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Egypt

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Sailing the Nile, Luxor to Aswan

Overview

Click this image to view  photos of cruising the Nile.

Luxor to Aswan

The most common method of navigating between Luxor and Aswan is by taking a cruise on the ships that sail the Nile River between the two locations.   A common itinerary features an embarkation at mid-day in Luxor, followed by afternoon tours of the Luxor and Karnak Temples, as well as morning tours in the Luxor area (Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut's Temple), followed by an early afternoon departure for Aswan.

The boat will dock at Edfu later that evening (well after dark), allowing for an early morning tour of this interesting temple. At mid-morning, the boat will depart for the unusual Kom Ombo Temple arriving in time for a mid-afternoon tour. In the early evening the boat will depart for Aswan with an arrival after midnight.  ,

The final day of your cruise will be spent docked while you tour Aswan, the Philae Temple, and possibly on a Felucca ride along the Nile.  The next morning you will depart the boat for a return to Cairo, or, if you opt for the extension, a visit to Abu Simbel and a cruise on Lake Nasser. The itinerary will be reversed  if you depart from Aswan

In regards to the itinerary note that your boat will actually be cruising the Nile for only a day and a half, while serving as a docked, floating hotel at other times.  Endless variations in stops exist. and you can book cruises the originate in Luxor, cruise to Aswan and depart the country, or take a return cruise to  Luxor.  Other variations included disembarking in Aswan, flying to Abu Simbel and cruising back to Aswan along the beautiful shores of Lake Nasser.  Regardless of the itinerary you choose, we think you will find a Nile cruise to be a rewarding experience.

Edfu Temple

Edfu is a small agricultural town on the left bank of the Nile that relies on tourists drawn to see the large and interesting  Greco-Roman temple dedicated to the god Horus. During the time of the Greek and Roman Pharaohs, the town was known as Appolinopolis Magna.  Edfu is 65 miles north of Aswan and approximately 77 miles south of Luxor

The Temple is about two miles from the Nile and your access to the Temple will be by caleche, a small horse-drawn carriage that will transport you from the dock to the temple. While the ride could be enjoyable, the drivers seem to be in a race to get to and return from the temple, paying little attention to the condition of their horses, or the pits in the road that will give your muscles a workout. The ride takes about ten minutes.  Along the way you will pass through town and then, skim along the walls surrounding the temple.   Eventually see the temple's massive pylon and realize that you are in for a treat. The entrance to the temple complex is through  a large modern courtyard that has a number of shops where you can return to buy a wide variety of mementos once your tour has ended.

Click this image for a photo tour of Edfu Temple

Edfu is the second largest and most complete  temple in Egypt.   It is slightly smaller than Karnak, but newer and better preserved. The construction of the temple was begun by the Greek pharaoh Ptolemy II around  240 BC and continued until approximately 56 BC  when work was conducted by the Romans.  The temple was constructed over a previous temple thought to be associated with Nectanebo. In part, the remarkable state of preservation of the temple is due to the fact that it was covered by sand and, then, debris from local settlements. Rediscovered in the 1860’s, the temple was found to be in spectacular condition when it was excavated.

The temple is known for the quality of its reliefs (low reliefs with a sunk outline)  Built as" the House of Horus", the walls contain numerous scenes of his epic battle with Seth (his uncle who had murdered his father Osiris, husband of Isis).  The battles between Horus and Seth, as well as the role in the events played by Isis comprise one of the most interesting stories from the mythology of Ancient Egypt.

The extensive temple grounds are surrounded by an tall defensive wall. The temple, which is enclosed by a separate wall, was built along a single axis. The entrance to the temple proper is past a modest birth house and through a massive first pylon.

Edfu was believed by ancient Egyptians to be the place where Horus and his forces emerged from the Nile victorious in their battle with Seth. In the Edfu Temple you will find various images celebrating Horus in his various forms. It was to this temple that the statue of Hathor was transported by barge on the Nile from the temple at Dendera so that  Horus and his bride could spend a conjugal night together. This event was celebrated yearly and was recorded as time of great joy and celebration in ancient Egypt.

