We were moored at the port in Safaga that has many mines and is regarded as the phosphate export centre. We departed early for a 3.5 hour drive through the desert to Luxor. We lunched on board feluccas whilst sailing across the West Bank. We visited the Valley of the Kings, the burial ground of the pharaohs for a period of 500 years, one of the most famous and important archaeological sites in the world. A short tractor train ride took us to the tombs and we went inside 3 of them – Ramesis 3rd, Ramesis 7th and Ramesis 9th (Visitors need to pay to get into some of the tombs, such as Tutankhamun, Ramesis 6th and Seti. There is also a photography and toilet cost). The tombs are very interesting and vividly depict the journey of the sun god and pharaoh through the dangers of the underworld.
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Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
A short drive away, we visited the temple of Queen Hatshepsut where scenes commemorate the reign of this exceptional monarch such as the ambitious voyage where she sent her ships on the Red Sea to the mysterious land of Punt. We had a short stop at the Colossi of Memmon before driving to the Hilton Luxor Hotel in Luxor. We gathered to get in our horse-drawn carriages for an evening tour of Luxor and market, then returned to the Hilton Hotel for dinner alongside the pool.
Temples of Karnak
On our second day in Luxor we visited the Temples of Karnak to see the vast array of monuments dedicated to Amun Ra, king of the gods, his wife Mut and their son Khonsu. We saw the great hypostyle hall with over 130 columns, some 22 metres high, and the obelisk of the powerful queen pharaoh Hatshepsut.
We then visited the Luxor Temple. Constructed over hundreds of years by Amenhotep III, Ramses II, Tutankhamun, and other pharaohs, Luxor Temple was the largest and most significant religious centre in ancient Egypt. In what was then Thebes, Luxor Temple was “the place of the First Occasion,” where the god Amon experienced rebirth during the pharaoh’s annually re-enacted coronation ceremony. Today, there remains a vast complex that includes the colossal Great Colonnade Hall, almost 61 meters long with 28 twenty-one-foot-high columns, its decoration largely undertaken by Tutankhamun around 1330 B.C. A Christian basilica was added to the north east corner of the temple and later a mosque dedicated to the Muslim saint Abu’l Hagag was constructed on top of the ruins of this Christian building.
Avenue of Lions
In ancient times there was an avenue lined with sphinx statues that ran between Karnak and Luxor temples. This is being restored, although it has been delayed because 2 churches will need to be demolished.