Self-driving in Egypt’s traffic may be unpleasant, but road trips where you sit in the back seat enjoying the views of the Nile and the desert on the sides are exhilarating. The road to the white desert was all about nothingness. In contrast, the road to Aswan from Luxor was all about the countryside, green fields, gods and of course, the river Nile.
This post shows you why you should take a road trip via Edfu and Kom Ombo temples
Luxor to Aswan – Why road trip is the best
Luxor to Aswan or Vice versa is one of the most commonly travelled roads by travellers. There are multiple ways of commuting for this. Things you should consider while choosing are-
Through air – This is the fastest option of a 1hr 20 min journey to cover 240km distance. But you will miss out on visiting Kom Ombo and Edfu temples plus countryside drive along the banks of Nile. Need not to mention; it is an expensive way. Most tour organisers suggest this because western travellers are scared on Egyptian roads.
Through Cruise – This is the option most tourist choose. There are many Cruise tours, starting from Cairo itself. One of our friends took this option. Later he said it got boring after a while to be on the cruise all the time. It will be more of hop on hop off cruise tours. You will get off the cruise when you visit a site and get back to the cruise once done. People who seek luxury and are interested in seeing just a few spots, being okay with missing out on experiences can be the option. Especially for elderly travellers, this can be a great choice. But you miss out on unique Edfu and Kom Ombo temples
Through Train – 3.5 hr journey. Locals opt for trains more than the bus to travel between Luxor and Aswan. It saves money, takes you through the countryside and you get to travel with locals. This may sound almost perfect, but poor hygiene and theft in Egyptian trains are the most significant problems. Plus, you will miss out on a few fantastic temples on your way.
Luxor to Aswan by road via Edfu and Kom Ombo
When I read other bloggers describing Egypt’s traffic, I found it similar to India’s. . But road trips are an opportunity to see the real country beyond the tourist spot. So we wanted to travel either by public bus or a private car.
To save money, you can even take buses or shared taxis from Luxor to Edfu. From there, catch another bus to Kom Ombo + the last bus to Aswan from Kom Ombo. If you decide to skip these two places, there are buses between Luxor and Aswan.
Choosing the convenient way, we opted for the private car accompanied by a guide who would take us to Kom Ombo and Edfu on the way. The best part was, we did stop at many places to enjoy Kadkade with the stunning views of the mighty river Nile on the way.
Edfu-Temple of Horus
Scenic route along the Nile
Kom Ombo- Temple of Crocodiles
Edfu – Temple of Horus
We were set for the second day’s temple run early in the morning. Honestly, other than the Kom Ombo temple was dedicated to crocodiles, we knew nothing. The only reason we read about it is that Ashrith wanted to know all about Sobek from ACO. We weren’t too keen on what Edfu was. Expecting it to be similar to Karnak or Luxor, we began the journey thinking it would be a stopover. But, the town of Edfu was way different to Cairo and Luxor. This was more of a conservative village with a few modern amenities, unlike Bawiti. The trash-filled streets seemed to be the common element among Giza and Edfu, though.
You must hold on to get to the best part of Edfu temple
The hidden magnificient entrance at Edfu
Making our way through the jam-packed roads, we arrived at a parking area. I thought the driver stopped for a tea break or to meet someone he knew. Instead, Mahmoud asked us to get down the car. That is when we realised we have parked the car beside the temple complex wall! Over time, knowingly or unknowingly, Egyptians had built their new town on this 57BC Temple complex.
Though Giza’s pyramid locality isn’t pleasant, everyone falls in love with it because of its size. But at Edfu, neither the size wasn’t prominent, nor the streets were welcoming like Old Cairo. We were entering something we were not sure of. To top it, the dingy streets and not so charming entrance area that was filled with half-built houses was totally unappealing. As an architect, I was still curious and was hoping for something new. But Ashrith’s mind got diverted. –
A non-architect visiting one more temple- and why he likes Edfu
Ashrith says –” I was thinking of roaming in the town outside the temple for more Tameyas and Aish with Baba Ganoush, while Sahana explores this temple. I have seen enough of temples, I thought. But Thanks to Mahmoud for holding me back and taking me inside the temple. I would have missed the interesting story of the Falcon God. The temple may appear unlikeable by its surroundings, but the temple’s feel is different from Luxor. Horus is a Falcon God from the above, just like Senu, who helps Bayek! I was glad to see The two most important characters of ACO 🙂 on the same day at two different temples
Edfu temple details
- Temple opening time – Daily, 9 AM – 5 PM.
