November 11th, 2005 – by: skippyed
Packing up our final campsite in Al Kharga
We woke this morning to pack up camp and take our last group photo with our Bedouin buddies. Today we were heading to Luxor where shops, temples and a nice comfortable hotel bed and hot shower was waiting for us! The Bedouins were restricted from taking us all the way to Luxor so we were to meet this minibus about an hour from the city. We got to this grubby truck stop with another flat tyre en route! We waited for the minibus but it didn't turn up so the Bedouins ended up taking us to Luxor after all, which we didn't mind because we got to spend more time with them, Saleh was getting way too good at Uno by this stage!
As we got closer to Luxor, the scenery began to change from the dusty desert to farmland and we saw plenty of donkeys and carts.
It was like stepping back in time seeing all the four-legged farm transport. Our first greeting of Luxor was yet again another road block and 'papers in order' checks. The canals that run off the banks of the Nile showed plenty of signs of life with locals washing and fishing. Luxor itself was a country town in comparison to Cairo. We got to our hotel, which was very nice and even had a rooftop pool! We said a sad farewell to our Bedouin friends and met the Geckos 'Nile Odyssey' group of five who would be joining us for the rest of our tour. Our afternoon was going to be spent at Karnak Temple but first thing, check out our room and have a decent shower. Well, there was water pressure but the bath failed to drain so I was up to my knees in water!! OK this is Egypt so we can only smile.
Our daily breakfast while out in the desert!
We all met in the dining room for lunch where we made a point of pigging out on pizza and pasta and not touching any pita bread! We were over it. Our trip to Karnak Temple was by horse and carriage and it was chance to get to know a couple of Nile Odyssey members Kirsty and Luke who joined us in our carriage. Vaughan was no longer the only bloke in the group; there were two others to steal his thunder!! The ride to the temple was lovely although I was worried a few times the passing cars were going to run into the horses. Karnak Temple was amazing, our tour guide was not only a comic but very informative. Karnak Temple covers over 100 acres so we certainly were not going to see it all in an afternoon! The precinct of Amun was really the only accessible area of the complex so that is where we spent our time.
Our secluded camp spot in Al Kharga
The entrance was down the impressive Processional Way where we passed an avenue of carved stone sphinxes. The 1st Pylon guarded the entrance past the walls and into the complex. The hypostyle hall was just mind blowing; 600 square meters of gigantic pillars all carved with Pharonic stories. The temple itself was enormous and we were a little disappointed we didn't have more time to explore it, we felt rushed in our three hours, you need half to a full day. After the tour, we had some free time so what twilight we had left we quickly went around the temple to take photos. After the temple we jumped back into the horse and carriage and had a hair-raising ride to a gold and silver shop that Kimo suggested would be a good place to buy a cartouche. I don't know what was scarier, a Cairo taxi ride or Luxor horse and carriage, the horses know no fear of traffic.
Desert of Al Kharga
We spent quite a while in the shop and I bought a cartouche and had my name engraved on it in hieroglyphs. Kimo also gave us an orienteering tour so we knew where to find places like banks, internet etc. In the evening I and Ree were still feeling unwell so we stayed in the hotel while the others went out for dinner. It was an early sleep that night as we had to be up at 4am for our donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings.
Vaughan with Saleh, Al Kharga Oasis