Today we were to visit two major sites, so up early for breakfast and then out to the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. A dreaded road train to the site. (Coming back, we walked.) Hatshepsut is the second historically-confirmed female pharaoh. She was a prolific builder and commissioned buildings in Upper and Lower Egypt. She also erected monuments in Karnak.
The Temple had been excavated and much reconstruction undertaken by the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. An interesting factoid is the main axis of the temple is set to an azimuth of about 116½° and is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise. The walkway from the visitor centre to the temple is spectacular.
Next, we drove to the Valley of the Kings, a 20-minute drive, in fact, it is a short distance from Temple of Hatshepsut, just over the ridge, but a long way around. The Valley of the Kings was predictably busy. The ticket gains you entry to three tombs, from a selection of five which are open. These change I believe. You also have the option of purchasing tickets for another three tombs, Tutenkarmen, Ramesses VI and Seti I. Seti was around £45, and Tutankhamun £10.
We stopped for a rather unnecessary 30-minute talk about what we were going to see, and the remaining time of 60 minutes to see even the three tombs was rather short. Those who bought extra tickets for another tomb would have been pushed for time. I dearly would have liked to have walked around the site a bit more and to have taken more time in the tombs.
The Tutankhamun tomb, which Rosemary went in to see on her own, was v small with not much in it, but some fabulous wall paintings and of Course Tutankhamun’s mummy. Value for money, not good, but of course an important tomb. R could not work out where all the treasures could possibly have been. The three other tombs we saw together, were the tombs of Merenptah, Ramesses III and Ramesses IV They were very beautifully decorated, and also went deep into the rock. Reports back from other said the Seti tomb was wonderful , with hardly anyone in it, the price putting visitors off.
In the tomb of Merenptah, I was caught by a tomb guardian, who started to show me around, against all advice from our guides. Rosemary did an instant disappearing act. I never really understood what the guardian said, who also insisted shining his torch on the object being described, which made it impossible to photograph. Then, of course, came the request for a tip, and S, like Charles, does not have any money, and R had vanished from sight. Oh dear.
Back on the coaches for lunch, stopping off to see the Colossi of Memnon. George reckoned that much extra archaeology and reconstruction had happened in recent years.
The afternoon was free. An interesting sailboat was moored next to us. After tea, before sunset time, we were taken around the boat, the SB Feddya, owned by Traveline which also operates our boat, the SS Misr. I think Movenpick actually manages them. It all gets a bit confusing, The Feddya was very well equipped and luxurious – only 4 passenger cabins, and a crew of 20. It operates between Luxor and Aswan. Typically, friends would hire it. I have not seen the cost, but I imagine if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
There was an optional Sound and Light show at Karnak in the evening. We did not go, and by all reports that was a good decision.