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Sunset in a Nile River Cruise - Egypt
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The Cradle of the Egyptian Civilisation

Continuing the trip through the whole of Egypt, we embark at Luxor on a 4 night’s Nile river cruise upstream towards Aswan, the final point to disembark and thereafter continue south towards Abu Simbel, right up to the border with Sudan at the very southernmost point of Egypt. This was for many years a dream to come true and finally got to make it with the best company possible, my family. After that many trips together, countless countries across all continents and so many different cultures, this trip will be remembered as one of the best ever in terms of how memorable, what an impressive country and the incredible ancient Egyptian civilisation everyone of us craves for. Certainly a once in a lifetime for anyone, yet in my case updating this short sentence here, as of May 2024 the third time in the country although just in Cairo and Alexandria.
While anyone can book a river cruise on their own at the countless travel websites offering the services should you plan a trip to Egypt on your own, it is best without any doubt, when booked as part of a wider organised trip. You have the option to plan a trip either including the Nile cruise or otherwise, the cheaper version overland between Luxor towards Aswan, however, I would never imagine anyone cutting some costs and not doing what is the most beautiful way to travel while in the country enjoying spectacular sunrises and sunsets, the landscapes and and the people’s day to day living.
The cruises depart weekly from Luxor and navigate upstream (Upper Egypt) towards Aswan where everyone disembark, and sail back from Aswan towards Luxor (Lower Egypt) in a continuous loop. No matter which direction you take it, these are all the very same whether 4 or 3 nights. If on a 4 nights, the first night is merely accommodation while docked in Luxor or Aswan. Some tours might include you the night at a hotel in either of the cities, others already onboard as was our in our case. On a good side, breakfast and dinner is also included, buffet style, and all of the ships do have a top deck bar where to enjoy from the chairs and hammocks cold Egyptian beers or whatever you like, and a generally very beautiful pub/bar to enjoy some music and drinks after dinner. And to bear in mind, not all the ships do have a top deck pool. Not that you will have much time to enjoy it, but it is nice during the parts of the journey that happen during the day.

With the ships, the experience can go several ways. From great to bad, so in order to give you some inputs on why, the following information would be crucial to you. Basically, no matter how they sell the ships if 5 stars top luxury or less standards, the ships are very, very old. They have simply been retrofitted to the current needs. In fact, these ships are pretty much the same model and style from the outside, only the inside and top decks are where the main changes have been done. So while for example, top luxurious hotel chains such as the Steigenberger do have their own ship, this is by no means any superior than most of the other ships falling in the “luxurious” category, but the price of course, is the difference. Along the days you will be cruising, as you will get to pass through several ships in certain occasions once they dock in order to reach the street, you will see many different lobbies where you notice the similarity between them. To summarise, remain in the “luxurious” category but no need to pay sometimes double if not more just for a name.
Now, the rest of the categories are quite dubious. The lobby and main bar will always look nice and neat, but the rooms can be a disaster, and so the noise. We got to meet in our trip other fellow travellers who told us their experience and can be quite bad, touching disgraceful levels of dirtiness and insecurity with the ship itself. Then no matter which category you are, I would strongly suggest you to make pictures of all your belongings as you leave the ship for the day, and check upon return if there is something missing. From experience I can tell you that some people from our same travel group had belongings missing and guess what, a jacket of my brother in our room which happened to disappear from where he left it, after scrutinising the entire room we found out it was placed on purpose behind some furniture. This is a trick as we later got to know from other people. While the things are still in your room, they are hidden, and not everyone would start to dismantle the furniture around searching for their staff. The would believe they lost it elsewhere, so when you disembark, the cleaning staff would appropriate such properties as if “left behind”. Quite chicky to be honest. Of course we all complaint to the ship’s manager and somehow, the treat became different to everyone in our group, with an incredible care and perfect room making.
I am only generally speaking, never assuming this is happening every time or on every ship. Just a mention to be cautious so you know it. All else, we had a great experience, and can recommend our ship, the MS Princess Sarah. Dated of course, but as said, all ships are dated. With a nice swimming pool in the sun deck and great bar area with plenty of shadow to cover under the deadly sun.
As the cruise develops in various stages, please keep reading through as I will be explaining in detail each of these coupled with the programmed tours to several sites and general schedule. Else for more information about some of these sites along the river Nile, this Wikipedia article is extremely complete.

