If you say you’ve visited Luxor to an American, chances are they’ll reply, “Oh no, we didn’t stay at the Luxor in Las Vegas, we stayed at the Palms!” But they wouldn’t be too far off, because, the Palms is way better than the black pyramid-shaped Luxor hotel of Las Vegas. However, Lorna and I went to visit the real city of Luxor, tabout 700 kilometers away from Cairo in Egypt, and that’s a whole different experience, trust me!
Let’s not forget here, as mentioned in the last few articles I’ve written about Egypt, that we chose to use the Intrepid Travel group to guide us around. We were very happy with our guide, Amr, who took great pride in explaining the history of everything as we travelled about.
Where I left you in the last article about Aswan, was… we’d been picked up by a mini-bus after hopping off a falucca that we’d just spent twenty-four hours on, sailing down the Nile overnight from Aswan.
We drove for about an hour, then checked-in to the Royal House Hotel. I’d recommend this place if you’re staying in Luxor, except be careful when you look out the window. There’s a scary merry-go-round that must give kids nightmares!
After getting settled, Amr took us on a visit to the animal care project, where they look after sick animals and tell-off local Egyptians who whip their donkeys.
Then we visited the amazing Temples of Karnak built by Pharaoh Ramses II around 3350 years ago.
Karnak is the largest ancient religious site in the world and is basically a gigantic open-air museum with temples, pilons and chapels dating back to 1350 B.C.
Karnak Temple is so vast, with Hypostyle Hall taking up an area of 5000 square-meters on its own.
Karnak had been lost for centuries until 1668 when two missionary brothers stumbled onto it.
Tired from the previous night’s partying on the bank of the Nile, the cold-but-awesome sleep on the falucca, the early bus-drive to Luxor, the visit to the animal shelter and then the trek through ancient Karnak, we finally ate some dinner at a nice restaurant near the markets (where Lorna found an awesome Egyptian scarf) behind our hotel…
then watched the sunset before getting a good night’s rest.
Good thing too, because the next day we started bright and early with a donkey ride to visit the Valley of Kings!
The Valley of Kings is where Pharaohs and VIPs were buried in elaborate tombs for nearly 500 years from the 16th until the 11th century B.C.
Nearly all of the tombs found so-far (there are literally hundreds yet to be found!) are decorated with ancient Egyptian mythology.
I like to look at Egyptian hieroglyphics for-myself, before being told what the scientists believe them to say. You never know, they might have got some of the pictures wrong!
The most famous tomb found of late, of course, is that of King Tutankhamen. You can visit his tomb, but all his treasures and gold are now kept at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Later that day we were treated to a car-ride through a local village and a home-cooked meal at a local Luxorian’s house. The food was simple, but extremely tasty. And, again, we would never have been able to experience this without the Intrepid group setting it up for us. Well worth it.
And with all that, our amazing and out-of-this-world Egyptian adventure draw to a close by catching another overnight sleeper train back to Cairo where we would say goodbye to everyone in the group that we’d spent the last eight days with.
Lorna and I were lucky to get stuck with a really fun group of people and we’ll never forget our Egyptian adventure with them.
As we said goodbye to everyone back at the original hotel in Cairo where we’d all started at, I couldn’t help but wonder how awesome Jordan and the lost city of Petra were going to be… our next destination.
Rob Kaay is an Australian author and musician.
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