Review of our Nile cruise experience

Nile Cruises have been all the rage in one form or another since the dawn of Egypt’s civilization. As everything in Egypt is centered around the Nile, it makes sense that sailing would be an optimal mode of transportation. For tourism it picked up even more when speedy steamer ships were introduced making the journey from Luxor to Aswan doable in only a week.

The cruise ship is a fantastic way of seeing the temples that line the banks of the Nile since it allows you to disembark at the destination and see everything you need to see and then travel to the next in complete luxury. No trains or long car journeys here. That being said, there are some pros and cons to either mode of transportation and while my blog is going to focus on choosing a Nile cruise, I’d at least like to present both options.

The Pros of a Nile Cruise:

  • No logistics to worry about, everything is well planned and runs smoothly
  • Unparalleled views of some of the temples (like Kom Ombo) that are right along the water
  • Other peaceful and serene views as you cruise along the Nile seeing wildlife, farms, and small towns pass by
  • Very, very little time in a car as the temples are usually within 10 minutes of the cruise dock if not within walking distance
  • Comfortable accommodation you can actually settle into and unpack for a few days
  • Finding somewhere decent to eat can be challenging in Egypt so it’s great having all meals included in your price.

The Cons of a Nile Cruise:

  • Limited time exploring some of the temples, especially Kom Ombo and Edfu as these are usually shorter stops between Luxor and Aswan
  • Along the same lines, no ability to choose your tour time if you have a preference for time of day to visit the sites.
  • Smaller pool and less entertainment than you would find with a larger hotel in Luxor or Aswan
  • If you don’t like the food… you’re kind of stuck with it.

Travel around Egypt is doable both ways and with plenty more research or discussing with a tour company, I’m sure you could have a great experience either way.

The Cruise Schedule:

Day 1: Visit Abu Simbel (3 hour drive away) and then embark on cruise. All meals included and free time on the ship from 1 PM

2: Visit the Nubian Village near Aswan in the morning (an extra) or free time. Lunch and sailing. Visit Kom Ombo in the evening. Then dinner and sailing again.

3: Early morning in Edfu, breakfast, and then sailing to Luxor. Experience a “locke” on the cruise, then lunch and then visit to Luxor’s East bank temples – Karnak and Luxor

Day 4: Disembark and visit Luxor’s West Bank- the Valley of the Kings. Optional early morning start flight in a hot air balloon.

*Cruises also sail in reverse starting in Luxor and finishing in Aswan.

*Other tours and cruises may have differing schedules but there were at least 2 other ships sailing and following this same schedule as us so I think this schedule is pretty common

Our itinerary involved one night in Aswan on the front end so we made sure to see everything there, then 4 days/ 3 nights with the cruise. We visited the Philae Temple, high dam, and giant Obelisk on day 0 (you can read about that here) and had a great night in a hotel before our cruise began.

About our cruise ship and experience on the MS Salacia

Our tour was with Memphis Tours, and cruise ship was the MS Salacia. We had the more “budget friendly” cruise option of Memphis Tour’s partners and since we were travelling during an off season, there were only 9 total passengers on the ship including us. This will likely bias our review but here it is anyway.

The ship’s layout

Our ship had 3 guest floors with the first initial floor containing only the lobby and guest rooms. The second floor (where our room was located) contained the dining room, a library with small seating area, 2 small shops, and more guest rooms. The 3rd floor contained a small bar/ snack area, the spa, and the pool deck. Then there was one additional deck above the pool that had loungers and covered dining area.

Overall these ships are much smaller than what you’d expect if you’ve been on a large sea faring ship but all the rooms were comfortable and tasteful. I enjoyed all the vintage vibes without feeling out dated on our ship.

The Rooms.

The rooms were by far the best part of the ship. Everything about it screamed vintage steamer to me from the décor, wood paneling, and overall layout. It was spacious, comfortable, and quiet. We had a tv (although we never attempted to watch it), mini fridge, seating area, private bathroom, 2 windows, and a queen size bed.

The mini bar/ fridge is also stocked every day with 2 bottles of water, 2 cans of soda, and 2 juice boxes which are free. (That is the extend of the drinks included but we would take our water or sodas with us to the dining room no problem)

We were also given 1 GB of wifi per person for the entire cruise journey… Not great but better than nothing.


There is none. Don’t expect a live production stage or comedy here however sitting on the top decks and watching the beautiful scenery of the Nile pass by was definitely one of my favorite parts. I highly recommend bringing a few card games, card decks, or easy to pack dice games to play in your down time.

The pool is small but pretty well designed and we almost always had it to ourselves. It had 3 stages of depth, the first only like a foot deep and perfect for suntanning in. Then there was a 4 foot and 6 foot section that were great for swimming around in and cooling off. We spent most of the day by or in the pool when the ship was moving and the rest of the time hanging out in our room.

Unfortunately the 2nd day spoiled the pool a little for me as Braden went inside before me and I was laying on the pool deck in a chair that lined up with the hall leading to the wheelhouse. I noticed 2 of the boatmen (1 in uniform and 1 not) taking discreet selfies or photos of me in the background which needless to say, was really uncomfortable. After I noticed that I packed up and went inside.  I did go out again to the pool the next day but made sure I was out of view of that deck hall wherever I sat down.

Dining services

Our dining schedule was pretty consistent as

7:30-8:30 Breakfast

1:00-2:00 Lunch

7:30-8:30 Dinner

Occasionally they would have a free coffee or tea time where we could get those drinks without paying for them but it wasn’t the same time everyday. In addition the snacks that were free outside of meal time were generally a coffee cake, some type of small cookie, and apples.

Insert what I wish was a food photo here but evidently.. I didn’t take any food photos. Instead here’s a photo from the wonderful covered top deck.

The service

About the food

Again since there were only 9 passengers, there were at least 3 servers hovering around at all times. Lunch and dinner were both 5 course meal affairs and were very prompt. We’d have a soup, and then some sort of small appetizer, a salad or “side plate” that came out with the entrée, and then a dessert. You’d be handed a menu at the start so you could “review” and tell them any substitutions or things you didn’t want… supposedly.

The food itself was… ok. I’d probably classify it around a c+ in that it was edible but not that appetizing. The descriptions of the dishes on the menu usually made it sound better than it was and most of the meats in the dishes were pretty dry. I’m also pretty sure they plated everything ahead of time so you couldn’t really ask for alterations to the dish and that’s part of what made them come out so promptly. (And either the preparation or storage may have made them predisposed to making everyone ill but it’s hard to point fingers there since stomach issues are a pretty common issue for visitors to Egypt)

About the people

Unfortunately there was also a decent language barrier when communicating things about the menu (or the staff just ignored us) We’d almost always say no salad but always got it and ended up returning it to the kitchen un eaten. That rarely raised an eyebrow but we had a solo traveler friend sit with us during meals who was experiencing stomach issues and hardly wanted to eat anything only to have them ask “why” when he said he didn’t want something like the soup or desert. I also asked for only the vegetables only from an entrée I liked and they brought out an entire second plate of everything which of course… I barely touched which got me some angry looks from the staff at that but again, I didn’t ask for a whole plate more of meat.

