One of our favourite destinations is Abydos and this special trip allowed for time to explore many sites a bit further afield from the city itself.
Our tour began in Luxor where we had rooms at The Old Winter Palace, Garden Pavilion Wing. Our first visit was the Valley of the Kings with included tickets for the tomb of Seti I, to get our first feel for the grand works of this great pharaoh.
After a local lunch we headed to the Temple of Seti I where we were the only people visiting. Later we discovered the lighting was perfect for the reliefs at the Ramesseum.
En-route to Abydos
We made a stop at Dendera Temple to view the finely painted reliefs inside the temple and enter the crypt with plenty of time to walk the outer walls. It was extremely hot, and we were glad to be back on our air-conditioned coach. On arrival in Abydos, we had a tour of the Temple of Seti I before checking in to the House of Life Hotel nearby.
Robber’s Tunnel by Torchlight
Our first special permit site was the Tomb of Senusret II cut into the hill known as Anubis Mountain. We travelled with our local inspectors in old taxis navigating through narrow streets and across the desert sands to reach the site. We all followed the robbers’ tunnel by torchlight, passed the sarcophagus and ventured along the rock-cut passage to the end chamber. Time for group photos in a rarely visited site. Our inspectors pointed out the location of the Ahmose pyramid and the new excavations underway.
Next, to the Ramesses II Temple where we watched excavations at the front of the temple for a while. Since our last visit even more Old Kingdom walling has been found under the mass of sand and mud brick around the temple.
Monkeys, Vast Walls and a Colossal Statue
Later the same day we visited Kom el Sultan dating from the Old Kingdom, and walked around some of the massive mudbrick walls. Time also to view the later portico temple of Ramesses II, known as the ‘Temple of the Monkeys’. A short walk over the desert sands took us to Shunet el Zebib, the enclosure of Khasakhemwy dating to the second Dynasty. Medhat pointed out the niche façade and the remaining plaster to be found in some areas. Although extremely hot mid-afternoon, we walked the site amazed at the sheer height and length of the structure.
Next day, another treat this time at Athribis with time to view the vast temple area dedicated to Min-Re and the goddess Repyt. A quick stop at Akhmim Open Air Museum to view the colossal statue of Meritamun. A relaxing lunch back at the hotel before our next private permit.
A Sunset to Remember
Late afternoon we once again met up with our wonderful inspectors who took us to the gate of the entrance to the Northern Tunnel of the Osireion, actually, running northwest to southeast. We followed as our inspector unlocked the gate and we stood in awe as he explained the art on the walls of the tunnel.
Eventually, we entered the massive stone hall of the Osireion just as the sun slipped below the horizon and the lights started to come on, all to the accompaniment of roosting bird song.
Then the biggest surprise of all we entered the long narrow room that lies under the walkway that leads from the Seti temple to the Ramesses temple. Here we found stunning reliefs on the ceilings and spent plenty of time taking pictures.
As we reluctantly left the Osireion the main floodlights came on and the walk back through Seti’s temple was totally magical. A perfect end to the day.
Next day we left Abydos and headed back to Luxor and after checking in at the Winter Palace once more we set off for Luxor Temple late afternoon. Next to Luxor Museum and the wonderful pieces on display.
The Beauty of Nefertari
Our final day started in the Valley of the Queens where we had a short wait to enter the magnificent tomb of Nefertari. Another stunning experience. Then to Deir el medina to enter the tombs and view the homes of the artisans and workers who worked on the Royal tombs in the Valleys. Our final excursion was to Karnak and although it was very hot indeed everyone enjoyed the tour.
It seems that the week of the tour we were hit by a heatwave as the following week the temperature dropped by 10 degrees. So even in Egypt the weather is unpredictable. Some days we just had to take things a bit slower but overall, we managed everything well. An exciting trip with some rarely visited sites included.
Our Thanks as Always
Once again, a huge thank you to Medhat for his guiding skills (even though suffering a chest infection) and to Wael for all his help during the week. AWT would also like to thank all the local Inspectors from the Ministry of Antiquities who always give us their precious time to show us as much as possible, including new finds and projects, many of which are not yet published.