Our trip up the Nile
Trip Start May 23, 2009
15Trip End Sep 01, 2009
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Not too early a start today- breakfast at 7, bags packed up and outside our cabin we disembarked at Aswan and took a motor boat to Kalabasha. There are a number of different buildings gathered here ranging back as far as 1570BC with the only access to the temple being from the water.
From here we were taken by bus over the High Dam and down to the lower dam Wall and the river Nile where we embarked on our next boat, MS Giselle. This was a much bigger boat with more people on it.
After settling in and enjoying a rest, we joined the group on a Felucca for a late afternoon cruise. We sailed alongside Elphantine Island and around the Lord Kitchener Botanical gardens - a magic end to the day. We also viewed the Aga Khan Mausoleum on the hilltop and the villa built nearby for his wife, The Begum. Back on board, evening entertainment followed dinner- Nubian dancing and music, with the highlight being the whirling dervish. Here a dancer wearing a number of flowing skirts spins rapidly forming a range of patterns and shapes in the twirling skirts. Difficult to explain but spectacular to see!
On returning to our cabin we were welcomed by a swan made from folded towels on our bed. Each night we were on board we had a different figure to welcome us back.
A free morning for us all. We decided to do the optional tour to the Nubian Village and weren't disappointed. The Nubian people are those closest to Africans and they were displaced when Lake Nasser was created. The first part of the tour by motor boat was a nature ride with many of the birds being identified. We were particularly taken with the kingfishers and the bee catchers, hovering before swooping for their food.
We then transferred to a traditional felucca crewed by young men who appeared young enough to be secondary students enjoying the current three month summer vacation. The tranquillity of the sail driven vessel added to the relaxation of this quiet time on the Nile. We sailed past the Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile before disembarking at the Nubian Village. We were met by two little boys singing Row, row row your boat which seemed incongruous whilst being entertaining. These lads had paddled out to greet us in their home made canoes. Using small pieces of ply to paddle they were quick to again hold out their hands for backsheesh. We saw the mud brick making area as we meandered through narrow alleyways past homes until we arrived at the home we were visiting. There are about 600 people living in this particular area. We sat in the home whilst we heard about the Nubian way of life and enjoyed a refreshing cup of mint tea before boarding the motor boat back to shore.
After lunch we started sailing up the Nile and here the vista changed completely- just what we were expecting - green lush growth near the water and the desert immediately behind.
Our stop today at Kom Obo was very impressive and the only temple in Egypt dedicated to two gods. Many examples of medical carvings on the wall here. All the temples from now on are on their original sites. This was our hottest experience as yet and we were all looking for shade against the walls. After free time wandering the area we moved back towards the boat through the regular melee of bazaar stores and hawkers. Close t the boat I bought head gear for dress up tonight and a scarf from a boy who quoted in pounds and then tried to get English pounds. We escaped across the gangplank with the scarf paying only 10 Egyptian pounds and were assailed with much shouting and finger pointing!! Our guide congratulated us on being so enterprising and expressed the hope that the hawker might learn from his attempted deception.
Soon after we sailed on to Edfu where we were docking for the evening. Tonight was our Egyptian evening with all Egyptian food and Galabea party to follow. Sheila hired a Galabea for the evening and with her bargain headdress joined in the fun for the evening. Ken was content to dress in traditional Australian clothing and just take photos. After another extravagant smorgasbord dinner there was Egyptian music and dancing in the lounge with all of us joining in- exhausting! We finished the evening up on deck with a cold drink to help cool down. From here we watched the people of Edfu going about their business from the deck and saw and heard a wedding procession go by. Waiting nearby were numerous horse drawn carriages endeavouring to relieve the tourists of their money. We refrained on the suggestion of the tour guide who suggested that the horses were often poorly treated and not cared for. Often we observed horse or donkey wagons pulling heavily overloaded wagons with the poor beasts being savagely whipped or beaten with long thin sticks.
Day 11- our last day on the river.
Six o'clock wakeup call and onto the bus by 7am to visit the temple of Horus, (the Falcon God) , at Edfu. Two giant falcons in granite guard the entrance. This is the biggest complex we have seen so far and the temple is well preserved as it was buried in sand and had houses built over it until the 1860's. Inside is a great court where people used to gather for festivals. The inner sanctuary holds a replica of the sacred boat and on the walls we saw evidence of a play being enacted. The roof of the temple has evidence of smoke damage as the Bedouins used to camp inside and light their fires to keep warm. The original builders however used sesame oil lamps or intricate systems of mirrors to provide internal light.
Back to the boat for a leisurely breakfast as we set sail again. Then time to relax, catch up on postcard writing etc whilst watching the ever changing scenery along the Nile. There is much more activity on the river banks on this part of our trip. At the water's edge children swim and splash happily while adults wash their carpets and clothing, bathe or work on repairs to their feluccas and fishing boats. Others are fishing using nets or the latest in fishing rods. Nearby others are busy maintaining their crops - maize, corn, dates, sugar cane - or using animals to prepare the fields. We were pleased to note the farmers all appeared to build structures from palm fronds to offer shade protection for their animals. The sight of an adult, however, riding a donkey looks most ungainly.
Around midday we sailed into Esna port. We saw much evidence of everyday life as we sailed through. Here we used the lock system to drop to the lower level of the Nile, dropping about 15 ft which we observed from the sundeck of the boat. The river is also very much busier than the Lake with more tourist boats as well as the working boats and fishing vessels.
Mid afternoon we moored at Luxor, our final stop on our journey down the Nile. Late afternoon we boarded the bus again and were driven through Luxor. Extremely hot today and we disembarked at Luxor Temple. This is another large complex dedicated to three gods and the temperature had certainly risen. Magnificent statues and shrines, along with an avenue of sphinxes which originally paved the way between this temple and the one at Karnak 2.5 kms away. We also saw the obelisk that is paired with the one in Paris. Our Egyptian guide seemed quite distressed at the huge number of Egyptian statues and artefacts that are held in foreign museums.Many pharaohs lived in this area and it is the site of the ancient city of Thebes. Luxor city is an interesting area and one we would like to visit again in the future.
We returned to the boat for our final dinner and then it was time to pack ready to leave the boat tomorrow.