Kom Ombo (Arabic: كوم أمبو) is a town of some 60,000 people in Upper Egypt, 50 km north of Aswan.
Kom Ombo sits in an irrigated basin on the east bank of the Nile, producing sugar cane and corn. The reason to visit is its temple, built from circa 180 BC into Roman times; there is sure to be much older building beneath this area that has not yet been excavated.
The climate is hot desert, pleasantly warm in winter and blisteringly hot in summer. Imagine the slave labourers excavating and erecting the monumental stone in this heat.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Trains from Cairo take 10 hr to Luxor then another 3 hr via Esna and Edfu to 1 Kom Ombo station, continuing to Aswan. There are 10-12 per day, so you should be able to avoid an early-hours arrival or departure. The temple is 5 km southwest of the station, so a taxi might be LE20 or a tuk-tuk LE10, or just walk.
Four of these trains, badged "Ordinary", stop at multiple little wayside halts, including Naj al Shatb al Kabir 5 km further south and only 2 km from the temple. There are few facilities here (though tuk-tuks wait 200 m north). Though, Kom Ombo might be a safer bet to get out again, with people around to ask if the delayed train is ever coming, and the option of taking the bus.
Take a felucca cruise on the Nile from Aswan or Luxor.
Cruise boats between Luxor and Aswan regularly stop here. The temple is right beside the dock.
- 1 Temple of Kom Ombo. An unusual double Temple of Sobek and of Haroeris built in the reign of Ptolemy VI (186-147 BC); there were earlier shrines but little remains of those. The temple was damaged in the earthquake of 1992 but has been repaired. You enter through a pylon on the west side into a courtyard of partly-coloured columns. From here pass into the pronaos, the inner columned hall, intricately carved. The ceremonial doorway on the north side (left) is for falcon-headed Haroeris, the doorway south side (right) is for crocodile-headed Sobek. From there pass further antechambers and shrines or chapels to the inner temple. Outside on the east flank is an intriguing depiction of the Roman Emperor Trajan presenting surgical instruments to Haroeris. Other partially restored or incomplete buildings dot the site. The adjacent Crocodile Museum (included in your ticket) shows items of the cult of Sobek. Over 300 mummified crocodiles were found here, you'll probably be content with the handful on display. Exploration of the temple complex is far from complete and in 2018 a sphinx was found, 28 cm by 38 cm, of similar date to the temple. Adult LE140.
- 2 Silsila. 15 km north of Kom Ombo, at a point where cliffs pinch the river channel. In the 18th Dynasty (circa 1500 BC) its sandstone became prized for monumental work, and was quarried here for use across the country. The quarries were both sides of the river but most points of interest are on the west bank. These include the Temple (or "Speos") of Horemheb, the two associated chapels of Panehesy and Paser, and various cenotaphs and inscriptions; plus the channels and tunnels of the quarry workings. On the east bank is the Temple of Kheny, and yet more quarries. You'll need a car or taxi to get here, or come on an organised tour.
Eat and drinkEdit
There are cafes at the foot of the temple, along the main road into town, and in town centre.
There's a handful of stores midtown near the "23 July" bridge over the railway tracks.
Hawkers with overpriced tat will hunt down any visitors looking like tourists.
There's a guesthouse in town, and a couple of others on the river island facing the temple, but no confirmation that they are still in business (as of April 2020). So unless a local agent can fix you up, plan on visiting Kom Ombo on a day trip or as a stopoff along the Luxor-Aswan road.
- 15 km north are the remarkable royal quarries of Silsila.
- The route south, upriver, leads to Aswan, which has an impressive collection of antiquities.
- North downriver are Edfu and Esna, small towns both with a temple; then unmissable Luxor with Karnak and the Valley of the Kings.