We boarded Air Cairo the morning of New Years Eve for the short flight to Luxor where we were met by our guide for a tour of Karnak Temple prior to loading our luggage onto the Sun Boat for our Nile River cruise. The day was sunny, the temperature comfortable.
Karnak Temple is a complex of structures covering almost 200 acres. The complex and temple was a place of pilgrimage for people who worshipped Amun, the sun god. The annual Opet festival was held in Karnak to restore the energy of Amun (the son god) so that next year’s harvest would be plentiful. The actual temple was so large it could have held St. Peter’s, Notre Dame, and the Duomo di Milano within its walls. The Hypostyle Hall featured 134 columns and is still the largest room of any religious building in the world. The remaining walls still contain the decorative stone carvings created between 2055BC to 100AD. During our time at Karnak, we were repeatedly amazed at the design and engineering that was required to create and decorate this ancient series of architectural elements.
After settling into our cabins we rejoined our guide for a trip to the Valley of the Queens and Kings to tour the tombs that were constructed over a time period of 500 years for the noble personages of the New Kingdom. Our first stop was to the massive stone statues of the Colossi of Memnon, constructed in 1350BC, of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III who reigned Egypt during its 18th dynasty.
After a brief stop for photographs, we made our way into the Valley of the Queens to see the recently renovated mortuary temple (within Deir el-Bahari) of Queen Hatshepset, the second pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The temple is located in a desolate series of arid mountains. Queen Hatshepset is typically regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. Her temple is magnificent in an unbelievably dramatic setting. We had to keep reminding ourselves that it was real as we made our way up to and through the rock wall carved temple for photos in this gorgeous temple. Following the Valley of the Queens we drove to the Valley of the Kings to explore three tombs including the famous Tutankhamun Tomb (King Tut’s Tomb).
After returning to the Sun Boat we prepared for our New Year’s Eve celebration on the Nile River where we toasted in the New Year over a dinner of Egyptian delicacies!
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.