*March until November are the best months for seeing dolphins off the Dahab coral reef.
The diving in Egypt is good all year round.
Peak season for giant cruise ships is October to May, when it is cooler. Visiting the main tourist sites early in the morning or late in the day during these months is better, as the coach groups head back to port.

*May until August are steaming, but not humid, so it is still manageable, if you drink lots of water and plaster on the eco friendly sun screen. August is the peak month being, in the words of Stevie Wonder, hotter than July.
30th June is now a public holiday in Egypt, celebrating the Uprising of 2011.
In September, temperatures start to dip a little and tourist numbers go down at the major sites as school holidays end.

*15th August is Flooding of the Nile Day, or Leylet en Nuktah, based on the ancient traditions of the Nile waters coming back, and young girls were sacrificed. The only things sacrificed nowadays are diets, as people feast in picnics along the banks.

*Winter in Egypt is October to February, which means a jacket or long sleeved top. It is warmer in the south, however, but evenings can be cool.
There is a lot of hot air around towards the end March and into April, when the ‘Khamsin’ wind blows from the desert in the south.

Christmas isn’t celebrated on 25th December by Coptic Christians, who make up 15 percent of people in Egypt, but sometime around 7th January. The festivities are a wonderful sight to behold.
Ramadan is a 30 day religious observance period, and the start date varies each year. A period of fasting, many sites and shops close early. However, when the fast breaks at sunset, and the special feast of ‘Eftar’ begins, things liven up somewhat.


The White Desert begins about 28 miles north of Farafra and abou 350 km from cairo . It is truly white, in clear contrast with the yellow desert elsewhere.


The rock formations of the desert are often quite dramatic, you should not miss out on the weird rock balancing, on top of a white pillar. Many of the organized trips here include overnight stay out in the desert. At night, it gets a character reminding of an Arctic landscape.

The White Desert is justifiably the most well-known desert destination in Egypt – and for a good reason. The quantity of unearthly and beautiful wind-carved rock formations shaped in the form of giant mushrooms or pebbles is unequalled in any desert in the world. Farafra is nearer than Bahariya to this 300 kilometres protectorate, yet it offers a more limited choice of tours and safaris. However, it is still the perfect starting point for an overnight journey into the infinite whiteness.
there are special organized tours to the area

The Black Desert is a region of volcano-shaped and widely spaced mounds, distributed along about 30 km in western Egypt between the White Desert in the south and the Bahariya Oasis in the north. Most of its mounds are capped by basalt sills, giving them the characteristic black color
The mounds of the Black Desert, up to 100 m high, vary in size, composition, height, and shape as some are dark consisting of iron quartzite while others are more reddish as its surface rocks consist of iron sandstone. On the outskirts of the Black Desert are volcanic hills proving the eruption of dark volcanic dolerite, dating back to the Jurassic period 180 million years ago

After discovering a large dinosaur skeleton on its borders, the Black Desert has been declared a natural reserve as of 2010
the whole area was full of volcanic activities before ,
there are special organized tours to the area

Abu Simbel, site of two temples built by the Egyptian king Ramses II (reigned 1279–13 BCE), now located in Aswān muḥāfaẓah (governorate), southern Egypt. In ancient times the area was at the southern frontier of pharaonic Egypt, facing Nubia. The four colossal statues of Ramses in front of the main temple are spectacular examples of ancient Egyptian art. By means of a complex engineering feat in the 1960s, the temples were salvaged from the rising waters of the Nile River caused by erection of the Aswan High Dam

Carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the Nile, south of Korosko (modern Kuruskū), the temples were unknown to the outside world until their rediscovery in 1813 by the Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. They were first explored in 1817 by the early Egyptologist Giovanni Battista Belzoni.

The 66-foot (20-metre) seated figures of Ramses are set against the recessed face of the cliff, two on either side of the entrance to the main temple. Carved around their feet are small figures representing Ramses’ children, his queen, Nefertari, and his mother, Muttuy (Mut-tuy, or Queen Ti). Graffiti inscribed on the southern pair by Greek mercenaries serving Egypt in the 6th century BCE have provided important evidence of the early history of the Greek alphabet. The temple itself, dedicated to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakhte, consists of three consecutive halls extending 185 feet (56 metres) into the cliff, decorated with more Osiride statues of the king and with painted scenes of his purported victory at the Battle of Kadesh. On two days of the year (about February 22 and October 22), the first rays of the morning sun penetrate the whole length of the temple and illuminate the shrine in its innermost sanctuary.

