Located on the western bank at Luxor, formerly known as Thebes, the Valley of the Kings attracts thousands of amateur Egyptologists every year. Buried in the dusty valley are more than 60 Egyptian pharaohs and their families. Archaeological excavations continue today, with the most recent find in 2006. History buffs will appreciate the daily tours and museums located in the area. The U.S. Department of State urges Americans to use caution when traveling in and around cities like Cairo due to recent civil unrest. Check the State Department’s website for the most recent travel warnings before traveling to Egypt.
Tombs to Visit
Tour groups usually take visitors to the most well-known sites like the Tomb of Tutankhamen, the boy-king who was unearthed by Howard Carter in 1922 and the tomb of Amonhotep II, discovered by Victor Loret in 1897. Unlike many tombs on the tour, Amonhotep’s remains are present within his sarcophagus.
Companies like Memphis Tours (memphistours.com) lead visitors on day tours to the Valley. Groups are shuttled from nearby luxury hotels in Luxor to the Valley and are led through the many tombs and architectural wonders of ancient Egypt. Many tours include a trip to and from the Valley, led by a professional Egyptologist. Some companies pay the entrance fees and provide water. Extras like meals and tipping are paid by the tourist. In some cases, you can get a discounted day tour if you travel with a friend or a group.
Visitors seeking a hands-on experience should sign up for an archaeological tour of King’s Valley. Contact local universities for upcoming Egyptology tours or call an archaeological tour company directly. As an amateur archaeologist, you can help clean and catalog recent finds. Book a tour with a guide who focuses on the archaeological aspects of the valley, including facts about the dynasties and the meaning of the hieroglyphics found in the tombs.
Once you leave the Valley of the Kings, you may wish to expand your experience by visiting the Temple of Hapshepsut in the Valley of the Queens. This ancient queen ruled Egypt posing as a man during the 18th Dynasty. The nearby Colossi of Memnon was the funerary site of Ahmenhotep III. The Colossi of Memnon is flanked by two massive statues that overlook the Nile River.
Things to Consider
Wheelchair access is limited in much of the Valley of the Kings. Contact your tour company if you have questions about access. Some tours allow infants to visit free provided they do not occupy a seat on the shuttle.