We boarded the Giselle in Luxor for the beginning of our 7-night Nile cruise on Feb. 12 in the afternoon, after visiting the fabulous Temple of Karnak. This city was on the west bank as we sailed north to Dendera that afternoon. My guess is it is Naqada, the site of over 2000 pre-dynastic graves and two major historical archeological sites. Red Sea gold was found in those times not far to the east near the Red Sea. We disembarked just after sunrise and visited the Temple of Dendera.
The above map came from the National Geographic Traveller Egypt, 2nd Ed. The huge Lake Nasser is the flooded product of the Aswan High Dam. Monuments like Abu Simbel and the Temple of Isis, due to their magnificence, were rescued from their original locations by slicing them up carefully into pieces and removing them to higher ground (Abu Simbel) or another island (Temple of Isis). Apologies for Dendera not being on the map. It is just north of Luxor.
I know this was featured on its own page. I put it in because it’s one of my all-time favorites.
Birds taken Feb. 13 from our boat on our way back from Dendera towards Luxor (Thebes). During the sail to Dendera and back to Luxor we were protected by two soldiers manning a machine gun mounted on the upper deck at the stern. The soldiers were with us only for the brief sail to and from Dendera as there were probably fewer boats on the river in this area.
On Feb. 15 we visited the Temple to Horus and Sobek (the Hawk and the Croc) at Kom Ombo. Two riverboats like ours are shown docking in this photo. We saw mummified crocodiles here and a fascinating ancient calendar. The Egyptian calendar had three seasons based on the cycle of the River Nile. After sunset we sailed for Aswan. In Aswan on Feb. 16 we visited a huge, ancient, granite obelisk left in the ground because it had cracked during the process of cutting it from the rock. We then visited Aswan High Dam, the Temple of Isis at “Philae,” went on a felucca sail around Elephantine Island – all of these with the tour. There was still time in the afternoon for Anita and me to visit the Nubian village of Koti on Elephantine Island. A really packed day.
On Feb. 17 we took a short flight from Aswan to the amazing temples to Rameses II and his favorite wife, the beautiful Nefertari, at Abu Simbel, not far from the Sudan. Read the fascinating story of how these two huge temples were cut up and moved to higher ground to avoid them being flooded when the Aswan High Dam was opened. More on a later post about that. We were rushed there because our flight was delayed and it’s a very busy schedule. After flying back to Aswan, we boarded the Giselle for the last time for the sail back to Luxor, from where we would fly back to Cairo for two more nights. Our trip began and ended with two nights in Cairo.
On Feb. 18 we followed this boat north through the locks at Esna, where we had met the vendors on the night of Feb. 14. Esna is the place where Set, the god, Osiris’ evil uncle, after killing and cutting up Osiris’ body into 14 pieces, threw his phallic member into the Nile. Osiris’ wife and sister, the formidable goddess, Isis, collected all of Osiris’ parts except this one, because it had been eaten by a fish. She then miraculously fashioned a phallus, attached it to Osiris and thereby conceived a son, Horus. Horus, like Moses, was protected in the reeds on a bank of the Nile and lived to avenge his father’s death and dismemberment by killing the evil Set. This is the Osiris Myth.
Horus is considered by many scholars to be the early mythical figure on whom much of the symbolism associated with Jesus of Nazareth is based. Isis was a hugely popular goddess for the later Romans. But all of that is another story.
OK, this is not a river scene. I snuck it in. In this scene captured with my SONY camcorder from the Temple of Horus, Horus spears his evil uncle Set. Note the defacement of the faces of Horus and his mom, Isis. This, we were told by our guide, was done by early converts to Christianity who considered these carvings to be pagan. Wikipedia tells the same story. Defacement is very common in many of the ancient temples.