From Luxor to Aswan
The cruise from Luxor to Aswan takes you through the heartlands of the oldest nation state in the world, the cradle in which the whole of Western Civilization is rooted. The awesome River Nile, the longest waterway in the world, is the sustainer of all life in the desert, depositing the fertile black silt of its floodplain and supplying water for the crops that grow in it. As you sail past the timeless agricultural scenery of the valley, flanked by sheer desert cliffs up to 550 m (1,800 ft) high, five millennia of history unfolds before your eyes.
Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes, is ‘the world’s greatest open air museum’. Here is the stupendous Karnak Temple, the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Colossi of Memnon. At the great lock at Esna, the Nile is transformed into a chaotic water bazaar as garrulous traders in rickety boats besiege the river traffic, proffering scarves, trinkets and souvenirs. The Temple of Horus at Edfu is the best-preserved temple in Egypt, and on the riverbank at Kom Ombu a temple with beautiful relief carving stands as a wondrous reminder of the antiquity of this land.
The charming southern city of Aswan is a riot of new impressions – the vivid colours and smells of the souks, the tall graceful Nubian townspeople, the Nile at its most picturesque – all swaying palm trees, golden dunes and white-sailed feluccas (traditional wooden sailing boats). Here the river is studded with numerous beautiful islands. Elephantine, the largest, is one of the most ancient sites in Egypt. Just upstream is the first of the Nile’s six huge cataracts (rapids), the High Dam and Lake Nasser – the boundary of Egypt and the gateway to Africa.
WHEN TO GO:
November to April
TIME IT TAKES:
Karnak Temple – largest temple complex in the world,
Luxor Museum – stunning ancient Egyptian art collection.
Colossi of Memnon – statues more than 17m (50 ft) high.
Temple of Philae and the High Dam at Lake Nasser,
Sunset felucca trip around Islands Temple of Philae of Aswan.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
You can take one of the numerous cabin cruiser floating hotels that ply the Nile or sail in a felucca – a rather less comfortable but altogether more liberating experience, sightseeing at whim rather than being restricted to a cruise itinerary. Whichever way you travel, you should study your ancient history to get the most out of the countless sights you will pass.