While the Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza tell fascinating stories about Egypt’s past, this incredible landmark would not exist without the River Nile. The world’s first civilized state looked to ‘the Great River’ for political, spiritual and economic guidance. And that’s still very much the case today. While the deserts of Egypt offer travellers an amazing look into life in difficult conditions, the lush banks of the Nile show how the country has thrived for millenia.
Thankfully, you can experience the mystery and the magic of the longest river in the world on Nile cruises, the river itself stretching over 4,000 miles and flowing through 10 countries. Along with learning about 2,000 years of history, a cruise on the River Nile also gifts you with an insight into how Egypt continues to hold this natural phenomenon in the highest regard.
Although a River Nile cruise provides the opportunity to explore and experience some quite incredible historical sites, it also documents traditional rural life. Families in mud brick houses tend to their land with rudimental tools while livestock drink and bathe in the water. This type of scene is witnessed on a daily basis, but could quite easily be taking place centuries or even millennia ago.
As for itineraries, you can choose weeklong trips on modern-day liners or short excursions on quintessential ships. Just like the simplistic nature of long-established riverside life, traditional felucca boats offer little in the way of luxury and those travelling on this kind of vessel should not expect cabins, toilets or even running water. Sleeping on deck or camping ashore, however, is bound to be an unforgettable experience.
Valley of the Kings — Built over 3,000 years ago during Egypt’s New Kingdom period, the Valley of the Kings is the resting place for countless ancient rulers. This is one of the main historical sights in Luxor and although there is an absence of jewels and riches, the tombs are equally astonishing, including that of Tutankhamen. Inside you’ll find the masked sarcophagus and beautifully painted walls of his sisters. The death of this teenage king remains a mystery, but visit the tomb and you’ll leave with a much better understanding of his legacy.
Karnak Temple — It took 1,300 years to construct Karnak Temple. Perhaps more staggering than the sheer length of time it took to build are the different levels of splendor each and every pharaoh decided to apply. Popular kings were given more ornate and elaborate temples compared to their inferior counterparts. If you walk around the sun god Ra’s scarab beetle incarnation three times, you’ll be granted good health, plentiful wealth and many children.
Philae Temple — This is said to be the last temple built-in classical Egyptian style and celebrates the Goddess of motherhood — Isis. However, there are crosses carved into hieroglyphics and defaced images of Egyptian gods, as the temple was also used as a Christian church. The temple rewards you with a magnificent sound and light show if you visit it at night.
So if you truly want to appreciate the greatness of ancient Egypt, a cruise along the River Nile is essential. You’ll be surprised just how many of the natives live traditional yet fulfilling lives. The sites along the way are breathtaking and there’s nothing quite like a sunset over The River Nile.
For more about travelling in Egypt, check out our Ultimate Guide To Egypt.
This article was written by: Gerry Jones