"Egypt is the gift of the Nile". This was the comment of Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, when he visited Egypt in medieval times as he found out that the Egyptians depend on the Nile in many aspects of their lives.
Since prehistoric times, Egyptians have used the Nile water for irrigating the cultivated land and moreover they have used it as a mean of transportation as well. Some theories confirm that the stones that were used to erect the pyramids were transported using ships to the location of the construction in Giza.
The ancient Egyptians have sailed down the Nile, to go from one town to the other and even for long distance trading journeys that went between Egypt and Nubia in different stages of the Egyptian history.
Many Egyptians have also cruised the Nile to enjoy their time watching the amazing greenery on its banks, enjoying the refreshing breeze, and getting to watch the peasants of Egypt in their normal daily life
Today numerous travelers from all over the world visit Egypt to go on a Nile Cruise trip that has become very popular in Egypt during the past few years. The guests enjoy their stay on board of the ship they choose, relax, and have fun.
There are mainly four significant features of sailing down the Nile nowadays. The first is that the traveler will get the chance to visit all the major highlights and monuments located in Southern Egypt escorted with the finest tour guides that are experienced and highly educated. The second feature is that the guest will enjoy the luxury of deluxe ship that offers all sorts of top services and facilities including an on board swimming pool.
Another amazing feature of A Nile Cruise ride is that it will enable the guest to view the amazing scenery of the Nile viewing the peasants of Egypt cultivating their lands and taking care of their animals in the same style their ancestors used to do thousands of years ago.
The guest will also participate in many activities that are organized in the Nile Cruise ships in the evenings usually including oriental shows with Tanoora belly dancers and costume parties where guests are encouraged to wear their favorite Egyptian dresses and participate together in games and competitions.
Types of touristic ships that sail down the Nile in Egypt
In Egypt, there are mainly three types of ships and boats that sail down the Nile and offer wonderful trips for tourists:
Deluxe luxury ships :
This is the most favorable and most common type of Nile Cruise ships that tourists prefer to go on while they are in Egypt.
These ships usually present the traveler with all sorts of modern equipments and facilities that he can ever imagine including
-a swimming pool,
-international standard resultant
-bar and sundeck
-laundry and dry cleaning services
-shops and boutiques
-best equipped cabins with private toilets with hot water
-ultra violet water treatment
Today, there are a diverse variety of luxurious ships with a wide range of prices covering all the needs and requirements of different travelers visiting Egypt and wishing to enjoy a Nile Cruise ride.
All these ships have a wonderful planned program for their guests that include time for excursions, fun activities, parties, and some time for the guests to enjoy on their own relaxing on the sundeck watching the ship sail down the Nile and visiting the cities that the ship passes by.
Dahabeya Ships :
The Dahabeya ship is the best choice for travelers who wish to sail down the Nile in an elegant different style. Dahabeya or the golden ships started being famous sailing down the Nile in Egypt during the reign of the royals in 1920s to 1940s. The members of the royal family of Egypt and members from the high class of the society used to rent, or own, these magnificently designed ships for weeks to enjoy visiting the Pharaonic monuments located near the Nile banks and to enjoy sailing down the Nile in a luxurious matchless style. These boats usually consisted of only 5 to 10 cabins, restrooms, and some rooms for servants.
In the beginning of the 21st century, these marvelous historical Nile cruise ships were revived to offer travelers visiting Egypt a unique chance to sail down the Nile in an old fashioned royal ship that is, in the same time, equipped with all facilities and options, making the Dahabeya, the wonderful choice for all the family members belonging to different age groups.
There are many advantages sailing down the Nile in a Dahabeya Ship. The first advantage is that the Dahabeya only hosts from 12 to 25 people maximum and this means you will visit the temples in the right time and explore the wonders of the Nubian villages. Large Nile Cruise ships usually sail very fast down the Nile preventing the passengers from enjoying the romantic magic of the Nile, while the Dahabeya gives a matchless chance for travelers to enjoy sailing down the Nile like kings and queens in the beginning of the previous century.
Furthermore, the Dahabeya ships contain all sorts of facilities a traveler might think of. The cabins are comfy and luxuriously designed and furnished. This is besides the fact that the ship, and all the rooms and cabins inside it, are wheelchair accessible.
Another super advantage is that since the Dahabeya ships are much smaller than other Nile cruises sailing down the Nile, it enables the traveler to visit temples and monuments located on the Nile Banks that are never accessible by larger ships.
Felucca ships :
A felucca is the traditional boat that Egyptians have used to sail down the Nile since ancient times and they are still in fact using them until today as a mean of transportation and leisure trips as well.
A felucca a small boat that is semi rectangular shaped and made out of wood with a curved bottom to facilitate its movement in water. It is also sometimes manufactured using iron or rubber for certain causes and most of these boats include a motor to be used in cases of emergencies.
