We got an uber at 4.30am to the airport in Cairo and took an hour flight south to Aswan. We stayed for two nights in the Nubian village; a small, colourful place that Dave said looked like a nursery. We were shattered when we arrived so had a chilled day taking a felucca (traditional sailing boat) 2 hours up the Nile to the Aswan botanical garden island (only accessed by boat). We became avid bird watchers and saw pelicans and incredible Nile Kingfishers (who fly like hummingbirds)! The botanical garden was beautiful and peaceful and we enjoyed strolling through to meet our captain on the other side to take us back to the village. The next day we went to the Aswan high dam and saw the vastness of Lake Nasser. We visited the Tower of Syene and then later took a boat to Philae island where we walked round Philae temple. Aswan was sort of our relaxing couple of days where we spent time just sitting drinking tea or Limoon bel nana (lemonde with mint).
After our short stay in Aswan, we took a train 3 hours north to Luxor. Luxor is divided in to the East bank and the West Bank. The East is the lively part with shops, restaurants, museums and the 2 main temples. The West is very rural, mostly just farm land and then the mountains where you find the Valley of the Kings and Queens. We stayed on the West, it was quite a shock coming from Cairo (where we saw about 1 tree the whole week) to Luxor which was covered in lush greenery. We stayed in a little hotel where we were the only guests! We spent one day on the East bank where we mainly visited the two massive and impressive Karnak and Luxor temples. We also visited Luxor museum which, to our surprise, we really enjoyed. The descriptions on all the artefacts were brilliant and detailed, and we even saw a mummy (seriously grim but also insanely cool). Back at the hotel, we spent much of our 3 days chatting to the hotel’s neighbour; Efie. A 77-year old, originally Swiss woman who moved to Luxor 15 years ago. She was bonkers and fabulous in equal measure and told us so many incredible stories including recently marrying a very weak 20 year old village boy to save him from being sent to the army (she divorced him a few months later). She was just generally an awesome lady, she even showed us round her house. Oh, and did I mention she recently decided to tattoo her lip line green?
Back to cultural things… on the West Bank we went to the Valley of the Kings where there are 64 tombs, we visited Ramses IV, Ramses IX and Merenptah. Ramses IV was the most spectacular with vibrant colourings on the walls still intact throughout the tomb. We then drove on, past Howard Carter’s house, and past many archeologists still at work! We went to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. The Queen is depicted with the features of a man (beard, large body) to show how powerful she was, as strong as the Kings.
We also went to Valley of the Queens where there are over 25 tombs but most are unknown who they belong to. The most famous tomb in the valley is that of Nefertiti but the entrance fee was £50 each so we didn’t go. We went to three different tombs instead where their colour was even better preserved that what we’d seen in the King’s Valley. It’s genuinely mind blowing that these tombs are over 3000 years old.
Our final temple was Habu temple where all the hieroglyphics and images are etched deeper in to the stone than usual, apparently because Ramses III feared the temple would be destroyed and the stones re-used.
So, that is the end of Egypt! We do have a little video of our time here. Our plan is to have a video for each of our twenty countries that we can make in to a film and watch back 20 years in the future! Stay tuned to see if the wifi prevails long enough to let us upload it… We are off to India later tonight for the next month!
Thanks for reading,
Sophie (entirely) & Dave