What to expect in a Nile River Cruise

Luxor to Esna Locks

Generally speaking, and talking only from experience on our Luxor to Aswan cruise, you will depart Luxor in the afternoon, together with the many other dozens of ships (we were told minimum 80 during high season months), and will arrive at Esna after dinner time already at night. If your ship is one of the lucky ones to have departed at the front, then will be one of the first ones to cross the Esna Locks. As opposed, the later in the long queue of ships navigating together upstream will take some hours of queuing to enter the locks. It does not matter what time this happen, the following morning you will wake up at Edfu and you will see absolutely every ship docked there. Now, do not mind the waiting while enjoying some beers with other travel colleagues in the top deck, it is nice to see how the ship enters the lock and is raised several meters to thereafter continue up river, especially with such nice temperature at night!

Esna to Edfu

On the following morning, already at Edfu, the tour guide will let you know the time you all will meet in the ship’s lobby after breakfast, and after a peculiar rickshaw drive through the chaotic streets of Edfu, you will reach one of the most stunning ancient constructions, the Temple of Horus, with its immaculate gigantic pylons and almost intact courtyard and hypostyle hall. Built during the Ptolemaic Kingdom (Hellenistic Period), just at the edge of the end of the Egyptian civilisation between 237 and 57 BC, is the largest ever built to honour the deity Horus, the God of kingship, healing, protection, the sun and the sky. Over the centuries after abandonment, layers of sand and river silt covered no less than 12 meters, leaving only visible the top of the pylons therefore the great estate of preservation. Entrance fee as per October 2022 EGP 200. Thereafter back in the ship, lunch included and continue sailing towards Kom Ombo.

Edfu to Kom Ombo

Departing Edfu around lunchtime the day before, this is the longest continuous sailing from all days, arriving at Kom Ombo the following morning or even the afternoon, depending on the queue of ships ahead of yours. Generally speaking, before arriving at Kom Ombo they will serve you coffee, cakes and cookies in the top deck, to enjoy the arrival at the pier with the stunning views over the ancient temple. Also built during the Ptolemaic Kingdom (Hellenistic Period) between 180 and 47 BC in an unique design not found anywhere in Egypt. Everything was built as duplicate for two sets of gods, with the southern half dedicated to the crocodile God Sobek (god of fertility and creator of the world together with Hathor and Khonsu), and the northern part dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris (“Horus the Elder”). You can see several crocodile mummies now housed at the newly built crocodile museum adjacent to the complex. A very busy market align the riverfront in between the dock and the temple, great to find some shopping, and inexpensive food and drinks.

Kom Ombo to Aswan

With a departure estimated towards the late afternoon or well into the evening, you will arrive at Aswan at night and wake up with the views from your room’s balcony to the incredible busy Nile lively. Countless of boats, feluccas, ships and stunning views over the hill home to the Tombs of the Nobles and Monastery of Saint Hedra. Do not worry if you did not see the night view as the ship arrives in the night, you will get to see it once again during the night, as this will be the last night you sleep in the ship before continuing your trip overland if you are heading south towards Abu Simbel. Nevertheless, because of the importance of this city and plenty of sights, please check the separate guide for the city here.

Photo Galleries

Nile River Cruise

Nile River Cruise, Egypt, October 2022

Temple of Edfu

Edfu, Egypt, October 2022

Temple of Kom Ombo

Kom Ombo, Egypt, October 2022

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Jesús ,

    Para no ser ningún guía ACREDITADO, has hecho un buen resumen de todo el recorrido en barco , así como alguna e importante recomendación para futuros visitantes.

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