Other than things in the dining room, our room was always well cared for and the front door staff were friendly. We didn’t have much interaction with anyone else.


So in the end, while I would recommend doing a Nile cruise for the ease of scheduling and views, I’d recommend seeing what cruise options are available with better reviews than the MS Salacia.

1 Day in Cairo Guide

Is it advisable to only spend one day in Cairo? Probably not. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Cairo is an incredibly diverse and historic city. One minute you’re driving through neon light shopping centers, and the next you’re passing old Islamic cemeteries with no street lights but some signs of inhabitants. Then you turn a corner and you’re driving by incomplete sky scrapers where people are living, and don’t get me started on heading across the Nile to Giza where the pyramids magically appear out of nowhere.

There is SO much to see in Cairo and the best way to do it is undoubtedly with a guide. A guide will be able to combine all these city elements into a relatable story that all travelers can understand- they can melt the history into current day culture, giving you a real appreciation for life as it was and now is in this grand city. We toured Cairo with Memphis Tours as part of our larger Egypt tour and our guide in Cairo was out favorite. (Don’t get me wrong though, our Nile cruise guide was also amazing)

As we were supposed to have 2 days in Cairo but missed a day to travel mishaps at the beginning of our trip, we appreciated the flexibility of Memphis Tours to give us the highlights all in one day! So if you’re looking for the abbreviated version of what should probably be 2-3 days in Cairo, you’ve come to the right place.

Post Contents

A brief look at the history of Cairo

The old Egyptian capitol of Memphis

Cairo and the surrounding area played instrumental roles in the old Kingdom of Egypt, with the capitol Memphis being founded around the third century BC. The Memphis ruins are situated just south of the Giza pyramids and are definitely worth a stop (If you have more than one day that is) For the ancient Egyptians, the strategic position of Memphis just up river of the Nile Delta, allowed the region to thrive with commerce, trade, and religion. At the beginning of the middle kingdom of ancient Egypt, the capital and king’s court had moved to Thebes (up river on the Nile) so Memphis/ Cairo became a little less important until….

Coptic Cairo

Around the 4th century AD the origins of the modern city of Cairo developed with the building of settlements and the fortress Babylon. This “city” was an extension of the Roman and then Byzantine Empire with some building remains still in use today. The religion of the time was “Coptic” Christianity which equates to Orthodox- established by Saint Mark during the middle of the 1st century AD.

I won’t go into too much detail here but if you’ve read my other posts/ looked at photos you’ll know that Coptic Christianity played quite the role throughout the rest of Egypt as well as there is lots of evidence of temples being dismantled for churches or being turned into churches themselves. Apart from religion, the city played a large role in trade of the spice route at the time which furthered its influence worldwide.

Muslim rule

Cairo officially came under Muslim rule around 640 AD after being conquered by the rulers Amr ibn As. The city passed many hands for years being overthrown by different Muslim rulers but the religion and culture remained the same. The seat of government changed locations throughout the city however resulting in the construction (and then demolishing) of several forts and settlements.

In 1169, the first Sultan of Egypt, Saladin was appointed by the Fatimids dynasty. During his reign the the Cairo Citadel was constructed (more on that below). The city through these centuries remained an important city along the spice trade route making the city influential on a global scale (and also making it fall to the same global issues that plagued Europe… namely the Black Plague.)

Ottoman rule

The last major period of time pre modern history is with Ottoman rule. The city’s status as a global capitol of import was diminished in the late 1400s due to a sea route around the Cape of Good Hope allowing spice traders to avoid Cairo. The decline of the city still continued when the Ottoman empire supplanted power in Egypt in 1517 diminishing it from a country in its own right to a province.  The city did still prove useful in the transportation of coffee and Indian textiles with the rest of Africa and the Balkans. During the time the city also became an important place of learning with a large institutions of Islamic scholars taking up residence.

After the Ottomans began more of the modern history with first French and then British occupations. After failed occupations the country descended into civil wars until an Albanian named Muhammad Ali Pasha ascended to the role of commander and then Viceroy of Egypt.

The Mosque of Muhammad Ali inside the Cairo citadel lit up at night and easily visible from our hotel

A day in Cairo – MUST SEE’S

The Great Pyramids of Giza

Not just a Cairo must see, but an Egypt must see if the obvious Great Pyramids in Giza. It’s one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World and one of the oldest monuments in the world still standing. (And that you can actually visit inside of!) The pyramids are iconic for good reason as they are incredible to see in person. They are surrounded by sand and yet also city.

Several photos show the pyramids with nothing around them but that is a matter of perspective as all around the modern world bustles.  I have a couple posts dedicated to the pyramids so I won’t say more in this post but please visit here for a complete guide to visiting the pyramids and here if you’re curious about camel rides at the pyramids. I can’t say enough- this place has to be on your bucketlist.

Time needed to visit the pyramids: 1.5-3 hours

* Visiting the pyramids will take around 1.5-3 hours depending on if you opt for a camel ride and/or to go inside the great pyramid, and how long you spend visiting the mortuary temples and surrounding sites.

The Egyptian museum (old or new)

Once the new museum is completed, it will be even easier to visit in one day with the pyramids as it is right next door. However we visited the old museum which was still a bit of a drive away. The museum is a MUST because everywhere you go in Egypt you will only be seeing the shell of what was- the ruins. You’ll see the walls, some statues, even fewer roofs, and loads of carvings- but what actually made these places magnificent was what was IN them.

The museum holds all the treasures discovered in the tombs for Kings’ passages to the afterlife and statues that were moved from monuments for protection. Most powerful of all you will see the mummies that have been discovered and learn even more about the ancient leaders of Egypt and their beliefs.

Treasures in the museum

Apart from the mummies, one of the most notable things you’ll see in the Museum is King Tut’s collection. King Tut was a pharaoh who died in his teenage years but is famous for his tomb. His tomb was one of the more recent discoveries and was discovered IN TACT with all of its riches. Our favorite things were the ornate and GIANT boxes and his solid gold headdress.

*These are a small snippet of the incredible things you see in the museum. I did not take any photos of the mummies out of respect and most of King Tut’s gallery is off limits for photos.

