Cairo to Istanbul 2010 travel blog

View of Nile from our hotel in Aswan

Boat trip on Nile, with Guide Mohammed in centre

Pat holding a crocodile

A Nubian dinner party

Dancing with the Nubian children

Amazing Abu Simbel


Hotel art

Our Felluca

The Captain

Sailing down the Nile

Our Felluca

Karnak Temple

More Karnak

Back in internet land so time to update this diary!

On Sunday we left Cairo on the overnight train to Aswan. The train was very comfortable, air conditioned with meals served in our compartment - only two people to a compartment and the beds were very comfy. We slept like logs and woke up the next morning in Aswan.

After settling into our hotel we were off again on a boat on the Nile, firstly to pick up our elderly Nubian guide, Mr Hamdi, who talked about the history of Elephantine Island (Aswan's earliest settlement over 5,000 years old), then to a beach on the Nile for a swim and a drink at the coffee shop. They had a tub of (very small!) crocodiles and of course we had to have our photos taken with them (for a price of course!) Then it was off to a Nubian village for dinner, fantastic food as you can see from the photo and after the meal the local children came in to dance with us. The children seem so happy over here even though they don't have all the toys our children have. The Nubians are the very dark skinned Egyptians and look very African.

On Tuesday we were up at 3am for the trip by air conditioned minivan to Abu Simbel. All the tourist buses had to go in convoy so there was a lot of waiting around till everyone arrived and we got underway at 4am. It was a 3 hour trip mostly in the dark so we were able to catch up on our sleep. The airconditioning was very fierce and we actually had to ask for it to be turned down! But we did appreciate it later in the day as it was another scorcher, around 40 degrees.

Abu Simbel is an amazing sight. Built by Ramses II and carved out of the mountainside, the Great Temple is dominated by four large statues of Ramses II over 20m tall and flanked by his mother Queen Tuya and his wife Nefertari and some of their children. This and the Temple of Hathor, close by, were moved to this location in the 1960's to get them out of the way of Lake Nasser which was rising as part of the Aswan Dam scheme.

We had a couple of hours here and then it was back into the bus to go to Philae temple, also relocated to Aglikia Island to escape the rising waters of Lake Nasser. This temple was dedicated to the god Isis who found the heart of her slain brother Osiris on Philae Island, now underwater. We had to hire a boat to take us to the island, ours must have been the oldest boat in existence, the canopy was in tatters and the motor sounded like it was on its last legs - but we got there, and also got back to the mainland safely! Next stop was a quick visit to the Aswan High Dam, which was another amazing sight and quite fascinating for Richard.

Once back in Aswan we had a well earned rest before going out to a restaurant for tea.

On Wednesday morning we boarded our felluca for a cruise down the Nile. The boat consisted of a deck covered with a mattress with a canopy overhead, plus a crew of two who sailed and steered the boat. We just lazed around and admired the view and waited for the crew to cook our meals. We stopped on the way for a swim and then just relaxed. At night we pulled in to the bank, erected a toilet tent and Richard and I went to look for firewood for a campfire. The crew taught us a few Nubian songs, then we responded with songs from our countries. There was a bit of dancing too. Then it was back onto the felluca to settle down in our sleeping bags on the deck - I don't think I moved until the sun came up!

On Thursday morning we had an early breakfast then set sail again to the other side of the Nile to meet up with our minibus to take us to Luxor. There was no wind that morning so it was a slow trip across the river, but no-one was complaining as we didn't want the trip to end.

Three hours later we arrived in Luxor and after settling in to the hotel and having a hot shower, we set off to visit the Karnak Temples. Built on a 2km sq, this is a vast complex of temples, huge columns, obelisks, sphinx lined paths etc and the temple of Amun is supposed to be the largest religious building ever built.

Before going to Karnak we visited the Intrepid project in Egypt, Animal Care. This was set up to care for working animals who were not treated well or were injured either accidentally or on purpose. Some of the animals were so pathetic you wonder how people can do such things. They also have an education centre to teach kids how to look after animals.

Our evening meal was at a restaurant overlooking the Luxor Temple. They have made new discoveries there only 5 months ago apparently, so there are still plenty of ancient buildings to be excavated in Egypt.

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