The view from our hotel window, and roof terrace, of the busy street life below looking across the ages to the avenue of sphinxes leading to the Luxor Temple and over the Nile to the Valley of the Kings, never ceased to fascinate. Our group was introduced to Luxor in several calabashes mostly drawn by horses called ‘Ferrari’ according to the drivers! In jostling convoy we were taken from the hotel to the grandeur of Karnak. Later we took a ferry across to the west bank for a splendid Egyptian lunch on the terrace of a restaurant under colourful awnings with walls of bright murals and attentive waiters. We drank an infusion of Karkadeh, the local drink made of hibiscus flowers to quench our thirst. Then a visit to the excellent Luxor museum, a must see. To round off the day – a meander through the souk practising our haggling techniques or dodging the cheerful banter of the sellers. Next morning on the rooftop at breakfast we watched the air balloons appear over the West Bank as the sun was rising.
At Aswan we had a gentle extended Felucca trip to Kitchener Island, we ran aground a few times, giving us plenty of time to admire the other feluccas tacking across while chatting to the friendly ‘captain’ and his young son (first mate). We walked through the cool shade of the botanical gardens and had a picnic lunch looking across at the imposing Aga Khan mausoleum on its hilltop setting. In the afternoon we sailed a little further up the Nile for a walk or camel ride up to the peace and solitude of St Simeon’s monastery where 300 monks once lived in complete isolation. On the way back we joined a flotilla of boats sailing back close to the banks near Luxor Temple, a bonus for the birdwatchers amongst us as we spotted various waders and kingfishers on the shore.
Abu Simbel on the shores of Lake Nasser couldn’t fail to impress, everyone has seen the pictures but the real thing is stunning and incredible to think that the whole construction has been moved inland in its immense entirety to save it from flooding.
Then our memorable trip was over too soon. Thanks to Anna, our excellent leader, for co-ordinating a holiday packed full of sights and marvels, beautiful treasures and Egyptian characters, human and hieroglyphical!