Nile Cruise by Lauren Wahed
As the winds of change that swept across over Egypt begin to quiet and the nation embarks on a journey of self-discovery, there’s no better place to mirror such a transformation than in the more historical secluded pockets of the country. Cultural explorers can uncover a magical journey where the desert meets the Nile river and the thirst for an adventure meets serenity.
Upper Egypt is home to some of the most scenic oases and vast stretches of desert, and there is one place where visitors can see the special aspects of both, by sailing on a Nile cruise. Leaving Luxor behind, the cultural explorer will head to the south towards Aswan, the cruise moves pass the captivating monuments and emerald magical oases, and are in harmony with the steady flow of the Nile. However, site-seeing of the majestic historical settlements is merged with the spectacular fauna of Upper Egypt which elude camera lenses with grace that no other animals of the world can parallel to the petrified palm trees of the desert oases, shaped beautifully by the wind. The Nile cruise encourages the adventure seeker to celebrate their senses and feed their passion for an excitement and thrill.
By trekking into the deserts by foot, riding a camel or by 4X4s through the ancient glories of the Upper Egypt’s desert, the adventure seeker stops at fascinating ancient ruins and temples with their own personal Egyptologist. The exertion of a trek through the deserts goes against the flow of the serene Nile river, however on board the cruise, this also allows them to witness the changes of the rural landscape; colour rock formations and the captivating sand storms in the distance whilst having the pleasure on deck. When sunset glimmers in the distance, adventure seekers can retreat to the stunning swimming pools which offer an unparalleled panoramic view of the immense greenery of the oases and the distinctive rugged mountains of the infinite desert that embraces the Nile river.
The Nile cruise saves adventure seekers the hassle of looking for a suitable guide or make reservations with other tourists groups – allowing them to venture beyond the sanctuary of the cruise and wherever the desert escapade take them! So for those visitors who are more adventurous, they can avail the 4-day Nile cruise that will allow them to go deep into remote locations of Upper Egypt and explore the glories of Egypt’s past. This will leave them with a rejuvenated zest and gusto for a New Egypt and an experience to remember for the rest of their lives.
The Nile at sunset from a felucca is stunning! Beautiful hues and scenic silhouettes. An experience you will never forget! This video conveys to you the magic of the region put to lovely music. Enjoy.
Who hasn’t dreamt of going to Egypt?
We were recently in Seattle talking with the executives of Expedia.com and while all of them are well travelled and have been all over the world. When we told them they were going to Egypt next, they talked of how it was either their favourite destination or for those who hadn’t been there, their dream destination.
Everyone fantasizes about this ancient land.
We loved Egypt
It is filled with iconic landmarks and remarkable landscapes. It has a rich history and strong culture and it boasts world class diving, incredible beaches and exciting nightlife.
Egypt has it all.
In honour of our current trip to Cairo where we are speaking to the tourism industry about working with Travel Bloggers, we thought that we would revisit our favourite sites in Egypt. We spent a few weeks there before and during our cycling race from the top of Africa to the bottom of the continent and we are so excited to be going back to see more!
Pyramids of Giza
We hired a camel, a horse and a guide to take us to see the pyramids. Weaving through the back streets of Cairo on our trusted steeds, we entered what seemed like a shady opening to the grounds. Are we going to get anywhere near them? Well actually yes!
We road our camels through the desert right up to the massive structures. Our guide urged us to walk up the steps and we weren’t sure if we were allowed or not, but we graciously accepted.
After touring around the 3 main temples, they took us to a high dune overlooking the complex. Yes, we were being scammed and taken to the cleaners by the nice old man that kept layering us in robes and head dresses, but even though it cost us a bit of cash, we couldn’t put a price on securing this photo.
We arranged a $15 a day tour to the White Desert through the Dahab Guesthouse in downtown Cairo. It ended up being an incredible trip. We were told, if there is one thing you should do in Cairo, it is see the White Desert. We listened and it didn’t disappoint.
Giant White structures jutted out of the desert landscape creating incredible formations. Brought on by erosion, these chalky mounds create the illusion of massive mushrooms, eagles and turkeys and even one that looks like a camel.
Experiencing a true Bedouin experience, we camped out under the stars. With just 3 walls made of blankets to blog the cold desert wind, we slept under thick sleeping bags and blankets grateful for the warm tea that our guides made us after our delicious Bedouin meal.
Located on Lake Nassar we caught a glimpse of this monument from our ferry to the Sudan. The staff of the ferry told us to make sure we were out early in the morning to witness this wonder as we passed by.
Originally located on The Nile, Abu Simbel needed to be moved when the Egyptians created the Nile Dam project. It would have been engulfed by water never to be seen again until the government came to its rescue taking it apart piece by piece and rebuilding it high on the banks of the lake.
Built as a monument for Ramses the IV, this would definitely be enough to deter invaders from entering his kingdom.
Nile River Cruise
When in Cairo, you must book a dinner cruise on the Nile. It is here that you can sample Egyptian entertainment such as belly dancing and the Whirling Dervishes. Pass along the cityscape while you enjoy authentic Egyptian cuisine and imagine what legendary heroes and villains floated along these waters over the centuries.
