Maybe you saw last year's film, Death on the Nile, or maybe you read Agatha Christie many years ago and thought you’d always like to travel from Luxor to Aswan or vice versa on a slow moving, romantic river cruiser. In the 19th Century, traveling down the Nile by boat was the only way visitors could explore the region. Today, even though land trips can be very satisfying, many still choose to cruise the Nile in style to experience must-see antiquities such as the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Karnak, and the Philae Temple dedicated to the goddess, Isis.
It’s true that over 200 river cruisers ply the waters of the Nile today. There are lines of ships waiting to get through the docks, and sometimes your boat will have to wait to tie up. Yet even with these inconveniences, there are experiences you can have and extraordinary scenes to view from a Nile riverboat that you couldn’t see any other way. I want to describe these here so you can be sure you’re adding an Egypt trip to your bucket list that will be the most rewarding for you.
First of all, there’s a way of life you can see from a riverboat that you just can’t grasp traveling overland. You’ll see houses and farmers and fields. You’ll see people doing their chores and answering the minaret’s call to prayer when the sun fades. You’ll see life on the shores of the Nile lived the very same way it has been lived for thousands of years. Sliding down or upriver at the railing of your boat as the sun sets will fill you with a kind of peace and timelessness you’ll treasure.
Then there are the breathtaking burial grounds, soaring temples, and the striking art of ancient civilizations. At the Valley of Kings enter the tomb of Tutankhamun rediscovered in 1922 by British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter. Next, descend into the beautifully decorated tomb of Seti I, one of the best-preserved tombs in the valley.
Visit the Temple of Karnak which was, at its peak, the largest and most important religious complex in ancient Egypt. Walk through the Great Hypostyle Hall among massive columns which soar to 80 feet high. And disembark at Kom Ombo (hill of gold) to visit the Greco- Roman temple dedicated to Haroeris, the sun god, and Sobek, the crocodile god, whom some ancient Egyptians considered the creator of the world. The easiest and fastest way to travel between these sites is by water.
One thing people don’t realize is that the temples and monuments are illuminated at night. Since many of these sites can only be reached by water, you’re in for a spectacular array of brilliantly lit structures to photograph and carry in your memory forever when you travel by river cruiser.
So when should you go and for how long? Many visitors to Egypt combine land elements with their river cruise. Our Egypt & the Nile: In Search of Ancient Treasures program that includes a trip on the Sun Boat IV for four days has you traveling in style and with expert guiding. Most people opt for 3 or 4 days on the river, though if you’re hoping to escape the crowds for part of the trip and do a deep dive into Egyptian culture, 11-day trips from Cairo to Aswan can be fantastic.
The best time of year to travel the Nile is between October and April yet even October can still offer high temperatures. December and January are the coolest months and the temps hover then in the mid 70’s.
As far as what to bring, pack light clothes you can wear in layers and bring comfortable walking shoes. A clothes brush can be very helpful to dust off the sand that will cling to you, and a portable, hand-held fan will be a lifesaver when the temperatures climb.
I hope I’ve convinced you to give in to your romantic side and travel the Nile by river cruiser. If you’re looking for small group journey or custom travel ideas, such as traveling by a 10-15 passenger dahabiya for a super luxe experience, contact us and we’ll help you locate or create the perfect, more sustainable trip.