Aswan and the south

Last modified 10.03.2022 | Published 06.01.20052000's, Egypt, Middle East and Africa, Travelogue

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Our tour of the Nile started with a night train up the Nile to Aswan and continued on a cruise ship north to the temples of Kom Ombo, Edfu and Esna.

This article is one of four from a visit to Cairo and the Nile in 2005. It is based on my diary at the time.


Tuesday 5.1.2005, Aswan – The Nile – Kom Ombo

Morning in Aswan

We woke up on the train to the sunrise over the River Nile and a beautiful light, before rolling into Aswan railway station. It is a nice town in southern Egypt. Here starts the Nasser Lake, stretching all the way south from the gigantic Aswan dam and into Sudan. The lake is 500 km long, the world’s largest artificially made lake.

We were met by the travel agency’s guide and driven directly to the dam. Afterwards we were shown, along with hordes of tourists, an unfinished giant obelisk 41 metre long. The granite cracked and it was left as it was, to the luck for the guides who live here today. So our guide said.

Because the cruise ship that was going to take us down the Nile was departing earlier than expected, today’s program had to be shortened. The Aga Khan mausoleum we only caught a glimpse of from a distance and the Botanical Garden we did not see at all. Instead we did get time to board a felucca sailing boat making a roundtrip from a landing below the famous Old Cataract Hotel. Two youths in traditional white robes steered the boat as they must have done many times already. It was a calm and lazy trip, setting the atmosphere perfectly before entering one of the many large cruise vessels docked in Aswan.


A video from Aswan

Aswan. This is the first video from the cruise on the Nile from Aswan to Luxor. Aswan is traditionally the southernmost part of navigable Rive Nile. South of the Aswan Dam is the large Lake Nasser. The city is the departing point for numerous cruise ships going down (north) the flow of the Nile to Aswan. This video contains scenes from the Aswan Dam, the Unfinished Obelisque, a ride on a traditional felucca, and the first impressions from a cruise ship.


Afternoon down the Nile

We were quartered on a very good cruise ship. The room was large and good with floor-to-ceiling panorama windows, 2 metres above the water. The ship had a great reception area, exquisite meals and sundeck on top with a small pool. Unfortunately the temperature is not an invitation for a swim, to our big surprise. (Overall the temperature is hardly 20 degrees and the evenings are chilly. No shorts, only long trousers, sweaters and to some extent a jacket on top. We brought to little of clothes like that.) Let me also add that the staff of the King of Thebes, from the Queen Nabila Fleet is nice and the especially my blond son is a door-opener here. That goes for the country as well.

The afternoon down the Nile was splendid. The ship glides slowly and quietly, architecturally a floating hotel. Life is easy.


Night at Kom Ombo

Late at night we arrived in Kom-Ombo for a tour in an ancient temple. Impressive. Equally impressive was the very active sales activities outside the temple and on the river bank. Tens of cruise ships lay moored on that bank. In my opinion there are too many tourists in what is the Egyptian peak season. To the temple we walked with an Australian party of six people.


This video is from the Temple of Kom Ombo some 50 km north of Aswan. The double temple to the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Haroeris is quite new in Pharaoic terms, being erected in the second century BC.


Thursday 6.1.2005, The Nile – Edfu

Morning in Edfu

We took an early horse-drawn carriage with the Aussies to the Edfu temple. Our guide Yahya is good.


This video is from Edfu, some 115 km north of Aswan and 100 km south of Luxor. The temple of the sun-god Horus was built between the third and first centuries BC. Horus usually comes in the shape of a falcon or a falcon-headed man. The video has also scenes from the horse-ride to and from the ships on the Nile.


Afternoon on the Nile and in Esna

In the afternoon our ship moored in Esna waiting in line to pass through the locks in the Nile. Here we two went ashore and climbed another horse carriage through the souq-streets. Large and thrillingly colourful. The children in the streets shouted “hello” and everyone was smiling. When we later walked into the tourist market the insisting vendors were there again. “No thank you” is an unknown phrase here.

Apart from this we had a quiet day on the vessel. I have already mentioned that my son is a door-opener. They like children here, blond and cutes ones, and especially his charm. Like his brother on Cuba.

We bought souvenirs in Cairo, papyrus and perfume, two small figures in Kom-Ombo and a t-shirt on the boat. Apart from that we collect stones and write the name of the place on them.

Late at night we passed the locks and were lowered 9 metres down in order to continue.


This video is from Esna, about 55 km south of Luxor and about 170 north of Aswan. The video has scenes from the market streets of contemporary Edfu, the passing of cruise ships through the locks of the Nile, and from the lunch table of a cruise ship.


Read more

All chapters in this series:

(1) Cairo: A spontaneous tour of Egypt: This time it was my youngest (at the time 7 years of age) son who joined me to Cairo and on the classic Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor.

(2) Aswan and the south: Our tour of the Nile started with a night train up the Nile to Aswan and continued on a cruise ship north to the temples of Kom Ombo, Edfu and Esna.

NEXT CHAPTER: (3) Luxor: The tour of the Nile continues with Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, and the temples of Karnak and Luxor.

(4) Cairo (2): Back in Cairo after the cruise on the Nile, for a last round of sightseeing – this time to sites not originating in Ancient Egypt.


Finally, some images to browse