Egypt Vacations: Enjoy An Unforgettable Luxury Nile Cruise

By Sam Njihia

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.

The rooms in a typical Nile cruiser are smaller than those of land based hotels but they have air conditioning, TV and enough room for twin beds, private shower, nightstand and dresser. The quality of cruisers varies and they are graded with stars just like hotels. Top end cruisers have spacious suites and amenities almost equal to those of ocean cruisers. A majority of visitors who have been to Egypt say that the romance of Nile cruisers surpasses other riverboats anywhere else in the world.

Nile cruises normally take three, four or seven nights. During the cruise visitors see the most important and interesting monuments of ancient Egypt on the shorter and more popular cruises that ply between Luxor and Aswan. The more adventurous travelers or those on a tight budget avoid the luxury cruisers in favour of fellucas- the traditional Nile sailboats. The amenities on fellucas are very basic but are still a good option for budget visitors.

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.

Aswan is home to the Nubians, a dark skinned people, related to the people of the northern Sudan. You can see some Nubian villages at Elephantine Island. The Nubian museum celebrates Nubian culture right from prehistoric times.

Cruising some 48 km to the north of Aswan takes you to Kom Ombo. The main attraction here is the Graeco-Roman temple. Work on the temple was started by Ptolemy VII in early second century BC and continued by some of his successors. The Romans Emperor Augustus built part of the temple at around 30 BC.

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.

Among the celebrated monuments dating from Luxors heyday are the necropolis complexes at the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and Tombs of the Nobles. You will also come across some outstanding temples scattered in the region. The Egyptians buried their dead in the direction of the setting sun and the west bank at Luxor was the final resting place of royalty and high officials.

The best period to travel to Egypt for a Nile cruise is the cooler season starting November to March. Since this is also the high season in Egypt tourism, starting early every day will help you avoid crowds. You should also consider hiring a local guide when visiting the historical attractions. Usually, if you buy an Egypt package, the guide will be provided.

The author works with Africapoint, online Africa travel agents that provide Egypt travel and Egypt hotels reservation services.

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