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Valley of the Kings

Posted on the 13 November 2018 by Cheekymeeky

I can't believe I am blogging about this trip still even after five months. I think the reason I have been procrastinating with this blog post is that I was not allowed to take any photos in the Valley of the Kings. And I didn't think anyone would be interested in a blog post that's all text with nary a photo.

Still, for the sake of completeness, I'd like to do this post, and I have some pictures from the surrounding areas so I decided to make a blog post of it.

What is the Valley of the Kings?

Situated in Luxor, the valley of the kings is an ancient burial ground for Egyptian kings between 16th and 11th century BC. Because the Pyramids were big and showy, they attracted tomb raiders who plundered and destroyed these tombs. So the kings of Egypt got wise and decided to hide their tombs within the hills outside Luxor.

Well, that strategy didn't work too well! Most of the tombs were still plundered anyway.

Close by to the Valley of the Kings, is the Valley of the Queens and Valley of the Nobles containing tombs of queens and nobles, not very surprising.

The last and most famous tomb uncovered was that of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter in 1922. When I was a kid, I was fascinated with the story of the curse of Tutankhamun, and I used to read voraciously any book or article that talked about the curse. One of my nostalgic favorites remains Curse of the Kings by Victoria Holt, which is one of those cheesy gothic romantic mysteries that seem to have fallen out of fashion lately.

Anyway, I have started rambling here. Let's steer back to my experiences visiting the place.

Visiting the Valley of the Kings

We came to the Valley of the Kings after the hot-air ballooning early in the morning. Not a very good idea because having been up since 3:30 am, we were drained out. We ended up reaching the Valley of the Kings sometime around 11. By that time, it was punishingly hot.

Entrance details

A regular entrance ticket costs 160 Egyptian pounds (approx 9 USD), but allows you to enter only 3 tombs (there are around 60 of them). To see Tutankhamun's tomb you need to buy a special ticket that costs 200 Egyptian pounds (approx 11 USD).

We were told no photography is allowed inside. However, it seems of late they have relaxed that rule. Be sure to double-check on the photography rules. I wish I had!

Our experiences

Like I said earlier it was a blazing hot day. After queuing up and paying for the tickets, we then had to wait for a small tram like vehicle to take us to the spot where the tombs are found. While there wasn't a lot of walking, it was still very, very tiring.

The tombs themselves are located in small holes cut into the rock.

Image from https://www.ancient.eu/image/6884/valley-of-the-kings/.

At first, it seemed like they might be claustrophobic, but they are well-lit and beautiful once you enter.

The hieroglyphics were beautiful, and though you can't quite make out in that quick sly shot I took above, the colors still remain vibrant. All the hieroglyphics tell a story, so it helps to understand what they mean. However, guides aren't allowed inside the tombs. So, I'd recommend that you skip getting a guide for this tour. Get a good book on the Valley of the Kings, and use that to understand what the hieroglyphics mean. It will also make a good travel souvenir afterwards.

Which tombs should you visit?

The tomb of Rameses IV was the most jaw dropping, and it's in the best condition. It's also the most accessible tomb, and consequently the most crowded and you might be tempted to skip this. Don't. It's seriously the best one.

The other two tombs I visited were the tombs of Rameses I and Seti I, and they were nice too - less beautiful versions of the Rameses IV tomb.

And what about Tutankhamun's tomb?

Well, all the artifacts from the tomb have been taken away and are displayed in the Egyptian museum of antiquities in Cairo. What's left in the tomb is Tutankhamun's mummy. If you are ok with seeing just that, go. If not, don't. We had seen plenty of mummies by the time we visited Luxor, so it wasn't very impressive to us.

How long does the entire experience take?

It shouldn't take more than a half-day to do the Valley of the Kings, and that's only if you are the most ardent visitor. Most tour operators combine a visit to the Valley of the Kings along with a visit to Queen Hatshepsut's temple nearby, and a photo stop at the Colossi of Memnon.

Valley of the KingsValley of the Kings

If you want to do the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Nobles as well, you might want to do it on another day. Afternoons are really hot in Luxor (especially the valley areas).

We planned our day as follows:

  • Early morning hot air ballooning
  • Post-breakfast visit to the Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut's temple, and Colossi of Memnon
  • Post-lunch visit to the temple of Karnak
  • Late night flight out of Luxor to Cairo and then departed from Cairo back home the next day

It's a punishing schedule, and not one I'd recommend if you are traveling with small kids. But at the same time, Luxor is not a town where you can simply chill. If we hadn't gone to Karnak in the afternoon, we would have been left with nothing to do in town. Knowing what I know now, I'd probably move the hot air ballooning to another less stressful day.

Anyway, this was our experience visiting the Valley of the Kings! I hope you found this post useful. Still coming up is a detailed itinerary of what we did every day in Egypt. That should help you if you are planning a trip there.


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