Nile Rhapsody 1992
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Itinerary
Monday 28th
September
- Fly to Luxor
& board Nile Rhapsody
Tuesday-(am) cruise to Nag Hamadi
Seti I Temple at Abydos &
(pm) Temple of Dendera
Wednesday-(am) cruise to Luxor
Temples of Karnak & Luxor
Thursday-(am) Valley of the Kings
(pm) cruising
Friday-Temples of Esna & Edfu
Saturday-Kom Ombo & cruise to Aswan
High Dam & Temple of Philae
Sunday-(am) Fly to Abu Simbel
(pm) afternoon in Aswan
Monday 5th
October
-Transfer to Luxor
& fly to the UK
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Our 5-star cruise boat, Nile Rhapsody. Exclusive for only 50 passengers!
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Nile Rhapsody moored at Luxor.


I did this trip with Andrew and it was truly amazing, although we didn't escape the notorious "gippy" tummy, on the day we were due to visit the Valley of the Kings too, so we missed it! It was also very hot - 106 deg F (41 deg C) in Aswan - but it was a dry heat and surprisingly bearable!

Monday 28th September
London Gatwick to Luxor
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We stayed overnight at a small private hotel near the airport which we christened "The Gatwick Grave", although it did have the advantage of offering secure car parking throughout our holiday. However, our 9.45am Air 2000 flight was delayed by more than 3 hours, so we were not off to a good start; and 2.50 for the use of headsets and no free drinks didn't help!

It was late in the evening by the time we arrived in Luxor, where we were met by the Eastmar Rep and eventually taken to board our Nile Cruise boat, the small but exclusive Nile Rhapsody.

Tuesday 29th September
Abydos & Dendera
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It was a short night, however, because we were up again at 5.30am for breakfast and our departure at 7.00am for our first destination, down-river from Luxor at Abydos.
Show Temple Plan Temple of Sety I at Abydos
Abydos was one of the most sacred of all places of pilgrimage in ancient Egypt but the Temple built by Sety I and completed by his son Ramesses II dates from around 1290 BC and was dedicated to the "new" god Osiris, believed to be buried here.
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The entrance to the
Hypostyle Hall
The Inner Hall The purification of
Rameses II
by Thot & Horus
Delicate coloured
Bas-reliefs
in the small chapels
Now partly flooded
The Osireion
the cenotaph of the King

There are surviving examples here of the delicate bas-reliefs preferred by Sety I, as well as the sunken-reliefs favoured from Ramesses II onwards but it was amazing to think that all this was over 3,000 years old and you could still see the colours. We continued by coach to our next Temple.

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This Temple was dedicated to the goddess of love and music, Hathor, the great mother-god and goddess of the sky. Once an ancient shrine, most of what remains dates from the Ptolemaic and Roman period.
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The Roman Birth-House The Great Hypostyle Hall
24 columns supporting the "sky"
Andrew and the
West Wall
Ptolemy & Cleopatra

In the Great Hypostyle Hall, all the faces of cow-eared godess Hathor were hacked-off the 56ft-tall column capitals, possibly by zealous Christians, but in the ceilings and surviving roof chapels, you can see hosts of astronomical symbols, probably dating from around the time of Roman influence.

In one of the roof chapels, you can see the famous Dendera Zodiac but this is a copy, because the original is now in the Louvre Museum! See Picture >>

Our little Nile Rhapsody meanwhile had travelled back up river and was now tied-up and waiting for us to rejoin her at Dendera. It was nice to be welcomed aboard by the stewards with trays of cold face-cloths!
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Show Picture Full Size It was even nicer spending the rest of the afternoon cruising back to Luxor, arriving to the sun setting over the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings. We closed the day with a splendid Son et Lumiere show at the Karnak Temple before turning-in, exhausted! Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size

Wednesday 30th September
Karnak & Luxor
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Show Picture Full Size Temple of Amun-Re (Karnak Temple)
After a somewhat theatrical "preview" the previous night, today we got to see it properly! A huge city of temples, Karnak grew to become a religious and political centre; and at its heart was the Great Temple of Amun-Re, the core of which dates from about 1520 BC and the reign of Amenhotep I.

