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Valley of the Kings, West Valley, Luxor, Egypt
Most visitors to the Valley of the Kings are unaware that just a short drive away is another portion of the Valley, which few experience. Known as the Western Valley, or the Valley of the Monkeys for images found in one of the tombs, this part of the valley boasts only four known tombs (and only one that visitors are allowed in). However, the magical silence and beauty of the valley sans tourists is worth every effort to visit. The ticketed tomb is that of the pharaoh Ay (Western Valley tomb 23), who followed Tutankhamen on the throne. As an Egyptology student, I visited one day just as Egyptian archaeologists were wrapping up from a day of excavation. The pastel colors of the gallabīyahs juxtaposed against the warm colors of the cliffs gave a sense of timelessness as I snapped a picture. In fact, a few of the workers were from families who had worked with Howard Carter during the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb ninety years earlier!
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