Just to the north of the main temple is a smaller one, dedicated to Nefertari for the worship of the goddess Hathor and adorned with 35-foot (10.5-metre) statues of the king and queen.

In the mid-20th century, when the reservoir that was created by the construction of the nearby Aswan High Dam threatened to submerge Abu Simbel, UNESCO and the Egyptian government sponsored a project to save the site. An informational and fund-raising campaign was initiated by UNESCO in 1959. Between 1963 and 1968 a workforce and an international team of engineers and scientists, supported by funds from more than 50 countries, dug away the top of the cliff and completely disassembled both temples, reconstructing them on high ground more than 200 feet (60 metres) above their previous site. In all, some 16,000 blocks were moved. In 1979 Abu Simbel, Philae, and other nearby monuments were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site

The Red Sea, Arabic Al-Baḥr Al-Aḥmar, narrow strip of water extending southeastward from Suez, Egypt, for about 1,200 miles (1,930 km) to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which connects with the Gulf of Aden and thence with the Arabian Sea. Geologically, the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba (Elat) must be considered as the northern extension of the same structure. The sea separates the coasts of Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea to the west from those of Saudi Arabia and Yemen to the east. Its maximum width is 190 miles, its greatest depth 9,974 feet (3,040 meters), and its area approximately 174,000 square miles (450,000 square km).

The Red Sea contains some of the world’s hottest and saltiest seawater. With its connection to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal, it is one of the most heavily traveled waterways in the world, carrying maritime traffic between Europe and Asia. Its name is derived from the color changes observed in its waters. Normally, the Red Sea is an intense blue-green; occasionally, however, it is populated by extensive blooms of the algae Trichodesmium erythraeum, which, upon dying off, turn the sea a reddish-brown color.

The Red Sea region receives very little precipitation in any form, although prehistoric artifacts indicate that there were periods with greater amounts of rainfall. In general, the climate is conducive to outdoor activity in fall, winter, and spring—except during windstorms—with temperatures varying between 46 and 82 °F (8 and 28 °C). Summer temperatures, however, are much higher, up to 104 °F (40 °C), and relative humidity is high, rendering vigorous activity unpleasant. In the northern part of the Red Sea area, extending down to 19° N, the prevailing winds are north to northwest. Best known are the occasional westerly, or “Egyptian,” winds, which blow with some violence during the winter months and generally are accompanied by fog and blowing sand. From latitude 14° to 16° N the winds are variable, but from June through August strong northwest winds move down from the north, sometimes extending as far south as the Bab el-Mandeb Strait; by September, however, this wind pattern retreats to a position north of 16° N. South of 14° N the prevailing winds are south to southeast.

Physical Features
Physiography and submarine morphology
The Red Sea lies in a fault depression that separates two great blocks of Earth’s crust—Arabia and North Africa. The land on either side, inland from the coastal plains, reaches heights of more than 6,560 feet above sea level, with the highest land in the south.

At its northern end, the Red Sea splits into two parts, the Gulf of Suez to the northwest and the Gulf of Aqaba to the northeast. The Gulf of Suez is shallow—approximately 180 to 210 feet deep—and it is bordered by a broad coastal plain. The Gulf of Aqaba, on the other hand, is bordered by a narrow plain, and it reaches a depth of 5,500 feet. From approximately 28° N, where the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba converge, south to a latitude near 25° N, the Red Sea’s coasts parallel each other at a distance of roughly 100 miles apart. There the seafloor consists of the main trough, with a maximum depth of some 4,000 feet, running parallel to the shorelines.

