Maarten Schäfer

Maarten Schafer and Anouk pappers for CoolTravel in Luxor

In ancient Egypt, the east bank of the Nile was the centre of life. The west bank of the mighty river, where the sun set, belonged to the dead. This is where all the tombs and funerary temples were built. During the Old Kingdom, the pharaohs were buried in pyramids in the north of the country; during the New Kingdom, they were laid to rest in the valleys on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor, or Thebes as it was known at the time.
The best way to get an overview of the vast Theban necropolis is from a hot air balloon. We arrive at the departure site in the early morning to find a dozen men preparing the balloon. They are using an enormous gas burner to blow hot air into a slack piece of cloth, which slowly takes on the shape of a giant mushroom. Then the cloth lifts off from the ground and starts…

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