After a leisurely breakfast on the cruise, we were ready to explore the valley of kings across the river.
Some of the other group members had opted for the hot air balloon ride and had left really early. We decided to skip this activity because we had done it in Cappadocia in the past and didn’t feel like repeating the ride and waking up early on this occasion.
This post is part of the Egypt Series. Other posts in this series:
- How to fly from NYC to Cairo in business for $12
- Cairo diaries: 3 day Cairo itinerary
- Unforgettable Nile river cruise
- Incredible temples of Abu Simbel
Valley of Kings
After a short ride, we arrived at the foot of various hills where the tombs of most pharaohs are located. The kings did a really great job of hiding their tombs filled with riches but over the centuries most of them were pillaged with the exception of Tutenkhamun whose tomb was one of the last ones to be found which is the main reason for his fame.
Even though the tombs are empty and no longer house the mummies of the pharaohs, they are certainly not devoid of treasures, the paintings and inscriptions in these long, beautiful tombs left us speechless.
With the entrance ticket, we were able to see 3 tombs out of several choices. Based on our guides recommendation, we picked tombs King Marenptah, Rameses IV, Rameses IX and we also paid extra for visiting tomb of Rameses VI. A lot of people pay extra to visit Tutenkhamuns tomb but we opted to skip it because our research told us that the colors and inscriptions in Ramses VI tomb were much better.
Another recommended tomb to visit is Seti VI but it is one of the more expensive ones for 1000 LE ($56). If you have some serious cash to spend, you can also pay thousands of dollars and visit queen Nefartaris tomb for 10 min.
Until Nov 2017, taking pictures in the tomb was not allowed but you can now buy a separate ticket to take pictures in the tomb.
Like any other tourist site, you will see an influx of tourists in some tombs, wait for a few minutes, let the tourists pass and visit a tomb when it looks relatively empty to enjoy the tomb and feel these after life homes of the pharaohs who considered themselves representations of god to feel the power and magic in the walls.
A short ride took us to the other side of the mountain where you see the temple of queen Hatsheput. After listening to her stories in Cairo and during our first day in Luxor, I was fascinated and inspired by her and couldn’t wait to see her temple.
Queen Hatsehput was the second official female pharaoh and reigned over both upper and lower kingdom of Egypt for over 21 years. To be accepted as a ruler, she said that she was actually the daughter of a goddess. Her stepson and several others didn’t accept this story even though this chain of logic didn’t seem to be questioned when it was repeatedly used by kings such as Ramses II. She even wore a fake beard and was referred to as the man queen. Her step son destroyed most of her temples and mentions of her rule after her death.
She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. According to Egyptologist James Henry Breasted she is also known as “the first great woman in history of whom we are informed.”
Read more about this badass, original feminist here
After walking around the temple, it is hard not to think about over several centuries how little has changed in terms of equal rights for women. I wonder why the rules of the game are suddenly different when a women is playing and why women are expected to play fair in this rigged game?!
Even her mummy in the Cairo museum was labelled as “Queen Hatsheput – fat women in her 50s with rotten teeth.” Seriously, can we stop body shaming this incredible woman after her death!
After a lot of walking and thinking around the temples, we made a quick stop at a souvenir and snack shop. We also took a few pictures at the Colossi of Memnon on the way and made it to our cruise right before it started sailing.
Sailing and shopping anyone?
We started sailing right at lunch and were on our way to the town of Edfu where we would be docked for the night.
During the afternoon, we passed the lock of Esna where the boat was raised to pass through the channel. It is quite an interesting experience if you haven’t seen a ship pass through a lock before. This also gives the vendors a great opportunity to get really close to the boat and sell everything from dresses to scarves.
These highly skilled vendors are adept at putting the clothes in a bag and throwing them all the way up to the roof of the cruise. If you are interested, you can look at the item and bargain. They refuse to take no for an answer! The prices are really cheap and you could get a really good bang for you buck if you are interested. If not, it is still fun to watch the show. If you are staying in the cabin at this time, remember to close the curtains if you don’t want to be bothered that evening.
After dinner, we were docked at the town of Edfu where we went for a quick walk around the town with our guide and had a great time wandering around the small streets of this suburban town. After a quick night cap with our new friends in the cruise lounge, we called it a night to one of our favorite days in Egypt.