Traveller snaps rare photos inside Egypt’s famous Valley of the Kings
PHOTOGRAPHY is strictly forbidden inside this ancient burial site, which makes Jakub Kyncl’s holiday snaps pretty incredible.
The travel journalist and photographer was planning to visit Egypt’s famed Valley of the Kings in Luxor — where boy king Tutankhamun was laid to rest, among other pharaohs — when he thought he’d try asking if he could take photo souvenirs of his visit.
It was a long shot. While the Valley of the Kings is one of Egypt’s top tourist drawcards, authorities take the ban on photography inside the historic tombs very seriously.
And that’s why Kyncl was as surprised as anyone to be granted special permission to do it.
The travel editor for Czech news website Novinky.cz said it took five weeks and about 140 emails until he secured special access for himself, his camera, tripod, headlight and other photography equipment.
“It was not a sure thing at all when I asked for it. Egypt definitely doesn’t give away this type of permission on a regular basis,” Kyncl told news.com.au.
“I provided Egypt’s tourism authorities with everything necessary and waited for about five weeks until I got the ‘green light’ email. As you need to be accompanied by an official guide during an event like this, I asked for an Egyptologist and Luxor guide for VIP people Medhat Ramedan Hafez, who ... was extremely capable of dealing with all possible issues at the spot.
“And more than that, he can read hieroglyphs, and that is something that helps you to locate important scenes on the walls.”
This wasn’t Kyncl’s first time inside the Valley of the Kings — he had visited three times before — but was still struck by the size and incredible detail on the tombs and chambers in the World Heritage Site.
“Being inside with the camera and possibility to capture all this beauty to my images was really special,” he said.
“I can’t remember when I was so much nervous while taking images like here. It is always an highlight for me to see the tomb of Ramesses VI — you can spend there two hours but still you won’t see all the wonderful details hidden inside.”
Egypt’s tourism industry has been in crisis mode of late, with political upheaval and civil unrest, terror attacks, violence against tourists and the recent EgyptAir air disaster keeping foreign visitors away.
Kyncl said he hoped his rare photographs would remind people of the many gems in Egypt to return to.
“We all know what’s the situation today — some terrible thing can happen every time, everywhere,” he said.
“It is a choice of every traveller but honestly I really don’t see Egypt being more dangerous than some European capitals nowadays. Actually I feel really safe there.
“Security level seemed to be very good level recently compared to some years ago. An unexperienced traveller may be shocked to know you can full his stomach in Luxor’s street stalls with one Australian dollar and still have spare money for a good black tea.
“I can only hope that my photos will attract more people to one of the most incredible spots on our planet.”