To the Valley of the Kings

  • View over the Nile floodplain - © From Flickr user Graham_Racher
  • And near them on the sand the shattered visage lies... Ramesseum - © From Flickr user NinaHale
  • Hatshepsut - © From Flickr user Paul_Mannix
  • Colossi of Memnon - © From Flickr user SilviaPef
  • Colossi of Memnon - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt
  • Deir el-Medina I think - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt
  • Dra'Abul naga - © From Flickr user Soupstance
  • Hatshepsut - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt
  • Hatshepsut's temple - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt
  • Medinet Habu - © From Flickr user Argenberg
  • Medinet Habu - © From Flickr user Astique
  • Probable Deir el-Medina - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt
  • Pyramid Mountain, Valley of the Kings - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt
  • Ramesseum - © From Flickr user NinaHale
  • The Ramesseum - © From FLickr user Argenberg
  • The Ramesseum - © From Flickr user NinaHale
  • Valley of the Kings From above - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt
  • Valley of the Kings trail - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt
  • Theban Hill Map - © Dane Bombara

Key information: To the Valley of the Kings

  • This horseshoe-shaped path, following an ancient track along a desert escarpment, lets one see the huge Pharaonic necropolis of ancient Thebes within the context of its desert landscape.
  • Three-hour walk passes some of Egypt's greatest monuments, including Deir el-Medina, the Valley of the Kings, Temple of Hatshepsut, the Asasif tombs and the Tombs of the Nobles.
  • Once off the Nile flood-plain, this is serious, baking-dry desert; best attempted in Winter, or at dawn. Much of the route is fairly solitary, but expect predictable crowds at famous sites.
  • If visiting sites en route, make sure to buy tickets at the kiosks before setting off. They cannot be bought on site.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating85
  • Beauty28
  • Natural interest12
  • Human interest18
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points5
  • Total rating85
  • Note: Negs: Mass tourism; tediously bureaucratic ticket sales; some danger of terrorism

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 7-9km
  • 3 hours
  • Maximum Altitude: N/A
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
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Hatshepsut - © From Flickr user Paul_Mannix

WALK SUMMARY

Whatever the drawbacks of the country as a whole, there is no escaping the fact that Egypt possesses some of the worlds most stunning archaeology which, despite jostling crowds and queuing tour-buses, leaves an indelible impression of and admiration for our forebears. None more so than Luxor, built around the temples and graves of ancient Thebes: a source of inspiration to poets, artists and writers since not long after the original city was abandoned.
 
The manner in which the majority of people visit the tomb and temple complex of ancient Thebes, while providing some breathtaking moments, generally fails to reflect either the necropoliss enormous size or its orientation within the landscape. None of this is helped by the local authorities obdurately bureaucratic method of ticket-sales from an ever-moving point somewhere on the main road, which can cause intense frustration and certainly requires much forethought for anybody not relying on guides and organized transport.
 
However, this almost-circular route, starting at the ticket kiosk in Nag Kohlah and ending at the Tombs of the Nobles and the Rasmusseum, follows an ancient and still-used donkey-path (said by some sources to have been used by the artisans who involved in construction; others claim that they were taken on-site blindfold to avoid grave-robbing) leading up and along the length of the escarpment which hides the Valley of the Kings from the outside world. Along the way there are views of and potential detours to: the huge temple of Medinet Habu, the Deir el-Medina (the artisans village, containing their own hobby-tombs), the Valley of the Queens, The Valley of the Kings, Deir-el-Bahri and Hatshepsuts magnificent three-tier temple, the Asasif Tombs belonging to the later Nubian dynasty, the Tombs of the Nobles and the vast and pompous Ramesseum, inspiration for Shelleys great sonnet Ozymandias, where the kings vast and trunkless legs of stone still stand to this day among the broken remnants of the rest of his statue.
 

