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Luxor West Bank - Trips to Elkab (El-Kāb - ‏الكاب) and Esna (Isnā - ‏إسنا)

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Although Elkab and Esna are located on different banks of the River Nile the two sites can be perfectly combined for a day trip.



The village of Elkab is located 80 km south of Luxor and 15 km north of Edfu on the east bank of the Nile. There, at the mouth of Wadi Hilal, was the ancient city of "Nekheb" one of the oldest settlements of Upper Egypt. Its massive mud-brick walls, dating to the Late Period (747 - 332 BC) are still largely preserved. The main temple was dedicated to the Vulture Goddess Nekhbet who was the patron of Upper Egypt. The temple is heavily destroyed and not accessible but you can visit 3 smaller temples as well as rock-cut tombs of the provincial governors of Elkab. Also well worth seeing are numerous petroglyphs and inscriptions which you can find on your way between the temples on the rock faces.

In order to give you a first overview you will find here an abbreviated version of the sites at Elkab. If you wish to get more information visit our detailed Elkab page.

The Rock-Cut Tombs of Elkab

The hillside rock-tombs date back to the New Kingdom (18th to 20th dynasty). The colourful reliefs show scenes of the daily life as well as religious depictions in the context of the tomb-owner's burial.

Rock-cut tombs of El-Kāb
 Stairway to the rock-cut tombs of Elkab

El-Kāb, Tomb of PaheriEl-Kāb, Tomb of Paheri
 Tomb of Paheri

The Petroghyphs of Elkab

On the way between the rock-tombs and the temples of Elkab you should leave the car and walk around the rocks in the beginning desert. The faces of the rocks are covered with numerous praedynastic petroglyphs as well as Old Kingdom inscriptions.

El-Kāb, Rock inscriptionsEl-Kāb, Rock inscriptions
 Rock inscriptions

The Temples of Elkab

In Elkab, there are 3 smaller temples:

  • the Ptolemaic Hemi-speos: the partially rock cut temple was already built during the reign of Ramses II but early destroyed and only then new built during the reign of Ptolemaios VIII and IX. It is dedicated to the lion goddess Seshmetet
  • the Temple of Setau also called "El-Hammām" and "Chapel of Thot" which was built by Setau, Viceroy of Kush, during the reign of Ramses II
  • the Temple of Amenhotep III which is dedicated to the cow-headed goddess Hathor and the vulture goddess Nekhbet dating to the 18th Dynasty

El-Kāb, Ptolemaic Hemi-speos
 Ptolemaic Hemi-speos


Esna is situated some 55 km south of Luxor on the western bank of the River Nile and connected to the east bank by a causeway. Esna was the starting respectively ending point of camel trains to Kharga and Dush in Kharga Oasis. Nowadays, Esna is a centre of coptic Christians. Its main anttraction is the Ptolemaic temple in the middle of the town, 9 metres beneath the level of the modern streets and houses.

In order to give you a first overview you will find here an abbreviated version of the Temple of Esna. If you wish to get more information visit our detailed Esna page.

By the way: In Esna start our luxury Dahabeya Nile Cruises which take you in 4 or 5 days to Aswan!

Dahabeya Sothis I
 Dahabeya Sothis I


Temple of Esna

The present structure of the Khnum Temple dates to the Greek and Roman periods and is one of the latest temples to have been built by the ancient Egyptians. Only the pronaos, excavated in 1842, remained. The rest of the temple is still buried beneath the surrounding buildings of the modern town.

Khnum Temple at Esna
 Khnum Temple at Esna

4 rows of 6 columns each, all with differing lotus-leaf capitals, keep up the ceiling which is decorated with vultures and astronomical scenes.

Khnum Temple at Esna - ColumnsKhnum Temple at Esna - Column

The temple walls are extensively covered by filigree reliefs which are currently in the process of restoration (March 2011). On the outer walls are depictions of the Roman emperors accompanied by gods or when smiting enemies.

Khnum Temple at Esna - Emperor Domitian smiting his enemies in front of Menhit and Khnum
 Emperor Domitian smiting his enemies in front of Menhit and Khnum

Our Service in Luxor

For your trip starting at Luxor we organise a taxi which takes you to the mentioned sights in Elkab and to the Temple at Esna. Iif you wish with an add-on Dahabeya Nile Cruise. Kindly let us know your wishes, we make you a favourable offer.

Geographical Position

(c)Google - Route from Luxor to El-Kab and Esna
 Route from Luxor (A) to Elkab and Esna


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