And finally, I get to our last, but not least, chapter of our fabulous Egypt & Nile River cruise adventure. Prior to leaving Aswan, we had a few other very interesting places to visit including one of my favorites.
We started early in the morning on our final day in Aswan and visited the site of the Unfinished Obelisk. What a shame that 3500 years ago this obelisk developed a huge crack in it while it was being built during Queen Hatshepsut’s dynasty. It would have been the heaviest obelisk at 1200 tons and the largest in the world, but of course, couldn’t be completed due to this crack.
Next up was our visit to the “High Dam” in Aswan that I referred to previously, that was constructed between 1960 and 1970. Interestingly, it was a project that the Soviet Union assisted with by providing technicians and heavy equipment. It’s the world’s largest embankment dam and was built by 25,000 Egyptian engineers and workers over the 10 years or so.
Our next stop was one of my favorites of the entire trip called Philae Temple although I do have a few favorites, I must say. The reason I loved this one so much is the beautiful location and views from the island where it’s positioned. You see, it too, like the Abu Simbel temple, had to be moved because of the building of the High Dam.
This temple even had issues with flooding following the building of the low dam in 1902. Visitors had to tour it in rowboats around the partially submerged ruins. It ended up being completely dismantled and relocated starting in 1972 and reopening to visitors in 1981. It was moved from the submerged Philae Island to Agilkia Island by creating a cofferdam around the original site.
We had to take a boat ride to get there that made it even more special for us all. This temple, completed by 690 AD, was one of the last built in the classical Egyptian style in honor of the goddess Isis.
After we visited the Philae Temple, we were fortunate to get to a very special Papyrus Workshop to see this amazing 5000-year-old process in the works. Rene and I also were thrilled to have our own ‘cartouches’ created as a great souvenir, while we waited in the shop. (Ours depicts Hathor, the Goddess of Love & Ramses The Great.)
We departed from here to journey back north on the Nile River on our way back to Luxor via the Esna Temple dedicated to the ram headed God of the Nile, Khnum. It was a very interesting stop as it had also been flooded by the Nile and the temple itself is located roughly 30 feet below ground level.
Some of the temple is available for viewing having been excavated but the rest of the temple is still buried under the town. The 24 decorated columns of this temple are beautifully carved and painted in brilliant colors and continue to be wonderfully restored for all to appreciate.
We enjoyed a fascinating tour of this town that we all found interesting as we strolled through and were able to see the local Egyptians and the way they’re living their lives.
Next, we experienced, in daylight one of the few locks on the Nile River. Locks on a river cruise are always very interesting. There was a 30 foot drop from one section of the river to the next.
That night on the ship following, we were able to enjoy yet another Egyptian performance and party including a very talented Egyptian ‘whirling dirvish’!!
We then arrived back at Luxor to connect with our flight back to Cairo. Upon landing we had a very interesting visit to the Egyptian Museum of Civilization that included a very special visit to the Royal Mummies Hall with 22 incredibly well preserved ‘royal’ mummies.
Our final day of touring was spectacular and included the phenomenal Pyramids of Giza. It was truly magnificent seeing them up close and personal along with the mighty, majestic Sphinx as well. We learned that overall, there are 121 pyramids in Egypt, which seems incredible. Khufu, the greatest pyramid took 100,000 people every year for 20 years to build. An amazing feat too considering it was accomplished over 4500 years ago without the aid of the heavy equipment that’s available to us in this day and age.
After our pyramid visit, we were also fortunate to visit Memphis, the ancient capital of the Old Kingdom and then Saqqara that featured the step Pyramid of Djoser and a number of tombs that were also located at this site. We also popped into a special Egyptian Cotton Workshop and store where a lot of folks were able to buy sheets, t-shirts, dresses and Rene even bought a beautiful cotton long sleeve dress shirt too!
Photo is of the Colossal Statue of Ramses II lying down in Memphis
Photo is of the Step Pyramid in Saqqara
All in all, our fabulous bucket list trip to Egypt was incredible and we highly recommend it to anyone who loves history or thrills at the beauty and culture of another country that happens to be steeped in ancient history. We were very fortunate to have a fabulous guide, fantastic accommodations both on and off the lovely ship, wonderful fellow passengers and crew surrounding us and overall, a memorable experience that we’ll never forget!