly enough that these wall paintings are untouched and have not been restored in any way. This makes these tombs even more incredible to visit.
Our guide led us to two tombs as well as took us up to this shaded area with an excellent map of the Valley and it’s tombs to provide us with more information. Then he let us go in to the tombs on our own, you really didn’t need that much time in each tomb…it gets kind of stuffy in the tombs and it’s just the experience of visiting these places…
As we were exiting about mid-day we saw the full day excursion group from the ship just arriving. It was getting to be pretty hot and our guide commented how lucky we were to be able to spend so much time in the Valley of the Kings. We were indeed!
From there we went to the Valley of the Queens, passing by the valley of the workers and the valley of the nobles. These valleys were filled with tomb after tomb literally thousands that were discovered. He said they estimated that they’ve only discovered about 15% of the tombs on the West Bank. Think of these areas as cemeteries for the various groups of people.
We arrived at the Temple of Hatshepsut at 1pm. The sun was intense and it was in the low 90s. Actually much cooler than we had expected. Two weeks prior it was 102 during the day. This place was amazing. Massive and the facade so well preserved. This queen ruled for only about 10 years in the 18th dynasty which dates this structure to 3,500 years ago! Absolutely incredible. There’s a little tram that takes you down the road to the base of the temple. In its day the front was planted with trees and a green garden. Now only two stumps of Olive trees remain surrounded by hard dry dirt out in the middle of nothing. Bahgad (our guide) once again filled us brains with all kinds of information of unpronounceable pharaohs as well as stores of incestuous relationships spawning lots of offspring, many whom did not survive for obvious reasons.
Once again, we were given time to wander and explore and try to comprehend how such an ancient civilization could have executed these massive structures. Photos almost can’t convey how huge these edifices were. This was a super interesting stop.
Temple of Hatshepsut
Next we made a quick photo stop at the Colossi of Memnon. These two massive statues are out in the middle of a flat area called a necropolis (burial ground).
Finally at 2:30pm we arrived on the western bank of the Nile to board awaiting falookas where we would be served lunch while sailing (towing) back across the Nile to the eastern bank and the Sonesta St. George’s hotel where we would use the facilities and then our busses would do the 3.5 hour journey returning us home to the ship.
Each falooka had white table-clothed tables for 8 people with our own waiter that would serve us our 3 course lunch (finally). Because there wasn’t any wind and we were needing to travel upstream (read: against the current) they set up to tow lines for the 14 falookas. After a little chaos with the embarking of each group of 8 and making room at the dock for the next falooka to be loaded, then tied to the tow line, we settled in to a leisurely pace upstream. Our waiter served our first course which was an Egyptian mezzo. Just delicious. The main course was saffron rice, okra and a selection of kebabs… chicken, beef and ground lamb. Dessert was a fresh fruit plate.
Wilson our cabin steward had prepared our cabin with the drapes drawn complete with Welcome Home cookies. Nothing ever looked so good!
We took long showers and headed down to the discoveries dining room for a lovely dinner and as early as possible to bed because the next day we were arriving in Aqaba, Jordan for 2 days…and our next huge point of visit… Petra!