- TICKET COST: 40EGP.
- How much time to spend here- 45 to 60 minutes
The pretty courtyards of Edfu temple
Like a typical Egyptian temple, there was a vast entrance gateway with war scenes and hieroglyphs on the wall. The entrance pylon led to a court surrounded by high walls. But the feel here was different than that of Karnak or Luxor- the size and the columns were different. These columns are adorned with flower petals on the capital – a common features of Greek-Roman Egyptian temple. In the courtyard, there was a massive statue of a Falcon bird. That is Horus – Son of Osiris and Isis.
With not many tourists, it felt great to be here. It isn’t a hideen gem of Egypt, but not everyone who travels in Egypt visit Edfu temple. So it feels good here to listen to the fascinating stories and facts on how Greeks took over Egypt here.
Why is the Temple of Edfu important?
Before you read ahead, just have a look at the Egyptian god’s family tree. Without knowing it, the stories may sound complicated. Because Egyptian gods and Pharaohs used to marry their sisters to keep the royal blood in the family. The God who inspired Pharaohs to do so is Isis and Osiris – the Falcon god’s parents.
Who is Horus -The long story cut short
- Osiris, Isis, Set were siblings.
- Osiris had a love affair with his brother Set’s wife.
- Set got angry when he got to know this and killed Osiris.
- Isis, their sister, felt sorry for Osiris and chopped Osiris body into pieces to keep it in the jar to bring him back to life with her magic.
- She performed rituals to bring back Osiris to life from death.
- Osiris raised from the dead and became the king of the underworld or life after death.
- Isis married her brother Osiris and had a son – Falcon God Horus.
What I narrated here is an oversimplified version of the Egyptian god’s stories. Listening to this by a person who knows these well inside an Egyptian temple is a whole new different thing. With not many tourists, Edfu is a great place to experience these stories.
Is Edfu temple worth it
Temple walls have lost the colours, but their hieroglyphs have not lost the charm. There is no vast hypostyle hall, but the decorated columns with flower motifs are unique. We had heard and read a lot about how Egyptians worship boat, never knew what it really looks like. Unlike Karnak and Luxor, the sanctuary here is not ruined. So, finally, we got to see “ The Sacred boat“, which is the most important thing in ancient Egypt’s daily life and spiritual life.
When the Nile was(is) Egyptians lifeline, boats had to be worshipped – This one is a symbolic representation of the boat inside Edfu temple sancturm
The temple walls filled with Hieroglyphs must have been a great novel to the Egyptologists. Each wall is filled with godly stories. The stories of the creation of the earth, gods descending from the sky, the enemy snake falling down the sky to earth, the birth of God Horus, Isis hiding in the forest to save her son from Set – These are the only stories I remember from our guide Mahmoud. It is an ocean of stories on the walls. Certainly complex, thrilling to hear stories are the essence of ancient Egyptian civilization.
When was Edfu discovered?
We wondered why the village is almost attached to the temple. When we looked outside, the temple complex wall and the village were intersecting. That is when Mahmoud told us something unusual. By the 18th century, the village extended so much that houses were built on the temple roof itself! As a result, most parts of the temple were covered with sand. In 1860+ year, a french archaeologist re-discovered the temple and freed it from the sand. Fortunately, the houses which were built on the temple terrace have been removed now. Archaeologists say many more ancient Egyptian structures are buried deep under the modern buildings across the country.
Grabbing a taameya in a nearby shop, we continued the journey further. The road between Edfu Aswan keeps you surprised. Underdeveloped towns, railway tracks, rocky mountains, the green lands keep appearing and disappearing. Yet, no matter what appears, the view of the Nile is always constant. So the journey on these well-maintained roads gets never boring.
The Nile is the only common thing existing in ancient and modern Egypt.
Glittering silver water with tourist cruises has replaced the skiffs of ancient Egypt made of papyrus reeds. I wish the weather was not windy to spend some time sitting on the river banks. Nothing could have been better than watching the glittering Nile by green pasture land.
The Nile never bores you – somewhere between Edfu and Kom Ombo
Kom Ombo- Temple of Sobek aka Crocodile.
