Egypt Essentials Part Two: Luxor

Second leg of the trip was Luxor, we arrived pretty late so couldn’t wait to just crawl into bed. There had been a few police stops on the way so had taken a bit longer than anticipated, about 9 and a half hours drive from Cairo. We were staying at the Steigenberger Nile Palace, a pretty nice 4* hotel located in the city, but apart from us was basically empty!

Day Two of our tour, an early start, and we started with the Colossi of Memnon (see photo above) and the Temple of Hatshepsut. This is literally one of the hottest places in the world – not kidding. We were there in October at 8am and I could feel my skin burning just standing there!

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As usual the tour guide explained the history behind the temple, took us through some key areas, pointing out the hieroglyphics and the story behind them. I wish I could remember more of this, I should have taken a note book like a uni trip! My sister in law advised reading up on Egyptian mythology before we went to get the most out of it. This is one of my favourite places we visited, the way the temple is built into the rock, i just haven’t seen anything like it before.

After this we went to the Valley of the Kings, the valley it’s situated in actually rises up into a natural pyramid and then to the left of this the skyline of the rocks looks like the outline of a pharaoh lying down. There are several tombs you can visit.

Unfortunately you aren’t allowed cameras in the Valley of the Kings, you used to be allowed them outside but then people were still taking photos in the tomb as the flashes damage the hieroglyphics. Our tour guide warned us that if the guards can you they can confiscate your camera or wipe your phone!

We paid extra to go into King Tut’s tomb. It is much smaller than the other ones you can visit there. Inside is a replica of the sarcophagus and his mummy, everything else has been moved to a permanent exhibition in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

After this we visited a local pottery merchant where they showed us how they created pots and sculptures from various materials. I did end up buying something but only because they had such a cute pet dog. He was just taking himself around the group to get as many pats as possible.

Nubian Dinner

In the evening we were invited to experience an authentic Nubian dinner with a local family. Why is the floor made of sand? Well every night they smooth it out and then they can see if a snake has made its way inside and track where it is! Genius. This was literally their home, you could see all the rooms as you walked in (including what i think was a pet crocodile in the kitchen) and there was a big hall in the back for tour groups.

There was lots of food, and the lady of the house had even made a birthday cake for one of the girls on the tour! After dinner was the singing and dancing part – I tried to hide at the back as I have no rhythm or dance capabilities whatsoever, but was somehow shimmed to the front. Their little girl was adorable and moved from shyly hiding at the back to taking centre stage on the dance floor.

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Mid-way through the week we embarked on the third part of our trip, down to the city of Aswan. Please see part three for details, on the way back we stopped off at Luxor again before finishing our trip in Cairo. Following our arrival back into Luxor we checked back into the Steigenberger Nile Palace hotel, room with a balcony and Nile view, very fancy. And, in the evening we visited to the Luxor Temple.

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Luxor Temple

Really glad we got to see one of the temples at night. Was very beautiful to see all the columns lit up in the dark. The tour guide took us around the temple and pointed out one very interesting hieroglyphic, which lets just is meant to help boost fertility.

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Luxor Temple

Day Seven and we started with a trip to Karnak Temple, which is connected to Luxor Temple with a 2km row of Sphinx,  as of yet only partially restored. You can also see in the photo below the slope of mud bricks used to build the pylon section at the entrance to the temple, potentially the same technique was used to build the pyramids.

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There is also a scarab sculpture in this temple that the ancient woman took their daughters to for good luck to find a husband, and my horrible boyfriend made me get a photo with it.

After our second stint in Luxor, it was another 9 hour drive back up to Cairo. Top tip we found out the left hand side of the bus has more leg room than the right! A few of the group actually opted to get a flight, which I believe cost them under £100 and took about an hour, so if you are not keen on bus travel that is always an option to get between cities. You can get the train too but when we looked at it, it basically took the same amount of time as the bus.

Please read part one to find out more about the city of Cairo and part three to find out more about Aswan.

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