DAY 170: SUNRISE AT THE TEMPLE OF HORUS IN EDFU


Another day dawns over the Nile

We intentionally woke early this morning to catch sunrise over the River Nile. It was totally worth the sacrifice of an hour’s sleep to see this…

 

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Dawn over the River Nile this morning.

 

 

Shortly after dawn our cruise ship docked at Edfu and we set out with our guide Amr to see the Temple of Horus just outside of town. Edfu is a very small town, and there are few cars in town and no taxis. The only way to get from the cruise ship dock to the temple, it turns out, is by horse-drawn carriage. When Amr told us this we were pretty excited – what a lovely way to travel through the town and out into the desert… Ha! Little did we know that the Egyptian version of a horse-drawn carriage involves a malodorous, decrepit carriage; a driver who likes to speed and is overly fond of using his whip; and a stinky, cranky, bitey nag with protruding ribs and a nasty disposition (poor creature – she looked so underfed we wanted to buy her some food rather than give the driver a tip!). It was without a doubt the least pleasant transport experience we’ve ever had to date and the dirty, rubbish-filled streets of Edfu just rounded out the experience for us.

 

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Our horse-drawn carriage ride this morning was pretty rough and stinky. Walking may have been better really!

  

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Goats in the streets on Edfu eating the discarded rubbish. That’s Africa at its finest!

 

 

Luckily the temple itself more than made up for the horse-drawn carriage experience. From our first sighting of the 2,200 year old Temple of Horus we were impressed – the temple is incredibly well preserved, with the roof, all its rooms and most of the hieroglyphics intact.

 

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The Temple of Horus at Edfu is said to be the best preserved temple in Egypt.

 

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The open first courtyard was for the general public – this is where they could come to make offering and seek counsel from the temple priests.

 

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The god Horus (to whom the temple is dedicated) is often represented as a falcon or a man with the head of a falco.

 

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Happily exploring the Temple of Edfu this morning.

 

 

The Temple of Edfu is dedicated to the falcon-headed god Horus who ruled over the sky and the sun, and has been likened to the Greek god Apollo. Built around 200BC, during the Greco-Roman period, the temple is huge and consist of a large, open front courtyard; a roofed internal hall; an inner sanctuary where the golden statue of Horus would have been kept; and 9 smaller “chapels”, each dedicated to one of the other major gods of Egypt from that time. Again, we had the temple almost to ourselves and had a great morning exploring the temple’s many rooms.  

 

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This facade separated the publically-accessible open courtyard from the inner sanctum of the temple proper, where only priests were admissable.

 

Enjoying Egypt’s finest temples.

  

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The morning sunlight illuminated the temple beautifully – great time to visit!

 

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Who loves  history? WE love history!

 

 

We left Edfu late this morning and continued on our way down the Nile, towards Luxor (we’re scheduled to arrive in Luxor in the early hours of tomorrow morning and will be leaving the ship tomorrow). The rest of our day was therefore spent in quiet repose up on the sun deck, watching Egypt float past. 

 

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We made ourselves at home on the ship’s sun deck.

 

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When asked if he would like to take another horse-drawn carriage ride tomorrow, Shane was NOT impressed…

 

 

It’s been great seeing scenes from daily village life drift past – we’ve seen water buffalo, donkeys, cows and horses hard at work grazing on the banks of the river; fishermen in their tiny row boats casting nets or fishing lines into the Nile; water birds diving in and out of the river waters; and kilometre and kilometre of date palms, banana plantations and papyrus reeds. All of this against an epic back-drop of sand dunes and granite mountains. This is definitely the prettiest side of Egypt we’ve seen so far! We’ve been told Luxor is a real highlight too so we’re looking forward to docking tomorrow and seeing what wonders are on offer there…

 

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Sometimes there is just the tiniest strip of greenery where the desert meets the river.

 

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Other times there was a veritable jungle lining the riverbank – especially where human intervention had created canals for irrigation.

 

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Once used to transport goods up and down the Nile, feluccas are now solely used for transporting tourists. We considered doing a tour that included a 2 night cruise down the Nile by felucca (rather than by floating hotel), but there are no bathrooms on board and we would have been sleeping on the boat’s open deck every night. That’s a little bit to “authentic” an experience for us!

 

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There are heaps of water birds here, as many of them have migrated south from Europe for the winter.

 

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