The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa and is the longest river in Africa and the disputed longest river in the world,[6][7] as a group of Brazilian scientists claims that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile.[8][9] The Nile is about 6,650 km (4,130 mi)[n 1] long and its drainage basin covers eleven countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of Sudan, and Egypt.[11] In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.[12]

The Nile has two major tributaries – the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The White Nile is considered to be the headwaters and primary stream of the Nile itself. The Blue Nile, however, is the source of most of the water, containing 80% of the water and silt. The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, with the most distant source still undetermined but located in either Rwanda or Burundi. It flows north through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda, and South Sudan. The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia[13] and flows into Sudan from the southeast. The two rivers meet just north of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.[14]

The northern section of the river flows north almost entirely through the Sudanese desert to Egypt, then ends in a large delta and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Egyptian civilization and Sudanese kingdoms have depended on the river since ancient times. Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along with those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along river banks.

Etymology and names
The standard English names “White Nile” and “Blue Nile”, to refer to the river’s source, derive from Arabic names formerly applied only to the Sudanese stretches which meet at Khartoum.[15]

In the ancient Egyptian language, the Nile is called Ḥ’pī (Hapy) or Iteru, meaning “river”. In Coptic, the word ⲫⲓⲁⲣⲟ, pronounced piaro (Sahidic) or phiaro (Bohairic), means “the river” (lit. p(h).iar-o “the.canal-great”), and comes from the same ancient name.[16]

In Nobiin the river is called Áman Dawū, meaning “the great water”.[5]

In Egyptian Arabic, the Nile is called en-Nīl while in Standard Arabic it is called an-Nīl. In Biblical Hebrew:

The source of the Nile is sometimes considered to be Lake Victoria, but the lake has feeder rivers of considerable size. The Kagera River, which flows into Lake Victoria near the Tanzanian town of Bukoba, is the longest feeder, although sources do not agree on which is the longest tributary of the Kagera and hence the most distant source of the Nile itself.[28] It is either the Ruvyironza, which emerges in Bururi Province, Burundi,[29] or the Nyabarongo, which flows from Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda.[30] The two feeder rivers meet near Rusumo Falls on the Rwanda-Tanzania border.

The source of the Nile from an underwater spring at the neck of Lake Victoria, Jinja
In 2010, an exploration party[31] went to a place described as the source of the Rukarara tributary,[32] and by hacking a path up steep jungle-choked mountain slopes in the Nyungwe forest found (in the dry season) an appreciable incoming surface flow for many kilometers upstream, and found a new source, giving the Nile a length of 6,758 km (4,199 mi).

Gish Abay is reportedly the place where the “holy water” of the first drops of the Blue Nile develop

Water sharing dispute

The Nile’s water has affected the politics of East Africa and the Horn of Africa for many decades. The dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the $4.5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has become a national preoccupation in both countries, stoking patriotism, deep-seated fears, and even murmurs of war.[78] Countries including Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya have complained about Egyptian domination of its water resources. The Nile Basin Initiative promotes peaceful cooperation among those states.[79][80]

Several attempts have been made to establish agreements between the countries sharing the Nile waters. On 14 May 2010 at Entebbe, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda signed a new agreement on sharing the Nile water even though this agreement raised strong opposition from Egypt and Sudan. Ideally, such international agreements should promote equitable and efficient usage of the Nile basin’s water resources. Without a better understanding of the availability of the future water resources of the Nile, it is possible that conflicts could arise between these countries relying on the Nile for their water supply, economic and social developments

The Karnak Temple Complex, commonly known as Karnak from Arabic Khurnak meaning “fortified village”), comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings near Luxor, in Egypt. Construction at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I in the Middle Kingdom (around 2000–1700 BC) and continued into the Ptolemaic period (305–30 BC), although most of the extant buildings date from the New Kingdom. The area around Karnak was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut (“The Most Selected of Places”) and the main place of worship of the Eighteenth Dynasty Theban Triad with the god Amun as its head. It is part of the monumental city of Thebes. The Karnak complex gives its name to the nearby, and partly surrounded, modern village of El-Karnak, 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) north of Luxor.
The complex is a vast open site and includes the Karnak Open Air Museum. It is believed to be the second[citation needed] most visited historical site in Egypt; only the Giza Pyramids near Cairo receive more visits. It consists of four main parts, of which only the largest is currently open to the general public. The term Karnak often is understood as being the Precinct of Amun-Re only, because this is the only part most visitors see. The three other parts, the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Montu, and the dismantled Temple of Amenhotep IV, are closed to the public. There also are a few smaller temples and sanctuaries connecting the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Amun-Re, and the Luxor Temple. The Precinct of Mut is very ancient, being dedicated to an Earth and creation deity, but not yet restored. The original temple was destroyed and partially restored by Hatshepsut, although another pharaoh built around it in order to change the focus or orientation of the sacred area. Many portions of it may have been carried away for use in other buildings.

