publication date: Dec 30, 2007
author/source: Anne Coates
Guide books comment on “coachloads of tourist being herded around” historical sites but in our experience, whichever way you travel to the Valley of the Kings – coach, taxi, bike - you have to queue to enter the tombs and walk through them at the speed dictated by the flow of people.
Of course, some organised trips give you longer to explore than others so it’s worth doing a bit of research before booking to find one suitable for you.
We made a half-day trip (that turned out to be much longer!) stopping on the way to see the Collossi of Memnon, two amazing statues which rise some 18 metres and were once part of Amenhotep’s funerary temple – now home to thousands of tiny, very vocal birds. There’s a small café here and toilets if you need them.
The scenery en route is quite spectacular and the burial site lies behind the pyramid-shaped peak of Al-Qurn mountain. At the entrance to the Valley of the Kings a “train” ferries visitors to the first tombs and you see the inevitable large groups of tourists who got there before you!
It’s worth having a good guide-book to read up on the history of the tombs, although we found our local guide very knowledgeable. Once he had given us the low-down on which tombs were open etc he left us to our own devices for what is an amazing and unique experience!
We left to go on to Medinat Habu, a fabulous temple with the Theban mountains in one direction and the village of Kom Lulah in front. Along the way to the entrance are stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs and it was a bit of a free for all, with Egyptians pestering you to buy something or other. We found it best to ignore them, however rude it seemed. The hassle was worth it when you climbed up the temple steps!
At one point we also visited an alabaster factory which was a surprise as it wasn’t listed on the itinerary! Here we were given a little demonstration and a drink but the expectation is that you buy something. Libby was given a tiny piece of alabaster with a religious sign engraved on it. “A gift” insisted the donor who then demanded money and tried to take my pen instead!
We returned to the hotel hot, exhausted and more than ready for a dip in the pool.
- Keep small denominations of currency with you to pay for use of toilets (in exchange you get given a few squares of paper).
- Take some hand-cleaning gel with you as the toilets are very basic.
- A lot of the time there is little shade from the sun, so hats, sunglasses and sun blocks are imperative.
- Take snacks and drinks for children.
- Lonely Planet’s Egypt is an excellent guide to the historical sites of the West Bank. To order a copy from Amazon click the link below:
Egypt (Lonely Planet Country Guide)