Nile Cruises – For a Trip Spanning the Centuries
Nile cruises are a great way to be transported back in time 5000 years. Egypt’s main artery is the River Nile, it supplies life to the country and it has always been that way. The Bible places the 10 plagues of Egypt along the Nile, and the great story of the Exodus, around 1450 – 1445 BC.
Most Nile cruises visit Luxor on the site of ancient Thebes. Here you will see the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt’s longest ruling female pharaoh, who reigned from approximately1490 – 1468 B.C. Some historians believe that she was the Pharaoh’s daughter that drew Moses out of the Nile. At the northern end of town is the sprawling Karnak complex of temples built over a span of about 1,500 years. As you walk from the front to the back it is like walking back in time.
The Luxor Museum is located between the town and Karnak. You may try a simpler way of life with a river journey on a ‘Felucca Trip‘, the traditional Nile sailing boats. You can spend a night on one of these boats if you have the time to spare.
Valley of the Kings
Most Nile cruises provide the opportunity for an excursion from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings. This is the resting place of more than 60 pharaohs, including Tutankhamun and Ramesses the Great. There are over 60 tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Even in recent years, new tombs have been discovered, so the historical legacy of the Pharaohs is still bringing new and exiting evidence to light.
One hundred kilometers south of Luxor on the River Nile is Edfu. It is here that the temple dedicated to the falcon headed god, Horus, survives. It was built in the first century B.C. and is still in such a good state of preservation that some of the roofs are intact. This temple is second in size only to the temple at Karnak.
Kom Ombo is located on a bend in the river Nile about 40 km north of Aswan. Kom Ombo is home to an unusual double temple built during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. It is dedicated to two gods, Horus, the falcon-headed god, and Sobek, the crocodile-headed god. The temple has two of everything to accommodate the two gods, and among the reliefs on the walls are, surprisingly, details of a set of medical instruments.
Despite being badly damaged by the river and an earthquake, the temple is still a beautiful sight. If your Nile cruise approaches the temple as sunset nears, you will see the changing colors in the stonework.
A Nile cruise can transport you from the ancient wonders of the world to the modern marvels of the world, the Aswan Dam and the High Dam. Aswan is Egypt’s southernmost city and is larger and quieter than Luxor. Here you can see the Nile at its most beautiful. Islands covered in palm groves and tropical plants are set against high desert hills topped with the Aga Khan’s Mausoleum as a dramatic backdrop.
Aswan has plenty to see and do, from the intriguing Unfinished Obelisk and granite quarries, to the romantic Philae Temple set on a flower-filled island saved from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, the world’s largest man-made lake.
Visit Aswan’s famous market street, Sharia as-Souq, full of the scent and color of spices and perfumes.
Egypt’s finest temples at Abu Simbel can be reached by road or air from Aswan and the trip is well worth it.
Abu Simbel is a set of two temples near the border of Egypt with Sudan. It was constructed over 3300 years ago. The Great Temple is dedicated to Rameses II and a statue of him is seated with three other gods within the innermost part of the rock-cut temple.
You would think that any temple that managed to stay that long would have a right to stay where it was for ever. But the temples were cut from the rock and shifted to higher ground in the 1960s as the waters of Lake Nasser began to rise following completion of the Aswan High Dam. The needs of the nation could not wait. Perhaps Ramesses II would be as impressed today with this modern feat of engineering as we are with his efforts all those years ago.
Nile cruises are a wonderful way to see some of the awe inspiring sights Egypt has to offer. There is no better way to experience the wealth of Egyptian history, culture and architecture than on a Nile River cruise.