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Statue of
Ramesses II
The Avenue of Sphinxes The Hypostyle Hall
The ceiling was 82ft (25m) above the floor
Obelisk of Tutmose I

Successive Pharoahs extended and added to the Temple but its masterpiece is the Great Hypostyle Hall, a "room" of 134 columns covering 5,400 sq m with a ceiling the centre part of which was 82 ft high and lit by huge stone windows. Of 4 massive obelisks erected by Tutmose I around 1500 BC, only one now survives, 75 ft high and weighing 143 tons. Spending just one morning here, it is impossible to comprehend the true scale of this magnificent Temple and what it all represents.

In 2007, John & I visited Karnak again as part of our 3-month "Grand Tour", stopping at the port of Safaga on the Red Sea.
Read more about the Temple of Karnak and see more pictures Here >>

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Once connected to Karnak by a 3 km avenue of ram-headed sphinxes, this Temple was dedicated to the Theban trinity of gods, Amun, Mut & Khonsu and dates from the reign of Amenhotep III around 1390 BC.

An 82 ft-high obelisk stands in front of the north-east Pylon but its twin now stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The Temple was considerably enlarged during the reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC) and the main Pylon is covered with reliefs depicting his great battles; especially his victory over the Hittites at the Battle of Qadesh in 1274 BC. Sadly, just two 51 ft-high seated figures of the King remain of the six such statues which once adorned the new Temple frontage.

Thursday 1st October
Luxor & The Valley of The Kings (...or perhaps not!)
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Sometimes it happens that something in the local water violently disagrees with you and today was one of those days. We were not ill exactly but suffice it to say that we could not stray too far from our cabin facilities, so we had to remain on board while the others crossed the Nile by ferry to the West Bank to visit the Valley of The Kings, the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon.

In 2007, during my 3-month "Grand Tour" around Africa with John, I at last got to visit the West Bank of the Nile.
Read more about what Andrew & I missed on this trip Here >>

The others returned to the boat around lunch-time and it was something of a relief that the rest of the day was to be spent gently cruising up the Nile, enjoying the tranquility of the scenery.

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The Winter Palace Hotel, Luxor Cruising the Nile south towards Esna Approaching the
Esna Barrage & Lock
By the evening, we were approaching the Esna Dam and were taking our position in a long queue of boats waiting to pass through its one small lock during the night. This dam was originally an irrigation barrage built around 1908 but since 1989, a new dam has been under construction which it is hoped will reduce the "traffic-jam" that constantly seems to occur here.

Friday 2nd October
Esna & Edfu
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By dawn, we were on the other side of the lock. In the picture (below left) you can see some of the construction work for the new dam in the background. We were both now feeling a lot better!

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33 ft below street level & in the middle of the town bazaar, the 1st century AD Hypostyle Hall (right) is all you can see of the Temple built by Ptolemy VI around 181 BC, dedicated to the ram-headed god, Khnum.
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It was excavated in 1860 and was actually used as a church by early Christians. Following our visit, we were left to explore the bazaar additional picture >> and were rather too-easily persuaded to each buy a kind of caftan or Jellabiya - you'll see why later! Returning to the boat, we sailed for Edfu.

The Temple of Horus at Edfu
The history of this Temple goes back more than 4,500 years but the present Temple was begun in 237 BC and is one of the best preserved in Egypt, dedicated to the falcon-god, Horus. However, part of the pylon of an earlier Temple (orientated east-west rather than north-south) can still be seen at the side of the "new" one.
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Temple Plan The First Pylon
260 ft wide & 118 ft high
The Great Court
& Hypostyle Hall
Granite statue of the
Falcon God Horus
The Great Court
facing the Main Pylon

Show Picture Full Size The 4 niches in the main Pylon were for huge flag-poles erected during religious feasts; the square holes were for the wooden supporting brackets.
The rest of the afternoon was spent thankfully at leisure, cruising on up the Nile towards Kom Ombo, where the boat tied-up for the night.

In the evening, local musicians and entertainers came aboard for an evening of "local culture". This is what the Jellabiyas were for - and we had to wear them! (see photo right) Show Picture Full Size

Saturday 3rd October
Kom-Ombo, Aswan & Philae
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Temple of Kom Ombo
As we were already at Kom Ombo overnight, we were among the the Temple's first visitors today. More recent than many of the others we have seen, this Temple was begun around 180 BC under Ptolemy VI and it is unusual in that it is a "twin temple" with parallel axes, dedicated to two gods; Horus, the falcon-headed god, and the crocodile god Sobek.