The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Construction of temples started in the Middle Kingdom and continued into Ptolemaic times. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling them to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the individual features of Karnak are unique, but the size and number of features are overwhelming. The deities represented range from some of the earliest worshiped to those worshiped much later in the history of the Ancient Egyptian culture. Although destroyed, it also contained an early temple built by Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), the pharaoh who later would celebrate a near monotheistic religion he established that prompted him to move his court and religious center away from Thebes. It also contains evidence of adaptations, where the buildings of the ancient Egyptians were used by later cultures for their own religious purposes.
One famous aspect of Karnak is the Great Hypostyle Hall in the Precinct of Amun-Re, a hall area of 50,000 sq ft (5,000 m2) with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows. One hundred and twenty-two of these columns are 10 meters tall, and the other 12 are 21 meters tall with a diameter of over three meters. The architraves on top of these columns are estimated to weigh 70 tons. These architraves may have been lifted to these heights using levers. This would be an extremely time-consuming process and also would require great balance to get to such great heights. A common alternative theory regarding how they were moved is that large ramps were constructed of sand, mud, brick, or stone and that the stones were then towed up the ramps. If the stone had been used for the ramps, they would have been able to use much less material. The top of the ramps presumably would have employed either wooden tracks or cobblestones for towing the megaliths. There is an unfinished pillar in an out-of-the-way location that indicates how it would have been finished. The final carving was executed after the drums were put in place so that it was not damaged while being placed. Several experiments moving megaliths with ancient technology were made at other locations – some of them are listed here.

In 2009 UCLA launched a website dedicated to virtual reality digital reconstructions of the Karnak complex and other resources.

The sun god’s shrine has light focused upon it during the winter solstice.


Gate at Karnak. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection
The history of the Karnak complex is largely the history of Thebes and its changing role in the culture. Religious centers varied by region, and when a new capital of the unified culture was established, the religious centers in that area gained prominence. The city of Thebes does not appear to have been of great significance before the Eleventh Dynasty and the previous temple building there would have been relatively small, with shrines being dedicated to the early deities of Thebes, the Earth goddess Mut and Montu. The early building was destroyed by invaders. The earliest known artifact found in the area of the temple is a small, eight-sided column from the Eleventh Dynasty, which mentions Amun-Re. Amun (sometimes called Amen) was long the local tutelary deity of Thebes. He was identified with the ram and the goose. The Egyptian meaning of Amun is “hidden” or the “hidden god”

The Giza Pyramid Complex also called the Giza Necropolis, is the site on the Giza Plateau in Greater Cairo, Egypt that includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with their associated pyramid complexes and the Great Sphinx of Giza. All were built during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The site also includes several cemeteries and the remains of a worker’s village.

The site is at the edges of the Western Desert, approximately 9 kilometers west of the Nile River in the city of Giza, and about 13 kilometers southwest of the city center of Cairo.

The Great Pyramid and the Pyramid of Khafre are the largest pyramids built in ancient Egypt, and they have historically been common as emblems of Ancient Egypt in the Western imagination. They were popularized in Hellenistic times when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is by far the oldest of the Ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.
Pyramids and Sphinx

Giza pyramid complex

Pyramids of Gizeh. 1893. Egypt; heliogravure after original views. Wilbour Library of Egyptology. Brooklyn Museum
The Giza pyramid complex consists of the Great Pyramid (also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or Khufu and constructed, the somewhat smaller Pyramid of Khafre (or Chephren) a few hundred meters to the south-west, and the relatively modest-sized Pyramid of Menkaure (or Mykerinos) a few hundred meters farther south-west. The Great Sphinx lies on the east side of the complex. The current consensus among Egyptologists is that the head of the Great Sphinx is that of Khafre. Along with these major monuments are a number of smaller satellite edifices, known as “queens” pyramids, causeways, and valley pyramids

