Holymoly! What did I do? I created a jam-packed day that was more ambitious than I wanted. It was my fault, Joyce (of Egypt Magic) tried to talk me out of it and she was right. Thankfully the people at Fly Well Travel came through with flying colors by meeting us in the Aswan Airport and assisting us in making some really tight flight connections. Thank you Akman (spelling?) for your help!

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel (background) and
the Temple of Hathor (foreground).
Our day started with a 4:00 AM wakeup call and a drive to the Cairo airport. We then flew to the Aswan Airport where we had 30 minutes to change terminals areas, get a boarding pass, clear security, and catch our connecting flight to Abu Simbel. Three and a half hours later we were back on a different plane flying back to the Aswan Airport. We met our new guide for Upper Egypt and drove 10 miles to catch a boat to the Philae Temple. Then we drove to Aswan (town) for a relaxing sail in a felucca on the Nile River with views of Nilometer, Elephantine Island and the Agha Khan Mausoleum concluding at our hotel’s private dock.

Over the course of the day we made 8 car transfers, 2 bus transfers, 3 plane flights, 3 boat trips, and toured 3 large ancient sites before checking into the Mövenpick Hotel and passing-out for the night! Smile, yes we were tired that night and if I had it to do over I would listen to Joyce. Sailing on the Nile River was a highlight for both of us and a soothing way to end a fun albeit somewhat hectic day.

One thing we discovered is that Egypt is directionally challenged. Up is down and down is up. Since the Nile River flows north you are going “up” the Nile while traveling “down” south. So Upper Egypt is actually down south!?


The temple at Abu Simbel is really a BIG WOW. It is impressive because of the immense size of the temple exterior and the decorative rooms cut deep inside the mountain. However, it is made even more impressive by the fact that when they built the Aswan Dam and flooded the Nile Valley they flooded the original location of the temple. What they did next was astounding. They cut the whole mountain into sections (including the temple) and set it aside.

They then filled the vacated area with dirt and raised the foundation to above water level and then reassembled the mountain and temple on top. It is still located in the exact same spot as before but above the water level. If you look closely at the mountain and temple you can see where they cut it into huge cubes during the move. No photographs were allowed inside the temple.

In the middle of our long first day in Upper Egypt we met our new guide, Barack Obama who was our guide and Egyptologist in Upper Egypt. Okay, its not really Obama but Hassen has a very strong resemblance to the president.


Vacationing with the president.
Our guide Hasse had a strong resemblance to Barack Obama.

Multiple times over the next few days other tourists (strangers) would come up and ask how we knew the president. Hassen is very personable and a pleasure to be around. He really added to the enjoyment of the Upper Nile. At the first stop (Philae Temple) he gave us a very long-winded description of the temple and the mythical characters associated with it, “Egad, is every ancient site going to be accompanied with another long dissertation of ancient Egypt history (more detail than we want)?” Either Hassen pickup on the fact that this was more info than we wanted or it was part of his plan. Either way it was perfect because the information he provided in that first long story carried over into the other sights we saw over the next few days and began to weave a single thread that connected everything together. In the end I had to tip my hat to Hassen I think this was his plan. Vacationing with the president was just an added bonus.


Philae Temple

Philae Temple is dedicated to the mythical Isis the goddess of motherhood and fertility. She married Osiris, god of the dead or the afterlife and they conceived Horus, a man with the head of a falcon. Then along comes Isis's brother Seth who kills Osiris not once but twice. This sorta ticks off Horus but Isis can't bring her self to harm her brother ... Holymoly, sounds like a modern day soap opera.

Philae Temple

Felucca on the Nile River

Mövenpick Hotel and views from the tower of the Mövenpick Hotel


Mind if I hold your cobra?

On our drive between Aswan and Luxor we stopped at Edfu and Kom Ombo. I had mentioned something about cobras to Hassen and told us we would have a chance to see some today. Before we entered the 2,000+ year old temple a snake handler had a couple of cobras and we were invited to and cuddle to one. Hey, you can’t go on vacation without handling a snake. :-) Kom Ombo is symmetrical with one side dedicated to Horus, the falcon god, and Sobek, the crocodile god and basically represents good and evil, well, maybe not so much evil but at least bad. Edfu temple is about 2,240 years old and also dedicated to Horus.


Kom Ombo

Kom Ombo




Egypt, Jordan, and Paris 2009
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Revised April 09, 2009