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Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Guidebooks/maps/background reading

Suggest books and maps

 


Guidebooks

Cairo, Luxor, Aswan - Michael Haag/Cadogan: Vivid, enthusiastic and intelligent; most recent edition 2005, so don’t rely for prices; new edition due Nov 2009

The Rough Guide to Egypt – Dan Richardson/ Rough Guides 

 

Other books


 

Maps

Luxor (Arab World Maps) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Luxor-Arab-World-Map-Library/dp/0863512127/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223041124&sr=1-1

The trail is also marked clearly on the Rough Guide’s “Luxor, Karnak and the Theban Necropolis” map.

 

Best times to walk/weather

 

Best times to walk

Depends on the season. Outside Winter, this should really only be attempted very early in the morning.


Weather

Despite the lush farmland of the Nile flood plain, and the fact that the area is relatively heavily-populated, this is desert and should be treated with respect. Day-time temperatures rarely drop below 35 degrees, and can get much higher, April through October.

 

Getting there/transport/permits

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Luxor has an international airport (at 20km distance; taxis are the only reasonable option for the onward journey: be prepared to barter), with regular flights from Cairo as well. An overnight train also runs to and from Cairo.

Crossing the Nile: The Local ferry goes from outside the Luxor Temple and decants onto the main road, about 6km from the Colossi of Memnon; charge for foreigners is E£1. The Tourist ferry (E£2) leaves from several blocks south of there, or (a much shorter crossing) from just to the north of the cruise-boat mooring site and takes you to the ticket office. This area is also swarming with taxi drivers. Establish a price before you get in.

No permits or tickets are needed to do this walk, but entry to each of the sites requires its own separate ticket, bought in advance, so some forethought as to which you are going to visit is essential. A Valley of the Kings ticket, for instance, allows entry to three tombs. They can be obtained from the ticket kiosks – currently one at the western landing of the tourist ferry and one a little west of the Colossi of Memnon, with significant student discounts. Prices and locations of ticket kiosks seem to change constantly, though: ask at your accommodation for current practice.

 

 

Route(s)

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NOTE: Remember that all visitors’ tickets MUST be purchased before you start your walk, so plan carefully which sites you want to explore. Information on all the sites you will pass is widely available in guidebooks.

From the Gezira ferry stop: catch a taxi, along the main road to the Colossi of Memnon (you can walk this, but it is a busy main road and really not much fun).  The route passes through the Nile flood plain and the villages of Gezira and New Qurna.

From the Colossi, follow the road on, roughly 1km to the ticket kiosk, where the “real” route starts – and you can buy those all-important tickets. Continue on past the kiosk, (ignoring the right-hand fork) to the t-junction, in Nag Lolah. Turn left. At the crossroads, the left-hand turn leads down to Medinet Habu. The right-hand turn leads up to Deir-el-Medina: take this. Approximately 500m along this road, an unmetalled track forks off to the left. There will be more-than-likely some donkeys taking it - follow them; this is your route.

The track is pretty easy to follow, and leads up the edge of the escarpment, passing below the pyramid-shaped mountain that towers (not by coincidence) over the Kings’ and Queens’ final resting-place, hooking right and then left again, to reveal views of Deir-el-Medina to the right and the Valley of the Queens to the left. At the top of the ridge, swing right. After a little over 1km, the track down to the Valley of the Kings branches off to the left; below you, on the right, is Hatshepsut’s temple and, in the distance, the emerald green flood plain. 1km further on, the track swings right again and descends (with views of the brightly-painted houses of the village of Dra’Abul Naga) to Deir-el-Bahri, on past Hatshepsut’s temple on a level at which one can visit, then swings left again past the Asasif Tombs. It then passes through the outskirts of the village of Old Qurna and the Tombs of the Nobles, and reaches the main road. (100m to the left is a resthouse and the road to the Rasmesseum.)

Turn right along the road, which returns to the ticket kiosk after approximately 1.5km. The Gezira ferry stop is roughly 6km down the road to your left; it’s generally possible to pick up a taxi here.

  

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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Heat and strong sun. The Theban desert is notoriously dehydrating. Carry enough water and protect yourself.

Heights: The path occasionally passes close to the cliff-edge.

