After a lazy week of sun, swimming and eating in Soho Square, we embarked on a 7 day cruise down the River Nile. We started in Luxor and travelled to Aswan with each day providing an opportunity to explore new sights or to simply remain onboard and enjoy a different view.
This was a truly magical way to discover the ancient world of Egypt as the River Nile with its calm, barely moving waters meant that you travelled at a slow, even pace. This allowed you to catch every sight worth seeing and really felt that you were tracing Egypt’s ancient lifeline as you followed the course of the Nile. It was a privilege to experience Egypt this way as the world’s longest river had as many unexpected sights, I call them treasures of river life that were every bit as exciting and unique as the scheduled stops at tombs, temples, and Egyptian museums.
For those who seek to discover the true culture of Egypt (and not the overly crowded sight of tourists bumbling around) then I cannot stress enough that the time to visit is now! Due to Egypt’s political turmoil most of its famous sights are deserted. There are armed security present at every stop. Whilst some might find this disconcerting, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office considers it still safe to travel the River Nile.
Whilst I was there I felt completely safe and the armed security were a reassuring presence. Consequently, I was privileged to see for example, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings in a deserted and silent environment, giving me the opportunity to witness its true beauty, history and the powerful essence that something truly significant happened there.
If this wasn’t enough the scheduled itinerary that the cruise had to offer was more than I could ever have wished for. It was roughly as follows:
Day 1: Luxor
- Dinner on board (or for late arrivals a light snack will be served) and an overnight stay in Luxor.
Day 2: Luxor – Esna
- A visit to the world’s largest and greatest open air museum at Karnak Temple – the largest religious building ever constructed due to it being a cult temple dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu.
- Then a visit to Luxor Temple- unlike the other temples, Luxor Temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the king in death. Instead it is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship, as it is the temple where many of the kings were crowned.
Day 3: Esna – Kom Ombo – Aswan
- A brief stop at Edfu Temple before sailing to Kom Ombo. This temple is the second largest temple in Egypt. It is also known as the Temple of Horus.
- Kom Ombo Temple – this temple is an unusual double temple, meaning that there were courts, halls, sanctuaries and rooms duplicated for two sets of gods. The Southern section of the temple is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, the god of fertility and creator of the world with Hathor and Khonsu. whilst the Northern part of the temple is dedicated to the Falcon headed god Horus, along with Tasenetnofret (the Good Sister) and Panebtawy (Lord of the Two Lands).
Day 4: Aswan
- High Dam in Aswan, built in 1960 – 1971 to provide electricity to the villages along the Nile.
- The Temple of Isis – the Ancient Egyptians built this temple on Philae Island for the Goddess Isis.
- Lunch on board and afternoon at leisure with an opportunity to revisit the Temple of Isis for a sound and light show in the evening. * I highly recommend this.
Day 5: Aswan
- Abu Simbel Trip by Car – very early in the morning in order to arrive at the temple for sunrise. This temple is highly impressive. Build by Rameses II it stands on the banks of Lake Nasser.
Day 6: Luxor
- The Colossi of Memnon, Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens – burial sites of many of the most powerful and successful pharaohs and high priests.
- Hatshepsut Temple – the temple is not only a memorial temple that honours Queen Hatshepsut, it is also one of the greatest Egyptian architectural achievements.
Day 7: Luxor
- Breakfast on board followed by check-out.
Now if this wasn’t enough adventure, there were also plenty of chances to observe the intimate comings and goings of daily Egyptian life. I saw a whole spectrum of things from a lone fisherman rowing slowly home, to the innocent joys of young teenagers splashing and laughing in remote areas of the Nile thinking they were unobserved.
One of my favourite moments was witnessing the sun go down in the horizon whilst a lone sailing boat cut cleanly through the water, causing small ripples of movement in the wake of the silent, unmoving landscape.
Lastly, there were wonderful moments on deck at dawn when the breeze was fresh and clean and everything felt rejuvenated and in the distance you could just make out elderly men and women sitting on plastic chairs enjoying their cup of tea and breakfast whilst small children waved excitedly as the cruise went by.
It was an intoxicating week full of fun, adventure, beauty, learning and reflection that left me wanting to experience more.
Go and be intoxicated yourselves! You won’t regret it!
Thanks for reading 🙂