From Cairo we took an overnight sleeper train to Aswan. It was heaven waking up with the sun reflecting off the desert dunes and peering out the window to see the Nile right beside us as we followed it south.
Aswan is an interesting town but very hectic. It is supposed to be famous for it’s spice market but I have seen far better ones in Turkey and Morocco. An afternoon sail in a felucca is a great way to while away the afternoon before heading off to The Old Cataracts Hotel, of Agatha Christie fame, for a cocktail. And if you can, ask them for a peak at the suite named after her. Also well worth a visit is the Nubian Museum with excellent displays and the interpretation is far superior to the Cairo Museum.
Since the shooting in the Valley of the Kings in 1997 security is tight everywhere including police escorted convoys to various parts of the country. For this reason we were up at 3:00am for our 4:00am coach convoy down to Abu Simbel. But what a sight once there, as long as you can ignore the masses of tourists. Ramses II had the temples built to honor himself and his wife Nefertari. These temples were threatened by the damning of Lake Nassar. Various world organizations got together and funded the project, moving the temples to higher ground. There is a fascinating display of photographs of the work that took place over 14 years to accomplish this move.
From Aswan we boarded our lovely little cruise boat Melody and started to make our way up the Nile. The Nile is really fascinating as about 90% of Egypt’s population lives on the Nile and the green belt spreads a couple of kilometers away from the river on both sides. Then it abruptly stops and becomes desert as far as the eye can see. So lots of life to see as we cruised by. We made several stops along the way visiting the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu before arriving in Luxor and disembarking.
Luxor is a great little city. I had a good feeling about it right away. Not sure if it was because the grand colonnades of the Luxor Temple illuminated as the sun was starting to set or it’s proximity to the Valley of the Kings, the fact that local transportation was by horse drawn carriages, or the fact that we had access to McDonald ice cream sundaes! By far the best sights are Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings. Adel was our fantastic Egyptologist guide who accompanied us to both Karnak and the Valley of the Kings and his wealth of information and passion for Egypt’s history were very engaging!
Karnak Temple is over 2000 years old and must have at least 100 columns and fantastic reliefs with the colours still as vibrant as they were all those years ago. There are various sound and light shows in Egypt including one here at Karnak. It was worthwhile, if a bit long.