Africa,  Egypt,  Nile Cruise,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Day 4 in Egypt: Visit of El Kab and the temple of Edfu

If you haven’t read them yet, read the previous travel diaries (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3)
Today is our 2nd day on the dahabiya (traditional boat) and we will make some visits in small groups

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

Day 4 in Egypt

Visit of El Kab

Today we have breakfast at 7:30 am. Breakfast is super consistent, with bread, a multitude of cheeses, jams… and even some mini-croissants. I don’t usually eat breakfast but when it is served with love, on the deck, with beautiful landscapes, I can’t say no

We disembark around 8:30 am. Our boat is on the front, and the other boat also belongs to the same company but it is bigger with more cabins

About ten children are already waiting for us with some souvenirs that they are trying to sell us. They say hello to us but I think the sale is optional for them, they are just happy to follow us and repeat a few English words they know

One sees enormous ramparts in the shape of a wave, recalling the myth of the creation of the world (see explanation below). Inside these ramparts is an ancient city but it is closed to tourists. photo (from left to right): JB, our guide and our companions of road, two super nice retired people from Nice and passionate about Egypt. We are very lucky to travel with them because they release, all three of them, an incredible energy and aura

Myth of the creation of the world: There was at the beginning an infinite and timeless body of water: the Noun (probable metaphor of the Nile, a river of preponderant importance in Egyptian society). Then from the Nothingness, Atum, the demiurge, gave birth to himself and took his place on the primordial mound emerging from the water. From there, he gave birth to a couple: Shu, an anthropomorphic male adorned with an ostrich feather, is the god of air, and Tefnut, a zoomorphic female (with a lioness’s head), is the goddess of moisture.

We continue on the path, between the sugar canes, the ramparts, then cross the rails, then a “highway” on foot

… to visit the tombs ofEl Kab. Very few visitors come here because this site isn’t part of the large cruise ship program. Only tourists traveling in dahabiya (traditional sailboat) come here

Here is the inside of a tomb. It is very different from the royal tombs we see in Luxor. Here we visit the three tombs of former priests/governors of the city

As a result, the scenes and hieroglyphics are different, there are scenes of daily life, such as harvesting, working the land ..

… or scenes of the transport of gold, coming here from Africa and then transported by boat..

The visit is really pleasant because there are few tourists. And we also have a small preview of a small Egyptian village

On the way to Edfu

We are admiring the scenery from the bridge when our guide shows us a MAGNIFICENT house on the bank of the Nile. It belongs to the Belgian mission that works in El Kab. It was designed by the architect Clarke Somers, who also made the house of Carter near the Valley of the Kings. That’s why you have to be on the bridge with the guide all the time, otherwise you risk nuggets like this one

Temple of Edfu

We have lunch on the boat (there is always a small soup at the beginning with lemon miaaam) and a multitude of dishes + dessert. It’s a treat!

We arrive at 1 pm and some to the city of Edfu and as we are already ready and have nothing else to do, we leave right away to visit the temple. This is the advantage of being only 4, there is no inertia and the schedule can be more flexible

We take a horse-drawn carriage (already waiting for us on the quay – what an organization!) to go to the temple (200 pounds round trip but already included in our tour). On the picture, I am with our guide Bassem

The city is a little chaotic, we are very happy not to have made this way on foot because I would have died under the heat and the dust

We arrive on the site: we are the only tourists, hallelujah! whereas this site is usually, filled with visitors in the morning

The first building you see when you arrive is a place dedicated to the birthdays of the Gods, it is here that we celebrate their birthdays. Notice the capitals, they are different shapes one from the other, it isn’t copy/paste like what we can see in Luxor. These different capitals are influenced by the Greco-Roman style

And here is the temple of Edfu, dedicated to the falcon god Horus. Look, no one around! The ultimate luxury! Look at how huge the patterns and designs are. And above all, well preserved! This temple has been preserved thanks to the sandstorms that buried it under several meters of sand

View of the pylon from behind

The inner courtyard

But before that, it was buried almost up to the capital according to an engraving by David Robert (photo given by my guide Bassem, thanks to him!)

Superb statue of Horus, the falcon god, very well preserved

And inside, ohlala, it’s incredible! Huge columns await us, with a roof (unfortunately all black because of the Copts who wanted to damage the place)

Inside, we see scenes of the Pharaoh asking God’s permission to build a temple and validating its location, to offerings to the gods, the boat carried by priests, and so on. Some scenes echo scenes seen at the karnak temple. Many representations of the Pharaoh were hammered out by the Copts who wanted revenge. They hammered so hard that at one point they got fed up and preferred to cover up the motifs. So thanks to the sand that hid a part + the laziness of the Copts, some drawings were not hammered. Phew!

The farther we go into the temple, the higher we climb, and the lower the ceiling, as if to bring the gods down and bring us up a little more toward them. All the way up to this beautiful hall

There are quite a few representations of geniuses here to protect the temple and the accesses… against evil

These goddesses of protection exist in thirty specimens, there is one per day to protect the temple

In one of the rooms, there are hieroglyphics clearly explaining the medicinal recipes. Fascinating and super super beautiful! These hieroglyphs in relief there, I still can’t believe it, it’s too beautiful!

There is a staircase on the right leading to the top of the pylon but unfortunately it has been closed (a guy tried to commit suicide so good…). This staircase, which is used to go up, is in the shape of a snail to imitate the flight of a hawk to go up. The other staircase, on the other side, which is used to go down, is straight, to imitate the movement of a falcon when it hunts

We then explore the inner enclosure that surrounds the temple. Previously, ordinary people were only allowed to visit this part of the temple and did not have access to the large columns inside. There are magnificent illustrations on the wall, and our guide took us on a grand tour to see the fourteen illustrations of Horus avenging his father and seizing Set

We go out through the large courtyard, and it begins to get crowded in the temple. We are so fortunate to have had such a beautiful and busy temple all to ourselves for quite some time. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this temple. And thanks to its excellent state of preservation, it gives us a better understanding of the typical structure of an Egyptian temple, and allows us to better imagine the karnak temple and the Luxor temple in their original state

We take back the carriage, give a small tip to the driver (10 pounds) and resume the navigation. Of course the driver moans, he wants more, but it’s always like that in Egypt, you give a tip and they say they aren’t happy for you to give more. But in the end they say goodbye with a smile because they are happy anyway 😀

Swimming in the Nile

At one point, the boat moors well before sunset for JB to swim. The water is good, he tells me, but the current is strong, he swims but does not advance a single centimeter 😀 The water is very deep too, it is better to know how to swim

There is no more crocodile if you ever worry about his life. They are stopped at the top of the Nile by the dam in Aswan. There are crocodiles in Lake Nasser, but not here

In any case, with the sunset, the frame is fairy-tale

SURPRISE! The crew installs a tent and a barbecue… for us

We have dinner in the tent (royal dinner as usual) and the whole crew comes to play Nubian and Egyptian music (on percussion) and we dance together. Other dahabiya do the same thing but without the tent because they wouldn’t have been able to accommodate a dozen guests in a tent. In this case, they dine outside on chairs, but it looks very nice too

That’s it, it’s the end of our 4th day in Egypt. Once again, it is a day rich in discoveries and emotions.

Part 2: Practical Tips

We didn’t pay much more, everything is already included in the price given by our dahabiya agency (more details here), except the 10 pounds tip for the “driver” of the carriage

For the temple of Edfu, it is better to come like us between 1 and 2 pm because the big cruise ships come to visit it in the morning and the dahabiya around 2 pm. The site is closed at 16h

There is a sound and light show at the temple of Edfu (this is new)

What you would have had to pay if you were doing the same thing we do independently

  • Private car Louxor => Aswan with stops at El Kab, Edfou and Kom Ombo: between 500-600LE for two, 150LE tip (37,5€)
  • Entrance ticket for El Kab: 60LE/person
  • Tip for the goalie in El Kab: 10LE/person
  • Entrance ticket for Edfou: 140LE/person
  • Lunch: 5€ to 10€/person

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