May 13, 2012

Walking above the Valley, 1927 | Luxor - Walking Through Egypt

Walking above the Valley, 1927 
Annie Quibell


Most of us feel the need of quietness in the Valley, above all other places, and when often it is very difficult to get it. If one goes with a large party and must stick to them, it is hopeless, but more independent travellers can do better. I would make earnest counsel to make a day of the royal tombs and not to go back for lunch either to Luxor, or over the hill to the rest house at Der el Bahri. People will probably remonstrate and think me mad to stay on after the electric light [in the tombs] is taken off at one o’clock, but by that time we have seen the tombs and want to see the Valley. When the carriages have all clattered down the road and the last of the donkeys has jingled up the slope to Der el Bahri, let us seek out a place under the shadow of a great rock and settle down for an hour or two of peace among the solemn cliffs. There is shade at midday and in the afternoon at the head of the Valley.

After we have rested and filled our souls with the great scene around, there is a choice of ways to return. Down the Valley is the dullest; over the cliff to Der el Bahri is fine and lets us have a beautiful view from the top, but there is a better to be done. There are few good walks in Egypt, but there are some, and perhaps the best of them is the path from Biban el Muluk to Der el Medineh. . . .

At the top of the pass are the remains of the shelters where the sentinels of old used to be posted to guard the royal cemetery. From this point onwards the view is glorious. All the line of temples lies below us: Seti’s the farthest south, in a clump of palms, Der el Bahri, lying right under the precipice, the Ramesseum, and the big bulk of Medinet Habu to the north. On a desert, in a valley to the right of Medinet Habu are the Tombs of the Queens. On a low desert over the hill of the Sheikh Abd el Gurneh and in the surrounding cliffs, is the cemetery of Thebes, of the nobles and the commonality.

Beyond Medinet Habu, lines on the desert surface show us the palace of Amenhotep III, and the big oblong, just on the edge of the cultivated land, enclosed by high mounds, was once a lake, where he took his pleasure boating. Across the Nile are the temples of Luxor and Karnak and the green country, with three distant peaks closing the prospect.

It is too obvious, perhaps, to say that the more often we can cross to the West Bank the better we shall like it. There is more to see than anywhere else in Egypt and the beauty of the surroundings is so remarkable that every day we spend among them leaves a memory that does not fade in the years.

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