Egypt Travel Journal: Luxor to Dahab
|This travel journal is part of a series of journals, which are all written during a long trip between november 2007 and may 2009.|
02-04-2009 We start our stay in Luxor with a day of rest and updating the website.
03-04-2009 Yesterday we already got a bit of an impression, but today the athmosphere of Luxor fully reveals itself. As soon as we step outside our guesthouse we have the feeling to be eaten by sharks and in the fivehundred meters to the Luxor Museum people shout at us at least ten times, grab us three times and curse five times when we don't respond as they wished for. People take no mince and besides the Arabaic names we're called we are treated on "fuck you" two times. The museum is nonetheless an impressive collection of treasures and the staff here is extremely friendly.
Next we see how the process of mummification was done in the time of the Faraos, at the mummification museum, where quite some tools are on display as well, as are the mummy of a nobleman, a baboon, a cat, an ibis and even a fish.
Once we're back on the street we have difficulties to get past the rude Egyptians, who apparently have all gathered in Luxor. How is it possible that this country with its unprecedented wise civilization has sunk to an appalling level in the past two thousand years?!
In the afternoon we visit the Luxor temple as well, but due to the way in which we have to get there, the fun gets a bit spoiled for us.
04-04-2009 This morning we rise early to get to Karnak temple. When we reach the entrance of the place at six thirty there's not a tourist to be seen yet and we're the first visitors of the day, but also the first visitors ever for the brand new visitors center. For the staff this is such a special occasion that we have to write in a book and the manager even comes down for a chat with us.
The Karnak temple complex is huge and largely put back together through reconstruction. Construction works are still ongoing and although we find it a bit of a shame that there are now non-original parts added to the giant structure as well, like this you do get a good picture of how the temple once has been. The collonade is gigantic and still covered with beautiful inscriptions and colours.
We'd like nothing more than to leave Luxor tomorrow, but the boat from Hurghada to Sharm El Sheik only sails four times a week and so it's a much better idea to leave a day later. There's hardly any budget accommodation in Hurghada and we expect the tourist industry to be at least as aggressive as here in Luxor. That's why we book a room in Hurghada for the day after tomorrow and entrench ourselves in our room for the rest of the day. Even the Valley of the Queens isn't able to lure us. But then we have to admit we're kind of done seeing temples and tombs for the moment.
> Valley of the Kings
05-04-2009 Finally we do cross the Nile to the Western bank and on a bicycle we first get to the temple of Seti I. En route we're passing the Ramesseum and we see right away we don't have to enter the place. Compared to the temples we've already seen there's not much left from the original structure and all that Ýs still standing doesn't look very pretty or detailed. The Seti I temple is also a bit disappointing. There are some pretty parts left, with wonderfully colored drawings and a huge facade, but it can't compete with the Karnak, Edfu and Abu Simbel temples.
For a moment we're in doubt whether we'll continue cycling to the Valley of the Kings. It's still a long way to go, it's thirty seven degrees and we've seen quite some tombs now. Eventually we decide to go for it, we're only here for this one time and we don't want to miss out on something. The long road to the valley is ascending and puffing we try keeping the spirits up by saying that later, we'll be rolling back down.
An entrance ticket is valid for three tombs and we start with the tomb of Ramses IX, a very beautiful one to start with, the walls still covered with colourful images. The entire corridor to the tomb itself is covered with them and also the tomb itself, deep under the ground, is a truely colourful place.
From this most popular tomb we walk to the more remote tomb of Tuthmosis IV, where we don't see a single other tourist. First we think this tomb has been closed for renovation, like a few others, but then we spot a lonely guard, eating his lunch at the entrance. He still calls us to say we're not allowed to take pictures, but well... when there's no one there and you're deep under the ground with all these beautiful pieces of art on the wall... it's pretty tempting. Of course we first turn off the flash, since we don't want the paint to fade. Finally we're all the way down, to see, some steep flights of stairs later, the largest sarcophagus we've ever seen. This one's been wonderfully decorated too.
Back above the ground we ask the guard to tell us what his favourite tomb is and that's the last one we're visiting: the one of Tawosret and Sethnakht. According to the only other people we see when we're walking over there, it's a a particularly beautiful temple and they were right. Once again there are no other visitors and the guards are staying outside for lunch, so we have the entire tomb for ourselves. The walls of the long corridor downwards are covered with murals and there's also a larger space with columns full of colourfuol Gods. Eventually we get to the tomb itself, with its bizarre murals and one original sacrophagus.
And then we do roll down through the arid, rocky landscape indeed. The wind caused by this action is very welcome to cool us down.
> To Hurghada by Bus
06-04-2009 The bus ride to Hurghada takes a bit longer than planned, but we've become used to that in the past year or so. It's well into the afternoon when we're finally there and we're glad to quickly find the hotel we've booked. That's the only part running smoothly, since the staff had no idea we'd be here and it takes them almost an hour to bring us a towel so we can take a shower. Fortunately we're staying just one night.
> Boat Ride to Sharm El-Sheik
07-04-2009 At eight we arrive at the port to board the fast ferry to Sharm-el-sheik. The boat's supposed to take us to the other side of the Red Sea in about ninety minutes, but as soon as we get there we hear it will take a bit longer today, due to bad weather. A bit later one of the sailors comes to offer everyone a pill against nausea. Well, that's a promising start.
Both of us take one of the pills we're offered and as soon as we're sailing out of the port we understand what these were for. The waves are wild ones and during the next hour they are only getting worse. Then we spot some land and we think we haven't done too bad after all. Unfortunately we're leaving the land behind, it turned out to be an island, only to get to an even wilder sea. This is obviously our least comfortable ride ever and Peter turns slightly green now, despite the little pill that he took. Eventually we arrive in Sharm about four hours later, where we catch a taxi to the bus station, about ten kilometers further on.
