5am flight from Cairo to Aswan (lack of sleep starting to catch up with us!). We pre booked a Nile Cruise and were picked up by our tour guide (Big Mac) at the airport. Before boarding the boat we drove around Aswan for a few hours to see a few sites and learn some more history!
First stop: Aswan High Dam. The dam was built in the 1970s and was funded by the Soviet Union (apparently Egypt asked the world bank but was rejected). The dam was built with turbines to help provide power throughout Egypt. The dam is 2 miles long!!!! As I am not an engineer so the dam wasn’t too exciting to look at (it’s not as dramatic as like the Hoover dam).
The dam also created a huge lake. They had to relocate a village and 18 temples before creating the dam otherwise they would be under water!
Second stop: Philae Temple. This was one of the temples that had to move due to the dam. Since it was the 70s they didn’t have much computer technology to help them so they labeled every stone, took it apart, then rebuilt it using the numbers to guide them. This temple was only moved like 400 feet! I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to move it such a short distance!
We had a quick tour around the temple then had some time to walk around and take photos. At some point Christian’s like took over the temple and carved a bunch of crosses and religious symbols into the temple.
Third stop: the unfinished Obelisk.There was a short video when we arrived which explained how obelisks are created and eventually placed standing up. First, they find an area in which they want to carve out an obelisk. They “cut” it out of the rock using granite stones. Literally cannot imagine how long that took. The unfinished obelisk cracked while they were cutting it out, which is why they ended up abandoning it. You can see all the work they already did though!
Once an obelisk is finished, they somehow push it onto some rollers, get it on a boat, roll it off the boat to a location, create a wall structure with a ramp to roll the obelisk up, have a hole in the wall structure which they fill with sand, then they push the obelisk into the sand hole, open the door at the bottom so the sand pours out and the obelisk slowly stands up. I’m not sure if my explanation makes any sense so plz google a video cause it’s pretty crazy how much work they put into something that literally has no functionality!
After our 3 stops, we were given the option to go to the boat or go to a spices shop and essence shop. We decided to go to the shops since it was only like 10am! At each place there was a little presentation (like the shops in Cairo), then they try to sell you some stuff. Actually bought some hibiscus powder from the spice shop to make tea (it’s v good) and bought an “essence” of lotus cause I figured why not (it is known as the sweat of the gods afterall).
Eventually we arrived at our boat. We were a little worried about how the boat was going to be since we had no information really about it and it was one of the only cruises that let us book a 3 person bedroom! Turned out to be a nice little ship! Our room definitely is usually just for 2 people and they just added an extra bed and pushed the furniture along the wall soooo it’s a bit crowded but we’re making it work. The cruise has 4 floors: the bottom is the dining hall, next is the floor we sleep on, next floor has a party room, then top floor is the deck- even has a bit of a pool area!
We only had to wait about 30minutes for lunch once we got on the ship. Lunch/all meals are buffet style, which is nice cause you can always at least find one thing you like!
After lunch, we all took a nap… for like 2.5hrs LOL. Trying to catch up on sleep!!
Once we woke up it was almost time to get off the ship to go to Kom Ombo (another temple). We chilled on the top deck, watching the sunset, until it was time to go.
Kom Ombo temple was pretty similar in look to the Philae temple, but this temple has two sides- one for Sobek (alligator headed god, considered bad) and one of Horus (falcon headed god, considered good). We also randomly learned that you should give birth while like kneeling cause it’s better for you??? They had a picture of the birthing process carved into the wall (don’t worry I didn’t take a picture of that).
Next to the temple was a well that was built to tell how high the Nile river was. There were steps at the bottom of the well so they could see how many were covered in water and know how prosperous peoples crops should be based on the water level. They would tax people based on this too! More taxes when at a good level for growth and no taxes when it’s impossible to grow!
Also next door to the temple was a mummy alligator museum. I guess they used to mummify alligators in honor of the God Sobek (alligator faced god). They found a bunch of these mummified alligators close to the temple and moved them into a museum for all to check out!
Once back on the boat we watched the movie Jumper before dinner. Jumper has some random scenes by the Great Pyramids which is why we decided to watch it 😂.
Dinner was oriental themed and pretty good. After dinner we hung out for a bit in this random fancy room on the ship. Jack and Sam played Egyptian ratscrew (I’m not good at that game so I just chilled). We went to bed pretty early since we had a 530am tour the next day (why do they do this to us).
Weird fancy room on our boat
Woke up bright and early! Met our guide in the boat lobby and he took us to the horse and carriage that would take us the 3km to the Edfu Temple.