There are many Felucca boats that can be rented in Cairo for a wonderful short trip sailing down the Nile and viewing Cairo at sunset. Felucca would also be a fine choice for friends or family gathering, a romantic evening, and even having a nice meal while sailing down the Nile.
In the past few years, tourists have started using Felucca ships to go on Nile Cruises between Luxor and Aswan in a distinctive style. They would spend the day chatting, relaxing, and chilling out watching the most remarkable scenery of the Egyptian peasant life and green cultivated fields.
They would enjoy typical traditional food that is presented to them on board of the Felucca. Tourists also have the chance to visit many monuments and attractions while they are on a Felucca boat. At night, the Felucca would be wonderfully equipped to enable the guests to sleep under the stars watching the stars before they sleep.
Many facilities have been added to the Felucca boats in order to accommodate travelers for two or three days. This includes sleeping bags, a safe mean of waste disposal, and many safety measures.
A number of tourists who got bored from the modern equipped ships prefer going on a Felucca boat to enjoy the simplicity of the trip and feel they have gone thousands of years in the past sailing down the Nile in the style ancient Egyptians used to do.
Types of itineraries of Nile Cruises in Egypt
The Nile Cruise between Luxor and Aswan :
This is the classical Nile Cruise trip that most of the tourists visiting Egypt go on. It consists mainly of spending four days and three nights on board of a ship or a boat (among the types mentioned above).
It doesn't really make a difference if the guest embarks the ship from Aswan to reach Luxor or from Luxor to reach Aswan as the activities and excursions are usually quite similar in both routs. It only differs in the timing of the excursions. All of the itineraries of these ships include accommodation on full board basis on the ship and includes visiting all the major monuments as well.
If the guest embarks the ship from Aswan, he will start his first day by visiting the most remarkable highlights of the city. This includes a visit to the High Dam, built by the former Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1960s to reserve the Nile Water that was lost every year in the artificial Nasser Lake.
The next stop will be at the unfinished obelisk, a gigantic granite obelisk dating back to the Pharaohs New Kingdom. If this huge obelisk was completed it would have weighed more than 1197 tons. This will be a marvelous chance to understand how the ancient Egyptians were capable of building such gigantic structures. The last visit of the day will be to the remarkable Ptolemaic temple of Philae, a fabulous temple dedicated to the goddess Isis was constructed as one of the finest examples of the combined architecture of ancient Egyptians and the Greco-Romans styles.
After having lunch at around 2 at noon, the guest will have some free time to enjoy himself in the style he prefers. It is always a good idea to visit the famous touristic market of Aswan that offers all sorts of wonderful Egyptian gifts and souvenirs, or maybe explore more historical sites or museums. There is also the chance to attend the sound and light show in the Philae temple to enjoy a wonderful demonstration of the ancient Egyptian history that is accompanied by sound and light effects.
At night, there is usually a party being organized after dinner. It would include an amazing belly dancing show and whirling Tanoora dancers with the guests are strongly encouraged to dance and participate in the show. The ship will sail at night to reach Kom Ombo in the morning
After breakfast, it will be the time to visit the marvelous temple of Sobek in Kom Ombo, dedicated to two gods; Horus, the falcon god, and Sobek, the crocodile god. The Greco-Roman temple is famous for its matchless location overlooking the Nile. Construction work of the temple started in the 2nd century BC by Ptolemy VI and was completed during the reign of Ptolemy XII during the 1st century AD.
The ship will sail afterwards to reach Edfu in the afternoon to visit the temple of Hours. This temple is the largest and best preserved Ptolemaic temple in Egypt. The building work of the temple started during the reign of Ptolemy III in 237 BC and the construction continued until 80 BC. The temple includes wonderfully decorated walls and stone capitals. The ship will then sail towards Luxor passing by the Esna Nile lock at night and reaching Luxor in next morning
In the evening, there will be an amazing costume party in board where all the guests would wear their Egyptian costumes and participate in games and dancing competitions in a wonderful fun attitude.
The Cruise will reach Luxor in the early morning of the next day. After the delicious breakfast, the sites of the West Bank of Luxor will be waiting. This includes a visit to the Valley of the Kings, the necropolis of the Pharaonic New Kingdom. Starting from 17th dynasty, the Pharaonic Kings tried to hide their royal tombs from robbers. This was why they began to dig their tombs deep inside a Theban mountain that has a natural pyramid structure.
The next visit will be to the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut. This temple was constructed by the 18th dynasty Queen Hatshepsut (1473 – 1458 BC) as a unique structure rising from the desert in the shape of imposing terraces. This temple was used as a monastery in the Christian era. This is why it is famous for the name "El Deir Al Bahry", or the Western Monastery.