Through a barren, mountainous landscape the bus ascends along winding roads. Fortunately we're coping with everything after that crazy boat ride and even the rollercoaster down feels pretty relaxing after this morning. Our reward is is Dahab, a quiet seaside resort, where everybody comes for diving, but we'd like to relax for a few days.
08-04-2009 t/m 12-04-2009 The first two days are voluntarily very quiet, but when we'd like to explore some of the sights, on a tour in the area, on the third day, we have to cancel. Peter is sick. Only on the twelfth we think it's wise to sign up for a new tour into the desert.
> Colored Canyon and White Canyon
13-04-2009 Exactly at eight there's a bedouin man at the reception for us: our guide for the day. With three members of a German family we hop in the back of a Landrover and when we registered with the police we're ready for our tour through the desert. The first hour we're folowing a paved road, but then it's time for the four-wheel drive, as we hit the sand. The rocks are getting bigger and more colourful, until we stop on the edge of the Coloured Canyon. On foot we descend in the deep canyon in front of us and when we're at the bottom we see red and yellow stones alternating.
After a turn the canyon is getting more narrow. A bit later two metres high walls of coloured stone are rising right next to us, barely a metre of space between them. Sometimes the narrow path is blocked and we have to climb over a large boulder or dive through a hole. Our guide Hussein sees animals and people in some of the rocks and well, with a tiny bit of imagination we see them too.
After a steep climb to get out of the canyon we're taken to an oasis for lunch. The final stretch of the trip is along more sand tracks and from time to time a considerable amount of gas is needed to reach the top of the sand dunes we're crossing. The oasis itself is a bizarre perception, so many palm trees, suddenly gathering in the arid desert. The bedouin family where we're having lunch prepared some great food and the oranges they're serving as a dessert are a lovely treat as well.
After a stroll through the village we enter the White Canyon, which lies right behind it. The outer layer is once again wonderfully coloured, but the stone is so soft that it crumbles and everything beneath the top layer is white. The result is a white layer of powder covering large areas of the canyon. This route is, if possible, even more adventurous than the one through the Coloured Canyon, as we regularly have to climb a wall, with or without ropes and ladders.
By the end of the walk we're fairly exhausted and so we treat ourselves on a delicious Korean meal when we're back in Dahab. The perfect end of this day.
14-04-2009 After a long night's rest we wake up with sore muscles. We attempt to being lazy, but we've also agreed to join the German family we met yesterday to join them for snorkling, according to them something really not to be missed when being in Dahab. Mid-afternoon we get into the water and it really is spectacular. Fish and coral of all sorts have gathered right off the coast. As it's almost low tide we can't stay in too long, but we don't care too much, since the cold takes away our breath. The tropical temperatures of Asia changed us into wimps.
> Mount Sina´
15-04-2009 Despite the clear blue sky of this morning we go out with a vest and a jacket. We're on our way to climb the famous Mount Sina´ and we expect it to be rather chilly at an altitude of nearly 2300 meters.
But first we'd like to take a look at the Saint Catherine's Monastery at the foot of the mountain, and in about two hours we drive over there through a barren mountain landscape. It happens to be very crowded in the monastery and shoulder to shoulder we shuffle through it. We see the place where God first spoke to Moses, a green bush which caught fire back then. We're glad to have some more advanced ways to communicate nowadays, so we can call or text each other when we have something to discuss.
After a round through the church we're bored, but we have to wait for the other people from our group, since you're required to follow a guide when you'd like to climb the mountain. It takes some persuation to convince the others of the advantage of the difficult path: from the "steps of Repentance" you have way better vistas of the surroundings of the monastery than when you follow the easy camel path. Eventually everybody's glad we've insisted, since the panoramas of the slowly disappearing monastery in the depth are amazing and definately worth the effort of the strenuous climb.
In slightly less than two and a half hours we climb the 3700 uneven steps and when we're on top of the mountain we're the only ones. The view is superb. We take a peek through the windows of the chapel, which is built at this windy altitude and warm ourselves in the mosque, which had its doors open for... us?! This is the place where Moses received the ten Commandments, so they're written on a sign in the mosque, as an Israeli fellow traveler tells us. Meanwhile we've learned to read the Arabic characters for one to ten, so we don't take this for granted, as eight is the last number on the sign. The Israeli is not a Muslim and he has no explanation for us when we ask him about number nine and ten. Perhaps Muslims only have eight Commandments? Well, then we know exactly which ones they don't have: Thou shalt not lie, since they're telling lies all day long here in Egypt and Thou shalt not rip-off tourists. But perhaps the sign was just too small and some Commandments have been combined.
The original plan was to watch the sun set from up here, but now we find it all quite chilly up here and we decide to get down. We now follow the easy camel path back to the monastery, where we arrive just after sunset. Our driver's already waiting for us and as soon as we're all in the van he totally forgets about the eleventh Commandment: thou shalt not drive a hundred and twenty in bends limited to sixty.
16-04-2009 Today we laze around a bit and figure whether we'd first want to visit Israel or Jordan. Eventually Israel wins. O no, it's Jordan after all, at the last minute.
Luxor valley of the kings Egypt videoThe Luxor valley of the kings Egypt video will show here
Sina´ desert jeep tour Egypt videoThe Sina´ desert jeep tour Egypt video will show here
Click on the films up here to look around in the Valley of the Kings and the Sina´ desert, almost live.
> More Info
Also check our Egypt info page, where you can find a lot of information about Egypt and come see our Luxor to Dahab 1 photos and Luxor to Dahab 2 photos.