Valley of the Kings
We were all fascinated with King Tut as children and it is here that you can visit his tomb. It is here that you can visit every King of the Pharoahs tombs. Ramses, I-V and everyone else in between were laid to rest here in extravagant tombs filled with riches and jewels.
You won’t see the treasures in these tombs today, but you will see the paintings and heigroglyphics drawn on the walls of these massive chambers that are as big as a house.
The tombs are impressive but the valley itself is even more incredible. I can see why the ancient Egyptians chose this as the resting place of their most important leaders.
Temple of Hatshepsut
This impressive temple is dedicated to the female King Hatshepsut . Leader for 27 years, she has a monument to rival even the greatest of kings. Built between 1490-1460BC.
It is impossible to imagine that the Nile reached the grounds of this temple complex and that the area surrounding it was lush and green. Today the desert is dry, but the temple is no less impressive.
Felucca Ride in Luxor
So your Egypt holidays are going great. You’ve done a Nile dinner cruise in Cairo, now its time to feel the wind in your hair on a sail boat in Luxor. We simply walked down to the river to find ourselves a boat for the afternoon. We walked along until we found a captain we felt comfortable with and negotiated a deal for him to take us out for a few hours.
Sailing along the fabled Nile, I wondered exactly what bank Moses was left on? I don’t know a lot about the bible, but I do know that he was sent floating down the Nile somewhere!
The sun was shining as we lazily drifted pass the cityscape. Camels and goats walked along the river banks and the day was silent as we fulfilled yet another one of our dreams.
Checking off the Bucket List
When visiting Egypt, you will check of many of those items on your bucket list. For us it was Sleep in the Desert, Sail on the Nile, See the Pyramids and Visit King Tuts tomb. We did it all and what do you do when you’ve accomplished something?
Add to it of course.
We now have a new bucket list that is ever evolving.
This time in Egypt, we’ll actually make it inside the Egyptian museum and take a tour to Alexandria. Stay tuned for more coming from Egypt.
This video is an advertisement by a UK tour operator, but it really shows you the sights of Luxor and the surrounding Nile Valley in an informative way. You can also find out about the different activities on the Nile and around Luxor as well as the different types of Nile Cruises available to tourists. Perhaps you’ll get inspired and find yourself booking a trip!
Egypt has always held a fascination for me. I have travelled all over the Middle East, and to parts of Africa, but for some reason had never made it to Egypt.
So when we were deciding where to go for a family holiday, it seemed an obvious choice.
Discover Egypt organised the trip for us and were efficient and helpful, particularly as at the last minute we had to split up, two of us flying to Luxor and the other two flying straight to the Red Sea.
Everything was re-organised with the minimum of hassle and I caught my first glimpse of the Nile with my youngest daughter Domenica when we arrived at the Maritim Jolie Ville Luxor Island hotel.
The hotel is in a superb position, on the shore of the Nile, with a beautiful infinity pool looking over the river. A new reception area was being completed and I hope that the next bit of updating will be to the rooms, which are pretty basic.
We had breakfast on the terrace before the heat of the day, watching life on the river, including vast boats passing serenely in front of us. From there we drove across the desert to El Gouna, on the Red Sea, where we stayed in the Movenpick Resort and Spa.
This is a vast complex with several restaurants, swimming pools and beaches. It is overwhelming until you have worked out where everything is.
Then it is like being a part of the computer game The Sims, a virtual world where the player is in control of the people and the buildings – you make it exactly as you would want it.
In Movenpick everything interconnects and works like clockwork and the rooms are comfortable and well-thought-out. The food was exceptionally good, particularly the buffet lunch and at the fish restaurant.
The Movenpick is one of a series of hotels built around the lagoons of El Gouna, an artificial construction on a vast scale.
It is a hugely ambitious project and we spent a morning going through the lagoons in a boat to get a sense of its size.
Satellite masts are hidden in fake palm trees and everything is pristine and spanking new, which reinforces that computer-game feeling.
That evening I went with my eldest daughter Savannah to a Bedouin dinner in a strip of desert outside the main compound.
There were camel rides, an ostrich to look at and food served while we sat cross-legged on cushions in the sand.
The Moon was full and it was a lovely, if somewhat touristy, night, complete with whirling dervishes and plaintive Arab music.
Water sports are a theme in El Gouna so I persuaded my husband Dominic and Savannah
to have a go at parasailing. We were driven to the Old Marina, which is an isolated spit of sand with a hut and an incongruously placed sofa on the beach.
Just seeing Dominic and Savannah’s faces as they were strapped into their double harness on the parachute before they had even taken off made the whole trip worthwhile.
Savannah has a certificate from her school on the kitchen wall at home for the dubious accolade of ‘probably attending the least number of PE lessons in her year group’.
And Dominic hates all ‘unnecessary’ movement. To see the two of them suspended high above us, attempting – as they told me later – to have a normal conversation to disguise their fear, was a sight to behold.
When they were reeled in they had a ceremonial dunking in the sea. I asked Dominic what it had been like and he replied that he would like a ‘gin and catatonic, please’.
