Setting Sail: Cruising on the Nile
The Nile River, also referred to as the lifeblood of Egypt, has drawn explorers for centuries. Its banks are adorned with a rich tapestry of history, from the grandeur of ancient pharaohs to the bustling life of modern Egypt. The stark contrast of the lush greenery on the banks of the Nile to the barren desert in the background enhances the beauty of both landscapes. Though I typically steer away from cruises, we chose to take a chance on one here. The result was the ability to pack our time with major sites in a short time before embarking on the rest of Egypt on our own. If you’d like a full synopsis of other things to do outside of this cruise, check out the article here.
The best Nile Cruise of Egypt would have to be through iEgypt. This 3-night/4-day cruise does not disappoint. Choosing to include an Egyptologist at each major location is a spectacular addition to learn about the history you are walking through and something I would highly recommend as well! Each guide was passionate, funny, and excited to share their expertise. No matter how you choose to do this trip though, you can rest assured knowing that there is something here for everyone.
Day 1: Embarking from Aswan
The adventure begins in Aswan, though you can choose to include a train or plane ride from Cairo first. Staff are helpful in coordinating whichever method you would prefer. The cruise ship itself boasts luxurious accommodations, attentive staff, and panoramic views of the Nile that would make Cleopatra herself envious. I was particularly impressed at the variety and quality of the food!
You start off the day by exploring Philae Temple and exploring a local Nubian village. If you have the chance, be sure to jump in for a swim in the Nile as well! It’s a great introduction into the beautiful river that you’ll be on for the next few days while cooling you down from the inevitable heat. After settling into your cabins, you get the chance to enjoy a party on the ship or simply relax to the gentle lapping of the water against the hull.
Day 2: Abu Simbel and Kom Ombo
The first full day on the Nile begins bright and early with a trip to Abu Simbel. Wake up is around 4 am, so be prepared! The early time ensures that you’ll have time to walk around before the crowds show up. The colossal structures, built over millennia, reveal the staggering architectural and artistic achievements of ancient Egypt. You’ll have the option for a private Egyptologist to teach you about the history behind Abu Simbel and the mythology written in ancient hieroglyphs.
You’re welcomed back onboard the ship with a delicious lunch to enjoy while setting sail for Kom Ombo. Be sure to enjoy the views as you pass by as they are truly spectacular. In the evening, the sight of the sun descending beyond the horizon casting a golden hue on the river is nothing short of magical.
The day closes out with a visit to the Temple of Kom Ombo, an unusual double temple dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus. The dual shrines offer a unique glimpse into the duality of ancient Egyptian beliefs. Our private Egyptologist also demonstrated how to interpret the temple’s hieroglyphs to understand the scope of Egypt’s advanced medical technology for the time. Go in eager to learn before spending the evening sailing to Edfu.
Day 3: Edfu and Luxor Temple
This day dives further into the heart of ancient Egypt. After a hearty breakfast, you can take a horse carriage to Edfu Temple. Again, you have the option here for a private Egyptologist which can greatly enhance the experience! The structures here are massive and really immerse you in the history you are walking through. Its also one of the best-preserved ancient temples in Egypt, making it one of my favorites.
The lunch time routine is a peaceful reprise while you sail to Luxor. Upon arrival in the evening, you have the chance to walk through the Karnak and Luxor Temples with an Egyptologist again. The small sphinx statues here illuminated by lights below provide a breathtaking walkway for the final night.
Day 4: Valley of the Kings
For your last day on the Nile you have the option to ride a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings. Watching the sunrise illuminate the desert from the air is a breathtaking way to get an unparalleled view of the ancient monuments and the fertile Nile Valley. As the balloons soar above, you can witness the world-famous temples and tombs in all their glory without the crowds that often gather during the day. Upon landing, you’ll cross to the west bank of the Nile to explore the Valley of the Kings on foot. This is a burial ground for many pharaohs, including Tutankhamun.
Following the tombs is a visit to Hatshepsut’s Temple. Set against the backdrop of towering cliffs, the view holds a touch of regal intrigue. This monument pays tribute to Egypt’s most famous female pharaoh, Queen Hatshepsut, whose fascinating story continues to captivate historians and visitors alike.
Closing out the day is a fantastic visit to a free alabaster and marbles workshop. Seeing the care that goes into the handiwork here is a testament to the dedication that many Egyptians have towards preserving their traditions and history.
Conclusion: Reflecting on the Nile’s Magic
As the 4 day cruise on the Nile draws to a close, it’s easy to have a sense of profound fulfillment (and possible exhaustion, so give yourself permission to take it easy the day after). Journeying through millennia of history with experts teaching you along the way is one of the most impactful ways to better understand Egypt’s history. It’s a journey that transcends time, inviting you to become part of its ongoing story that stretches from antiquity into an ever-evolving future. If you want to maximize travel time with learning about some truly incredible sights, this is the way to go.