The last stop of the day will be will be at the gigantic Colossi of Memnon. These two 18 meters high statues are the only remaining items of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III. During the roman era, music was heard coming out of one of the statues that were attributed, by the Greeks, as the legendary figure of Memnon greeting his mother Eos in one of the Greek myths.
The guest will spend the evening at leisure to explore the marvelous historical city of Luxor on his own visiting the market, exploring more monuments, or chilling out at on board of the Nile Cruise. There is also a chance to attend the sound and light show at the Karnak Temple
The traveler will have the chance in the morning of the next day to visit the Luxor Temple, Dedicated to the holy Theban triad, the gods Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, it is one of the finest examples of the Pharaonic architecture. Although the construction work of the temple was mainly completed by Amenhotep III (1390 – 1352 BC) and Ramses II (1279 1213 BC), many kings who came afterwards have added their marks to this great complex including Alexander the Great. The Luxor temple was buried under sand and dust for years until it was discovered in 1881.
Afterwards, the guest will discover the secrets of the Karnak Temple, the largest religious Pharaonic structure ever built in the world. The kings of the Pharaohs staring from the 11th dynasty (2055 – 1985 BC) began adding their mark, one after the other, to this huge complex of Pharaonic temples. The Karnak temple includes the breathtaking hypostyle hall of the god Amun built by Ramses II in 1244 BC, the sacred lake of god Amun, and many more attractions.
The Nile Cruise between Aswan and Abu Simble :
Another wonderful rout for ships sailing down the Nile is to travel from Aswan to the Abu Simble temple or vise versa.
Nile Cruise program is designed for The Nile Cruise fans who wish to explore every monument located in Southern Egypt to the South of Aswan including visiting the breathtaking temple of Abu Simble.
The most significant feature of this travel package is that it enables the guest to visit monuments located in Lake Nasser that are not accessible by any other ways.
These Nile Cruises ships include all the deluxe luxurious services and facilities that are included in the other ships that sail between Luxor and Aswan and they also have similar types of entertainments and activities
Attractions included in the trip from Aswan to Abu Simble :
The Temple of Kalabsha,
Built by the Roman Emperor Augustus in the 1st century AD on the ruins of a much older complex. The temple was relocated 51 kilometers away from its original location in the 1970s after the construction of the high dam
Temple of Beit El Wali
A wonderful Pharaonic temple which was built by the famous builder and leader, Ramses II. The temple, containing wall caving demonstrating the achievements of Ramses II in Nubia, was also relocated away from its position
The temple of Wadi Al Sebua
AThe notable temple containing a magnificent avenue of sphinx built by Ramses II for the worship of the gods Amun Ra and Ra-Harakhty.
The Temple of Dekka
The temple was originally built by the Ethiopian King, Arkamani, in the 3rd century AD. The Romans and the Ptolemies have also constructed some additions tot the temple dedicated to the god Throth. The temple like all the monuments situated in the area was relocated after the construction of the High Dam
The Temple of Amada,
Dedicated for the worship of the gods Amun Ra and Ra-Harakhty and built by Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep. This wonderful construction is the most ancient surviving Nubian temple in Egypt
The temple of Derr,
Built by Ramses II and was transformed into a church during the Christian era. The temple, despite being ruined over the years, still contains amazingly colored wall paintings
The tomb of Pennout,
Which belongs to the viceroy of Nubia under the rule of Ramses VI (1143 – 1136 BC). The tomb contains remarkable scenes of the deceased with his family.
This is the one of the few monuments that remained in its place after the construction of the High Dam. It was believed that there was an impressive fortress in this location dating back to 1000 years BC. During the Roman era, the walls of this fortress included seven impressive temples. You will explore Qaser Ibrim from the ship as it is not accessible anymore for visitors
The Abu Simble Temple
Which is a startling temple built to honor Ramses II. Abu Simble great temple and the smaller temple of Hathour were hewn out of a stone cliff. This huge breathtaking monument was built for the worship of the gods Amun, Ptah, Ra-Hakharty. The most fascinating feature of Abu Simble is the four colossi of Ramses which are 33 meters high. The whole complex was relocated by the UNESCO in 1970s after the construction of the High Dam.
A new route for Nile Cruises from Cairo to Aswan
Good news have been heard for all the Nile Cruise fans in Egypt that noted that the Egyptian government is thinking to create a new rout for touristic Nile Cruise ships that would take the guest from Cairo till he reaches Luxor at the very end of the trip.
This amazing new trip will be a wonderful chance to sail down the Nile for the longest period of time and viewing the monuments and attractions located all over the rout from Cairo to Luxor.
We are still waiting for the Egyptian government to take this bold decision and we will see many Nile Cruise trips coming and going all through the length of Egypt from Aswan to Luxor