There are many different cruises on the Nile, both Egyptian and international ones. Many are just three to four days, but I chose one for seven days, so we could maximize all there is to see while relaxing on a lovely boat. As an aside, there is one amazing hotel near Aswan, Old Cataract, a British hotel, built in 1899. This majestic hotel, where Churchill once stayed in a massive suite, is certainly worth a visit for tea on the shady patio there with beautiful view of the Nile.
From the boat, the antiquities are never too far from the banks of the Nile, so with bus rides, small boat rides and even a plane to Abu Simbel, we were constantly busy, with one site more stunning than the next. There are just not words to describe the colossal and dominate nature of these ruins, still with so much intact. One good thing in our tour was that our Egyptian archeologist came with us from Cairo so we were privileged to have him for all ten days of touring making our tour exceptional. There are two major areas for tombs of the ancient honored people, The Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. Shaft tombs are found dug deep into rocky mountains and it surprises you how anyone ever discovered them! Sometimes I felt like I was taking long stairways down into the underground New York City Metro! Limited numbers of people are allowed in at one time, where you “ooh” and “aah” over the incredible paintings and carvings on the interior walls. So many stories depicted on the walls of each of these tombs and our expert patiently exposed us to some of what we were seeing. While it is impossible here to ever present the vast amount of depictions, there was one that I particularly loved, the tomb of a prince, son of Ramses III. There, you could see the god of embalming (Anubis, featured with black head of jackal, taking the hand of the prince to lead him off). Yes, we did visit the iconic King Tut tomb as well as Queen Nefertari’s tomb, wife of the Great Rameses II. Another aside, everywhere we went, the Egyptian government has been masterful at saving, protecting and constantly finding new sites from their priceless, and impressive, ancient civilization!
A short flight from Aswan airport to Abu Simbel is a must. Here is a colossal temple, built by Ramesses II back in early 1100’s BCE, with four massive statues of him on the façade. But what is even more astonishing than the temples is the fact that in 1964, they were being threatened by flooding from Lake Nasser, part of the Aswan Dam reservoir, and it was deemed necessary to move them to higher ground. This extraordinary project, which involved cutting everything into smaller pieces, carrying them off and then re-assembling them, was completed in 1968, and in good conditions for our viewing pleasure today! On the way back, we stopped to take a “felucca” (iconic Egyptian sail boat) ride around Nile, ending for high tea in Old Cataract Hotel.
We visited the city of Edfu, best known for one of Egypt’s most remarkably preserved temples, dedicated to the god Horus (falcon headed god). This temple came from about 230 BC, and represents the Greco-Roman time in Egypt. Not far from there, we took a boat to a Nubian village. The Nubians were once part of their own empire which was divided into Sudan to the south and the rest of them as part of Egypt. They represent African culture and you can see it in their arts and crafts. They welcomed us with open arms and music!
On another super memorable day, we visited both the Kranak Temple, the largest religious complex in Egypt, covering over 200-acres with a vast network of columns, obelisks, hieroglyphics and path of sphinxes. You needed several deep breaths to take this all in. Following that, we also visited the beautiful Luxor temple, just at dusk. This was constructed over hundreds of years by several prominent pharaohs including Amenhotep III, Ramses II, and King Tut, with each leaving enormous statues in their own honor!
What was fun along the way was the strong capitalism of the Egyptian vendors. Many times we had to walk through what I referred to as “Valleys of Retail”. But if they weren’t selling there, they would often be sailing alongside our boat, eager to toss up merchandise to our balconies and wait for money to be tossed back!.
I must truly say that this was one of the most outstanding trips of my life! Here, I have highlighted just a few of the impressive sights, but there were many more that we explored. If you want to visit Egypt, or anywhere else, please contact me and I can help make that dream come true.