This country remains a point of attraction for travellers-intellectuals. They were fascinated by the Eastern luxury and secrets of antiquity.«Death on the Nile», Kenneth Branagh’s new film is dedicated to this. It is also a great road-movie, after which Egypt is perceived quite differently. Let’s look at the sights of the Pharaoh’s Land through the eyes of the heroes of Agatha Christie.

For two with a sphinx

The great detective Hercule Poirot knew not only about solving crimes, but also about luxurious life. His Egyptian voyage begins with a picturesque scene: the detective greets the morning in the company of the Great Sphinx, against the background of the famous pyramids of Giza. Poirot sits on a folding chair, next to him a perfectly served breakfast (coffee, a small cake, two hard-boiled eggs). Poirot enjoys the view. And then his attention is distracted by a ridiculous man who climbs one of the ancient pyramids with a kite in his hand. This is Boone, a charming mess, one of the few Hercule Poirot can call his friend. This is the beginning of the film, the starting point for the whole story, but it can also be a starting point for a beautiful journey. Despite the fact that the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza – the most famous attractions of Egypt, today not all tourists can get to them. Of course, you can try to arrange a picnic following the example of a great investigator – but close to the Sphinx, you will not come and certainly can not fly a kite from the pyramid itself – in our time it is a well-protected archaeological complex. But now there are many objects of modern art – every year there is a festival of landscape sculpture.

Hotel party

After breakfast, Poirot received an invitation to a wedding party: the newlyweds, Lynnette and Simon Doyle, a wealthy and beautiful couple, decided to celebrate their honeymoon in Egypt. Agatha Christie wrote most of the «Death on the Nile» at the Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor (now part of the Sofitel group), where the series was filmed. But Kenneth Branagh threw Lynnett and Simon’s wedding party somewhere else – at the Old Cataract in Aswan. And he did it right:  Old Cataract was Agatha Christie’s favorite place, where she did not just art but love (Agatha’s second husband was an archaeologist and fourteen years younger, thanks to him her great novels of the «Eastern Cycle», from «Murders in the “Eastern Express”» to «Death on the Nile» were born).

So, Old Cataract is a hotel-legend (by the way, it is fixed in his status). The last Russian emperor and Winston Churchill stayed here. Cataract is a luxury hotel, decorated as an ancient mosque. For the record, Lynnett and Simon enjoyed not only communication with friends, but also the gourmet cuisine of the restaurant «1902».

Nubian Paint

The next morning, the guests went to the traditional Aswan bazaar parallel to the waterfront. This is one of the most beautiful and vibrant markets in Egypt – there are traded Nubians, whose culture clearly stands out against the Egyptian. Embroidered capes, African masks, wicker baskets, henna cosmetics… Here you can drink a cup of aromatic coffee (like Linnett’s ex-girlfriend) and buy something unusual, for example, hibiscus flowers or freshly baked bread. By the way, street thieves and beggars there are much less than in Luxor, the Aswan bazaar is completely safe (just do not get close to snake charmers – one of these cute babes almost bit Lynnette).

After the Aswan bazaar, Linnett planned to visit the Nubian villages with guests – traditional Felucca boats on the pier move tourists for little money. In Nubian villages, residents have become so accustomed to tourists over the last hundred years that they are ignored.  Women wash laundry in water and cook food on open fire, men harvest.

Nubian village

Art deco steamer

However, the newlyweds decide to continue their honeymoon on a tourist steamer «Karnak». There is «enough champagne to fill the Nile» (a literal quote from the film), guests begin to drink a noble beverage at ten o’clock in the morning. Salons on «Karnak» are decorated in the style of Art Deco, well-trained staff (stewards girls!) chaperone – for example, under Poirot’s supervision, the bedding of guests is made at an angle of strictly 45%. The prototype of «Karnak» was the steamboat «Sudan» on which Agatha Christie travelled from Aswan to Luxor in 1933. However, the planned route «Karnak» was somewhat different – it had to pass along the Nile, from Cairo to Wadi Halfa. Today it is also possible to repeat this way on the same luxurious ship.

Steamboat «Sudan», prototype of «Karnak»

Love for millennia

But «Karnak» has time to stop only in Abu Simbel – then guests do not need sightseeing. Abu Simbel can itself make an indelible impression – it is a rock in which two ancient Egyptian temples of the era of Ramesses II are carved. One is dedicated to Pharaoh, the other to his first and most beloved wife, Queen Nefertari. A very romantic place, just for lovers or honeymooners (there dreamed of being not only rich Lynnett from the movie, but also her maid).

Abu Simbel, Ramesses II Temple

As in any temple complex, here you can find a nook for confessions in love – the main characters are ready to move from words to actions.

Kenneth Branagh said in an interview that he wanted to make a «very sexy movie» full of secrets and passions. He certainly did it, «Death on the Nile»  is about love that people never play by the rules. And the fact that we are not accustomed to looking at Egypt from this perspective… Well, we have to start sometime!

Photo: press service (footage from the film «Death on the Nile»),, Gwyther-Jones/; Ammar abd Rabbo/предоставлено,