Could Egypt’s Queen Hatshepsut have been an explorer at heart and a tourism trailblazer? In 1493 BC she commissioned an expedition to the ancient land of Punt, known today as Somalia, and this first female pharaoh commissioned public buildings and temples that continue to attract visitors to Egypt. Even her own temple adds wonder to the Valley of the Kings, as Intrepid’s Sameh Tawfik discovers…
“Plodding up the undulating hills on the back of a placid donkey has a tendency to become monotonous. However, glancing over the cliff to my right, I have a reminder of where I am and where I am heading. At the base of the steep cliff lies the great temple of Queen Hatshepsut and I know just over the next ridge is something even more spectacular.
To any novice, entering this valley has little impact and appears less than impressive, but I have a tingle of anticipation at the mere thought of it. I know that down the twisted, rough path along which I will be trudging in a matter of moments is the final resting place of so many of Egypt’s great pharaohs.
Although I have been here so many times before, I still close my eyes to imagine entering each tomb. Carefully picking my way down the stairs and ramps, scanning each wall meticulously, reading the hieroglyphs, and being amazed by the stunning colours that adorn each picture, colours that have remained so vibrant for centuries. I imagine I am there thousands of years ago adding my own interpretations to the walls, which thousands of people now marvel at every day.
I open my eyes as my chariot stops abruptly; this is as far as it will take me today. I take one last fleeting look down to the temple of Queen Hatshepsut before turning towards the valley on the other side. My face has the expression of a child on Christmas morning, full of expectations of what is to follow. I take a deep breath and head down into the Valley of the Kings.”
* photo by Lee Barry – Intrepid Photography Competition