Cairo to Aswan: The Long Cruise: Esna and Edfu Temples

Sailing overnight we awoke in Esna, having already passed the lock we were docked directly outside the market leading to Esna Temple.

The traders were still waking up as we made our way past so our short walk was quiet and undisturbed.

The temple looks as though it is sunken, however the earth and sand have built up around it over the centuries. Old pictures show how it was full of sand, now its problem is the rising water table as a result of the High Dam in Aswan. A network of pumps drain the water and take it to the river in an attempt to preserve the structure from further damage.

The temple that stands today is part of a much larger structure built houses have been built on top over the centuries and plans to clear the area to make excavations have not come to fruition due to the astronomical costs involved, although its clear to see the building have been emptied of occupants so a start has been made at least.

Since visiting around 40 years ago this temple has remained one of my favourites. Its small but perfectly formed.

The colours incredible, and they are currently restoring the colours on the columns so you can clearly see the difference and only begin to imagine how the temple must have looked to those priests permitted access to the temple.

Making our way back the traders had opened up and keen to offload their wares upon the visitors.

Having observed a tablecloth which took my eye we commenced the dancing negotiations of making a purchase! What started off at 1,400 pounds ended up with my extra generous husband taking pity and paying 350! Realistically, the price paid for a three meter cotton tablecloth with twelve napkins was more than reasonable.

Sailing on serenely we passed an increasing number of cruise boats en route to Edfu, demonstrating the vast increase in tourism.

Alighting the boat in Edfu we had a new guide, whom Amr instructed to ensure that the horse pulling the carriage taking us the short distance to the temple was healthy otherwise ‘the madam’ would be walking! In fairness, the majority of the horses we observed were in reasonable shape.

The temple is huge and our guide today focussed on the role of the high priest which gave us a different perspective to the daily life of the temple as opposed to the pharaoh and his offerings to the gods.

Explaining the reason for the number of columns,

showing how the ancient Egyptians used 3D to show the full number of priests in a smaller space.

The ‘recipes’ for perfumes and healing treatment written out in hieroglyphics in the laboratory were fascinating. The carvings on the passageways up to the roof where the statue of the god was placed were exquisite.

It gets more and more difficult to tear yourself away from these ancient structures the more you appreciate the artistry and expertise which went into their creation.

Returning to the boat there was an air of excitement all around! Tonight dinner was to be a barbecue on the sun deck. There was lots of work involved by the crew moving the tables, chairs and sunloungers to set up large trestle tables and the barbecue and food serverys.

There was a nice cool breeze across the deck and a party atmosphere as dinner was served. The food was definitely the best we’ve eaten in a while, it had me going up for second helpings and having to hold myself back from eating more!

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