Khufu’s complex
Main article: Great Pyramid of Giza
Khufu’s pyramid complex consists of a valley temple, now buried beneath the village of Nazlet el-Samman; diabase paving and nummulitic limestone walls have been found but the site has not been excavated, The valley temple was connected to a causeway which was largely destroyed when the village was constructed. The causeway led to the Mortuary Temple of Khufu. Of this temple, the basalt pavement is the only thing that remains. The mortuary temple was connected to the king’s pyramid. The king’s pyramid, completed in 2560 BC, has three smaller queen’s pyramids associated with it and three boat pits. The boat pits contained a ship, and the two pits on the south side of the pyramid still contained intact ships when excavated. One of these ships, the Khufu ship, has been restored and is on display at the Giza Solar boat museum.

Khufu’s pyramid still has a limited number of casing stones at its base. These casing stones were made of fine white limestone quarried from the nearby range.

Khafre’s complex
Main articles: Pyramid of Khafre and Great Sphinx of Giza
Khafre’s pyramid complex consists of a valley temple, the Sphinx temple, a causeway, a mortuary temple, and the king’s pyramid. The valley temple yielded several statues of Khafre. Several were found in a well on the floor of the temple by Mariette in 1860. Others were found during successive excavations by Sieglin (1909–10), Junker, Reisner, and Hassan. Khafre’s complex contained five boat-pits and a subsidiary pyramid with a serdab.:19–26 Khafre’s pyramid, completed in 2570 BC, appears larger than the adjacent Khufu Pyramid by virtue of its more elevated location, and the steeper angle of inclination of its construction—it is, in fact, smaller in both height and volume. Khafre’s pyramid retains a prominent display of casing stones at its apex.

Menkaure’s complex
Main article: Pyramid of Menkaure
Menkaure’s pyramid complex consists of a valley temple, a causeway, a mortuary temple, and the king’s pyramid. The valley temple once contained several statues of Menkaure. During the 5th Dynasty, a smaller ante-temple was added to the valley temple. The mortuary temple also yielded several statues of Menkaure. The king’s pyramid, completed ca. 2510 BC, has three subsidiaries or queen’s pyramids.:26–35 Of the four major monuments, only Menkaure’s pyramid is seen today without any of its original polished limestone casing.

Main article: Great Sphinx of Giza
The Sphinx dates from the reign of king Khafre. During the New Kingdom, Amenhotep II dedicated a new temple to Hauron-Haremakhet, and this structure was added onto by later rulers

Main article: Egyptian pyramid construction techniques
Most construction theories are based on the idea that the pyramids were built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place. The disagreements center on the method by which the stones were conveyed and placed and how possible the method was.

In building the pyramids, the architects might have developed their techniques over time. They would select a site on a relatively flat area of bedrock—not sand—which provided a stable foundation. After carefully surveying the site and laying down the first level of stones, they constructed the pyramids in horizontal levels, one on top of the other.

For the Great Pyramid, most of the stone for the interior seems to have been quarried immediately to the south of the construction site. The smooth exterior of the pyramid was made of a fine grade of white limestone that was quarried across the Nile. These exterior blocks had to be carefully cut, transported by river barge to Giza, and dragged up ramps to the construction site. Only a few exterior blocks remain in place at the bottom of the Great Pyramid. During the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century), people may have taken the rest away for building projects in the city of Cairo.

To ensure that the pyramid remained symmetrical, the exterior casing stones all had to be equal in height and width. Workers might have marked all the blocks to indicate the angle of the pyramid wall and trimmed the surfaces carefully so that the blocks fit together. During construction, the outer surface of the stone was smooth limestone; excess stone has eroded as time has passed

The pyramids of Giza and others are thought to have been constructed to house the remains of the deceased Pharaohs who ruled over Ancient Egypt. A portion of the pharaoh’s spirit called his ka was believed to remain with his corpse. Proper care of the remains was necessary in order for the “former Pharaoh to perform his new duties as king of the dead”. It is theorized the pyramid not only served as a tomb for the pharaoh but also as a storage pit for various items he would need in the afterlife. “The people of Ancient Egypt believed that death on Earth was the start of a journey to the next world.” The embalmed body of the King was entombed underneath or within the pyramid to protect it and allow his transformation and ascension to the afterlife.