Tips for visiting the museum:

  • Plan your day in Cairo AFTER visiting the other sites in Egypt (notably the Valley of the Kings) so that you can base everything you learn in the museum on a foundation built up from seeing the locations these artifacts were discovered.
  • If you are visiting in 2022 or later, you will likely be visiting the new museum. They are still moving things over so if you visit the old museum, know that there is no AC in the building so dress accordingly.
  • The museum will involve HOURS of standing and walking on hard stone floors. Wear maybe the most comfortable pair of shoes you brought on your vacation for this day. Your body will thank you.

Time needed: Minimum of 2 hours (4 hours preferred)

The Cairo Citadel

The citadel is a quick stop if you are visiting Coptic Cairo or the old Egyptian museum and is a great place to learn a bit more about the modern religion in Egypt as well as the more recent history. (more recent as in AD instead of BC) The view from the walls is panoramic and on clearer days you can see the pyramids rising out of the city haze in the distance. I particularly liked wandering the fortress and taking in the impressive walls but the key places to visit is the Mosque of Muhammad Ali which was built between 1828-1848.

After taking in the view from the citadel’s walls, head towards the Mosque’s entrance. There’s an open courtyard you can take a peep into (we were not allowed to walk around but we could take a look) that displays a clock tower given to Muhammad Ali Pasha by Louis Philippe of France in 1845 AD. Muhammad Ali reciprocated the gesture with an obelisk of Ramesses II’s (c.1279–1213 BC) that stood in front of Luxor Temple. Today, it stands in the Place de la Concorde Square, Paris.

After admiring the clock tower head inside the mosque itself. You’ll need to slip your shoes off before entering and women will need to make sure they are covering their shoulders/ arms. (No need to cover your hair) The mosque features an impressive chandalier, wooden pulpit, and many other intricate carvings including the space surrounding Muhammad Ali’s Pasha’s final resting place.

We were lucky to be there during an afternoon prayer where the walls reverberated the sweet melodic sound all around. The building is mainly used for tourism now so there weren’t any active worshippers in the site but it was still beautiful to be there during a prayer time.

Time needed to visit the Citadel and Mosque: 1 hour

Where to stay in Cairo

Downtown Cairo:

Le Riad hotel: $200+: This hotel is in the old Islamic area of Cairo. It’s literally within the walled old fort and you can only drive in via special permit. (Keep this in mind if you hire a taxi- they may not be able to find/ access the hotel) Each room is massive and unique – it is considered a “boutique” hotel. The rooms come with a private balcony, sitting area, and are themed based on cultures, colors, etc. We were upgraded through our tour so that was nice for us!

The restaurant on the roof had the best food we had in all of Egypt (also the most expensive) and the room was amazing. There was a fair amount of noise at night which could be due to the festival of Eid… but if you’re a light sleeper, I’d avoid staying in downtown Cairo.

Near the airport:

Le Passage Hotel and casino $50+ : This is the closest hotel to the airport which makes it very convenient for flights. Reasonable rooms and pool as well. We didn’t stay here as we got the upgrade to the Le Riad instead but it looks nice.

Concorde El Salam $80+: We stayed at this hotel on our own during a long layover in Cairo. The shuttle was convenient and helpful. The hotel is absolutely beautiful (and glamorous… we felt very underdressed in the lobby) and overall very comfortable. We had to leave early in the morning for our flight back to Germany but we were SO glad we booked this hotel instead of trying to pass a 10 hour overnight in the Cairo airport. (My least favorite place in the world at this point)

Near the pyramids:

Steigenberger Pyramids Golf Hotel $50+ – Luxury hotel feel on a budget wallet. The hotel has a pool with pyramid views. Some rooms have pyramid views and others have views of the new museum. Once the new museum is complete, this hotel is across the street in an unbeatable location. We stayed here and sadly only had like 6 hours in the hotel due to late flight in, and early flight out. We didn’t get to enjoy the pool but our room was very comfortable and the breakfast box the hotel provided for our flight was the BEST of our entire trip.

Other hotels of note:

Hayat $30+ Budget friendly and still within walking distance of the pyramids

Marriot Mena house – $200+ – Walking distance to the pyramids, very safe, and VERY nice. Easily the best pool.

Guide to the Great Pyramids of Giza

The number one thing to see on any trip to Egypt is of course, the Great Pyramids of Giza. The pyramids are located in Giza, a stone’s throw away from Cairo and are easy to visit (although going with a guide is still recommended.)


About the Great Pyramids of Giza           

The Giza pyramid complex is composed of 9 pyramids in total. The 3 large pyramids were built in order to house the remains of the deceased pharaohs of Egypt and the smaller pyramids in sets of 3 were built to hold queens/ family members. The pyramid structure was a religious symbol in thought that at the highest point, they would touch the sky. The belief was that the king’s spirit would continue on as a god of the sky and would rise and set with the sun- so being close to the sky was of vast importance. Each pyramid would additionally have at least one mortuary temple built for the pharaoh and used only once to celebrate that king’s life and perform the mummy rituals preparing for afterlife.

Things to see at the pyramids:

The Great pyramid (also known as the pyramid of Khufu)

The Great Pyramid is the oldest and largest of the pyramids. It’s also the oldest, most intact building of the Seven Wonders of the Anicent World. It was the first pyramid to be built and is estimated to have taken 27 years and was completed sometime around 26 BC. The dimensions of the pyramid are a base length of 756.4 ft. (230 m) and height of 481.4 ft. (147m).

The structure of the pyramid

There are 3 chambers known inside the pyramid- a base chamber, the queen’s chamber, and the king’s chamber. The royal chambers contained granite sarcophagus and were located fairly high up within the pyramid structure. The pyramid was built with many different types of rock with the most notable including giant granite blocks quarried from Aswan used for the king’s chamber, and white polished limestone for the outside. It’s estimated to be built from 2.3 million blocks of limestone making the pyramid structure almost entirely filled with stone apart from small shafts and the 3 known chambers.  There’s only a small amount of the white polished limestone left visible along the base of the temple so what is visible now on the outside is NOT what the finished pyramid would have looked like when it was built. (It would have been smooth and polished)

Building the great pyramid:

Other things to note about the great pyramid is that it was estimated to have taken an average of 13,200 laborers to complete this pyramid within 27 years with a peak workforce of 40,000 people at a time. Based on findings in excavated laborer camps near the pyramid, it’s believed the pyramid was not actually built from slave labor, but more of a conscript workforce.

The pyramid was built for King Khufu who ruled during the 4th dynasty of the Old Kingdom. (most other archeological sites in Egypt are from the New Kingdom or younger) Not much is known about Khufu’s reign besides the great pyramid and the only preserved portrait of the king is a small 3-in ivory figurine that was in a temple ruin at Abydos.

The 3 subsidiary pyramids known as the Queen’s pyramids that were also built by Khufu and are still in good shape today.

