To the Valley of the Kings
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 rating85
- Natural interest12
- Human interest18
- Negative points5
- Total rating85
- Note: Negs: Mass tourism; tediously bureaucratic ticket sales; some danger of terrorism
- Length: 7-9km
- 3 hours
- Maximum Altitude: N/A
- Level of Difficulty: Moderate
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.
Other accounts: share your experiences
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The Rough Guide to
The trail is also marked clearly on the Rough Guide’s “
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.
Despite the lush farmland of the
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
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 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
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
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.
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?
You can do this walk independently.
A knowledgeable guide can enhance the excitement of this walk, and
Many guided tours to the tombs from
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.
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with information on [the
• 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.
Other things to do in the area
Have a drink at the
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.
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.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS
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
share your experiences
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