Behold the chronicled majesty of the Egyptian Nile
WITHOUT THE Nile River, the ancient legendary Egyptian civilisation would have not existed.
The Nile was the once-mighty kingdom’s “elixir of life”, blessing the people with food, water, transport and fertile soil. Thousands of years later, remnants of the age-old empire line the momentous waterway and, in culmination with the river’s panoramic natural allure, make it the ideal destination for an idyllic river cruise.
There is plenty to see in this city that sits on the eastern bank of the Nile.
The 3500-year-old Unfinished Obelisk lies in its quarry, a symbol of the architectural heights reached by the ancient people. Fast forward centuries later, the Aswan High Dam, built across the river, is a showcase of modern technological advancement.
The western bank is home ground to the curious 7th-century Monastery of St Simeon. The Tombs of the Nobles, important remnants of the Old and Middle Kingdom, lie close by.
On the island of Agilkia slightly south of Aswan, the ruins of the Temple of Philae stand tall and proud. The worship ground of the Egyptian goddess Isis was extracted from its original location on the flooding Philae Island and reconstructed in its present location, in a stunning successful UNESCO rescue effort.
Approaching Edfu and Esna
As you leave the vicinity of action-packed Aswan and sail northwards (assuming your journey begins at Aswan), be sure to revel in the wonder of the voyage itself. Marvel at the palm trees and reeds that rest on the banks. Revere the kingfishers, the ospreys and the geese as the ancient Egyptians did. Or simply relish the company of your fellow sojourners.
You will eventually reach the city of Edfu, which is where the Temple of Horus is situated. For centuries buried in desert sand, this Ptolemaic temple is remarkably well-preserved. Be awed as you saunter past the inscribed walls and exquisitely carved monuments.
53 kilometres north of Edfu is the market town Esna. The key attraction here is the Temple of Khnum, built some nine metres below the surrounding ground.
Prepare to be genuinely awestruck when the city of Luxor, dubbed the world’s greatest open-air museum, comes into view.
The Temple of Karnak, known to be the largest religious building ever constructed can be found on the east bank. Bask in the absolute grandiosity of the ancient settlers’ house of gods. The dazzling Avenue of Sphinx connects the Karnak Temple to the Luxor Temple, another stunning archaic relic. Return at night to admire the lighted site that now possesses a striking yet eerie and mysterious pall.
Delve into afterlife business in the storied Valley of Kings on the other bank. The ancient royal burial ground looks deceivingly unflattering at first glance, but what lies beneath the surface is an archaeological and ancient architectural triumph. Put your lingering fears to rest as you enter the fabled Tomb of Tutankhamun or the Tomb of Ramesses VI.
With a distance of roughly 6 650 kilometres, the Nile River is commonly regarded (subject to debate) as the longest river in the world, with its drainage basin covering a staggering eleven countries.
Getting There and Around:
Cruises typically set sail from Aswan, up north to Luxor, or travel in the opposite direction. Journey length differs, from four nights to up to fifteen nights. There are a few types of vessels to choose from, varying in luxury and comfort, depending on your budget.