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A Trip to The Valley of the Kings Part 2: The Dos and Don’ts of Donkey Riding

In all honesty I could probably write a book on the dos and don’ts of animal transport in third world countries.  But the least favourite of all the animals I’ve had the pleasure of being transported by during my travels is – without a doubt – DONKEYS.

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So you remember that movie with the big green ogre who went off to save his big green ogre princess?  You remember that comedic side-kick the really (and I mean REALLY) annoying Donkey.

Well donkeys ARE that annoying – and not so comedic!

Donkeys are rude,do not obey commands, have no social etiquette, and are as astubbon as… well… as a mule!

If life was a Star Wars movie, donkeys would be JaJa Binks.

So there are a few tips that are handy to know when you are going to travel any distance on a donkey

  1. They rarely standstill when you are trying to hop on board.
  2. They go at what ever speed they feel is appropriate – several speeds in the space of a minute from breakneck through to a total failure to start the engine.
  3. They can turn on a dime… so hold on.. if they see that specific blade of grass they want, they are single minded about it.
  4. When they get a bit “amorous” with another donkey.. they really don’t care if they have people on board.  WARNING: Squealing seems to encourage them
  5. Appropriate clothing is recommended… girls.. wear a sports bra!  Donkeys have very bad suspension
  6. When a donkey takes off like it is in the Melbourne Cup no amount of shouting at me to make it stop is going to work. Plus I’m too busy holding on for dear life.

We were still on a high from our Hot Air Ballooning experience and I was still on a high because we landed safely!  In retrospect the ballooning was possible safer than donkeying!

The Donkey Ride

It took us a while to get ourselves settled on our donkeys… with much chasing, falling off, avoiding bites and kicks and romantic advances – this was going to be a long morning!  Eventually though we were on our way.   Locals sat along the street smoking and drinking tea – watching with great amusement.  I suspect that was their regular morning routine.

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About half an hour into our ride Scott’s donkey saw his turn-off for home.  He made a beeline like homing pigeon – at h top speed.  My donkey – not to be out done decided that must have been the short cut and went straight after.. with everyone shouting at me not to follow I was going the wrong way.  Like I had a say in it.

After that, a guide led my donkey while I sat atop like a reprimanded kindergarten child – the shame. I’m pretty sure donkey was grinning.

Riding donkeys along the road out to the Valley is also a great way to star in the holiday pics of others, as bus after bus of tourists slowed down to take photos of us bouncing along the road!  We were quickly becoming a small tourist attraction ourselves!

The Valley of the Kings

Disclaimer: When we went to the Valley of the Kings, cameras were not only banned inside the temples to preserve the frescos but completely banned from the complex so we had to leave the mat security.  The upcoming photos therefore are not mine but provided under common license for editorial purpose.

I feel like I am getting monotonous in saying the Valley of the Kings was a highlight.  Egypt really is just one of those countries.  We all tend to learn so much about it at school and when we get there, its all even better than the pictures and the expectations.

The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile River and for almost 500 years tombs were cut into rocks to bury Pharaohs and important nobles.  The tombs are brightly decorated with painted frescos and  carvings, well preserved in many cases, aided by the banning of flash photography.  It is most famous because of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

While 63 tombs have been discovered they are not all open to the public at the same time.  Only a total of 18 can be opened but never all at once – so it is a bit of a lottery as to which ones you may see on any given day.

Of course the tombs have all been long since looted – by those brave enough to risk the rumoured Pharaohs Curse.

Egypt Hieroglyphics in valley of Kings

It’s often believed that the Valley of the Kings was built by slaves – a theory popularised by Hollywood movies, however it has since been discovered that the workers and their families were free citizens, who lived in the village of Deir el-Medina, and would in fact have been considered middle-class.  Never let a good movie interfere with the truth!

Exploring the tombs took the best part of a day – and in April the heat can still be quite stifling so take plenty of water with you as well as a hat and good walking shoes.

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About The Amateur Adventurer

I call myself an amateur adventurer. You don't need to be a "professional" backpacker, you don't have to drop out to travel. I'm an ordinary person with a 9-5 job and everyday responsibilities. But I've made a point to have extraordinary experiences. And so can you. Follow me on my adventures and find out how.

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