Egypt Tours and Travel: Luxury Cruises in the Nile River
From the ancient days of the Egyptian pharaohs, river Nile has been a top destination in Egypt travel. Luxury cruises in the Nile are today among the most enjoyable activities while on holiday in Egypt. The cruise affords you the chance to see most of the historical sites of ancient Egypt along the banks of the Nile, while enjoying your Egypt vacation in a relaxed manner. Fully equipped with restaurants, discotheques, lounge bars, shops and swimming pools, the Nile cruise ships are in actual sense floating hotels.
A typical luxury cruise ship in the Nile has air-conditioned rooms, though the rooms are slightly smaller than those of ordinary Egypt hotels based on land. The rooms have adequate space for twin beds, a private shower, nightstand and dresser, and a television. Like hotels and lodges, the cruisers are star graded according to their quality. Most of the top rated (5-star) cruisers are nearly as equipped as the luxury ocean cruise ships. Many travelers to Egypt agree that the Nile cruisers’ romance setting is superior to that of any other riverboats in the world.
The length of a cruise varies from three, to four, to seven nights. Many of Egypt’s important historical monuments can be seen while on this cruise tour, especially in the short stretch between Aswan and Luxor. Some budget travelers and lovers of adventure opt for fellucas ” traditional sailing vessels ” instead of the luxury cruise boats. Compared to the cruise ships, Fellucas have very basic amenities, but are good for budget travel.
One of the best starting points for your Nile cruise is Aswan city. The deep and calm river Nile is at its most glorious at Aswan, a city that has for long been the gateway between Egypt and the Southern parts of Africa. The region from Aswan southwards was often referred to as Upper Egypt, being upstream of the Nile. Further downstream, the Nile goes through hard rock surface, resulting in cataracts and rapids.
One of the historical attractions in Aswan is the Nubian museum, which highlights Nubian culture from way back in time. Nubians are the dark-skinned residents of Aswan who are closely related to the northern Sudan people. You can see several Nubian villages at Elephantine island in the Nile.
Kom Ombo is another historical site along the Nile, situated about 48km north of Aswan. Its main attraction is the Greco-Roman temple, whose construction was started in the second century BC by Ptolemy VII. A number of successive Roman emperors contributed to completing its construction, including emperor Augustus around 30BC.
The Graeco-Roman temple is in fact two separate temples, each dedicated to a different god. The southern temple is in honor of the crocodile god ” Sobek, while the northern temple is dedicated to Horus, the falcon god. Each temple has its own sanctuary, entrance, colonnades, and hypostyle hall. You get a chance to see mummified crocodiles in the Sobek temple.
Luxor is one other must-visit destination during your Nile cruise. The city is home to diverse historical monuments whose range and magnificence is unrivaled by any other location in Egypt. The city also went by the Greek name of Thebes. At around 2040 BC, Luxor was the capital city of Egypt. The Assyrians unsuccessfully attempted to destroy Thebes in the 7th century. After that, Luxor’s stature declined steadily till the Romans destroyed it in the first century BC.
The necropolis complexes in the valley of the kings is one of the main attractions in Luxor, alongside the valley of the queens, and the tombs of the nobles. A number of temples also straddle the Luxor region. Being on the west bank of the Nile, Luxor was the burial ground for the royals and the nobles, owing to the Ancient Egyptians tradition of burying their dead in the direction of the setting sun.
The best time to take a Nile cruise is over the cooler months of November to March. These are also the peak months and it is advisable to start out early each day to avoid crowds. When visiting the monuments, you are advised to hire a guide who will explain the historical context at each site. The services of a guide are usually included on a Nile Cruise package.