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Luxor/Western Valley

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Luxor : Western Valley
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Luxor/Western Valley

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The Western Valley (Arabic Wadi al-Gurud) is an Egyptian archaeological locality situated adjacent to Luxor's Valley of the Kings and contains a number of remarkable pharaonic burials additional to the main Valley.

The Western Valley is also known in Arabic as the Wadi al-Gurud (the "Valley of the Monkeys"), on account of the representations of baboons in several tomb paintings found within the wadi.


The Western Valley is nowhere near so commonly accessed by tourist parties as the Valley of the Kings, being located somewhat 'off the beaten track' (see below, Get in). The Valley is nonetheless well worth a visit by the determined traveller: its relative quiet and isolation help to evoke the silent and haunting atmosphere at one time characteristic of the main King's Valley (believed by ancient Egyptians to have been watched over by the protective goddess Meretseger, whose name translates as "she who loves silence").

inside the Western Valley

Get in[edit]

The Western Valley is accessed by a winding dirt and stone road that begins at the car park of the Valley of the Kings. Visitors must walk for some 2 km between massive boulders, under towering rock cliffs, in order to reach the tombs; although some taxis will take you all the way into the valley. The road is not suitable for cycling. Check at the ticket office for the status of the tombs (open / closed) before entering the Valley. You can sometimes also negotiate with a main Valley tomb guard at the entrance to accompany you and open the tombs - he will definitely expect a respectable baksheesh in these circumstances (try to negotiate beforehand in order to avoid later embarrassment).

A security policeman, complete with sub-machine gun, may also accompany you into the valley for your safety.

See[edit][add listing]

Western Valley tombs that are officially open to public view are theoretically open daily, 6am-6pm (summer) and 9am-5pm (winter) - but see the caveat under "Get in" above. Admission LE 10, by means of ticket from the main Ticket Office (ensure you carry some baksheesh for the guard when visiting the Western Valley).

The tombs in the Western Valley have been catalogued under WV numbers (WV = Western Valley), mirroring the KV system in the main Valley of the Kings.

  • the Tomb of Amenhotep III (WV22) [1] - currently closed to public view while a Japanese expedition undertakes cleaning and conservation work
  • the Tomb of Ay (WV23) [2] - currently open to public view - the tomb dates from the very end of the 18th Dynasty and is the burial place of the vizier (chief minister) Ay who gained the throne after the extinction of the line of succession within the ruling 18th Dynasty family of pharaohs. As such, WV23 was the last tomb to be established in the valley. Scenes from the tomb decoration, bearing close resemblance to the style seen in the tomb of Tutankhamun (Ay's predecessor), include a depiction of Ay hunting in the marshes (unique amongst royal depictions in the Theban necropolis) and an assemblage of of twelve baboons. The sarcophagus was recently restored and re-installed by the Supreme Council of Antiquities from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, though its orientation is now reversed from the original.
wall painting in the tomb of Ay, Western Valley

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Carry a bottle of water with you into the Valley, especially in summer - there are usually no water vendors in the isolated Western Valley
  • (minor point) Do not venture into the narrow Western Valley if it appears that there may be an exceedingly rare rainstorm - you will probably not survive the ensuing flash flood as it races through the valley

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