Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Egypt. Day 5: Thebes (I)

As I listen to some NOFX songs ("The desperation's gone" is playing now...), I would like to continue with my description of my trip to Egypt.

On the 5th day, we woke up before dawn, at 5.30am and set for Luxor West Bank, the ancient Thebes. The reason why we woke up so early was to buy tickets for Nefertari's tomb (only 150 people can visit it per day). The first public ferry was at 6am and we managed to take it. From Luxor, many balloons could be seen in the sky... The reason is that for around 80 dollars you can get into one of them and see the sun rising from the sky. Views of Thebes are fantastic from there (apparently...).

Once on the West Bank, we took a taxi to the ticket office, which was around 2km in-land. There we found out Nefertari's tomb, Queen's Vally most famous sight, was closed for restauration!! All our waking up early was fruitless... Anyway, we got the tickets for the Ramesseum (Ramses II's mortuary temple) and decided to visit the Valley of the Kings, Hatsephut's temple and Ramesseum during our first day in Thebes.

We decided to avoid any taxi and do some trekking in the beautiful and rocky Egyptian mountains. We did not know how to go to places but with the help of our guidebooks and our sense of orientation we managed to go everywhere. The first thing we saw was the town of Old Qurna. We were just walking and could mix up with some locals. Of course, local people are nice but try not to talk too much to foreigners, as opposed to guys living off tourism.

Walking, walking, we arrived to Hapsephut's temple carved in the mountain and found the track to go to the Valley of the Kings through the mountains. As we climbed the mountain next to the temple, the view got better and better! It was amazing!

In the mountains, it was difficult to keep the right track and we got lost. One guy in a military post told us how to go to the Valley of the Kings. He could speak just a few words in English and we communicated basically using our hands. Universal language... he told us we were too high in the mountains and we should go round the next one and get down into the valley... you can imagine it took a while to get that explanation and quite a lot of faith... hehe... The trekking tracks outstand in the mountain in white colour, so we could find the right one after some effort.

After a while, we arrived in the Valley of the Kings. Tourists there were all packed and followed the shepherd properly XD... and gave us strange looks when they saw two guys coming from the top of the mountains! hahaha! Some people's faces were priceless! at that moment, I felt not joining any tour was our best decision in Luxor!

This is what the Valley of the Kings looks like; an opening in the mountain with many tomb entrances. With the initial ticket you can get into three tombs. We decided to enter Tutankamon's as well.

And this is what tombs looked like; long corridors with some rooms and a sarcophage at the end. Mummies are now in Cairo, in the Egyptian museum.

Afterwards, we walked around 5-6 km under the merciless sun and some Egyptians invited us for lunch with them. We all sat together around the food and ate with our hands and some bread. It was delicious!! Then, we visited Hatsephut's temple and the Ramesseum.

In the Ramesseum, we got a guide inside the temple which explained everything to us. He even told us how to climb to the top of the frontal pylon of the temple and came with us there!! This first photo is the pylon we climbed and the second one is from the top of it!

The rest of the visit was really detailed and our guide showed to us a mummy which had just been found there! of course, he told us not to tell anybody... hehehe...

After all that, we paid a tip to our great guide and went out of the temple. We told one guy we were going to the ferry and he helped us get a public bus. We really did not want to pay for a taxi... we wanted it the local way!! People in the van were surprised, as well as in the public ferry. Tourists try to avoid mixing up with locals...

Back in the East Bank, the sunset and the landscape were superb!

That day, we had dinner and went to bed soon. We were exhausted... But before we took a great decision! We checked our original plan and we were one day ahead schedule! that was because we decided to go by bus from Aswan to Luxor instead of using a felucca (traditional Egyptian ship). That allowed us to have an extra day in Luxor and another one to go somewhere. Our decision was to go to Hurghada in the Red Sea! Some snorkelling and lying in the beach could not be that bad after one week in the desert!! So we bought two one-way bus tickets to Hurghada and came back to the hotel. The next day was also going to be intense!


Wild Runner said...

Álvarooooo acabo de ver que has estado en Egipto!!! Tu foto a los pies del templo de Hapsetshut no tiene desperdicio. ¡Qué nivel! ¿Qué se siente al visitar sitios con tanta historia y tanta grandeza?

Leeré tus post detenidamente porque es un poco tarde, pero me estás dando una envidia que no veas ... Un abrazo tío ;) Espero que todo fuese de maravilla. Egipto ... uf.

Alvaro said...

Hola Pedro! q tal? Te contesto desde Praga ahora mismo... jeje... acabo de llegar ahora al hostal.

Pues si, Egipto fue uno de esos viajes que no se olvidan. Lo mejor fue que lo hicimos de forma totalmente independiente, usando transporte publico y huyendo de guias turisticos, taxis y demas...

La verdad es que hay sitios en los que te das cuenta de que estas en la cuna del mundo, jeje... digamos las piramides, Abu Simbel y todo lo que hay alrededor de Luxor! Y el mar rojo y los arrecifes de coral son la leche!!

Bueno, echale un vistazo y comenta todo lo que quieras! yo voy a dormir que manyana me espera Praga!!