The Giza pyramid complex at night
The sides of all three of the Giza pyramids were astronomically oriented to the north-south and east-west within a small fraction of a degree. Among recent attempts to explain such a clearly deliberate pattern are those of S. Haack, O. Neugebauer, K. Spence, D. Rawlins, K. Pickering, and J. Belmonte. The arrangement of the pyramids is a representation of the Orion constellation according to the disputed Orion correlation theory.

there are special organized tours to the area

The Valley of the Kings, also known as the Valley of the Gates of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock-cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt).

The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes (modern Luxor), within the heart of the Theban Necropolis The wadi consists of two valleys, East Valley (where the majority of the royal tombs are situated) and West Valley.

With the 2005 discovery of a new chamber and the 2008 discovery of two further tomb entrances, the valley is known to contain 64 tombs and chambers (ranging in size from KV54, a simple pit, to KV5, a complex tomb with over 120 chambers). It was the principal burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom, as well as a number of privileged nobles. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues as to the beliefs and funerary practices of the period. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the opulence and power of the pharaohs.

This area has been a focus of archaeological and Egyptological exploration since the end of the eighteenth century, and its tombs and burials continue to stimulate research and interest. In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun (with its rumors of the curse of the pharaohs) and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. In 1979, it became a World Heritage Site, along with the rest of the Theban Necropolis.[9] Exploration, excavation, and conservation continue in the valley, and a new tourist center has recently been opened.

Royal Necropolis
The official name for the site in ancient times was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes (see below for the hieroglyphic spelling), or Ta-sekhet-ma’at (the Great Field).

In the Eighteenth Dynasty, only kings were buried within the valley in large tombs. When a non-royal person was buried, it was in a small rock-cut chamber, close to the tomb of their master, Amenhotep III’s tomb was constructed in the Western Valley, and while his son Akhenaten moved his tomb’s construction to Amarna, it is thought that the unfinished WV25 may have originally been intended for him. With the return to religious orthodoxy at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb returned to the royal necropolis.

The Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties saw an increase in the number of burials (both here and in the Valley of the Queens), with Ramesses II and later Ramesses III each constructing a massive tomb used for the burial of their sons (KV5 and KV3 respectively). There are some kings that are not buried within the valley or whose tomb has not been located: Thutmose II may have been buried in Dra’ Abu el-Naga’ (although his mummy was in the Deir el-Bahari tomb cache), Smenkhkare’s burial has never been located, and Ramesses VIII seems to have been buried elsewhere.

In the Pyramid Age, the pyramid tomb of a king was associated with a mortuary temple located close to the pyramid. Since the tombs of the kings in the Valley of the Kings were hidden, the kings’ mortuary temples were located away from their burial sites, closer to the cultivation facing Thebes. These mortuary temples became places visited during the various festivals held in the Theban necropolis. Most notable is the Beautiful festival of the valley, where the sacred barques of Amun-Re, his consort, Mut, and son, Khonsu, left the temple at Karnak in order to visit the funerary temples of deceased kings on the West Bank and their shrines in the Theban Necropolis

The tombs were constructed and decorated by the workers of the village of Deir el-Medina, located in a small wadi between this valley and the Valley of the Queens, facing Thebes. The workers journeyed to the tombs through various routes over the Theban hills. The daily lives of these workers are quite well known due to their being recorded in tombs and official documents.[39] Amongst the events documented is perhaps the first recorded workers’ strike, detailed in the Turin Strike Papyrus.

Exploration of the valley
Main article: Exploration of the Valley of the Kings
View of the central East Valley, showing area around KV62
The valley has been a major focus of modern Egyptological exploration for the last two centuries. Prior to this time, it was a site for tourism in antiquity (especially during Roman times).[29] The area illustrates the changes in the study of ancient Egypt, starting as antiquity hunting, and ending as the scientific excavation of the whole Theban Necropolis. Despite the exploration and investigation noted below, only eleven of the tombs have actually been completely recorded.

