A journey through time following in the footsteps of the Pharaos
A lot of people travel to Egypt each year for its pristine beaches, the coral reefs which are almost in perfect condition and the comfort of leaving your worries behind and relax in one of the million hotels and resorts. This is absolutely a fantastic idea if you love the heat and want to get away for a week. As usual there are a couple of activities most travelers book: the bedouin camp visit, the quad ride through the desert and the snorkel trip to the coral reefs but most forget that they are in a country that still has one of the most breathtaking sights full of amazing stories and fascinating tales. The time of the Pharaohs.
Spread out over the whole country are three important areas – Cairo (Pyramids) – Luxor (Karnak Temple) – Assuan (Abu Simbel)
If you are not willing to spend a lot of money on domestic charter flights you should probably stick to one or two locations. As most travelers land on the coast meaning somewhere in or near Hurghada I will stick to Luxor.
I would say that the most important part is how you travel and after my second visit to Luxor I can definitely say that I had the most fun when it was just two to max 4 people. First of all you can decide how long you want to stay in one location and second of all it is not that more expensive.
Start out your tour from the hotel and let them pick you up, check if their driver speaks english and if lunch is included in a restaurant (because otherwise you will be stuck buying ships and coke).
Most of the time you will be heading to the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut the was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. This gargantuan building is dedicated to the sun-god Amun (you will feel it when you get close to this heat sink) and was inspired by the temple that WAS next to it, which means that Hatshepsut liked the design and just used the stones from that temple instead of getting her own which was a common practice. She was the second pharaoh in the history of Egypt and unfortunately her stepson had most of her statues destroyed (very dramatic Soap opera style). As you walk up the three platforms turn around and look towards the city of Luxor and you will see the line that separates the desert and lush greens of the city below.
The valley of the kings will be another stop (i know this because 99% of the tour operators have the same stops but it is very important to know which one you take). I myself could spend a day here just walking from tomb to tomb but unfortunately either most of the graves are closed, under construction or so destroyed that it seems like you are walking into your own basement. There is just no money to protect this breathtaking graves. If you get a chance to see one of the better preserved graves (KV62 – the beautiful tomb of Tutankhamun) just pay the additional amount because it is absolutely worth it.
At the end of your tour you will come to Karnak – the second largest ancient religious site in the world (after Angkor Wat) – as a visitor you only have access to the precinct of Amun-Ra, the area itself is much larger. Walking through the Hypostyle Hall a hall area of 50,000 sq ft (5,000 m2) with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows, 21 meters tall with a diameter of over three meters is a sight you will never forget and that the whole structure had a golden roof is unimaginable. This is my favorite place in Egypt so far (even better than the pyramids) and I love to spend time in the shade of the giant sculptures of Amun. I would recommend talking to your driver to spend more time here. Additionally don’t give any of the “guards” any money to take you to a closed off area – you just put yourself in danger and it’s not worth it.
If you get the opportunity to take a boat-ride on the Nile – Take it! It is very relaxing after a day in the heat.
Valley of the kings
It doesn’t matter where you come from… bring sun cream, some kind of headwear and as much water as you can (even when you just walk around – in a backpack). Don’t bring cameras that can’t stand the heat (remember: no photos allowed in the valley of the king tombs unless you bribe someone there). If you like to take a memory with you buy something at the thousand booths you will pass, if not…. walk fast and don’t stop.
PS: if you are in Hurghada or close by and you want to see the pyramids the best way is by plane (start at 150 Euro per person which is the complete trip including almost everything) unless you want to spend 8 hours in a bus which is hell believe me and you don’t get enough time there to enjoy it thoroughly.