Harmful animals, Though there are few deaths as a result, this desert country has snakes and scorpions. Take appropriate precautions.

Health risks: Food hygiene here is not of the best, and it’s a rare visitor who escapes unscathed. Avoid uncooked foodstuffs, and bring plentiful supplies of Imodium. Also, if buying water from a vendor, double-check the seal: refilling from taps is a common habit here.

Terrorism: Egypt has had problems with terrorism, though local authorities are extremely vigilant in protecting their tourist income.

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have suitable insurance.

 

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can do this walk independently.

 

Guided/supported

A knowledgeable guide can enhance the excitement of this walk, and Luxor is teeming with guides, who can be picked up outside any main visitor centre. Probe any guide's knowledge in advance, and agree the price and what is included in advance.

Many guided tours to the tombs from Luxor will allow visitors to do a section of the walk – usually from the Valley of the Kings to Hatshepsut – accompanied by a guide. Check before booking. Organisers will also arrange tickets etc.

 

Accommodation

Luxor depends almost entirely on tourism for its income, and the city is heaving with hotels, hostels and guesthouses right across the scale. Try:

http://www.travellerspoint.com/budget-accommodation-en-ci-720.html.

There are also a number of hotels and guesthouses in the West side villages, though generally they don’t represent the cheap option.
 
Hostelbookers usually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation.

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Other information and tips

This is an economy that runs entirely on baksheesh. Make sure you have a pocketful of small notes and change at all times, as no-one will give you any change for your bribes.

Taxi prices should be agreed before getting into the car.

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with information on [the Luxor environs]. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

•           http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Luxor#encyclopedia  – provides a good overview of the area, including details of all the tombs.

•           http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxor - Back ground information and some great photographs to fire your interest in this historic area.

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Other things to do in the area

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Other activities

Luxor itself has some of the greatest ancient sites in the world. The Temple of Karnak, the Luxor Temple and the Luxor Museum are absolutely unmissable.

Have a drink at the Winter Palace hotel for a taste of the old colonial experience.

Luxor is a jumping-off place for all sorts of Nile adventures. Consider joining a boat to go on upriver to Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo and Aswan.
 

Shopping, if you must

Shopping here is generally the preserve of those who enjoy endless haggling. Try the souk for leather goods, cloth, alabaster and spices.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS

Name: DBomb
Posted on: 27/03/2011
During my second trip to Egypt, I was interested in having experiences that I missed the first time and those that most tourists might miss out on. After scuba diving in the Red Sea this walk was definitely the highlight of the trip. Being the only four people for the majority of the walk led to a very unique and meditative view on the landscape. This walk let us escape the hustle of the touristy areas and being that we came up from the side opposite of the Valley of the Kings we escaped the trap of being led to the top for a price. After crossing the Nile, we took a cab from the Nile to the Colossus of Memnon. Continuing along the road next to the Colossus of Memnon towards the hills, once arriving at a fork in the road veer to the left continue and take the the first right. If you continue down this road you will come to Deir al Medina [the Workmen's Village], instead of continuing down this road go off the road to the left. Here you will find 'paths' leading up the mountain. As you go up these path's you will find a long set of stairs leading you most of the way up the mountain. You will pass at least one checkpoint. At these checkpoints there may be a few men who watch people coming up the mountain. It may seem intimidating but most likely they will just smile and wave as you pass. Once past the first checkpoint there are many ways you can go up the mountain [see map]. If you plan on heading into the Valley of the Kings, make sure you purchase your tickets before hand if not just make your way around to Deir al Bahri [Queen Hatsheptsut's Temple]. As you will find most people suggest it would be a good idea to do this walk in the winter. We did it in January and it was fairly warm but not overbearing. I imagine in the summer this shadeless, light colored mountain becomes intolerably hot. Hope the map makes your trip a little easier. Enjoy


Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

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Colossi of Memnon - © From Flickr user SilviaPef

OTHER ACCOUNTS
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Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Colossi of Memnon - © From Flickr user Joanne_and_Matt...
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