Going inside the pyramid

A visit to the inside of the Great Temple costs about $20 more per person and you only see plain hallways of stone. If we’d had time we would have considered it just for the experience of entering a pyramid. If you are clausterphobic it is not recommend. Unlike the valley of the kings, the walls are unadorned and the hallways tight, dark, and smelly. So, it’s up to you on how worth it you think it is.

This is the highest you can climb up on the outside of the pyramids and it is right to the entrance of the Great Pyramid if you have tickets to go inside. We didn’t go inside, but we still climbed up there to check out the view from the entrance.

The Pyramid of Khafre

This is the second-tallest and largest of the 3 Ancient Pyramids of Giza. It’s notable for the polished limestone cap that shows what all 3 pyramids would have looked like in their entirety back in the day. It appears from some angles as the largest pyramid due to the ground height it is built on. It was frowned on to build a pyramid taller than your predecessor, so Khafre found a way around this by building a smaller pyramid but on bedrock 33 feet (10m) higher than Khufu’s.

The Mortuary and Valley Temples of Khafre

The temples of Khafre’s complex survived much better than Khufu’s. The temple is most notably known for its proximity to the Sphinx although the Spinx itself is not attested to any king. (more on that below) That temple once contained 24 statues of Khafre that are now only represented by depressions in the floor where they used to be. The mortuary temple, although in ruins, has enough remaining to understand the layout. It’s notable for being the first mortuary temple to include all 5 standard elements of later temples: an entrance hall, a columned courtyard, 5 niches for statues, 5 storage chambers, and an inner sanctuary.

The temple is awesome and while we didn’t spend much time exploring there, it’s definitely worth heading in for the best side view of the Sphinx!


The Great Sphinx of Giza is made of limestone facing directly west to east. While there’s no direct documentation linking the Pharoah Khafre with the Sphinx, the plans for his temples surrounding it as well as similarities in the carved face to his statues point to him commissioning the statue. The purpose of the statue is unknown. Our guide told us a theory of there already being a large rock formation there (or even a more ancient statue) that was in the way of Khafre’s temples. Instead of dismantling it, it would be less work to just carve the bedrock stone into a statue itself.

Regardless of the reason, the sphinx is an impressive and legendary site to see in person. It measures 240 feet long (73 m) from paw to tail, and 66 ft. (20 m) high from the base to the top of the head. It’s best seen from the Valley Temple while visiting in there although make sure to capture it head on before entering the temple.

The pyramid of Menkaure

The final pyramid of the 3 main pyramids at Giza is thought to be the tomb of the 4th dynasty pharaoh Menkaure. Like its predecessors, it was constructed of limestone and Aswan granite. However, this pyramid was unfinished and several of the casing blocks are visibly unfinished as well. This pyramid gives great clues at the construction methods used by the old kingdom stone masons.

Panorama Point

The best spot for photos with the pyramids in the background. You’ll want to take your hired car, or if you’re on a tour, wait to be driven out to this spot. It would be an awfully long walk from the main pyramid entrance.

How long do you need for your visit to the pyramids?

To walk around the outside of the pyramids and visit the Sphinx and Mortuary Temple, you only need about 1- 1.5 hours. If you want to take a camel ride, or go inside the pyramid then you will need to add more time. We did a 40 minute camel ride but had less time to visit the temple so we only spent around 2 hours total here.

Is a camel ride worth it?

This is a pretty controversial question and since everyone has different experiences, you may not always get the same answer. Based on our experience, I would say YES (read more below), but know what to expect. Here are the pros and cons based on our experience:


  • Some trails and vantage points are just not doable by foot but taking a long camel ride will give you more perspectives of the pyramids
  • Amazing photos in general with the camels
  • A memorable experience


  • Like all of Egypt- this experience is prone to scammers and overly zealous tip collectors .
  • Not all camels were in the best of shape.
  • Riding down hill is challenging and camels might not be the most comfortable experience on your body

Read my separate post here for more info on our experience and tips to make the best of your camel ride.

Where to stay for a visit to the Pyramids of Giza?

Steigenberger Pyramids Golf Hotel $50+ – Luxury hotel feel on a budget wallet. The hotel has a pool with pyramid views. Some rooms have pyramid views and others have views of the new museum. Once the new museum is complete, this hotel is across the street in an unbeatable location. We stayed here and sadly only had like 6 hours in the hotel due to late flight in, and early flight out. We didn’t get to enjoy the pool but our room was very comfortable and the breakfast box the hotel provided for our flight was the BEST of our entire trip.

Other hotels of note:

Hayat $30+ Budget friendly and still within walking distance of the pyramids

Marriot Mena house – $200+ – Walking distance to the pyramids, very safe, and VERY nice. Easily the best pool.

Top things to see on Luxor’s West Bank

When most people think of Egypt, the pyramids and Memphis (the old kingdom capital) come to mind first. Luxor (ancient day Thebes) holds a huge part of story and is not to be missed, from soaring temples constructed through the ages and bright colorful tombs buried beneath the earth- Luxor holds the key to understanding and learning some of the most interesting parts of Egypt’s history.

Like 2 sides of a coin, there’s 2 banks of Luxor and they each hold different types of archeological sites and different historical importance. The East bank is where people live, work, worship… it’s where you’ll find a lot of the temples as the sun rises in the East- this represents life.

The West Bank, where the sun sets, represents a journey of the dead to the afterlife. This is where you will find mortuary temples (temples created for preparing the kings for burial) and the magnificent tombs that were built to help guide their occupants to a successful here-after.


Both banks have lots to see and do so this post will focus on the west bank specifically.

Top things to see in Luxor’s west bank

Valley of the Kings

The valley of the kings is made up of at least 63 known tombs with 20 or so belonging to known kings. The tombs are not as grand in scale as the temples and are mostly devoid of any antiquity now- however the art work on the walls is really impressive to see. The colors are all original and almost all the wall space (including the ceilings) is covered. The way the tombs have been preserved against time is really incredible to witness in person, as is walking the steep narrow corridors down into the rock. For more information and photos from our visit, check my valley of the kings post here.

The Mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut

This temple is unlike any of the others you will see on your visit and is widely considered a great architectural wonder of the world. It is cut into the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari (another name used for it) and involves many floors and terrances. It took 15 years to build during the reign of legendary Queen Hatshepsut (which makes this temple worth visiting to honor Hatshepsut alone).

The temple is primarily dedicated to the god Amun (whom Hatshepsut used to legitimize her reign) and includes shrines to 2 other gods – Hathor and Anubis. It is a quick stop taking maybe an hour or so and definitely worth seeing when visiting the other west bank monuments. Read more about this incredible temple in my post here.


