23 Nov

HISTORY LIVES IN LUXOR

Luxor Temple

Karnak Temple

Luxor has been called the greatest open-air museum in the world, and I would have to agree.  Luxor was at its best between the 11th and 16th centuries BC.  Coming from a country that is 150 years old, I can not even comprehend that amount of old.  The city of Luxor is built on the east bank of the Nile.  The Valley of the Kings is across the river.

Hatshepsut Mortuary Temple

Luxor and Karnak Temples are the dominant structures in Luxor.  Both complexes are huge, and both are well preserved and the reconstruction is ongoing.  Many parts of both places are in their original state and it is incredible to see how they have withstood the time and elements.

Both temples can easily be visited on your own.  Doing some research before your visit will greatly enhance your time.  I so enjoyed wandering around trying to imagine what things were like when they were built – and also how they were built.  It is so unfortunate the tourism industry in Egypt is currently suffering hard times.  Often there would only be 2 or 3 tour buses in a parking lot that could hold 100.  I felt so fortunate to be able to spend so much time almost alone.

Taking a tour of the West Bank is the easiest option to see the Valley of the Kings, and some of the lesser known sites.  The Valley of the Kings is really just a big gravel pit, but once you enter the tombs the colours and details of the paint is beyond belief.  A 6-hour tour that included transport and guide was less than $3. and none of the admission fees cost more than $6.

I also got to visit Hatshepsut’s, Mortuary Temple.    I felt it was best just seen from a distance. We also stopped to see the two huge Colossi of Memnon statues and Medinet Habu.  The latter was certainly one of my favourites as there was a lot of very well preserved hieroglyphics.  How many man hours did it take to create that incredible work?

Hieroglyphics

Exterior paint that lasted 3500 years Temple. 

I rode a felucca on the Nile to see the sunset, and a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings to see the sunrise.

Luxor was a great lesson in history, and the best part – there was no test after.

15 Nov

ASWAN TEMPLES

Colourful Guest House

Police Lookout

I had not been to Aswan before.  I wanted to see the two huge Abu Simbel temples that were moved before the Nile Valley flooded and created Lake Nasser.  Nubians were forced to abandon their homes when the valley flooded, so I thought I would stay at a Nubian Guesthouse.  It was certainly the most colourful place I have stayed.  Abu Simbel is located 230 km. south of Aswan, and is close to the border of Sudan.  Vans and tour buses travel in convoys across the desert, and there are numerous police checkpoints along the way.

Desolate Desert

Abu Simbel Temples

The desert is pretty flat and desolate most of the way.  We did pass one area where there were rocky hills.  We also saw one oasis – a lovely patch of green trees and flowers in the middle of nowhere.

The temples of Abu Simbel were built in 1260 BC.  In 1968 they were relocated to avoid them being submerged when the high dam was built.  They were simply cut into blocks, the blocks were numbered, and they were relocated and reconstructed.  Each block weighed about 20 tons.  There is not a lot to see inside either of the temples, but the outside of each of them is very impressive.  It is incredible how well the hieroglyphics have withstood the test of time.

01 Nov

MY SPIRIT SOARED

Up Up and Away

Beautiful Balloons over the Valley of the Kings

A hot air balloon ride has always been on my bucket list. Unfortunately, it is just not a budget activity – unless you are in Luxor, Egypt.
Early morning balloon rides over the Valley of the Kings are popular and affordable.
I booked my tour with Sindbad Balloons and the experience was professional from beginning to end.

SINDBAD IS GREAT

Captain Adel

The one drawback is pickup time is before 5 am. The sun gets up early in Egypt. We had tea or coffee on our short ferry ride to the west bank of the Nile. A short drive and we were at the launch site. It was so interesting to watch the balloons being inflated, and lift off 6 at a time. We were given a safety briefing to read, and then an oral briefing from the pilot. He made it very clear that they took safety very seriously.

We boarded the basket – it is divided into sections, with the pilot and his tanks in the middle. We slowly rose and it was amazing how smooth and quiet it was. We glided over several temples. The pilot was able to turn the balloon so we each had a 360 -degree panoramic view.
We rose to 500 meters and just floated along in the morning breeze. The green of the agricultural area was a sharp contrast to the desert sand. It was thrilling to see some of the temples from above.


Captain Adel made a textbook landing, barely a bump as we touched down. It was a perfect flight, on a perfect morning, and a perfect way to start a day.

Sindbad Balloons:
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