Taking a cruise on the Nile in Egypt is a time-honoured way to explore Egypt. For centuries, travellers have sailed stretches of the world’s longest river, finding the unexpected sights of river life every bit as thrilling as the tombs and temples on the schedule. Below are the top five stops on anile cruie.
Temple of Karnak
Most cruises begin at Luxor, so one of your first ports of call is probably going to be Karnak Temple. And what a place to start. A forest of intricately carved pillars, obelisks, and walls, the sheer scale of this ancient temple complex gives a shivers-down-your-spine sense of timeless power. The main area was thought of as the earthly home of Egyptian sun god Amun-Re and the temple here is the largest religious building ever built.
The other major temple in Luxor is also primarily dedicated to Amun-Re, along with gods Mut and Khonsu (known as the Theban triad). At the entrance sit two enormous seated figures of Ramses II, one of the last pharaohs to have work done on this temple. One of the highlights of a visit to this temple is the chance to take a close look at the beautiful carvings of people clapping, beating drums, dancing and performing acrobatics, while boats are carried to the Nile under the shouted instructions of captains – the energy of these scenes practically bounces off the walls.
You’ve probably been reading about the tomb of boy pharaoh Tutankhamen and its stash of hidden treasures in the Valley of the Kings since your primary school days. Here’s your chance to see the actual chamber for yourself. You can also visit the recently-opened replica nearby, which was launched to mitigate some of the damage that mass tourism is doing to the original, and has been getting rave reviews for its detail and authentic feel. Move on to the grand chambers where Ramses IX, Ramses II, Merenptah and many more were buried, to admire the hieroglyphics add intriguing scenes carved into the walls.
Temple of Edfu
This huge temple in Edfu is dedicated to Horus, the Falcon God, and you’ll see the image of a man with a falcon’s head representing him throughout the temple. Falcons were worshipped because they don’t eat dead flesh, so were considered noble. It’s one of the best preserved temples in Egypt, with antechambers and halls to explore, as well as the inner sanctuary, which still contains the polished-granite shrine that once housed the gold cult statue of Horus.
A Nile cruise just wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to the crocodiles. Do as the Ancient Egyptians did and pay your respects at Kom Ombo, a double temple which is devoted half to Horus, and half to crocodile god Sobek. This stretch of the river used to be infested with vicious crocs, preventing locals from using the water to wash or cook – this temple was a way of placating them.