Nile Cruising - Kom Ombo & Edfu

Trip Start Jan 20, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Armada Cruise Ship

Flag of Egypt  , Aswān,
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

7pm and we set sail (well they fired up the engines anyway) and we left the banks of the Nile, from Aswan. We're on our way to Kom Ombo and Edfu Temple, before we reach Luxor 2 nights later.

The boat is allegedly of 5 star standard, however we're almost certain someone painted 2 stars on the brochure the day before we arrived... We're staying on the upper deck in a quaint room offering a little more space than our hostel counterparts we'd previously been staying in. The decor resembled something similar to 'The Love Boat' of the 1980's.

It certainly doesn't feel like we're on a boat as we cruise north along the tranquil Nile. Even as we pull up for the night, the boat barely budges as the tiny ripples bump into its hull.

Dinner is an open buffet of predominantly western food, which we didn't actually mind, given the past 10 days our diets consisted of falafel, kofta (meatballs), and shish tawouk (chicken shish kebab.) At dinner, we discovered the majority of passengers were French...lucky us!! We did however, meet a lovely American couple from California (Toby & Leona) and spent a good amount of time with them when we weren't touring. Over dinner, our table seemed to represent the United Nations (or maybe they just threw the leftover nationalities together.) We had a Mexican, Italian, Indian, Chinese couple and us. They all seemed like nice people.

We woke early on our first morning onboard the 'Armada' so we could visit the Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to the local crocodile god Sobek, and Haroeris. Our guide (who we booked from Aswan) was supposed to meet us onboard the boat, however unfortunately for us never showed up. We walked to the site, and managed to join two American ladies and their guide. It was a rushed tour as their boat was leaving earlier than ours. The site  itself overlooks the Nile, and appears almost perfectly symmetrical. We viewed the crocodile coffins, and (allegedly) the first calendar carved in hieroglyphics on the interior. The temple was built during the Greco Roman period by Ptolemy VI, however it is believed was decorated by Cleopatra VII's father.

Back on the boat, we enjoyed breakfast - hard boiled egg, refried beans, salad, croissant, crepes and coffee. Pooja then got a lesson in table tennis by yours truly whilst other passengers baked themselves under the Egyptian sun, swimming in the pool.

Next stop...Edfu Temple!

Again, our guide was supposed to meet us onboard our boat, however we waited and waited...he did eventually turn up, and we were escorted to Edfu Temple, roughly 3km away. The temple is dedicated to the falcon god of the sky, Horus, and is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. The original temple was estimated to have dated as far back as 3000 BC, however what we saw was consructed during the Ptolemaic period. It was completed in 57 BC, after 180 years of intensive labour. Half of the temple was buried until the 19th Century, and the early Christians defaced a lot of the gods. However, after they excavated the whole site, a lot of it was still intact, which has allowed Egyptologists to learn a lot more than more than they had expected. The sanctuary of Horus was probably the highlight - it contains the polished granite shrine which housed the Statue of Horus, along with a replica wooden barque  which was used to carry Horus' statue throughout the temple during festivals. As were leaving the temple, we were hit with a sandstorm. The dust, and sand lashed our legs and arms, as we braved strong winds. I was fortunate enough to be wearing sunglasses, and Pooja had her scarf, which she appropriately wrapped around her entire face. Others weren't so fortunate.

When we returned to our floating home, we were both a bright brown / orange colour. A brisk shower, and a few cold lagers later we were back on track. We were scheduled to depart Edfu at 3pm, however we didn't move until after 8pm. Our last night onboard was a relatively quiet one.

The Nile cruise experience was well worth it. Had we kept to our original schedule of sailing on a Felucca, we would have undoubtedly been far more tired, and would have only travelled less than half the distance. We're in Luxor 4 nights...

'The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it' - Rudyard Kipling.


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