Edfu temple is the second tallest in Egypt at 33meters- only took 180 years to make! It’s a temple dedicated to the god Horus (falcon head). Apparently when kings of Egypt want to build a temple for the god they have to ask permission. Horus ignored the king asking for permission so the king had asked Horus’ wife who took him to Horus to get permission. This story is all dedicated in the carvings on the walls of the temple.
If you look at the temple from above it will look like a step pyramid, with each room getting smaller. The final room is the room for the god and only the king can enter to give the sacrifices.
The temple overall was pretty large so it was fun to explore a bit. There was even a second floor (you could go up the stairs but not actually go on the second floor). There were 2 stairways- one in a spiral to go up and one straight to go down. Apparently it was made like this as the falcon flys in a spiral going up and dives straight when going down. And since this temple is for Horus, the falcon headed god, they made the stairs as part of their worship to him.
We ended up back on the boat about 7:30am- just in time for breakfast! After breakfast we relaxed in the room and watched the rest of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The end of the movie they go to Petra and since we were there just a week ago it was kinda fun to watch!
The movie ended about 9:30 so we headed to the top deck to chill by the pool and suntan. After about 3hrs we realized the boat was going to go through a lock so we got up to watch. There were these two rowboats that looked like we were going to run over with the boat! Turns out they were merchants and they tied their rowboats to our cruise ship and tried to sell towels and tablecloths! They would yell at the people watching from the side of the boat then chuck a bag with a towel up onto the boat and say how much it is 😂 No idea how you were actually supposed to pay them though.
At 1pm we headed to lunch then decided to go to the room instead of getting any more burnt in the sun. We watched the new Spiderman movie- pretty good (also takes place in a few cities I’ve been/now live which is always fun 😊)
By the time the movie was over we were close to Luxor. We didn’t have plans to get off the boat today so we just kept chilling on the boat. Jack and Sam played some ping pong, etc. We met up with our guide at 5pm to discuss our plan in Luxor for the next 2 days. Afterwards we did a walk around Luxor/one of the markets. Basically the entire time it was people asking for money or asking us to buy things and it was a bit tiring!
We watched another movie- Looper before bed!
Finally had a day to sleep in! Well at least we didn’t have to wake up till 7am, which from the last few is definitely sleeping in. We met our tour guide in the lobby of the boat and headed off to Karnak Temple- the biggest temple in Egypt! (And also the tallest).
Even the model was huge!
The temple was built for all the gods. They built 134 columns in one room- one for each god- so the king could worship all of them instead of having to go to different temples.
Before worshiping the gods, the king would wash in a man-made pool that connected to the Nile River.
Next we walked around a Scarab Beatle statue. Apparently if you walk around 7 times then all your wishes come true. So obviously we walked around. Tbd on if the wishes come true.
After we finished with Karnak Temple, we headed over to Luxor Temple. Luxor temple was built by Ramses II and has a bunch of statues of him (guess he liked himself). The cool thing about this temple is that at one point they used it for a church and there’s also a mosque built into it!
After we finished with Luxor we were dropped off at our boat- just in time for lunch! Unfortunately, we had no plans for the rest of the day so after eating we laid by the pool, played some card games, then watched 48 Hours and Hotel Mumbai. Pretty chill afternoon/night.
The hotel pool has some weird windows in which you can look into the pool from the lower level… so Sam went down to take a picture of Jack lol
Day 4 – last day!
Last morning on the boat! We met our tour guide at 9am and headed on our way to the Valley of King’s. The Valley of King’s is where they buried a ton of the kings (62 have been discovered so far!) Throughout the life of the king they would carve out the tomb (basically a cave) and would keep going until the king died. Some of the tombs are very deep into the mountain and have a bunch of “rooms”. Our ticket let us go into 3 tombs (you had to pay extra to go into King Tut’s tomb which I think they literally just do cause they know tourists will pay the money- but since King Tut died young they didn’t have much time to dig his grave so it’s not very big)
3D diagram of the valley
Lots of cool well preserved paintings!
Second stop was Hatshepsut temple. Hatshepsut was a queen that dressed up as a guy to get shit done! The temple wasn’t super big, but it was cool to walk around briefly.
On our way back we stopped at some random site with some giant statues… Cannot remember the importance of any of these.
Our tour guide dropped us off at the Hilton I booked- ended up being really nice and had a cool infinity pool with comfy chairs. We hung out for the afternoon and watched the sunset. Overall, another pretty chill day!