One night we went to dinner by the harbour in El Gouna. It was a balmy night and the harbour was busy – one had a sense of being in some recently constructed Mediterranean port.
In a few years, when everything has mellowed, it will be a very different, vibrant place. As it stands, its very newness is somewhat disconcerting.
Savannah and I spent a morning snorkelling along the reef, seeing all manner of brightly coloured fishes, and then we set off across the desert plains to return to Luxor for our last two days.
Dominic and I got up at dawn, were driven to the Nile, crossed over in the dark, and emerged on the west bank to a surreal landscape of billowing hot-air balloons.
We clambered into a corner compartment of the basket of a huge balloon, and – very slowly – we rose majestically above the Nile to watch the sunrise.
It was stunningly beautiful, eerily quiet and one of those dawns and sunrises that one will never forget. There were muted colours and stirrings of life and then the sudden explosion of light shattering across the desert landscape and shafting on to the temples.
We landed abruptly in the middle of a smallholding, with ancient, inscrutable men in traditional robes rushing forward to help us alight. From there we went to the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, built on three terraced levels.
She was one of the rare female pharaohs, and in order to legitimise her position, she depicted herself wearing a pharaoh’s kilt and a beard. This temple is an extraordinary monument to the first known reigning queen.
The advantage of going to the temple so early in the morning is that it was completely empty. By the time we got to the Valley of the Kings the crowds had appeared, and that, coupled with the intense heat, makes the viewing conditions of the tombs very difficult.
You feel as if you are on a conveyor belt and, just as you are beginning to understand a particular piece of wall painting, you are pushed forward. I would recommend going out of season if you are serious about Egyptology.
The scale of the tombs and the extraordinary sophistication and elaborate detail overwhelmed me. All this was achieved at a time when in Britain we were rushing around in loincloths and living in caves.
The following morning I went to the temple of Karnak, with an informative and charming guide, and from there went to the temple of Luxor.
There is work going on to uncover the sphinx road that connects the two, so in various places in the hustle of Luxor you come across destroyed buildings, and, emerging from the rubble, sphinxes that have somehow survived unscathed throughout the centuries.
The temple of Luxor has traces of so many different civilisations, from the ancient Egyptians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Christians and the Muslims. The original temple was completely buried for hundreds of years and was re-discovered when a mosque was built on top of it.
The mosque is now an integral part of the site. We spent a last afternoon visiting the Winter Palace Hotel, which used to be the Winter Palace of King Farouk. I had a family interest in visiting this, as my grandfather had been King Farouk’s lawyer, and wrote his abdication speech.
It is now a very grand Sofitel, and requires a king’s ransom to stay there. From there, we took a boat meandering down the Nile back to the hotel to watch the sunset from the water. On one bank of the river, nothing appears to have changed since biblical times.
You see children playing in the water, women swaying through the fields as they carry their shopping home on their heads, and donkeys carrying their loads.
Yet, on the other bank is all the bustle of modern-day Luxor. It was a perfect end to the trip – a contrast between the ancient and the modern, with a glorious sunset to end it all.
Venture down to Aswan this weekend to experience the Characters of Egypt festival. The event offers a rare opportunity to link diverse cultures and to ‘inculcate values of mutual respect, understanding, tolerance and equality.’
Under the auspice of The Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Tourism Authority, the Characters of Egypt Festival will be organized from 27-29 October 2011. The festival is an annual event that has been organized for four consecutive years
This year, the festival will take place in Aswan in the Island of Heisa on the River Nile. Aswan was chosen by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as a successful case study to showcase the theme of the 2011 World Tourism Day: “Tourism – linking cultures.” The World Tourism Day was celebrated last year in Aswan on 27 September in this same location.
An estimated 33 tribes are expected to participate in the festival coming from South Sinai, North Sinai, El Ababda, El Bashareya, Nubia, El Hassayba and Siwa. The tribes are divided into seven groups. Besides the music and dance shows that characterize each tribe, poetry and stories telling and a number of informative workshops displaying indigenous practices, beliefs, cuisines, clothing, music, art, literary traditions, friendly sports competitions and conversations will take place during the event. The Characters of Egypt Festival provide guests with the chance to catch a glimpse of life as it exists in the different areas of Egypt’s extensive deserts.
The objective of Characters of Egypt festival is to create a platform of awareness of cultural variances amongst different ethnic and tribal groups and Nile River valley inhabitants. The event offers a rare opportunity to link diverse cultures from all corners of Egypt, experience cultural exchange and connect over their common bonds. Egypt has a rich history of tribal heritage shown in their many dialects and languages.
The island of Heisa is one of the oldest Nubian villages comprised of six Nubian tribes totaling 1,000 habitants. The objective of organizing this year’s festival in this Island is to promote it as a touristic destination. In fact, during the past three years, Characters of Egypt Festival was organized in the south area of the Red sea, which resulted in improving the cultural exchanges in this area, and promoted tourism in Wadi El Gemal protectorate, placing Marsa Alam as one of the prime eco-tourism destinations worldwide.