The Nile River is the longest river in the world; it travels 4,184 miles and has multiple tributaries. When the Nile floods, it creates a fertile green valley in the desert and leaves black sediment as the waters recede. The river starts in Burundi, a country south of the equator and travels north through seven other countries; Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, Zaire, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda; before flowing through Egypt, where it exits into the Mediterranean Sea.
Egypt depends on the Nile River for water, and between the border of Egypt and Sudan lies the Aswan High Dam, which captures the water in the third largest reservoir in the world, Lake Nasser. Most Nile River cruises travel through Egypt.
Nile River Cruises
Most cruises on the Nile River are offered year-round, but the best time is between October and April, when all of the locks are open. Often, prices decrease around holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. Usually, the cruises last between 3 and 12 days and start or stop in cities that include Luxor, Aswan and Cairo. Sometimes, cruises are also combined with land tours, providing travelers the opportunity to enjoy more than can be seen from the ship.
The Cruises and the Ships
Although some cruises are designed so visitors can explore certain aspects of Egyptian history, others are designed for couples or for families. Still others are simply available for anyone who wants to see any part of Egypt. People can see ancient culture through visits to the pyramids, temples and museums; and modern life by seeing villages, and observing how individuals live.
Many companies offer Nile River cruises, allowing individuals options in luxury cruises, star ships, deluxe ships and prestigious ships. These ships have beautiful dining areas, bars, amazing lobbies, pools and comfortable sleeping areas.
Trips are also available through travel on a felucca. Feluccas are simple, narrow boats; travelers sleep on a deck and the sailors are part-time chefs. This is more of an adventure-style cruise.
Things to See
For many, the main highlights of a Nile River Cruise are the pyramids. However, both the Nile and Egypt have plenty more to offer. Some highlights include:
- Luxor City: Features many palaces and Karnak Temple, which is the largest remaining temple and holds the Great Hypostyle Hall
- Luxor Temple: Built by ancient kings, it was the center of worship in ancient Egypt.
- Valley of the Kings: Tombs of more than 60 ancient pharaohs, including King Tut (Tutankhamun)
- Temple of Hatshepsut: Temple of the greatest female to rule ancient Egypt
- Esna: Sanctuary from the Ptolemic era, now surrounded by a modern city
- Edfu: Second largest and best-preserved temple
- Aswan: This was once a winter resort, and now visitors can visit the Aswan High Dam and the Unfinished Obelisk, which provides insight on how the ancients carved the granite obelisks.
By cruising on the Nile, visitors can experience history like they can nowhere else, in one of the oldest civilized nations in the world. This is a trip filled with excitement and adventure that's not to be missed.