You really need at least 10 days to experience most of the critical landmarks there are to see in Egypt, but they are not all best accessed via a bus ride.
The Nile is the longest river in the world, flowing over 4100 miles from Uganda through Sudan and Egypt, emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. The river has provided drinking water to inhabitants and plant life nearby for thousands of years, transforming the dry area into a lush green oasis. The sharp difference between the green and the desert is jolting!
The Nile is also one of the best ways to navigate some of Egypt’s most significant historical sites. There are literally hundreds of river cruise ships that sail on the Nile every week.
An Egypt Nile cruise over 4-5 days lets you explore the unmistakable beauty of the Egypt and learn about the Egyptian lifestyle and culture. When I was in Egypt with my client group last week, our cruise traveled between Luxor and Aswan, covering a distance of just under 150 miles.
We experienced a visit to Luxor and storied temples like Karnak, Luxor Temple, Kom Ombo (dedicated to the crocodile god, Sobek). We also visited temples in and around Aswan, the jewel of the Nile, including Abu Simbel, a temple built by King Ramses II and dedicated to himself (as many landmarks were)! One of the best Egyptologists in the region joined us for the entire trip, and we learned so much from him.
One of the highlights of a Nile River cruise is the Valley of the Kings, home to the tomb of Tutankhamun. Luxury Nile cruises typically travel between Luxor and Aswan and include stops with guided tours of temples and museums. Several tour companies operate fleets of small cruise ships that make this journey throughout the year, including some well-known brands. Still, most are Egyptian- owned (we sailed on the M/S Mayfair, a locally-owned ship). The accommodations were lovely, and the food and service were impeccable!
Luxor, 676 kilometers south of Cairo, is Egypt’s most dramatic historical site – and is frequently referred to as the world’s largest open-air museum. Luxor houses more than half of Egypt’s antiquities and is a must-see for any visitor to the country, including the recently discovered Avenue of the Sphinxes (lined with over 600 statues), which, until recently, was buried under sand for centuries.
A hot air balloon is the best way to see this open-air museum! On the day we went, there were no less than 35 balloons in the air that morning. We lucked out as weather conditions did not permit flights to take place in the 5 days preceding our flight.
The balloon sailed over the Valley of the Kings, with perfect views of the Temple of Hatshepsut (dedicated to the only female pharaoh), and the Colossi of Memnon (two magnificent twin statues image of pharaoh Amenhotep III standing 60 ft tall).
From there, we could take in the tombs of King Tut Ank Amun…
…and Queen Nefertari, his mother, one of the best preserved of all.
During the cruise, we had a private galabia party, where we dressed up like Egyptians and danced the night away with our Egyptian hosts, Mohamed and Ramadan.
No trip to Aswan is complete without afternoon tea at the Old Cataract Hotel, where Agatha Christie wrote her best-selling novel, “Death on the Nile.” It was definitely the best way to end our river cruise!
Egypt is a destination you do NOT want to DIY. It takes experienced travel planners with a close relationship with locals, solid connections to the right people in the destination, and who speak the language and understand the culture. We could not have been in better hands than with Mohamed and Ramadan! When you’re ready for your own bucket list trip to the cradle of civilization, reach out and let us help you plan the trip of a lifetime to Egypt!
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