When I went on the Overseas Adventure Travel trip Egypt and the Eternal Nile, the most incredible of the sights we saw were in Luxor. This included the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and the Karnak Temples. Our small ship up the Nile was headed North, so this was a great way to end the base trip before heading back to Cairo. I think the direction, either North or South, is really the most important in terms of how you want to remember the trip, and the Valley of the Kings was it for me. The other option would have been to end the trip at Aswan to see Abu Simbel.
One of the early and very impressive sites we saw was a whole boulevard filled with Sphinx’s on both sides of the street in Luxor. It’s actually an entrance into the temple complex or was at one time. We saw a second street of Sphinx’s once we were inside as well. The hieroglyphics are very well preserved, as are so many of the statues. There are a few obelisks inside, and one in particular was so tall with such intricate carvings and made of red granite. We learned they could create, carve and erect these intricate structures in six months. The ancient Egyptians were pretty sophisticated and efficient in what they did, it seems.
The Luxor Temple is stunning all lit up at night, when many go to see it. A cache of treasures was discovered at the Luxor Temple, and those are housed in one of the two museums close by, which are closed from 2-5 pm. Some tour groups miss being able to see the treasures due to the timing of the sightseeing as well as the museum hours.
But the most world class travel you will do on a trip like this, and one of the most impressive things you will see in any of your travels, is the Valley of the Kings and Queens, which includes King Tuts tomb, as well as the temple where Queen Hatshepsut is buried. It’s a mortuary temple on the West Bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings.
In the Valley of the Kings you get two tickets; one for King Tuts tomb, and one to visit three of the other 63 Kings buried there. The colors in the ones we entered were original, and not touched by the ravages of time. There are 4 tombs that are considered the most impressive in addition to King Tut, and any guide will give you guidance. I went inside the tombs of Ramses 9, Ramses 4, and the son of the most famous of them, Ramses 2 (the son wasn’t a Ramses, but over time there were 11 or 12 of them). The other one is Ramses 3. Lines can be extremely long, so I made my choices based on which of the four had the least lines outside and most vibrant colors inside.
The tombs are well lit when you get inside. The tomb of Ramses 2 son was the most challenging to
get to with stairs everywhere up and down, but you were rewarded when you got to the actual tomb and sarcophagus. It wasn’t as colorful as the others, but impressive nonetheless.
King Tutt’s tomb and sarcophagus have never left Egypt. It’s a small two room site with vibrant original colors, and it’s really breathtaking to look at. A man by the name of Carter, a British archaeologist, was on a 10-year quest to find the tomb, and he did so by sheer accident. His work was funded by another British man who died about 3 months after King Tut was discovered.
Different people were on the quest for Queen Hatshepsut, and they only found her because they located her tooth nearby. They are still digging to this day in the Valley of the Kings, because they know so much more is there. The last King was excavated in 2010, while they found King Tut in 1922.
We also went to the house where Howard Carter once lived and walked through his home, now a museum. There is a whole section on his actual finding King Tut and everything he saw once his eyes had adjusted to the dark. They asked him what he could see, and he simply replied,” it’s wonderful.” Gold chariots, the death mask, and so much more gold than anything we saw awaited him, in addition to the tomb and sarcophagus. When he went inside, he was accompanied by his sponsor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon (himself an amateur Egyptologist). The Earl brought some objects back to his home in England, Highclere Castle. That castle was the location for filming the TV series Downton Abbey.