Worlds Collide in Egypt // [Travel Article & Photo essay]
With a population of approximately 20 million, Cairo is a city where ancient civilization meets hyper-urbanization. Egypt is the cradle of a rich culture and priceless artifacts, yet many of its inhabitants live off less than $2 a day. Flying into Cairo; you feel a rush of energy and excitement that engulfs you and you’re carried from the airport, into the Cairo flow. The relentless traffic, busy plazas, and prayer call’s echo through the streets dusted in sand blown in from the desert.
The capital is alive, it sprawls along the Nile river; the vein of life which has provided fertile lands for the Egyptian people for the last 7,000 years. The air is thick, it lays a dense blanket over the city that fades away mid morning. From the Citadel of Egypt, the skyline is scattered with mosques and buildings in construction, with the Giza plateau and the Western desert fading into the horizon.
The grand Pyramids seem like a mirage, you can’t help but rub your eyes staring at them while cars buzz by and venders offer their merchandise. Camels, modern vehicles, horse and chariot; it is truly a melting pot of history, religion and globalisation. Meanwhile, the new Cairo museum is being built just across the highway.
Luxor and The Valley Of the Kings.
Following the Nile river south 650km is the city of Luxor. Although much smaller than Cairo, Luxor is one of the most important cultural sites in the country. The dry climate in Luxor’s desert provided the ideal conditions for the tombs of the Pharaohs. The Valley of the Kings as it is now known feels lifeless and barren. Yet when stepping down into the mouth of these tombs the etchings and hieroglyphs on the walls are beaming with colour and stories of God’s as they enter the afterlife.
Luxor is home of many ancient sites besides The Valley of the Kings. Pictured below are the temples of Karnak and Luxor. Archeological feats that remain marvels of engineering to this day. When wandering through these temples I am forced to fathom the methods used to construct such grand structures over 4,000 years ago. It is not merely the size of the structure; but the details, the etchings cut into the stone, the devotion to gods that such temples were built for.
Surrounding Luxor, new discoveries are constantly being made. Archeologists and the local people work together, slowly uncovering tombs and hidden lairs buried beneath the surface of the rocky desert.
Edfu & The Edfu Temple.
The Nubian Temples, Abu Simbel. Southern Egypt.
The ‘Garb Sohail’ Villiage, Aswan.
Nubia is a region along the Nile river encompassing the area between Aswan in southern Egypt and Khartoum in central Sudan. Nubia was once known as the trade route between Egypt and tropical Sudan. It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations. Nubia was home to several empires, today the region of Nubia is split between Egypt and Sudan.
Ancient Nubian people were known to be great fighters and particularly skilled archers. They were driven out of their territory by the construction of the Aswan high dam, which provides valuable irrigation during droughts but could not hold back the annual flood of the mighty Nile River. Nubians had no choice but to leave the area due to the devastating floods caused by the overflow of Lake Nasser in the Abu Simbel temple region.
Many of the Nubian people spread throughout Egypt and have since created communities on the western banks of Aswan. The following images were taken in the village of Garb Sohail.
Garb Sohail is covered in colorful hand painted murals and peopled with villagers in vibrant clothing. The scent of the markets wafts in the warm air; incense, tea, and cardamom. Children ride camels on the roads as motorcycles weave past them.
The animal and the symbol of the crocodile plays an important role in Nubian culture. Often raised from hatchlings, crocodiles are kept as pets. When fully grown crocodiles are released into the wild. If crocodiles die before maturity their skins are attached to the front of their families houses.