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Luxor, to the Valley of the Kings by bike

Home -> Africa -> Egypt -> Travelogue Egypt -> 10 January 2004

Saturday 10 January, Luxor, to the Valley of the Kings by bike

There are still a lot of clouds when we wake up and it isn't warm enough to sit outside for breakfast. We have slept long and well, but we have trouble to get going.
Carrying meatSo we first stop at a restaurant along the Nile to have some coffee. All kinds of tourists pass by, as Egypians with cloths on their shoulders. We have no idea what is under the cloths until we see a man where the cloth falls away and a large piece of meat appears. The cloth is probably for hygienic reasons...
When we walk to the ferryboat we are continuously approached by people who want to rent us a taxi, a coach, a felouka or a motorboat. They keep on talking and become irritated when, after five minutes, we still say no. Sometimes they pretend that we have promised to go with them but we stay firm. Just before the ferry we talk to someone, a taxi driver, who seems to be very nice. He has a nephew on the westbank who rents bicycles and since he is not very obtrusive we walk with him to this shop. Another man who followed us before has also crossed the Nile and gives us a very dirty look when he sees us walking with this man. We smile friendly to him.
Westbank of Luxor Colossi of MemnonWe first test the bicycles and they are ok. Soon we leave the village and cycle through the green plains towards the mountains and the desert. The first monument we see are the Memnoncolossi, two large statues of pharao Amenophis III. Behind the statues once was a large temple but almost all stones have been used for other temples and houses.
Workers villageNear the ticket office (one has to buy most tickets there except for the Valley of the Kings and the temple of Hatshepsut) lies the village Qurna. In ancient times the workers who helped build and decorate the tombs, lived here. The most tombrobbers also came (and still come?) from this place.
Cycling through the desertThe last 5 kilometers the road slightly goes uphill and the temperature rises quickly in the narrow valley. But as good Dutchmen we cycle on and wave the taxi's away when they stop near us and gesture that we can put the bicycles on top of the car.
Valley of the Kings Valley of the KingsAnd then we see the Valley of the Kings, in the New Kingdom (1550-1076 v.Chr.) chosen as the new burial place for the kings. No more pyramids but rocktombs, hoping they would be better secured against robbers. One reason they choose this valley is that from the entrance one can see this mountain (to the left) which resembles a pyramid.
Until a few years ago one was allowed to take pictures inside the tombs without flashlight, but no it is totally forbidden. In the tomb of Tutankhamun (40 pound or € 5,40 entrance fee) we even have to hand in the camera. This tomb is the smallest and most simple one in the whole valley but has become famous because Howard Carter discovered it almost untouched. For Elisabeth her first live experience in an Egyptian tomb, and it feels different than when one sees it on tv. In the next tombs we can take our camera with us but the guards anxiously watch my camera to be sure it is turned off. But until now nobody has been able to convince me that photographing without flash is bad for the paintings on the wall so I push the button now and then.
KV 43: Thutmes IV KV 43: Thutmes IVThese wallpaintings are inside the tomb of Tuthmosis IV, somewhere hidden in a side valley. Especially the picture to the left is very nice: the god Anubis (god of the mummification) offers an Ankh-symbol to the king, the symbol of life.
Valley of the KingsHere a view from this tomb over the valley. Almost nobody comes here and the guards wants us to take pictures with flash. We explain him that we are against flashing in the tombs as a matter of principle and his only excuse is that there are not any other people who can see it. But I think the colours of the wallpaintings have faded already a lot since I visited these tombs between 1982 and 1990 and it would be a shame when nothing remains of these fantastic bright colours.
The tombs of Ramesses III, VI and IX are open, three nice and easy to visit tombs. But I am warned when a guard sees the indicating light of the camera and I have to show him that I really turn it off.
KV 14: Tausert/Setnakht KV 14: Tausert/SetnakhtIn the double tomb of Taousert and Sethnakht I can make a few more pictures (without flash, of course). This tomb originally was build for Taousert, but his successor just took it over. Both kings died after being king for only two years so there probably was no time to build a new tomb.
The Valley of the Kings is a beautiful valley with splendid monuments. But a few of the tombs I want to show to Elisabeth (Ramesses I, Seti I, Horemheb and Tuthmosis III) are unfortunately closed. That is necessary to let the air in the tombs recover from all the moist from sweating tourists and for maintenance.
Camels along the NileDuring our long visit we run out of water and there is no restaurant in the neighbourhood. So we quickly cycle back to a village and stop at the first local pub we see to have some tea and water. Then we return the bicycles and search for the Nile Valley restaurant, which is run by a Dutch woman named Karin and her Egyptian husband, Hamada.
View on LuxorFrom the roof terrace of the well-kept building we have a nice view on the Nile and the eastern shore where we can see the Luxor temple. The restaurant (there is also a hotel with cheap and clean rooms) is recommended to us by the host of the travel agency Neckerman and he is right. The food is very nice as the service. So, we can recommend it, too. It lies only 200 meters from the place where the local ferry lands on the westbank of the Nile.
Hamada on his roof terraceWhen we talk to Hamada we 'exchange websites' and we promise him to make a link on our website. In the chaos of Luxor and the Westbank this is an oasis of peace. When we would visit Luxor again this hotel will be a good option to stay!
At night we walk along the Nile and visit several bars but now we need to wear a sweater. Our feet and legs are tired of all the work they have done, climbing, walking and cycling and it is not very late when we return to the hotel to relax and read. It has been a wonderful day and we spend much more time in the Valley of the Kings than we had expected. But we still have time enough...


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