At some point most travelers to Egypt will take in some sort of boat trip down the Nile River. What makes a journey along the Nile so interesting is that it effectively is a journey through 5000 years of ancient history. Temples, monuments and historical sights line the shores along with many of its bustling, modern centers like Cairo, Luxor and Aswan.
The Nile is the world’s longest river at about 6650km and your Nile journey could be anything from a short hour-long sunset cruise to a multi-day itinerary anywhere between Cairo and Aswan.
Whatever journey you choose, there are a few things you can look for that will help make your trip just that little bit more pleasant. The famous Nile River should be a journey of a lifetime and one to remember for the right reasons.
There are a number of options for touring on the Nile. By far the most atmospheric is the felucca, a traditional sailing boat. This experience will probably be most akin to that of the ancient Egyptians. While private felucca cruises are popular they can be expensive and they are probably not as comfortable as luxury cruise ships but they do follow the same route as larger cruise ships.
In fact it’s not possible to make the long trip from Cairo south to Luxor because of the many locks and cataracts that are impossible to pass through. Most cruises that appear to start in Cairo usually involve some shorter sunset sailing or other river trip near the city and then a train or flight to Luxor to continue the river journey.
Most private felucca boats and cruises largely depart from Luxor or Aswan and journey from or between the two points over several days or weeks. A typical seven-day itinerary from Luxor includes the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the tomb of Tutankhamen and temple complexes at Luxor and Karnak. Journeys south of Luxor usually head to Edfu to the temple of Horus or the Kom Ombo temple. At Aswan there’s the temple of Philae to see and further south still the magnificent Abu Simbel temple and Lake Nasser.
With a felucca cruise the number of passengers is usually limited from six to eight which means you get slightly more attentive service and usually have more control over your itinerary and flexibility to change things around. In comparison larger cruise ships must operate as a group and stick to tight schedules.
If you are choosing a felucca you will want to trust your captain before you hop on board. It is possible to book these prior to arriving in Egypt, while independent travelers may want to check them out on arrival. Whatever boat you choose, make sure you aware of your itinerary and exactly what you are paying for as there could be a lot of hidden extras. Usually food is included, however alcohol might not be or only available at inflated prices.
If you don’t have a lot of time in Egypt you will probably be best to limit your river journey to three days, while if you have no time constraints a whole week on the river would be a great choice. The best cruises offer diverse and interesting options, include all other arrangements and may even have lecturers or special guests on board to deliver more information.
If food is prepared onboard take great care to guard against the possibility of stomach bugs. Generally you should avoid salads in Egypt and always drink bottled water. Make sure you also take some medicine for stomach and anything else you may need. You should also bring toilet paper as this may not be provided and antiseptic wipes.
It can get cool on board in the evenings even if the days are quite warm. Check the conditions before you go. Generally you would want to avoid the worst of the summer months as sightseeing on shore becomes a chore after mid morning.