From Luxor to Hatshepsut – Westward Ho

A beautiful day to head to the West Bank of the Nile toward the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. Our bus left Luxor going south and crossed a bridge over the Nile about 6 km south. We went from the hustle and bustle of Luxor out into the comparitively lush countryside.

The landscape turned green, not a prevalent color in Egypt (at least on our journey), with irrigation ditches running from the Nile feeding fields of sugar cane, with palms dotting the distance. It didn’t last long as we headed further west toward a brown, mountainous horizon.

The Colossi of Memnon

It only took a few minutes to start encroaching on the Valley of the Kings with our first stop at the Colossi of Memnon (as the Greeks called him) but built for Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It’s the largest of all the funerary temples on the west bank. As we drove past its length, we could see hundreds of stones being unearthed as part of the continuing excavation.

Entering the Valley of the Kings is like stepping into a real moonscape; away from civilization, in a desert-dry, virtually uninhabitable place. It has been the site of royal burials since 2100 BC. But it was the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom (1550-1069) who chose this isolated valley, named the “Place of Truth”.

The valley, under the pyramid-shaped mountain, Al Qurn (the Horn), is a series of tombs of many of the great Pharaohs. Above is the entrance to the tomb of Ramses III.

Photography is restricted, and in many cases forbidden in the tombs interiors, but we were able to get a few shots here to show the amazingly preserved, original color, glyphs and art. It was hard to believe these were not restorations.

The story of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and all its treasures far outshines the reality of this small tomb of a short-lived Pharaoh. Although later, in the Cairo Museum, we were treated to those transported wonders. We explored several other rather claustrophobic, “watch your head” tombs with their wondrously preserved art, and got a few minutes rest in the only shade around on this 80 degree day (don’t attempt this in the summer).

Then off to the Temple of Hatshepsut with it’s back to the hill that contains the Valley of the Kings.

The Temple of Hatshepsut

This was a shocker. As we got off the bus we just saw a formation of monumental hills. As our eyes focused in, we saw what we thought a modern structure at the base of the cliffs. Nope. This was the beautifully restored and preserved Temple of Hatshepsut.

As we approached, saw the remnants of the Sphinx-lined causeway leading to the decidedly not modern Temple colonnade. It is certainly one of Egypt’s finest monuments. And, that’s saying a lot.

The collonade up close belies the far away “modern” look

Part of the inner court and chambers behind the colonnade were a celebration of a Sun cult that once apparently worshiped there. You can also see where hundreds of excavaterd stones are laid out, numbered and almost ready for placement in the ongoing restoration.

What a great way to end a visit we’ll never forget. Now back to modern Luxor for a tour of the “modern” city and its local market.

Luxor View by Horse-Drawn Carriage

Pretty touristy, but an important way some locals get around the city

We’ll let the photos speak for themselves. You’ll see the local market, a school, a christian church, the train station, city streets, and the beautiful Temple of Luxor as the evening falls.

So another spectacular day ends as our carriage drops us off at the hotel. We found a wonderful Lebanese restaurant at the hotel next door last night, so we decide to take a real chance this evening at the sushi place (yes sushi in Luxor, Egypt) at our hotel. Let me say, meh, and hope it’s just, meh as we have the Luxor museum and most of the day free for exploration tomorrow. If we’re not down by 8:30, just head off on your own…and we’ll see you later.

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One Response to From Luxor to Hatshepsut – Westward Ho

  1. Pauline says:

    Can’t wait to make this trip ourselves!

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