The Ramesseum is a mortuary temple dedicated to Ramesses II. (Same guy that built a LOT of temples during his long reign) This temple doesn’t often make it into a must do for people with shorter itineraries but looks like a great stop and will have less crowds if you’re visiting during the busy season. We didn’t have time on our day tour but we did marvel at the site from the air during our hot air balloon tour.

Colossi of Memnon

The two massive statues are of the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep III and greet all visitors on the main road to the west bank of Luxor. They are built from quartzite sandstone which was quarried down river near Cairo and transported 420 miles (675 km) overland to their present site.

They used to stand guard at the entrance to the pharaoh’s massive mortuary temple, which at the time was larger even than the temple of Karnak. The temple is all in ruins however due to being in a major flood plain for the Nile and potential dismembering from successors in the later dynasty’s to build their own temples. They are free to visit and a quick stop.

Hot Air Balloon tour

If you’re visiting Luxor and have a hot air balloon experience on your bucket-list, I can’t recommend this tour enough. There is nothing life being sky bound in the early morning- watching the sunrise over the east bank of the Nile and witnessing the lights of the west bank monuments flicker off. The air is crisp and silent, punctuated only by the jet of hot air filling the balloon and all around you can see other hot air balloons flying on the wind.

You get a birds eye view of so many of the west bank archeological site but on top of that, get to experience the wonder of feeling like you’re part of a balloon festival. Even during the low tourist season, there were around 20 balloons in flight and I just can’t really emphasize how incredible this experience is. For more photos and information from our tour, you can see my post here.

Valley of the Queens – Nefetari’s tomb

The Valley of the Queen’s is where the wives of pharaohs were buried in ancient times since valley of the kings was a more privileged (and too small) of a valley to bury everyone. The main valley contains at least 91 known tombs dating back to the same dynasties as the valley of the kings. We didn’t have time to visit this valley but the main thing to see there is Queen Nefetari’s tomb.

Queen Nefetari is the same queen honored at Abu Simbel’s smaller temple and was a very revered queen of the time. Her tomb is the most expensive tomb you can visit but for good reason. It is the single best preserved tomb and resembles how it would have looked at the time it was built with white plaster and colors all in original condition. If you want to actually get a clear picture of what the colors on the walls looked like, a trip to this elaborate tomb is worth it.

Cost to visit is 1400 EGP ($90 USD) per person.

If you have more time (2 days to see the west bank)

Mortuary Temple of Ramesses  III

Mortuary temples are temples built to honor a pharaoh instead of a god. This temple was built for Ramesses III (who consequently has a beautiful tomb as well in the valley of the kings). It has impressively large pylons (gates) at the entrance and few adventurous corners to explore. It’s best known for inscribed reliefs depicting the king’s defeat of the sea peoples during his reign.

Valley of the Artisans (Deir El-Medina)

These are the tombs of the highly skilled artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the kings. It is an ancient village which gives insight to the lives of the laborers during their work on the elaborate tombs over in the valley of the kings. The tombs here are less extravagant and much smaller but worth the time if you have 2 days.

Temple of Seti I

This temple was begun by Seti I and was completed again by Ramesses II after Seti I’s death. It is dedicated to Amun-Re. This is another cool spot to check out if you’re visiting during crowded peak season and want to have a temple more to yourself.

Howard Carter House

Howard Carter lived from 1874-1939 and was a famous English archeologist and Egyptologist. He’s best known for his discovery of the intact tombs of King Tut in 1922. His house on the west bank of Luxor has been preserved and turned into a museum so stepping into it feels like stepping back 100 years into the real life of an archaeologist. If you’re a fan of archeology and learning about how these ancient wonders were discovered- this is a great stop.

And there you have it. I wish we had more time to see more of the West Bank but our already lengthy tour did not plan for it. I definitely think there are some must do’s on this list as with all things in Egypt, you kind of have to be there to really experience the wonder and history. Which places on the west bank are on your list?

Camel Ride at the Giza Pyramids

Is a camel ride worth it?

This is a pretty controversial question and since everyone has different experiences, you may not always get the same answer. Based on our experience, I would say YES (read more below), but know what to expect. Here are the pros and cons based on our experience:


  • Some trails and vantage points are just not doable by foot but taking a long camel ride will give you more perspectives of the pyramids
  • Amazing photos in general with the camels
  • A memorable experience


  • Like all of Egypt- this experience is prone to scammers and overly zealous tip collectors .
  • Not all camels were in the best of shape.
  • Riding down hill is challenging and camels might not be the most comfortable experience.

Tips for Camel Riding

If you are there with a guide, have them make the arrangements and agreements for you- especially the price and terms of the ride. Even if not with a guide, make sure it is clear how much you will pay AND where you will go before you get on the camel. DO NOT get on a camel thinking it is free or cheap before working out how much to pay.

About our camel ride

After we visited the Great pyramid, we visited panorama point with our guide and got some great photos there. Our guide offered the experience to us and worked out the cost with the local guys so we agreed we wanted to go. We started our camel ride from panorama point and rode all the way down to the Sphinx. It was about 40 minutes with a stop halfway to get a better perspective of the pyramids and more photos.

Cost: 400 EGP each (about $25 USD)

It was just the 2 of us on this ride and we started off with an older guy who lead us a couple hundred yards until a teenage kid took over leading our camels on the one way journey. About half way we stopped to get some photos (the kid did an awesome job of that I will say) and change camels with some that had been making the journey in the opposite direction. It wasn’t really explained to us why we changed camels and unfortunately my second camel’s saddle and gait were less comfortable than the first.

The second part of the ride went downhill – literally

At the halfway stop we also had a random hawker walk up to us popping the tops off soda bottles before he even got to us which was a little uncomfortable since we hadn’t agreed to buy the drinks or even noticed him selling them until he was right in front of us. We insisted to them we didn’t have any money on us to buy the drinks and that our guide had our money at the bottom where he was waiting for us.

This may have resulted in a different kind of fallout where the kid who was walking with us figured he might not get a tip so he actually hopped up on Braden’s camel with him, making Braden ride on the back for almost the entirety of the 2nd part of the ride. (I’m pretty sure they aren’t supposed to do that as he hopped back down just before we rounded the corner to the Sphinx area)

He spent the rest of the ride turning around every 5 seconds asking if “we were happy” and then saying something about a tip or asking where we were from (over and over and over again). He also supposedly was making some jokes to Braden about how many camels I was worth? (I didn’t hear that part) and Braden said the kid’s breath was horrible so needless to say, Braden didn’t have the best camel ride experience.

My experience – it was uncomfortable

For the most part I had a nice experience in contrast since I didn’t have to share my camel. However I struggled more to just stay on and found the downhill walk pretty uncomfortable. If I were to do it again I’d probably ask if there’s a reverse way to ride from the Sphinx back up to Panorama Point or maybe even go on a shorter ride just to that first viewpoint and then ride back up to panorama point.