Many of the tombs have graffiti written by those ancient tourists. Jules Baillet has located over 2,100 Greek and Latin instances of graffiti, along with a smaller number in Phoenician, Cypriot, Lycian, Coptic, and other languages.[29] The majority of the ancient graffiti is found in KV9, which contains just under a thousand of them. The earliest positively dated graffiti dates to 278 B.C.

Entrance to a royal tomb, drawn in 1821
In 1799, members of Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt (especially Vivant Denon) drew maps and plans of the known tombs, and for the first time noted the Western Valley (where Prosper Jollois and Édouard de Villiers du Terrage located the tomb of Amenhotep III, WV22). The Description de l’Égypte contains two volumes (out of a total of 24) on the area around Thebes.

European exploration continued in the area around Thebes during the nineteenth century. Early in the century, the area was visited by Giovanni Belzoni, working for Henry Salt, who discovered several tombs, including those of Ay in the West Valley (WV23) in 1816 and Seti I (KV17) the following year. At the end of his visits, Belzoni declared that all of the tombs had been located and nothing of note remained to be found. Working at the same time was Bernardino Drovetti, the French Consul-General and a great rival of Belzoni and Salt.[46] John Gardner Wilkinson, who lived in Egypt from 1821 to 1832, copied many of the inscriptions and artwork in the tombs that were open at the time. The decipherment of hieroglyphs, though still incomplete during Wilkinson’s stay in the valley, enabled him to assemble a chronology of New Kingdom rulers based on the inscriptions in the tombs. He also established the system of tomb numbering that has been in use, with additions, ever since

The second half of the century saw a more concerted effort to preserve, rather than simply gather, antiquities. Auguste Mariette’s Egyptian Antiquities Service started to explore the valley, first with Eugène Lefébure in 1883,[48] then Jules Baillet and Georges Bénédite in early 1888, and finally Victor Loret in 1898 to 1899. Loret added a further 16 tombs to the list, and explored several tombs that had already been discovered During this time Georges Daressy explored KV9.

When Gaston Maspero was reappointed as head of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, the nature of the exploration of the valley changed again. Maspero appointed English archaeologist Howard Carter as the Chief Inspector of Upper Egypt, and the young man discovered several new tombs and explored several others, clearing KV42 and KV20.

Entrance to Horemheb’s tomb, soon after its discovery in 1908
Around the start of the 20th century, American explorer Theodore M. Davis had the excavation permit for the valley. His team (led mostly by Edward R. Ayrton) discovered several royal and non-royal tombs (including KV43, KV46 and KV57). In 1907, they discovered the possible Amarna Period cache in KV55. After finding what they thought was all that remained of the burial of Tutankhamun (items recovered from KV54 and KV58), it was announced that the valley was completely explored and that no further burials were to be found. Davis’s 1912 publication, The Tombs of Harmhabi and Touatânkhamanou closes with the comment, “I fear that the Valley of Kings is now exhausted.”

After Davis’s death early in 1915, Lord Carnarvon acquired the concession to excavate the valley, and he employed Howard Carter to explore it. After a systematic search, they discovered the actual tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) in November 1922.

Various expeditions have continued to explore the valley, adding greatly to the knowledge of the area. In 2001 the Theban Mapping Project designed new signs for the tombs, providing information and plans of the open tombs

there are special organized tours to the area

Sinai Peninsula, Arabic Shibh Jazīrat Sīnāʾ, triangular peninsula linking Africa with Asia and occupying an area of 23,500 square miles (61,000 square km). The Sinai Desert, as the peninsula’s arid expanse is called, is separated by the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal from the Eastern Desert of Egypt, but it continues eastward into the Negev desert without marked change of relief. Usually regarded as being geographically part of Asia, the Sinai Peninsula is the northeastern extremity of Egypt and adjoins Israel and the Gaza Strip on the east. The Sinai is administratively divided into two muḥāfaẓahs (governorates): Shamāl Sīnāʾ in the north and Janūb Sīnāʾ in the south. The peninsula was occupied by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War of June 1967 but was returned to Egypt in 1982 under the terms of the peace treaty concluded between those countries in 1979

The Sinai Peninsula lies between the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal on the west and the Gulf of Aqaba and the Negev on the east, and it is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the north and the Red Sea to the south. Its greatest dimensions are about 130 miles (210 km) from east to west and about 240 miles (385 km) from north to south.