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Both sides of the Temple are symmetrical and some of the decoration is in remarkable condition. Indeed, you can even see mumified crocodile remains, if that's the sort of thing that turns you on!

Nile Rhapsody now continued to its final destination at Aswan, originally a border settlement founded just below the first cataract of the Nile, and one of the driest inhabited places on earth. It also seemed one of the hottest, when we stood on top of the Aswan High Dam during our visit, where the temperature was 106 deg F (41 deg C)! Show Picture Full Size

The Aswan High Dam
The first dam, completed in 1902 just above the first cataract, proved inadequate to handle the annual flooding of the Nile. It was raised in 1912 and again in 1933 but when it nearly overflowed again in 1946, a new dam was proposed. The High Dam was begun in 1960, 4 miles upstream and 364 ft high. It was the building of this dam that created Lake Nasser, 340 miles long, displacing near 100,000 people and leading to some of the most controversial achaeological rescues in history.

Show Picture Full Size The Island Temple of Philae
Already partially flooded by the 1902 dam, the entire Temple complex was transferred from 1972-1980, block by block, to its new island site between the two dams, mimicking its original island location.
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A tomb or shrine to Osiris is near here and this Temple was dedicated to his wife Isis, goddess of fertility and mother of Horus. The main Temple has reliefs of Ptolemy XII (117-51 BC) on the First & Second Pylons but there was probably a shrine to Isis on the island since the 7th century BC.

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The main Temple The Temple Court
and Temple of Asklepios
The Kiosk of Trajan
"Pharoah's Bed" dates from the 1st century AD

It's only when you walk around the site that you appreciate the incredible exercise that must have been involved in re-assembling over 37,000 individual stone blocks to recreate this entire complex.

With the opportunity of another Son et Lumiere show that evening, what else could we do?

Sunday 4th October
Aswan & Abu-Simbel
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Rather than make the arduous 4-hour, 180-mile journey across the desert, we made the trip by air; Egyptair, to be exact and it was well worth the extra cost just to be there before everyone else!

Show Picture Full Size The Great Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel
Of all the Nubian temples relocated by UNESCO, this is probably the most famous. The main Temple was dedicated to 3 gods; Amun, Ra-Horakhty & Ptah, as well as to the deified Ramesses himself, while the smaller Temple is dedicated to Hathor and Nefertari, his favourite consort.

Both temples were actually carved out of the mountain, making it all the more remarkable that from 1964-1968, they were systematically sawn-up into blocks and moved 213 ft above the river, where they originally stood, in order to avoid their loss to the proposed new Aswan High Dam.
Each is now encased in a concrete hollow dome, covered by real rock - an artificial mountain!

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Temple Plan One of the 4 Statues of Rameses II
each one is 65ft high
Temple of Nefertari The "new" temple site
and artificial "mountains"

The facade of the main Temple is 114 ft wide and each of the 4 colossal statues of Ramesses II is 65 ft high. The statue to the left of the entrance is thought to have been damaged in an earthquake following its original construction in about 1265 BC and this is how it was relocated.
The main Temple was orientated so that twice a year, supposedly on the King's birthday and coronation day, the rising sun struck the rear wall of the sanctuary and the statue of Ramesses II. In its new position, the same thing occurs, but one day later than it was designed to!

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Map of Aswan Rock tombs on the West Bank Feluccas
on the Nile
The Cataract Hotel Botanical Gardens

Returning by air to Aswan just as all the coach-parties were arriving, we then spent the afternoon enjoying a leisurely boat-ride by felucca, visiting the Aga Khan Mausoleum on the West Bank and the rather lovely Botanical Gardens on Kitchener Island. We finished-up by having tea at the Cataract Hotel, following in the shadows of Agatha Christie, King Farouk and Winston Churchill!

Monday 5th October
A Day of Travelling
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Packing after breakfast, we finally disembarked Nile Rhapsody and set-off by coach all the way back to Luxor and the airport, a tortuous journey of 130 miles which seemed to take all day! Needless to say, our Air 2000 flight was late again and it was late evening by the time we landed at Gatwick. And we still had to recover the car from "The Gatwick Grave"!


See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 476 km (257 n miles)
Total Mileage to date: 36,910 n miles

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