The morning our cruise was to depart, we had one more activity in Aswan – a ride on a traditional felucca. These boats with their triangular sail would traditionally ply the Nile trading fishing and transporting goods and people. Now they’re largely a tourist activity. Our time in Aswan was pretty much windless, so for our morning tour we drifted more than sailed. Our local captain tried nobly to make it a fun trip but we were at the mercy of the current. He tried paddling using the gangplank (to our amusement), and even let us each take a turn. It was harder than it looked.
In the end we compensated for the lack of wind and felucca movement by jumping into the Nile for a swim. It was surprising how cold the water was considering the air temperature was over 100 degrees. It was a blast to be floating and swimming in the Nile River though; so much so that we jumped in a second time! I guess at this point we were thankful there were no crocodiles in the Nile after all.
As we drifted back on our felucca to our ship, the captain had some trinkets for sale. We negotiated him way down, to prove we weren’t your usual sucker/tourists, and then tipped him heavily anyway for trying so hard to make the felucca ride fun for us.
That afternoon was the moment we had been waiting for – sail away. There’s something just cool about sailing up the Nile. It feels like generations of people are sailing with you in spirit. We were enthralled watching the river go by as we sailed to our first stop. (The Love Boat even did a two-part special on it by the way. Wouldn’t ya know, they hit every single spot in Egypt that we did.)
Our afternoon stop was the temple of Kom Ombo. This temple was dedicated to the crocodile god, Sobek, in the hopes of getting on his good side and having favorable farming conditions. It was here that we discovered that the Egyptians knew quite a few things about surgery as evidenced by the hieroglyphics. There was also a Nileometer which was a well that measured the height of the Nile. Based on the measurements, the king could determine how bountiful the harvests would be, and tax the farmers accordingly.
At Kom Ombo there is also a crocodile museum. The god, Sobek, would be seen to inhabit the body of a crocodile while on earth. That particular crocodile would then be cared for by the priests of the temple, and then mummified after it died. (Sobek’s spirit would move to another one at that point.) In addition, worshipers would leave crocodile-themed donations and even mummified crocodiles as offerings.
Back on the boat, we whiled away the afternoon swimming and watching Egypt pass by before our evening stop at Edfu.
For our night visit to the temple, we took a horse and carriage ride from the boat. Since we were visiting at night, we got to see another sound and light show, but this one didn’t compare to the one at the Pyramids and Sphinx. The town of Edfu was so dusty that in many of our photos it looks like it’s raining.
The temple at Edfu was built around 200BC, and is dedicated to the god Horus. From here they would take him in statue form on his sacred boat halfway to Dendera where he would meet his wife Hathor coming from her temple. The two of them would then be taken back to one of the temples together for a week to consummate their marriage before one would return to their own temple.
On the way home, we found our carriage blocked by traffic. There was a wedding going on, and it sounded like a great time. We didn’t get to see the happy couple, but we did see their getaway…er…honeymoon car.
We opted for our third early-morning wake up in a row to watch our ship sail through the locks. They gave us a rough time estimate, and so we set an alarm. We were early, and they told us another 45 minutes. 30 minutes later, we were jolted out of a deep sleep when the boat bumped something on its way out of the locks. We ran up to the top deck again only to see our boat was on its way *out* of the locks. We went back down to bed, feeling very disappointed, and sometime after that I woke up when the engines stopped. I don’t know how that woke me, but I’m glad it did because we were approaching a second set of locks. For the third time, we got up, got dressed and headed out on deck. Third time’s a charm! We were the only ones there at 2:30 am, much to the surprise of the guys working the locks.
That morning we actually slept in a little before arriving in Luxor for more sightseeing.