Luxor might not boast any pyramids, but nonetheless it is the capital of Ancient Egypt. Built on top the original City of Thebes it boasts a rich history over 4,000 years old.
There are myriad ruins and antiquities to be found in Al-Gazira on the West Bank of Luxor. Unless you’re a serious Egyptologist, you will need to be a bit selective as costs and time can be prohibitive.
Still enjoying the company of Caspar and Elizabeth, we decide to rent donkeys for the day to visit some of these Egyptian treasures for E£30 each = a further E£40 total for the guide. It provides a fantastic alternative to renting a bike (E£15 -20) or a taxi (E£120 –E£200). Whilst i enjoy the docile lone female, Caspar struggles to tame his wild beastie.
Our first stop is the Colossus of Memnon. These two 18 metre statues are all that remain of the temple built by Amenhotep III and are set in beautiful lush sugar-cane fields. This is about the only freebie to be had in town.
Heading up into the mountains our next stop is the Valley of the Queens. Despite a hefty E£70 (E£35 for students), there are only three tombs currently open and two of these are actually very young princes. Very disappointing considering there are over 75 tombs already discovered. No photography is permitted inside the tombs. Each are interesting, with beautiful motifs, inscriptions and hieroglyphics, although none take my breath away.
If i was disappointed with the Valley of the Queens, it is good preparation for a visit for the Valley of the Kings (E£80/E£40 – adults/student). No photography is allowed either in or outside the tombs – no-one can explain to me why. For this price, you are entitled to visit three tombs, a further E£100 will get you into Tutankhamun’s tomb (said to be the most interesting) and if you pay over E£300 you can see several more. There are a total of 60 tombs altogether. At least the tombs that we do see are all pretty spectacular, and much of the original paintwork is in very good condition. We are 3 of just 6 tourists on the site – usually they total some 8,000. It’s a pretty surreal experience.
photography is completely and absurdly banned in the Valley of the Kings
view from the top of the mountain
Moving down the hill we hit Deir al Bahri which was the funerary temple of Hatshepsut. Although desecrated and vandalised by her successor, Thuthmosis III, it has amazingly restored and looks more like a Hollywood film set. It’s location on the eastern side of the Theban mountain is superb.
My personal favourite however is the Ramesseum. Built by the very busy Ramses II, much of it lies in ruins – but i like that. The evening sun provides for beautiful photography. With no ticket office nearby we each baksheesh E£10 to the security guard.
There are many more sights to be had, but this day trip provided a great taster. And i highly recommend the donkey option too.