The first historically important building you will encounter at Edfu is the Mammisi or birth house that was built to celebrate the birth of Horus. Bes, the divine protector of new mothers and their babies is shown on the capitals of the columns of the compact birth house, which has a number of relief of Horus and Hathor.

Immediately behind the birth house you will encounter the temple’s massive First Pylon which is covered with scenes of the pharaoh smiting his enemies in the presence of Horus. On each side of the entrance are statues of Horus in falcon form. The doorway is topped with the winged solar disk, a form that Horus took in his many battles that was used over many temples to indicate that the gods would protect those who entered.

In the first courtyard, in front of the entrance to the Hypostyle Hall is a dramatic, large black granite statue of Horus that is reputed to be one of the most valuable statues in Egypt. The Hypostyle Hall is filled with a number of massive, columns covered with incredible symbolism and support a high ceiling that is itself heavily decorated with symbols.

Beyond the Hypostyle hall is a smaller second hall that leads to an area filled with chambers including what is thought to have been a laboratory, a treasury and then into the sanctuary with its granite shrine including a reproduction of the barque ( bark - small sailing boat) of Horace sitting on a pedestal. It is likely that a small statue of Horus originally was set in this shrine. In the past, the bark (barque) used to carry the statue of Hathor from Dendara Temple was set next to the barque of Horus during the annual celebration of the two gods, However, the mythology holds that the two gods spent the night at the birth house you passed on the way to the First Pylon.

The temple walls portray a remarkable number of reliefs, many of which show Horus riding in his barque stabbing with a trident at a  stylized hippopotamus at the bottom of the Nile. The Hippo represents Seth, the killer of the father of Horus. Many of these reliefs are disfigured as these representations were offensive to the early Egyptian Coptic Christians who considered them to be a form of idolatry.

There is a sound and light show at the Edfu Temple. More details on attending and the times and languages of the performances can be found at the official website of the Edfu Sound and Light Show 

Kom Ombo

Kom Ombo is about halfway between Edfu and Aswan and 27 miles from Aswan. Located on the right bank of the Nile and the temple is immediately adjacent to the river, allowing most visitors to walk to it from their boat. This Greco-Roman Temple was begun by the Greek pharaohs (the Ptolemies) in the second century BC with other additions by Augustus Caesar. Due to its location on the banks of the Nile, the temple was often flooded and major portions of the original building no longer exist.

Click this image for a photo tour of Kom Ombo Temple

While the temple is compact and in poor condition, it is quite unusual in that it is a double temple celebrating two gods.   Most of the features on one side of the temple  are duplicated on the other. The northern half of the temple (nearer the delta) celebrated Horus the Elder, sometimes called Haroeris (possibly an older version of  the Horus revered by the priests at Edfu).  

The southern half of the temple was dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god who was regarded as a protector of the dead. Crocodiles were considered sacred in ancient Egypt and the shores around Kom Ombo were once a favored gathering spot for these reptiles. The word sovereign was written with two crocodile symbols in hieroglyphics and was thought to link both the crocodile and the god Sobek  with the pharaoh.  In Egyptian mythology, the Crocodile Gode Sobek carried the body of Osiris, after he was murdered by this brother Seth, to safety on the banks of the Nile, further insinuating this god's roles with the royalty of Egypt.

After you tour of the temple, be sure to visit the Crocodile Museum (just a short walk away) featuring mummified crocodiles from the temple and other displays of local artifacts related to Sobek and the cult of crocodiles. The museum is well done and worthy of a brief visit before you embark on your final leg of the cruise to Aswan.

Click this image for a photo tour of the Crocodile Museum at Kom Ombo

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Best Places To Visit in Egypt

Overview
Cairo
Giza
Luxor
Nile - Luxor to Aswan
Aswan Area
Abu Simbel
Lake Nasser Temples

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Nile River Cruising
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The Greek pharaoh's known as the Ptolemies were descendents of Ptolemy, who was one of Alexander the Great's generals when he conquered Egypt.

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