The Positives (of our experience)

I know that sounds like a whole lot of negatives, but I do want to be real by presenting what actually is a decent experience compared to other people who get scammed out of the same amount of money to just sit on a camel for a quick photo or 2 minute ride.

The views of the pyramids from the back of a camel are just something you have to experience for yourself; I don’t think there’s a substitute. I loved the views we got from the path we took and it was SO cool looking out across the sands, seeing other people on camels or horses look absolutely tiny in front of the massive pyramids. It was really just unreal and crossed one of my last major Egypt bucket-list activities off my list.

If you’re considering going on a camel ride during your visit, I hope this experience sheds some light on what it is like so you can deem whether it is worth it to you or not. We would absolutely make the same choice again and deem this experience worth it. (we just might not want to hop on camels for another ride again for a while)

Guide to Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple

This temple is unlike any of the others you will see on your visit and is widely considered a great architectural wonder of the world. It is cut into the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari (another name used for it) and involves many floors and terraces.

About Queen Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut is somewhat a controversial character with some legends depicting her as good, and others… power hungry. She came to power through somewhat dubious, albeit justified means. She had perfect blood lines, being both a daughter, sister, and wife of a king and a great knowledge of religion to establish herself as wife of the god Amun. She was the chief wife of Thutmose II and when he died- became a joint ruler with her step son Thutmose III (who was only 2 at the time). This is where the controversy begins.

She assumed the position of pharaoh and sent her step son away from the capital to be raised. Some reports claim she sent Thutmose III away for safety until he was old enough to assume the throne himself. Others claim that even once he was old enough, instead of being allowed back to the capital he was sent on military campaigns while Queen Hatshepsut maintained the exalted position of Pharaoh.

This second option seems the most likely to be true as there are records of Thutmose III’s military campaigns and evidence of Thutmose III’s great displeasure with his step mom. Once she died, her step son either destroyed or replaced many of her religious depictions with himself both at this temple and others she had contributed to.

Regardless of her motivations, her reign was largely successful and she is regarded as one of the first major female players in history. She established new trade routes and became one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt. Her reign is not known in total length but is estimated to be around 20 years. (a very successful reign for the time)

About the mortuary temple

The temple is primarily dedicated to the god Amun (whom Hatshepsut used to legitimize her reign) although it includes shrines to 2 other gods.

The shrine to Hathor

Hathor is venerated on the left side of the temple with a small portico containing scenes of Hathor being fed by Hathsepsut and 4 columns with Hathor capitals. This then leads into 2 hypostyle halls- one contains 12 columns and the second contains 16 columns. Beyond these is a vestibule containing a sanctuary depicting Hathor with Hatshepsut – who represented herself as a reincarnation of the goddess.

The shrine to Anubis

One the right side is a smaller shrine to the god Anubis. It contains a hypostyle hall with 12 columns and 2 small rooms that end in a small niche. The images throughout the hypostyle are very interesting depicting multiple offerings to the god Anubis and a large relief showing Anubis escorting Hathshepsut to the shrine. The depictions on this side still have a lot of the original color.

The final shrine at the top level is of course to the chief god Amun. We didn’t spend as much time up there as the top level is crawling with people wanting to show you something or be in your photo (for “tips”) but it is quite the experience just walking the ramp up to that top level of the temple and looking out.

Time needed to visit Hatshepsut’s Temple

It really doesn’t take very long to visit making it a great add on to the Valley of the Kings. To walk around the whole area, it is maybe 30 minutes – 1.5 hours depending on if you go with a guide or not. We spent around 1 hour.

Cost for Hatshepsut’s Temple

The cost was included in our tour but if you are interested in visiting on your own here are the costs:

140 EGP adult/ 70 EGP student

Cameras and phones are free! No flash allowed however.

Our experience

Overall I would definitely consider this temple a must do if you’re in the area since it is an easy place to visit with other West Bank attractions. Would it entice me to travel all the way to Egypt? Probably not but if you’re already there for all the other amazing places, definitely check this one out since it really is UNLIKE the other places we saw.

Hot Air Ballooning in Luxor

One of the most serious bucket list activities I’ve had on my list forever is hot air ballooning. It’s up there with the usual: sky diving, climbing such and such mountain, paragliding (now checked off in NZ) and other wild adventures. I’ll be honest I actually had no idea ballooning was a popular thing to do in Luxor and it wasn’t even on our radar until the day before when our tour guide mentioned it as an add on experience. When I thought of taking a ride soaring over Luxor with sunrise on the Nile river slowly lighting up the monuments of the west bank including the valley of the kings we couldn’t turn the experience down.

*It’s also a pretty mild price compared to similar experiences in the US.

About our experience

Pickup was ungodly early at 3:15 and we needed to have all our luggage ready to go and checkout of the cruise ship. We met our tour manager for the morning who escorted us via van to pick up another group for the morning, and then on to a boat that would ferry us from the east bank of Luxor to the west bank.

Once at the boat we “signed in” and were given tea or coffee and small cookie while we waited for clearance from the river police to cross the Nile. This took almost an hour but we learned about landing positions for the balloon (very important safety info) and could see monuments on the west bank hill lit up nicely.

We also learned the layout of the basket which has 4 sections around one with the pilot in the middle. There would be 15 of us in total on our balloon– 2 families each that had 2 kids, another group of 4, the pilot, and then Braden and myself.

The airfield

Once we had clearance to cross, it was a short boat ride to the other side, followed by another van that took us to the airfield. The airfield was pretty mindblowing and pretty indescribable unless you’ve visited other balloon festivals. So many giant air balloons filling up and expanding toward the sky at once. It was still dark so the light from the jets was even more stark and the roar was almost deafening amidst the silence of the early morning. We were lead to our specified balloon and instructed to get in while the balloon was almost full height and still on the ground.

In the air

Then there was a couple adrenaline filled moments as the ground team started releasing the ropes and the balloon began to drift upward above other balloons still filling and below still others that took off earlier. All around there was silence apart from the sound of the hot air jet punctuating the air as we drifted high and higher. It. Was. Magical.

Our pilot began to point out the significant monuments we were flying over including the windy path that snakes through the tombs in the valley of the kings, the stunning mortuary temple of queen Hatshepsut (right photo above), and the temple called Ramesseum (in honor of Ramesses II)(left photo above).

Slowly our pilot would turn us about so we could get the best view of everything in the valley and watch as the sun rose above the horizon of the Nile and the lights of the memorials flickered off. We were in the air over 40 minutes, taking in all the beauty you can only experience during flight. Between the sights of the other balloons too far away to hear over the sound of our own jet, silently lighting up as they drifted around us, and the cooler crisp air of the high altitude, it was an experience to remember.


