What can be said about Egypt? It has some of the most titanic
historical sites in the world, and unfortunately the Egyptians know
it. I had previously been to Egypt in 1999 (shortly after the
Hatshepsut temple massacre of Swiss tourists) and only made it as far
up the Nile as Luxor. This time, since I was approaching Egypt
from the south, I wanted to catch the Nubian sites that I missed last
time, and so I booked a flight out of Luxor to leave Africa for
good. It was a good call. The gobsmacking temple of Abu
Simbel (pictured above) in the far south of Egypt may be the finest
temple in all of Africa, both for the imposing sentinels (of the
pharaoh Ramses II who placed himself next to some gods) as well as the
sublime tomb interiors.
Close up views of the figure statues and an inscription on the facade
of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel.
The seldom visited temple of Horus (the falcon headed god) in Edfu,
situated along the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, is no less impressive
than any of the great temples in Egypt, and the absence of tour group
hordes is a welcome relief.
Two of the classic monuments in Luxor, the city on the site of the
ancient royal town of Thebes. The other obelisk from the Luxor
Temple (above) stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The
Colossi of Memnon (below) stand as sentry guardians to the temples of
West Thebes and the Royal Necropolis in the Valley of the Kings
(containing King Tutankhamen's tomb among many others).
For most travellers, a visit to Egypt is a mixed bag. Impressive
sites, low prices, quality comfort (especially welcome after a couple
of weeks roughing it in the Sudan), and excellent tourist
infrastructure are tempered by the dismay of having to withstand
aggressive and sometimes swindling sales pitches, sneaky dual pricing,
and generally being treated as a walking moneybag. These
attitudes of course are most severe in tourist towns like Aswan and
Luxor and not so bad elsewhere, but it is regrettably an inextricable
part of Egyptian memories that most people carry back home with them.