Most Egyptians centered their lives around the Nile, but a few explored the countries surrounding Egypt. When Pepi II was nearly nine years old, he wrote to a man who had started his career when he was a young boy just like Pepi II. The man's name was Harkhuf. Harkhuf came from a family of explorers and had traveled with his father before making journeys on his own. Harkhuf led donkey caravans south across the desert to explore inner Africa. The details of Harkhuf's journeys are engraved just to the right of the entrance to his tomb located near the First Cataract of the Nile in Aswan. The long inscription begins high overhead on a chalkboard-sized area of the wall and continues down to waist level. Harkhuf begins his inscription with a little bragging about how he behaved in life. "I was excellent," he says, and goes on to tell of how his family loved and praised him. He writes about returning with 300 donkeys loaded with gifts for the Pharaoh. How would you like someone bringing you 300 donkeys loaded down with gifts, O Great One?
Clearly, Harkhuf is proud of a letter written to him by the boy-king Pepi II. The letter would have turned to dust long ago if Harkhuf hadn't been so honored by it that he carved it in stone. The letter from Pepi II is addressed to Harkhuf, calling him the chief of the desert rangers, the caravan conductor, and is dated:"Royal seal, year 2, third month of the first season, day 15." This shows us that Pepi II wrote to Harkhuf toward the end of the flood season in the second year of his reign, about 2276 BCE. The letter has tones of the royal-ness Pepi II must have been developing even at his young age, but it also shows that when you're only eight years old, it's hard to escape being a kid―even if you are a supreme ruler.