I have always wanted to go hot air ballooning and thought I would give it a go over the Valley of the Kings. This was truly one of the highlights of my trip! I thought it would be a bit of a jerky lift off but we seemed to just float into the air. One of our first sights was Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple, what a gorgeous setting at the foot of a limestone cliff-face. The view from up there gave a great perspective of the division between life alongside the Nile and the desert.
Instead of taking normal transportation into The Valley of the Kings, such as a bus, we rode donkeys – that’s right – for 7 miles, seemed like 50! But we were a great spectacle for the Japanese tourists as we trotted in! We may even have attracted more attention than King Tut’s tomb!
There were many tombs open to view. The walls of the tombs are covered in unbelievably well preserved paintings of gods and goddesses, and complex hieroglyphics depicting their life and afterlife. Most of the burial chambers were looted except King Tutankhamun, hence the fantastic displays at the Cairo Museum. But you will still find King Tut’s body in his tomb. You pay extra to enter King Tut’s tomb if you are so inclined.
From the valley we hiked up and over to Deir el Medina, which is the workers village. On the way you end up over top of Queen Hatshepsut Temple and get another fantastic view. In Deir el Medina you can still see the remains of the tomb builder’s homes and their own tombs that are almost more beautifully preserved than the king’s tombs. We then climbed back onboard our donkeys to make our way back to the Nile. On our way back we trotted through a little village, and the kids were just getting out of school. They must of thought we were a silly sight, but they were high- fiving us nonetheless!
We had a fantastic last dinner in Luxor and some last minute shopping. Silver and gold are pretty good purchases in Luxor. We were up very early the next morning for our convoy to Hurghada and the Red Sea. The winter winds had picked up so it was far cooler on the coast than I had expected. What to say about Hurghada, not much really. It is a seaside resort in either constant disrepair or expansion, hard to know which. What was wonderful was our day out at sea, snorkeling. The underwater life was fantastic and the sea was that gorgeous blue that just invites you in.
Once back in Cairo, I did some more last minute shopping and eating before saying goodbye to a great group of people I had spent the past 2 weeks with and reflecting on the fact that I had indeed seen the Great Pyramids, Abu Simbel , hot air ballooned over the Valley of the Kings and cruised down the Nile! Not bad!