After discovering Aswan’s souks brimming with the scents of spices and perfumes, along with the colours of locally woven handicrafts, it was time to head off to Abu Simbel, one of the highlights of the itinerary.
Built on the west bank of the Nile in 1244BC, the Great Temple is one of Egypt’s most memorable sights. It is guarded by four giant 21-metre tall statues of Ramses II carved directly out of the mountain. The entrance is built so that on both 22 October and 22 February the sun shines into the inner sanctuary to light three statues seated on a bench – one of these is of Ramses II himself. The hieroglyphs carved into the walls are fascinating and tell a story of life in ancient times. The inside of the temples is just as incredible as the outside.
Next, we welcomed the opportunity to unwind under the stars on a traditional Felucca (Egyptian sailing boat) sailing the Nile from Aswan towards Luxor.
The Nile is the lifeblood of Egypt. Snaking through upper and lower Egypt and extending almost 7000 kms though Africa, the Nile provides a perfect way to see some of Egypt’s premier sights. The river banks are dotted with ancient tombs, temples and ruined cities which paint a colourful picture of pharaohs and their kingdoms.
Luxor has so much to offer and has been described as the world’s greatest open-air museum, it is just extraordinary. Nothing compares to the scale and grandeur of the monuments that have survived from ancient Thebes.
On the first day we visited Karnak Temple, which is one of the most impressive of all of Egypt’s temples and covers more than 100 hectares on the east bank of the Nile. Construction at Karnak started approximately 2055BC and each Egyptian ruler left his own architectural mark up until the Romans took control around 100AD.
Our second day in Luxor was spent at the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the hills are over 60 tombs of Egypt’s Pharaohs built over a 500-year period (approximately 1539 BC to 1075 BC). It is hard to imagine the time it took to carve these tombs by hand and then decorate them with the paintings and hieroglyphics that tell the story of life and funeral rites of these Pharaohs.
This was a holiday full of so many amazing sites but the Valley of the Kings was my number one highlight. Travelling in Egypt is amazing and certainly stretches the mind. Next stop Jordan to soak up some more history.