Visiting Egypt merely for the Pyramids, will not do any justice to that long and tiring flight. If I were to suggest a decent length of tour covering the essence of Egypt, I would suggest including a short cruise in the River Nile.

Take a Train to Aswan –

Aswan is where you should ideally board your cruise. This cruise will then sail upwards to Luxor and do a reverse back to Aswan. Preferably, Aswan is a better choice for embarking and Luxor for disembarking than vice versa. We took the first class sleeper night train from Cairo and reached Aswan by 6 or so in the morning. The train journey was a lot more comfortable than what I had imagined.

We were happy to get good vegetarian meal for both dinner and breakfast.

Dinner – Sleeper Train from Cairo to Aswan

This was included in the ticket price for the journey (which is a good thing – Dining in an Egyptian Sleeper train, Wow!…). The train had independent cabins with a small wash sink and a foldable table.

Sleeper Train Egypt – Sink and Towels

The linen and blankets were tidy!

You can also take a flight from Cairo to reach Aswan. However, a plush night train is not any less comfortable and it was just perfect for us!

Things to see in Aswan –

We reached Aswan really early and since we were travelling light we thought of seeing around Aswan directly from the train station before embarking the cruise. Aswan has a few interesting things you shouldn’t miss seeing if you have a minimum of half a day at your disposal –

  • The Unfinished Obelisk – If you are all into history then you might find this very fascinating. Egyptian obelisks are known for its magnificence and complicated architecture all over the world. You will find several of these spread across different Egyptian temples. This one however stands apart from those because of it is unfinished nature and because it still remains in the same place where they carved it (out of a huge rock)! If you are unsure of what to expect from this site, do read a bit before you go there. It will be uncomfortable on a sunny day- but hey, you won’t be visiting Aswan every other weekend, so try not to miss it if you have the time.

    The Unfinished Obelisk, Aswan
  • Philae temple – After the Obelisk, we took a short tour to the Philae temple and it was the best thing I saw in Aswan! This temple is in the island of Philae and to reach here you will have to take a short boat ride (which will be undoubtedly stunning). The temple has over 5000 years of history and was built for Goddess Isis. It is one of the many Egyptian temples where you can see immense architectural wonder alongside the scenic views being pulled in from the river in the background.
    Philae Temple, Egypt

     

    I would suggest this place for its absolute beauty than for the historic feed it has!

    Philae Temple, Egypt
  • High Dam – I had no clue about the High Dam of Aswan until we reached there! This famous High Dam is 11,811 feet long, 3215 feet thick at the base and about 364 feet tall. The Dam clearly is an engineering marvel built in the 900s. Well, I know it is just a dam after all but if you want a selfie on its edges, then you know you why you must go there!

    High Dam – Aswan, Egypt

These are the three things I would suggest if you have considerable time before you board your cruise. If you plan to stay in Aswan for 2 days or more, there are museums and other tiny islands you may want to visit.

The Cruise –

We were slightly late as we embarked the cruise but I didn’t feel as bad when I saw there was another couple who boarded just minutes after us! The procedures were quick and we got a stunning cabin for a river cruise!

The cruising proceeded and we had our lunch at the restaurant. As a river cruise, it was evidently smaller than sea cruises. Ours for instance, had one restaurant and a bar attached to it. The food was good and there were several interesting vegetarian Mediterranean options to choose from. The boat also had a tiny gym, a small shop selling souvenirs, a lounging area and pretty much one bit of everything. The top level was the sundeck, which also had a mini swimming pool and a coffee area for high-tea.

Nile Cruise – Lounging Area with a Bar

The cruise cabin was bigger than I had imagined. Although ours didn’t have any balconies, it had a huge glass window. This helped us see the beautiful Egyptian villages across the Nile as the sailing continued.

Nile Cruise – Cabin

The washroom was a regular size with a bathtub. What I clearly remember is that there were no shower curtains. This really was hard to cope with.

Kom Ombo Temple –

We watched a beautiful sunset at the Boat Deck having some tea and biscuits. After the sun was down, we reached the Kom-Ombo Temple and spent a good time learning its history. I wouldn’t want to discuss the history here but this structure dates back to 100BC and although much of it was destroyed by the flooding of River Nile, a lot still has stayed in place!

Kom Ombo Temple Egypt

The evening views of Kom-Ombo were simply stunning with excellent lighting and I felt good especially about getting there after twilight.

Kom Ombo Temple Egypt – Massive Carvings

This temple also houses a crocodile museum. The historians found over 300 crocodile mummies in this vicinity!

Crocodile Mummies (in the Museum) – Kom Ombo Temple Egypt

We picked up some good looking sand art souvenirs here and got back to the cruise on time for dinner. Dinner was again a very good fare with extensive options!

The Temple of Edfu –

Next morning, the cruise had already docked as we woke up. We were on the West Banks of Nile and it was time for us to see around the Edfu Temple. This one, unlike many others Egyptian temples on the Nile Banks, is intact with the least ruins. Although I had seen a lot of pictures of this temple, I had the faintest idea that it was the Temple of Edfu!

The Edfu Temple, Egypt

This temple also showcases a lot of inscriptions and texts providing information on religion, mythology and other lifestyle of the Ptolemaic period.

