Of Queens and Temples: A 4 day Tour of Luxor and Aswan – II

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This post is a continuation of a two-part series of my tours in Luxor and Aswan. As with most people who arrive in Egypt, Cairo was my first stop. There, I visited the Great Pyramids of Giza and took a tour of the city in 24 hours. Then I took an overnight train from the Giza train station to Luxor.

After spending about two days in Luxor, I continued on to Aswan with Kareem, my assigned driver. The drive was about 3 hours long although Kareem told me it’s usually longer. We arrived in good time and met with Geroge, my guide in Aswan.

Day Three: Luxor to Aswan: The Temple of Isis

Our first stop for the day was the Tempel Von Philae (The Temple of Isis) on Agilika Island. We had to ride in a small boat to get there.

Like the temples I had seen before, this one was just as impressive. George filled me with details about its history and stories about the goddess it was built for. I was fascinated.

I was even more impressed to hear that Agilika Island wasn’t the original location of this temple. In fact, it was moved from its original island (Philae) to this current one. How do you move an entire temple?

Isis TempleYou cut into several pieces and put them back together again. I would later find out that more temples were moved this way, including the majestic Abu Simbel temples. The temple of Isis was relocated after it became submerged when the Aswan Dam was created. The entire process took about nine years.

I read a few articles about the lack of authenticity of sites in Luxor and Aswan, especially since quite a few of them were reconstructed. My experience didn’t feel any less authentic. I was glad to be able to see them not lying in complete ruins.

Temple of IsisThe downside of organized tours

Once we were done exploring the Tempel Von Philae, we headed back to my accommodation for the night. But first (as expected at this point) was a stop at a spice shop. I really let my guard down here and was persuaded to buy stuff I didn’t need. I also felt cheated too. At some point, as I was about to leave, I decided to check what had been packed for me. They had left an item that I had paid for out and casually added it back when I complained.

I also wanted to see the Nubian villages on my return to Aswan. I was particular about what I wanted to see and I communicated that with the tour coordinator. The tour, to say the least, was disappointing. I was taken into a home where I was invited to hold a live crocodile and look at old relics the owner had collected over time.

If I had been in a better mood, I might have enjoyed the experience. By the time we tried to get to the places I wanted to visit, the day was far spent. I decided it was best to go back to the hotel instead.

Day Four: Aswan to Abu Simbel Temples & Back to Cairo

By the next day, I had gotten over the disappointments of the day before. I decided to start afresh and approach the day with as much positivity and optimism as I could muster. That paid off. When we got to Abu Simbel, whatever was left of my grievances melted away at the sight of the temples. It was worth it. It was all worth it.

Abu Simbel Temple (inside)l said my goodbyes to Luxor and Aswan after that. We stopped to look at the Aswan Dam before I was driven to the train station to catch my train back to Cairo.

Have you been to Luxor or Aswan before? I’d love to read about your experience. And if you haven’t, is it on your living list? Would you consider going? Let me know in the comment section.

PS: I’ll write more about the Abu Simbel temples in a separate post.

4 Comments

  1. A great adventure indeed. Have to add it to my travel bucket list.

  2. Really interesting review of the trip! How do you move a whole temple indeed? The ancient Egyptians were magical people! Sorry to read about your disappointments. But at least the following day paid off!

    Madeline
    http://www.madelinewilsonojo.com

    • Thanks Madeline. I was so impressed to hear that they did (moved the temple, that is). They had help from other countries too, so kudos to all the parties involved. And thanks, everything except for the store experience was good.

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