“After hastily wolfing down breakfast, I rushed off into the pitch blackness to photograph the remaining sites at dawn. Ascending the western hills offers the perfect sunrise vantage point. Dots of light burst to life in the distance as local goatherds arose, flames flickering from their morning campfires. From the ether appeared a robed Bedouin man, shotgun dangling lightly from the fingertips of his left hand. ‘Salaam alaikum’ I uttered, in the hopes of a friendly response. The man smiled, my Arabic obviously passing the test. He nodded and replied in kind. And with that he disappeared back into the mist. Out of breath, I stumbled atop a ridgeline to be greeted with a phenomenal sight. Tour groups across the river took to the skies in eleven hot air balloons. The gleaming sun behind them completed the dozen. A better way, perhaps, to take in the view without working up such a sweat!”
I travelled the length of the Nile and visited the deserts southwest of Cairo for a total of two weeks. This article focusses on Luxor and the Luxor West Bank, however it can be expanded to take in more of the journey. Most tourists only visit the city of Luxor on the east bank of the Nile, with a very quick stopover at Hatshepsut Temple on the west bank. This trip involved a number of days exclusively on the west bank exploring the hills and valleys, plus all of the temples, caves and ruins contained therein. Alternately I can write about the black and white deserts in the western desert. In particular, there exists a stunning location rarely visited despite its proximity to the Lonely Planet listed black and white deserts. To this day I’m still yet to see these unique rock towers photographed in any other travel magazines, Lonely Planet or National Geographic.