If you are thinking about taking a cruise, definitely try to take the ones traveling down the Nile River (which is technically North as the river flows south to north). Starting in Aswan is like getting your feet wet with Egyptian Temples 101, but as your continue towards Luxor, every temple along the way just gets bigger and better. Yes, size does matter in Egypt. Luxor is the most impressive stop along the Nile River as it is home to an abundance of breathtaking monuments including the Valley of the Kings, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the Colossi of Memnon.
The Valley of Kings is home to many tombs of famous Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom, including King Tutankhamun. It was built over a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC. Unlike Giza, the Valley is composed of naturally pyramid-shaped mountains. Thus, actual pyramids were not built and the tombs were built directly into the mountain. The paintings within the tombs are remarkably preserved, and for once, the no camera policy is strictly enforced.
Our next stop was the surprisingly very modern looking temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Even though it was built around 2100 BC, the funerary temple’s architecture was ahead of its times the straight columns and multi-level platforms. Queen Hatshepsut is considered one of the greatest Egyptians pharaohs of all time: her reign lasted nearly 22 years, longer than any other woman’s of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty.
Our next stop was the massive twin stone statues, infamously misnamed as the Colossi of Memnon. These statues actually depict Pharaoh Amenhotep III (14th century BC). They tower approximately 60 ft in height and weigh an estimated 700 tons each.
We then headed to the Temple of Karnak, the largest temple in Egypt and the largest religious site in the world. The avenues connecting areas of Karnak to the Luxor temple is lined with goddesses and ram-headed sphinxes.
The most famous part of Karnak is the Great Hypostyle Hall that covers 50,000 sq ft and consists of a forest of 134 papyrus columns. Absolutely stunning!
At this stage, our cruise package did not include a tour guide for Karnak or Luxor so we had to find our own transportation. We haggled a bit and took a lovely $2 horse and carriage ride to the Luxor Temple.
We arrived at the Luxor Temple right at sunset, which created the most gorgeous scenery.
Here’s the Luxor cheerleading squad- you can even see Petey as part of the “O”: