Africa,  Egypt,  Nile Cruise,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Day 7 in Egypt: Temple of Kom Ombo, camel market in Daraw

Today is an important day because it is our last night on the boat. Vacations always go by too fast! Like yesterday, the visits are concentrated in the morning

Reminder: if you haven’t done so yet, please read our previous travel diaries in Egypt first: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6

We pass by boat in front of the temple of Kom Ombo but there are too many cruise ships (and too many people on the site), our dahabiya moors a little further

On this part of the Nile, there are many sandbanks. To make navigation easier, two teams are working hard to remove the sand

We take a kaput (??!!! not sure of the spelling) that looks like the pick-up truck seen on the picture… to go to the Kom Ombo temple. Our boat neighbors took the felucca from the same company 9 years ago and they are delighted to find the same driver they had 9 years ago. So inevitably, the reunion is moving and surprising

Temple of Kom Ombo

The first thing we see from this temple are these incredible drawings

We pass through a small door to scan the bag, before taking the stairs and arriving in front of the temple. It is a double-temple, which is very rare in Egypt (there are only three such temples), half of the temple is dedicated to the falcon god (Horus) and the other half to the crocodile god (Sobek). Needless to say, the temple is symmetrical

We have a very beautiful scene here: the pharaoh surrounded by the Gods. What is interesting is to see two Horus Gods on the right. One is younger and the other is older. To know who is older, it is necessary to read the hieroglyph, answers our guide. The falcon god (Horus) on the far right is represented with hieroglyphs resembling a falcon, but also accompanied by a sign representing an old man. In addition, we see that his eye is deeper than the other Horus’s, because this was the place reserved for precious stones (which the other Horus did not have)

There is also a kind of calendar. In front of each day, the corresponding feast of God was noted. Thanks to this calendar, we know that they are based on the solar calendar

Another really interesting scene is the representation of the surgical tools (in the middle) and the delivery seats (on the left) as well as the recipe for whatever disease: so many drops of sacred water from this city + so many drops of sacred water from the other city, to be put in a golden vase. Many people came here to receive the medicinal recipes and medicines. They could wait for many months in the front yard. And once they were healed, they paid a baksheesh to have their footprints carved on the ground in front of the temple (even children’s footprints were seen, which was too much)

There are still a few very large drawings left, including this one, notice the size of the feet!

On the outer wall are representations of Egypt’s enemies (they are chained). Everyone had to bang on their heads, and you see, it creates huge holes (there must have been many pilgrims to create holes like this)

We return to the front of the temple. Unfortunately these columns will never be fully restored because the stones of this temple were looted and used for the quarry next door. It is impossible to find the remains now. It is on the ground here that we find the footprints I was telling you about

We go to the right and find a very impressive nilometer. It is important to measure the rise of the Nile because it allows us to calculate the taxes. Yes, even if the Nile flood is a natural phenomenon, it allows us to calculate taxes. The higher the level rises, the better the irrigation has been and the more taxes have to be paid

The temple seen from the side

Then we visit the crocodile museum next door (included in the entrance ticket). We aren’t allowed to take pictures so I will just describe what I saw. We have about ten mummified crocodiles of which some are more than 6 meters long. Even if they are mummified and well dead, the sight of these predators is enough to give me a little stress. They even have their (huge) sarcophagus ! It is incredible. The visit is fast but pleasant, the guides aren’t authorized to enter there so the explanation is done outside

Visit of the small town of Daraw

The driver takes us to a small town. Honestly, apart from those who travel by dahabiya, nobody ventures here. JB shyly asks if we have time to go to the barber’s, and here we are at the barber’s, who is shouted at by his neighbor butcher “today you enter in the legend” 😀 The service is impeccable, for 30 pounds (1,5€), he used two blades (new of course) to better shave JB. I advised JB to opt for the Egyptian moustache, to blend in better, and it suits him well I think

View from the barber shop: on the right, the fruit seller

On the left the butcher: he sells camel meat, hence the huge thighs

The pink sweets are sold everywhere, on the occasion of Muhammad’s birthday which will take place next week

Hibiscus tea (carcadet)

The fish seller scales and empties the fish under the sun (yum), but as the fish are ultra fresh, it doesn’t stink at all !

Falafels (vegetable-based) in production

it is important that we visit a small town to see how the locals really live. We saw the big cities like Luxor and the small villages lost along the Nile. Now we have to see a small town like this one

The atmosphere is, as you can imagine, chaotic. We are surrounded by locals, dressed in a traditional way, the scenes of life are local, there are no other tourists apart from us. I feel a little bit uncomfortable, considering the looks glued on us, on me (it must be said that my dress code is a little bling bling and that we do not go unnoticed at all). All the women are veiled and dressed in black, so with my orange scarf, I can only attract attention

Being hypersensitive, I think I’m reaching saturation level. My senses are over-stressed and not being able to decode gestures and looks, I put myself in “imminent danger” mode. Added to this are dust, sun, pollution, my hands all dry and I can’t manage to hydrate them… I am saturated

I think I’m worried for nothing because everyone says hello with a smile. Moreover, we are accompanied by the guide and the driver

We stop for a coffee. We’re really on another planet. The atmosphere is cool, and the decoration too, we feel so privileged. Especially me, because Egyptian women never go to a café like that, they risk getting booed. My stress level goes down all of a sudden because I’m no longer being observed, I’m the one who’s observing this time

We see a lot of south-Sudanese here (often with cane), they do business here by selling camels (it is very expensive, in the 1000€/camel) through Egyptian intermediaries. They do a lot of barter: camels against textile or spices. We will talk about this later

The rare women crossed in the street. Only one old lady isn’t veiled

Camel market

We get back in the car and I’m delighted to leave this place which is too lively for me. But we don’t go back to the boat right away. We pass in front of the camel market, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday. It is Friday and the place is empty. The guide tells us that even the day of the market, he would never have let the tourists venture there. Too chaotic. Thousands of camels, merchants in all directions, a few pickpockets..

It’s a place that makes me extremely uncomfortable, even when it’s empty. There are butcher’s stands on the spot, because a dromedary bought for the meat is killed on the spot, in front of thousands of other dromedaries. Too much suffering, too sinister. I don’t like it at all

A dromedary would sell for about 1000€. They are always used for transport, or for their meat. And not only to take tourists for a ride in front of the pyramids. Some have walked from South Sudan to here. And once bought, it is possible that they will be brought immediately to Cairo and resold there

When we get back on the car I’m looking forward to leaving and finally learn that we’re still stopping somewhere. This time a merchant opens his doors for us. And this, thanks to our superb driver (who called him on the phone)

The merchant has just bought a few baby camels and plans to feed them and resell them when they grow up. They are all stuck together despite the place they have and look scared. But the little boy, the merchant’s son, looks tender with them and shows us how he feeds them through a small hole in the wall

Our boat neighbors are all happy to see a second driver, the twin brother of our driver, whom they also met 9 years ago. We will learn that one of them had twins recently

We finally find our alleluia boat but I can’t calm down and I stay silent all afternoon. The visit of this small town deeply upset me and there is something that I don’t like without being able to explain it

Especially when everyone is delighted with the visit and I am not

Fortunately with very good meals prepared by the chef (noon and evening), especially when I learned that our driver, seeing us drooling in front of the falalels, went to buy some falalels for us… and that our guide bought solar bread because we liked it too much… all these small discrete attentions touched me a lot and here I am happy again

As it’s our last night on the boat, the chef takes out his secret recipe and serves us stuffed chicken to fall down. The chickens here are barely bigger than a quail and stuffed with marinated rice, it’s a slaughter! I didn’t think I could eat something so good in Egypt

The crew brings us a huge cake for dessert and plays music. We all dance together for about ten minutes. As decided the day before, we give an envelope to the captain. It is his task to share fairly and thank each member of the crew for his excellent service. And an envelope for our guide who bluffed us with his knowledge and explanations

It is like a local tradition, whether on a dahabiya or a cruise ship, it is expected that the client will give the crew members and the guide a nice sum at the end of the stay as a thank you. This isn’t always explicitly stated but it is like politeness, the tourist should inquire about local customs before traveling. When we travel with a guide and a driver, we will also have to think about giving something to both of them

In our case, we preferred to give them in euros, just to inject a little foreign currency into Egypt. It’s important, a country that imports a lot must have a good stock of foreign currency

For the amounts we inquired and we were given this as an indication for our boat: 20€/crew member (to be shared between the tourists on board) and 50€ for the guide (to be shared between the tourists on board). Free to us to give more (but not less because it is the minimum according to what I understood). Then, if there are more tourists on the boat, should we give more per crew member (because there is more work)? Frankly I don’t know 🙁

It’s quite delicate as a question I advise you to ask directly to the agency where you book the boat

On this, we prepare our suitcases to leave the next day and we moor next to a beautiful bridge, 9km from Aswan

Wait, let me show you how close our cabin is to the water. It’s so pretty!

Our next article in Egypt here

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 Kom Ombo: 100LE/person

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