Monday, 21 June 2010

Karnak, aka the most incredible temple I've ever seen

After a short stop in Cairo it was onto Luxor, where we could afford to kick back a little and take things slower. At least, that was the initial plan...

First stop was Karnak temple, which is without a doubt the most incredible temple I've ever been to. Enormous, vast and full of details, I could have spent days wandering around. Unfortunately, a combination of the ever-increasing heat and a long list of other sites meant we only had a day, but it is worth every minute that can be spent on it.

Arriving at the site entrance, we spied a large number of coaches parked up on day trips, and hedged our bets that if they were doing Luxor in a day, they probably wouldn't be staying at one place for too long. Sure enough, after a quick stop at a nearby cafe for a cold drink, we saw the tour groups flood out in en masse and the coaches disappear in a cloud of dust. Heading into the site, we were pleasantly surprised to find it had emptied out almost completely, with only a couple of private tours and a few other individuals wandering around.

Karnak has an atmosphere which is unrivalled - the scale of the columns, the statues looming over and the vast walls of hieroglyphs all combine to make you feel extremely insignificant compared to this amazing complex. Heading to the very end of the site, we found an armed guard looking for a few pounds to climb up a small mound. Convinced we were being taken for ride, we reluctantly paid one pound to see what all the fuss he was making was for, and were thrilled when we got to the top, looking back across the area with a great view stretching out in front of us.

Unfortunately the heat is difficult to avoid - with little shade and the sunlight reflecting everywhere we eventually gave up, but had already made the decision to come back later for the sound and light show - yes it was going to be cheesy (and was, tenfold!) but the chance to wander through the area again, at night, was well worth the dodgy speaker system and almost being trampled by the (hundreds? Felt like thousands...) of people.

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