The Sailing –

All through the cruising, we had striking views of the tiny villages. We saw them either from the deck or from the solitude of our cabin. We loved every bit of it.

Nile Cruise – Views as we sailed!

The staff was polite and professional and entire cruise was like a classic tale. Every meal was well curated and tool care of all dietary requirements.

We also went upto the Captain’s room and he was an excellent pilot to our cruise. We passed one of the narrow Sluice Gates and that was an excellent maneuvering wonder!

Luxor Temple –

We saw our second beautiful sunset before we docked at Luxor.

Sunset – Just before reaching Luxor Port

The port of Luxor seemed a very busy port. It took a while before we got out to see the Luxor temple which is in the East Banks. Again, this was the twilight hour and supposedly the best to view the temple in yellow lights. The temple was crowded, but we managed to take some good pictures before and after we got in.

In the Vicinity of Luxor Temple

Luxor temple, like all others, seemed massive and had gigantic structures of the royals who were a part of the era. The history can be googled but the picture below will talk about its colossal construction!

Luxor Temple in the evening

The evening, back in the cruise, was loaded with entertainment with some Egyptian belly dancing and some good food.

Hot Air Ballooning –

Luxor is one of the places you might want to consider taking the hot air balloon. This activity often happens in the early hours of the day. One needs to arrive a while before sunrise so that the ride can take place in leisure.

Luxor – Hot Air Balloon

This is the best way to see this bird’s eye view of Luxor with barrenness on one side, greenery on another and of course the River Nile flowing in between! You will have an exceptional ride in the company of the best pilots!

West Bank/Luxor –

On our 3rd day, in the morning, we took a boat to the West Bank. Travelling between East and West Bank is convenient via a short boat ride. West Bank is popular due to its hosting to the Valley of the Kings and queens.

Of the many things I saw here, I would recommend the Colossi of Memnon, Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple and Deir el-Bahari (which is a complex of mortuary temples).

Hatshepsut Temple Luxor Egypt

Karnak Temple –

We wanted to see the Karnak Temple a day before disembarking the cruise unlike some who choose to do it after their cruise journey.

Karnak temple is a vast open air museum with hosts a large falloff of several temples and tombs at one place. After Angkor Wat, this is the second largest ancient religious site and is the second most visited historic site after Cairo! It is one of the important UNESCO World heritage sites!

Karnak Temple Luxor – Entrance

Karnak temple complex is huge and will take you a longer time to see everything at ease. This temple will also provide several photo opportunities with amazing back and foregrounds.

Disembarkation – Day 4

Morning after breakfast, we tipped the staff and advanced to disembark the cruise. We were then looking forward to a road trip to Hurghada to spend the next three days! Do check out how we spent our time in Hurghada –

Hurghada – A Leisure Vacation by the Red Sea in Egypt

Our days in Nile Cruise have been the most memorable ones for me. I would highly recommend everyone to this cruise whilst in Egypt. The places covered as you sail will give you an even better idea about the Egyptian Civilization – much more than the pyramids would do!

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19 Comments

  1. On the way back to the river Nile, you will pass by the famed Colossi of Memnon, known in Ancient Greek times for their haunting voices at dawn.

  2. This is quite incredible. Egypt is on my dream list of countries to visit and I really hope to be able to make that happen soon. This is a great list of places to visit and it sounds like you get to see much more on a cruise. Amazing views and temples. Did you connect much with the locals? Great post. I’m totally looking forward to visiting soon.

    1. Oh yes I did! The locals were very helpful and gave interesting suggestions :)…

  3. Wow! This temples are incredible and I never would have thought to take a Nile Cruise. I am definitely saving this for future reference!

  4. Omg!! I’m so jealous! Egypt is at the top of my bucket list, right up there with riding in an hot air balloon!! I’d get to check two items off of my list at once! I can’t wait to visit!! These are all great suggestions. I will most definitely look into the Nile River Cruise.

    1. Oh, you should do the hot air ballooning ..:)

  5. I’ve been hearing stories about Egypt and the Nile cruise since I was little kid. Because my mom LOVED Egypt. Your post has re-ignited my wish to visit the country! Thanks for such a detailed overview. I’m bookmarking it 🙂

    1. Thanks Rimsha! … It is beautiful and you should do it some day! :)…

  6. This looks like a good way to cruise up the Nile! Egypt has always interested me but I have yet to visit it. How long would you recommend being there for?

    1. I would suggest not less than 10 days to see the important places…. Maybe 3-4 days in Cairo and Alexandria, 3 days in the Cruise and 3 days around the red sea area.. 🙂

  7. Ooh, this looks like a great way to see Egypt. I have yet to take a river cruise, but they always look like the perfect mode of travel!

    1. Do give it a try 🙂

  8. Thhaaaat was really a long trip! 🙂 And we learned a lot with you

    1. It was indeed:)..

    2. It was indeed:).. Thanks !

  9. I had no idea you could cruise the Nile, what a great way to see so many ancient ruins! I would love to make it to this part of the world someday! Plus vegetarian food — yum!

    1. Yeah, you should 🙂

  10. I always dream to visit Egypt. I read a lot of stories about it already. I want to try hot air balloon and sail in Nile river.

    1. Yes, you could do the hot air ballooning in Luxor 🙂

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