The Sinai has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The earliest written information about it dates from 3000 BCE, when the ancient Egyptians recorded their explorations there in search of copper ores. The passage of the Israelites through the Sinai is undoubted, but the route and the date of their Exodus are still matters of debate. The Sinai is likewise famous as the scene of the giving of the Law to Moses, but there is doubt as to which of the mountains there is the actual site. A road along the Sinai’s northern coast served as the principal trade route between Egypt and Palestine for many centuries, and it is likely that Egypt erected a chain of fortresses to guard this route. After the decline of the Egyptian empire, Nabataeans from Petra controlled the trade routes of the Sinai for two centuries, until they were defeated by the Romans in 106 CE. The region then became part of the province of Arabia in the Roman Empire.

During the early Christian period, the Sinai became the home of a large number of hermits and ascetics, particularly in the mountainous southern region. In 530 CE the Byzantine emperor Justinian I began building the monastery of St. Catherine on the lower slopes of Mount Sinai. This provided a center for the scattered communities of Christians in the area, and the monastery served as a pilgrimage site throughout the Middle Ages. After 1517 the Sinai formed part of the Ottoman Empire and was administered by an official sent from Constantinople (now Istanbul). Conditions in the Sinai deteriorated, and traveling there became difficult after Egypt became independent of direct Turkish rule in the early 19th century. The Al-ʿArīsh area was the scene of fighting between the Turks and the British during World War I, and at the war’s end, the Sinai was turned over to Egypt.

The Sinai was administered by Egypt until the Israelis overran the peninsula in the Six-Day War of June 1967. It was the focus of Israeli-Egyptian combat in every military confrontation between the two countries from 1949 to 1973, the Giddy and Mitla pass in the peninsula’s northeastern portion being the scene of bitter fighting in 1956, 1967, and 1973. (See Arab-Israeli wars.) Following the peace agreement reached between Egypt and Israel in 1979, the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt and demilitarized under the terms of the agreement. The peninsula was later the site of a number of attacks by militant Islamist groups; primarily targeting tourists, the attacks included those in Ṭābā (and elsewhere) in October 2004, in Sharm el-Sheikh in July 2005, and in Dhahab in April 2006. Egyptian military personnel and civilian residents of the peninsula became the focus of attacks in the 2010s after the Egyptian Uprising of 2011 exacerbated a security vacuum. On November 24, 2017, an attack on a Sufi mosque in Al-Rawḍah (near Al-ʿArīsh) killed some 300 worshippers in the deadliest terrorist attack in Egyptian history.


Two young Bedouins making bread in the desert
The two governorates of North and South Sinai have a total population of 597,000 (January 2013). This figure rises to 1,400,000 by including Western Sinai, the parts of the Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez Governorates lying east of the Suez Canal. Port Said alone has a population of roughly 500,000 people (January 2013). Portions of the populations of Ismailia and Suez live in west Sinai, while the rest live on the western side of the Suez Canal.

The population of Sinai has largely consisted of desert-dwelling Bedouins with their colorful traditional costumes and significant culture.[31] Large numbers of Egyptians from the Nile Valley and Delta moved to the area to work in tourism, but development adversely affected the native Bedouin population.[citation needed] In order to help alleviate their problems, various NGOs began to operate in the region, including the Makhad Trust, a UK charity that assists the Bedouin in developing a sustainable income while protecting Sinai’s natural environment, heritage, and culture

Since the Israeli–Egyptian peace treaty, Sinai‘s scenic spots (including coral reefs offshore) and religious structures have become important to the tourism industry. The most popular tourist destination in Sinai are Mount Sinai (Jabal Musa) and St Catherine’s Monastery, which is considered to be the oldest working Christian monastery in the world, and the beach resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba, and Taba. Most tourists arrive at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, through Eilat, Israel, and the Taba Border Crossing, by road from Cairo or by ferry from Aqaba in Jordan

there are special organized tours to the area