After our specified time in the air, we made our way over the many agriculture fields of the west bank passing houses and canals. Our pilot steered us as close as he could to the edge of a field close to a road and the grounds crew came along to help pull us down and guide us into a good landing spot. While the description of landing earlier in the morning was a little scary, it was surprisingly easy and no cameras were harmed in the landing of the great balloon.

We waited around while the ground crew got everything brought down and got our certificates of flight. We tipped both the grounds crew and the pilot and were then ushered into a different van to meet up with the rest of our tour. (There were, of course, kids running around while things were packed up asking for money so that is where the peaceful experience ends).


The new van brought us and one other group from our flight to a café on the west bank to wait for our cruise ship tour guide and tour friends to meet up with us. We had around 15 minutes to have a coffee, dig in to our breakfasts packed from the cruise, and use the bathroom before we were ready to venture groundside- to the tombs and monuments of the west bank in Luxor.

Guide to Luxor’s East Bank

When most people think of Egypt, the pyramids and Memphis (the old kingdom capital) come to mind first. Luxor (ancient day Thebes) holds a huge part of story and is not to be missed, from soaring temples constructed through the ages and bright colorful tombs buried beneath the earth- Luxor holds the key to understanding and learning some of the most interesting parts of Egypt’s history.

Luxor Temple

Like 2 sides of a coin, there’s 2 banks of Luxor and they each hold different types of archeological sites and different historical importance. The West Bank, where the sun sets, represents a journey of the dead to the afterlife. This is where you will find mortuary temples (temples created for preparing the kings for burial) and the magnificent tombs that were built to help guide their occupants to a successful here-after.

Information on the East Bank Temples

The East bank is where people live, work, worship… it’s where you’ll find a lot of the temples as the sun rises in the East- this represents life. Among the many temples that were built on the east bank, 2 of the grandest are located in Luxor- Karnak and Luxor temples. Both temples are generally combined in a combo tour and while they are massive, they only take a few hours to visit.

About Karnak Temple

The Karnak temple complex (for a complex it certainly is) is the second largest temple complex in the world. (the first is Angor-wat) It was not built by any single pharoah and was actually contributed to by over 30 known kings of Egypt. Started sometime in the middle kingdom (around 2000 BC), it was mostly developed during the new kingdom but continued development through the Ptolemaic kingdom (305-30 BC).

Its history is wrapped up in the history of Thebes and its changing role as capitol in the ancient world. It’s not designated for any single deity although the largest section is dedicated to Amun-Re. There are 4 sections of the temple, with the other 3 dedicated to the god Montu- a god of war, Mut- a mother goddess known to be the wife of Amun-Re, and Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV)- a controversial pharaoh who tried to change the religion of the time to include himself as a god.

The precinct for Amun-Re

This section is the largest and most impressive section of the temple- it’s also thankfully the section that is open to the public. Amun- Re is the chief deity represented here and there are lots of impressive statues and one of the largest obelisks- standing 95 feet (29m) tall in this precinct.

The pylon is also the largest of any temple in Egypt and there is still evidence of how they carved these giant gates with the presence of an unfinished mud hill (slope) that they used to carve the top and slowly remove as they moved down the wall.

The most impressive section however is definitely the hypostyle hall. It was built around the 19th dynasty (1290-1224 BC) primarily by Seti I. The hall encompasses an area of 50,000 sq feet (5,000 m2) with a mind-blowing 134 columns arranged in 16 rows. 122 of the columns are 33 feet (10m) tall and the other 12 are 69 feet (21m).

You can probably interpret my feelings on the hypostyle hall from all these photos I took.

The height difference in the columns allowed for a light to come in- a sort of ancient day type of skylight since the entire area had a ceiling when it was built. This was the only area in any temple where we saw active restoration work going on. This is largely due to an event in 1899 where eleven of the columns collapsed in a chain reaction from ground water undermining their foundation. They were restructured in 1902 and similar work continues to strengthen the rest of the columns.

About Luxor Temple

Luxor temple while smaller than Karnak, is similar in that it isn’t designated for a single deity or pharaoh. It’s instead widely believed to have been dedicated to the “rejuvenation of the kingship,” and was used either in reality or just conceptually- as a place where kings of Egypt were crowned. It was built primarily by Amenhotep III in the 18th dynasty (1386-1349 BC) but other parts such as the colonnade were built by the young (famous) king TUT(ankhamun) and Ramesses II.

One of the more interesting parts of this temple is the history of various religions represented throughout. As the temple was buried in sand, other religious built ontop of the solid columns. First part of the temple was converted to a church by the Romans in 395 AD, and then converted to a mosque in 640 (a mosque that is still active and in use today). There’s evidence of Christianity in many temples throughout Egypt (including Karnak) however less records of there being a legitimate church on the site like there are at Luxor.

About our experience

We visited Karnak temple around 3:30 and then Luxor temple right after as part of our Nile Cruise tours. These were probably the busiest sites we visited but that could be due to time of day and just being located in a major, easy to visit city. This also felt like the hottest tour/ day we had but that could be chopped up to the fact that there’s very little breeze from the river and we spent longer at both temples than we did at any of the others.

While both temples were incredible to see in person (especially the height and number of columns in Karnak) you could say we were templed out? By this point in our tour we’d already visited 3 temples that were all unique and impressive in their own way and less crowded… that being said, these are still considered must sees on any trip to Egypt and are easy to combine with the absolutely must do west bank sites.

A final sunset from the cruise ship deck.

Exploring the temple of Edfu

If there’s a must see temple in Egypt, I’d say Edfu is it. (Though I do think Philae is up there with the boat views.) It’s famous for being the best preserved cult temple in all of Egypt and was built sometime between 237-57 BC.

How is it the best preserved you might wonder? For starters, it still. Has. A roof. As far as wandering a 2000+ year old building, that’s pretty dang impressive. Edfu also brings the wanderlust in terms of grand scale and its layout. Out of all the temples, this was my favorite to explore.

The location of Edfu

Edfu is located along the Nile closer to Luxor than Aswan and further back from the water’s edge than other temples. From a cruise ship, you need a mode of transportation. Unfortunately there was a time when horse drawn carriages were all the rage and that’s still the principal way of getting to the archeological site.

A note on the horse-drawn carriages

Our tour had already arranged this so we didn’t have much option besides to go in the carriage but had I known before hand I probably would have requested a taxi or something else. The horses that pulled us along were in decent shape but all around us were other carriages pulled by skeleton horses that really, really crushed me to see. It was maybe a 5-10 minute carriage ride to the site and our horseman would be the same one to take us back to the ship.

