Egypt has always been one of my bucket list destinations, so when I got the opportunity to visit Egypt, to soak up the culture and history, it was a dream come true! Located on the northeast corner of the African continent, the recorded history of ancient Egypt is from the early prehistoric settlements of the northern Nile Valley and the Roman conquest in 30BC. The country is full of ancient treasures and marvels. Anyone with an interest in ancient history should absolutely visit Egypt. What better way to explore the ancient treasures and see the ancient countryside, than on a Nile Cruise.
Arriving in Luxor airport, I was greeted by my private guide and escorted to the car for a short drive into the town, located on the East bank of the Nile River. Luxor, originally called Thebes, was the capital of Egypt and became an important center of worship of the god Amun. Split in two by the Nile River, the East Bank which in ancient times (and still to this day) was where the citizens of the city lived and worked; the West Bank, was for the dead, where the tombs and burial sites were made and located. Luxor is also known as the World’s greatest open-air museum. On the East Bank of the Nile, you will find two of Egypt’s most important sites, Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple and on the West Bank of the Nile, you will find the famous Valley of the Kings as well as other tombs and burial sites.
My first visit was Luxor and Karnak Temple, this large ancient temple was constructed in approximately 1400 BCE. The sheer size of the pillars and grandeur of the temple was completely mind blowing. This mammoth temple complex is one of Ancient Egypt’s grandest building projects, and this is evident as you wander through. After exploring the East bank, I was transferred to The Sonesta Moon Goddess, my base for the next 3 nights.
The next morning, I was up early. I crossed the Nile by bridge to the West Bank to explore the temples and tombs of the Valley of Kings and Queens. First was the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut which is located beneath massive cliffs and the temple is dedicated to Amon-Ra, the sun god. I continued to the Valley of the Kings which was used for nearly 500 years to cut rock tombs for pharaohs and powerful nobles, the most well known being Tutankhamen and Ramses IV. On our way back to the boat, we stopped at the Colossi of Memnon, two monumental statues representing Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt.
Another early start to the next morning was to visit Edfu Temple. Located on the West Bank of the Nile River, the Ptolemaic Temple was built between 237 and 57 BC and is dedicated to Horus, a man with the head of a hawk. This impressive temple is one of the best-preserved ancient monuments in Egypt. After lunch it was time to visit Kom Ombo Temple. This temple is quite unique to Egypt as it is dedicated to two gods, the local crocodile god, Sobek and Haroeris. Besides being unique I found this temple rather beautiful, everything being perfectly symmetrical. Back to the boat we departed for Aswan while enjoying afternoon tea. A fun evening ahead as all on board enjoyed a Galabeya Party (dress up in traditional Egyptian dress).
We continued to the granite quarries, located on the east bank of the Nile, where much of the red granite was used for ancient temples. The Unfinished Obelisk still lies on its side, where it was carved when a crack was discovered and thereafter was abandoned. A short motorboat ride took us to the island to see the Temple of Philae. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis and has a beautiful setting with various shrines and sanctuaries that celebrate the deities involved in the myth of Isis and Osiris. And with that my Nile adventure had come to an end as I said goodbye to my guide and was transferred to Aswan Airport for my flight back to Cairo.
Get inspired for your own exploration of Egypt and discover all the wonders that this country, steeped in ancient history, has to offer with our Highlights of Egypt sample itinerary.