The Nile disappeared a few kilometres after passing Edfu. It was only its fertile land growing sugar cane; palm trees by the roadside now. Passing through many villages, our driver took a right to reach Kom Ombo. Edfu was more of the brown desert; the village of Kom Ombo was on the greener side. Other than the locals carrying the grass on the donkey cart, we saw no other people travelling on the road. Not everyone who comes to Edfu come here.
Dedicated to crocodile, it is obvious that the temple is right on the banks of the Nile. I had even read about the Nilometre inside the temple complex. Yet, there was no sight of the river when we entered the temple complex. Walking up the ramp to reach the temple, we did get a glimpse of the Nile on the left side and the temple onto our right side. The weather was still windy. The cool breeze from the river made it even colder. Fortunately, the sunshine kept us warm enough to bear the cold of 10C*.
Ashrith’s most awaited temple – Temple of the Crocodile God Sobek stood there almost in ruins.
- TIMINGS – Daily, 9 AM – 5 PM.
- TICKET COST: 25 EGP or 1.5USD excluding entry to Crocodile Mummy museum. (AS OF 2019)
- Amenities – a kiosk selling bottled water, canned juices. Car parking and toilets. Wheelchairs are available for an extra payment.
The ancient Egyptian stories were complicated even without Greeks in them. To confuse commoners like us, Greeks added more of their part to the New Kingdom’s stories. With Greeks ruling Egypt, architecture varied, keeping the old essence – in terms of the courtyard and wide and tall entrance walls. But they add their own designs to the columns. That is why you find more detailed flowery capital columns in Greek-Egyptian temples like Edfu and Kom Ombo.
Of all the Animals, why did Egyptians worship Crocodiles?
This temple has a connection with queen Cleopatra. This was completed by her father, Ptolemy( one of the Ptolemys). Unfortunately, out of all the temples we have seen in Egypt, this was least preserved.
Nile crocodiles are the largest African Crocodiles. You can find them in Lake Nasser only near Abu Simbel now. Thousands of years ago, they lived throughout the Nile. Ancient Egyptians believed Sobek, as their “Weatherman” Crocodiles, come to the shore and stay for a longer period when the river bed is disturbed, which was a sign of an upcoming flood. For the sailors, these crocodiles were definitely a threat. Out of fear and their way of signalling the upcoming flood, Egyptians might have worshipped crocodiles ?
The two most impressive things about this temple are – Crocodile Mummy museum and Hieroglyphs on the wall that shows ancient Egypt’s medical instruments.
Corocile Museum at Kom Ombo
Probably there are at least 50 croc mummies there. From a 12′ crocodile to a newborn baby croc- you got it all. There was a lake here to breed the crocodiles in ancient Egypt. Was it bred to worship or to slaughter so that they can mummify them and offer to the god? It is almost like when people say I love animals; I wonder if they like to live with them or eat them :D.
The mistake we ever made was not buying tickets for Photography inside the crocodile museum. Back in 2019, we weren’t allowed to click pictures even with phones inside the museum. But after August 2019 – you are allowed to click pictures with your phones.
Hieroglyphs on temple wall
The ladies on the left side show childbirth procedure! Women sat on a low height stone chair with an opening on the top of the stone chair. The hole was meant to collect all human labour waste. Mahmoud said his grandparents were born with the same procedure. So that means this was practised until the last 100 years! Next to the women delivering babies, you can see Forceps. Scissors and scalpel.
We did not meet even one group of tourists while we spent more than an hour here. One way of looking at it is, the place is less touristy. So you can enjoy it better. On the other hand, a temple in a dilapidated condition isn’t exciting for tourists unless they are here for experience not just seeing. For me, it was observing the evolution of ancient Egyptian temples into Greece-Roman period temples. For Ashrith, it was chasing the story of Sobek- The one who Bayek found challenging to defeat
So Is Kom Ombo worth it?
- If you are not here to listen and feel the ancient tales, skip the temples
- Suppose you are a history buff and want to savour the evolution of Egyptian temples, this is an awesome place.
- If you have a lot of time and not on the go, come here in the evening during sunset. I am sure it is beautiful to watch the temple at twilight.
- If you are on the go and have had an overdose of seeing Egyptian temples, go to Aswan directly.
- If it is more of an experience and savouring everything Egypt has to offer you, you will love this place. Because it is a Crocodile temple.
What are your thoughts on making road trips in Egypt? Let us know in the comment section below.