I’ll also point out that I was concerned for the horses and also our safety. The carriages are not all in great shape and the whole thing was pretty lopsided as our horse pulled us at pretty quick pace through city streets (speed bumps, cobblestones, etc). I spent most of the ride anxious and uncomfortable, and sad. So be up front with your tour company if you’d like to avoid this experience.

*No matter what though plan to tip your carriage driver at least 30-50 EGP for 2 people.

About the Temple of Edfu

This temple is the largest temple dedicated to the god Horus, and his wife Hathor. Horus if you remember from my previous posts, is the son of Isis and Osiris and a large part of the décor in the temple is related to the creation of the world, of good and evil, light and dark.

About the decorations

It is referred to as the temple of revenge with depictions of Horus defeating the evil god Set for killing his father. One of the best depictions of this is Set represented as a hippo being dragged along by boats on the Nile containing Horus and the other gods.

Set represented as a hippo.

Hathor is less represented here except for in some depictions of her travelling from her dedicated temple of Dendera to Edfu to be with Horus once a year in celebration of their marriage. There’s lots of other important reliefs that preserve the language, myth, and religion of the Hellenistic period in Egypt. There’s information about the construction of the temple and a mythical interpretation of this and all other temples seen as the island of creation.

About the structure

There are 2 large pylons (gates) and a massive forecourt before entering the inner (roofed) temple. The inner temple consists of the large columned vestibule with 2 hallways on the side that service the many side rooms dedicated to various gods.

In the back is the sanctuary and shrine dedicated to Horus with a recreated Cedar ship on the altar. There’s also stairs that lead to a view of what would have been the second floor and massive passageways off the side of the inner temple that are interesting to explore.

About our experience

Besides the carriage ride and one very pushy sales man at the entrance to the site, we actually had a pretty positive experience at this temple with very few guys trying to get in our photos or ask for tips. We had a quick 45 minute tour or so where our guide walked us through most of the site pointing out the most significant wall depictions and overall structures within the temple.

Then we had an even quicker 20 minutes to explore on our own (we needed to get to Luxor early enough to see things before they closed) There were so many small rooms used by the priests recording things like recipes for salves and ointments, or rituals related to the gods.

We poked our heads in all the rooms again but my favorite part by far was a staircase that used to lead to a second floor of the temple. After that, the hypostyle room of towering columns and side rooms were very interesting to wander around.

One room has bats living in it that you could see clinging to the ceiling and flying about above your head and with little light from lamps and filtering in from the outside, this temple has adventure written all over it. It is a MUST SEE.

And last but not least, photos from the hypostyle hall. Truly breathtaking and a marvel of a site to explore and uncover for yourself.

Kom Ombo Temple

Kom Ombo is a very unique temple in that it deviates from the standard triangle shape and is symmetrical along the center axis in order to serve as a temple for 2 sets of gods. While we may not have had the best experience getting to and from this temple, once we were there it was one of the most fascinating temples to learn about due to the detailed depictions of the gods and references to early surgery and medical work. It’s one of the newer temples built sometime between 180-47 BC but still incredibly impressive in height and scale.

The location of Kom Ombo

The temple is located RIGHT on the water next to the Nile river almost halfway between Aswan and Luxor. (closer to Aswan) The city surrounding it would have been predominantly a trade city as its portion of river travels between narrow sandstone canyons leaving little flooding planes for farming and agriculture.

*You literally walk from your cruise ship right up to the entrance to the temple in 5 minutes.

The view of the temple we had from our room on the cruise ship. We fell asleep on the way for a nap and woke up this view.

About Kom Ombo

The first and more interesting god the temple is dedicated to is Sobek, the god of fertility and creator of the world (local belief). Sobek is depicted as a crocodile and was a more localized religion. He was worshipped greatly by the surrounding area and over 300 crocodile mummies have so far been found in nearby tombs.

The art depictions within the temples court yard depict Sobek with the other prevalent gods of the time which leads to the other half of the temple which is dedicated to Horus to tie into the universal beliefs of the time.  

Interesting Temple advancements

Some cool things in the temple included a voice amplifier that a priest could speak into and be heard throughout the large temple complex. This was thought to be included here as at the time of this temple being built, religions and beliefs had begun to wane so priests spoke into the amplifier to make it seem as though the gods themselves were speaking to those in the temple.

There are several small rooms along the back section of the temple and a hallway which is thought to depict early medicine and surgery with many medical instruments like forceps, scalpels, scissors, and dilators. There’s also a section on child birth involving the numerous gods of fertility. This gives a light to the temple that not only did people come to worship gods but some came to be cured of ailments and viewed the temple as sacred for healing.

The Crocodile Museum

The crocodile museum is a cool little museum included with your ticket and within the Kom Ombo temple complex. It’s home to several mummified Nile river crocodiles that were discovered in the region. The museum is small and will only take a few minutes to check out on your way back. Don’t miss it.

Our experience at Kom Ombo

While overall we were very impressed and had a great time taking photos within Kom Ombo we were simply overwhelmed by the shop sellers outside of this temple. (It was the worst we visited) The temple itself is magnificent and we had probably 1.5 hours of guided tour and wandering within its walls just before sunset. Despite the overzealous hawkers, I’d still consider it a must see and the truth is in the photos. (Apologies in advance for the extreme photo dump)

Beware the shopkeepers

From the second we stepped off the cruise ship for the 5 minute walk to the temple entrance we each had 4 different people in our face trying to sell us stuff like jewelry and scarves. Even once we were in the temple complex they were calling after us until we were out of sight.

Then as we were leaving, we had the same people hounding us to buy stuff for the longer walk back to the ship. I had sellers grabbing my arms and pull me into see their shop stands no matter how many times I said no I didn’t want anything. Eventually I pressure bought a dress and they still hounded us all the way back to the ship- draping scarves and necklaces on us that we just had to let drop to the ground or they’d not take it back.

Needless to say we heaved a huge sigh of relief once we were back on the boat.

Nothing is free

Within the temple walls we also had the usual guys trying to get tips for being in photos but otherwise we avoided them and they took the hint we didn’t want to deal with them quicker than the shop guys did. All in all, it was an incredible temple and I loved being there close to sunset but we left with a rather sour taste of the overall experience.

Sailing away from Kom Ombo

The view of Kom Ombo as we left port. Those other 2 ships would leave shortly after us.

*This was all made up for by a very peaceful sunset sailing on from Kom Ombo to our morning destination of Edfu. The sun set around 6:30 PM and dinner was at 7:30 so we had plenty of time to enjoy the bird song, evening prayers sounding off in cities along the river, and people watching as locals finished their working day fishing or swimming in the river as we floated by. I STRONGLY recommend going to the top deck of your boat when sailing out of Kom Ombo to marvel at its position on the river and enjoy the scenery.