Egypt 1: We had the entire Valley of the Kings to Ourselves

Karnak with almost no tourists


Medinet Habu, the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III, with none

Let’s get one thing clear right away: Uwe and I are NOT danger chasers. We don’t pick areas to visit that are experiencing unrest or natural disasters. D31_7958_DxO8When we went to Luxor for a week in May 2013, tourism in the area was wa-a-y down. But it’s so far from Cairo that we never felt threatened.

Edfu – Temple of Horus

A week after we were there Egypt imploded, and we would not have made that trip. As it was we had Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, and the ruins up and down the Nile banks to ourselves. What an experience, like getting a private tour of the world’s greatest antiquities!

Dendera Temple



Egypt was a special wish of mine for decades.  My mom was a teacher, and when she died the last unit she was teaching was on ancient Egypt. At her funeral my family was touched to receive drawings from the children she’d taught. They’d drawn mummies, and Mom’s spirit as a bird. There was even a drawing of a mummified feline with a caption: Mrs. Campbell’s cat.

Luxor Temple
Pillars like lotus
Pillars like lotus

D31_7925_DxO8Some of the world’s most spectacular ruins, and there were almost no other tourists. Occasionally a lone bus pulled in with a group from a cruise ship or daytrippers from Hurghada on the coast, but most of the week we wandered in amazement all by ourselves.

Deir el-Bahari, Temple of Queen Hathsephut

I can’t even begin to understand Egyptian iconography. Gods with the heads of cows?

The goddess Hathor

or an ibis? how about an alligator? A giant scarab as an object of worship — huhhh? It’s so foreign to me that Luxor was a glorious dip into an age that I didn’t even bother trying to grasp.

The scale of what we were looking at was also beyond my imagination, both in age and in sheer height! At each site we admired impossibly high ceilings. We could see the original paint, thousands of years later.

Original blue paint 1
Original blue paint

Original blue paint 2D31_8458_DxO8D31_8459_DxO8Even the air feels like it contains the dusty molecules of ancient dynasties…. We sat each evening on the hotel balcony and enjoyed the view and the heat. On the day that I became older than my mother was when she passed away, I sat looking out over the Nile.

The ageless Nile River
The ageless Nile River


Aside from dishonest horse carriage drivers, the Egyptians were all kind, helpful, and incredibly friendly. I look forward to returning!


NOTES: All photogaphs can be enlarged by simply clicking on the image. More of Uwe’s images from Egypt and his photography may be viewed at

25 thoughts on “Egypt 1: We had the entire Valley of the Kings to Ourselves”

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog. I too loved Egypt and we “had it to ourselves” when we visited in March 2011 just a few months after the revolution. We debated long and hard about whether to cancel but decided to go for it. Turned out to be a great decision. Fascinating time to visit and always felt safe. Folks talked with such optimism and hope about their future. Too bad political situation/economy has been in such turmoil since and tourism took such a beating. I really hope to go back. Wonderful country and lovely people.

    1. We also noticed that optimism. Everyone was passionate about the country’s future, regardless of their politics. I’d go back in a heartbeat!

  2. Wow, really amazing.
    I tend to visit smaller sites because without so many people it is much more intimate. But having a place like this for oneself must be truly amazing.

  3. What beautiful photos! You are so lucky you squeezed it in – I’m a bit envious 🙂 Before moving to Dubai we thought for sure we’d visit, but things there deteriorated pretty quickly and we never had the chance. Your experience sounds really special.

    1. It definitely whet my appetite to see more of Egypt…. Dubai must be an ideal spot from which to explore. And what an adventure to live there! How long will you remain?

      1. Yes – it was in a perfect place to explore so many amazing places. The only negative was that even if you traveled often, you always felt like you were missing out on something else. :). We left at the end of September.

  4. Colour me jealous Jadi. Uwe’s pictures are fantastic but even thinking of being that close to those antiquities gives me goose bumps.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    1. David, that part of the world had been a dream-like wish of mine as long as I can remember. Not only was it a wish come true: it surpassed anything I’d imagined!

  5. What an amazing experience. And those spectacular photos must bring it back every time you see them. Thanks so much for sharing!

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