Egypt: A Nile Cruise from Luxor to Abu Simbel

This is a brief account of a week's cruise I took with Thomas Cook Travel Agent, describing the itinerary planned by the company, so guests will know what to expect. The purpose of the article is to promote interest in Ancient Egyptian culture and to encourage holiday-makers to choose a Nile Cruise. It is a day-by-day personal account of what was to be a holiday of a life-time!

A wonderful holiday

The majesty of Luxor
The majesty of Luxor | Source
The MS Saray on the Nile
The MS Saray on the Nile | Source

Find out more about Nile Cruises!

Holiday of a life-time

Immerse yourself for seven nights in Ancient Egypt...on a riverboat on The Nile!

Temperatures in Egypt can be very hot and unpleasant, so the best time to visit Egypt is in Egyptian winter when temperatures and be still hot (30ºC - 70ºF) at the midday but are pleasantly cooler early morning and in the evening.

The 5-hour flight from the UK leaves Manchester at 9:00am and arrives in Luxor early evening, Egyptian time. (Wednesday)

Guests are transported from Luxor Airport to the port of Luxor by coach and welcomed onto the boat by the Thomas Cook representative who informs the clients of the weekly programme and the scheduled times of restaurant service and other facilities provided by the tour operator. installed in modest but pleasant twin-bedded cabins. Each cabin is provided with a flat-screen TV with basic satellite channel service a fridge box, a dressing table and wardrobe. Of course small but adequate shower room with toilet is provided as well within each cabin.

All meals are provided on the river-boat as is accommodation throughout the whole seven days as the boat cruises majestically along the river.

Luxor, Karnak and the Valley fo the Kings are located on the site of Ancient Thebes, the capital of Egypt during the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom

Because there is so much of great arqueological value to visit in Luxor (Temple of Luxor : 1390 BC by Amenophis III) and Temple of Karnak on the East Bank and The Valley of the Kings on the West bank ), the boat remains docked for two nights there (Wednesday and Thursday) in order to allow guests to visit these wonders and take in the beauty and majesty with which they were created.

It's Thursday...It must be Luxor!

Thursday begins with a visit to Luxor and Karnak temples on the East bank of Luxor. The city of Luxor is constructed on the site of the Ancient Thebes. Luxor temple was begun by Amenhotep III (born 1390 BC - 3400 years ago). Luxor temple was completed by Tutankhamun (born 1334 BC) and added to by Horemheb and Ramses II (also known as Ramses the Great) often considered the most important and powerful of all the pharoahs. Guests return to the boat for lunch and spend a leisurely afternoon recuperating from the early morning start! On Thursday evening guests return to the Temple of Luxor to enjoy the wonderful Sound and Light event which evokes all the mystery and fascination of the rulers who once worshipped within these holy sanctuaries.

Temples of Luxor and Karnak

Luxor Temple: The Great Hypostyle hall.
Luxor Temple: The Great Hypostyle hall. | Source
The entrance to Karnak Temple
The entrance to Karnak Temple | Source

Temple of karnak


Temple of karnak


Luxor by night

Entrance to Luxor Temple for Sound and Light Event
Entrance to Luxor Temple for Sound and Light Event | Source

The magic of Luxor by night!


It's Friday!

West Bank: Valley of Kings/Valley of Queens/Temple of Hatchepsut/Colossi of Memnon

On the west bank, the tour takes you to the Valley of the Kings where, crowds permitting, you can visit several of the tombs which have been discovered. Remember there are very few treasures here as most have been transferred to Cairo Museum where they are on display or are still being researched by experts. It is worthy to note that it is not permitted to take photographs in the Valley of the Kings due to erosion which may occur to the illustrations by camera flash. It is as well to avail yourself of guide books and postcards on sale on site so as notto miss out on any information.

However, you will still be captivated by the beauty and quality of the tomb illustrations and you will be fascinated by the stories told therein. After the Valley of the Kings, the tour continues on to the Temple of Hatchepsut, and then to the Valley of the Queens where you can visit tombs belonging to the Queens and their princes.

A short stop beside the 'Colossi of Memnon' follows and you can appreciate the enormous statues which flanked the entrance of Amenhotep III funerary temple

Valley of the kings

The valley on the West bank of Luxor
The valley on the West bank of Luxor | Source
Temple of Hatchepsut on west bank
Temple of Hatchepsut on west bank | Source
The Statues of Memnon on the West Bank...all that is remaining of the Funerary temple of Amenhotep III
The Statues of Memnon on the West Bank...all that is remaining of the Funerary temple of Amenhotep III | Source

Alabaster workshop and shop

Before returning to the boat for lunch, guests are taken to visit a local alabaster factory and can see craftsmen making beautiful alabaster jars and ornaments. After being invited to refreshments, visitors can browse the goods on sale and buy small souvenirs at the factory.

Alabaster workshop

An attractive work of art in the alabaster workshop
An attractive work of art in the alabaster workshop

Saturday; Ensa Dock and Edfu Temple

The river-boat has to pass through a dock on friday evening at Ensa which is an experience in itself and after the boart carries on to Edfu where you sleep, ready to enjoy the wonderful temple on Saturday morning!

Edfu Temple: the temple dedicated to the god Horus was built in the time of Ptolemy. The hawks of Horus guard the gateway. The walls in the temple and in the corridors on the exterior are all covered with elegant bas-relief illustrating many religoius and mythological events and telling fascinating tales

Temple at Edfu

The magnificent entrance to Edfu
The magnificent entrance to Edfu | Source
Marie and the Hawk of Horus
Marie and the Hawk of Horus | Source

Saturday evening Kom Ombo

After lunch the boat sails on to to Kom Ombo to visit the Kom Ombo Temple in the evening. This temple was also built in the time of Ptolemy on the remains of an ancient temple from the time of Thutmosis. Bas-reliefs in this temple show, amidst many other wonders, surgical instruments being presented to Imhotep, the God of Medicine. You can also see an ancient calendar, denoting the three seasons of an Egyptian year: Flooding, Planting and Harvesting.

Kom Ombo temple

The magnificence of Kom Ombo
The magnificence of Kom Ombo | Source

View from the river-boat

Daily life: hanging out the washing on the banks of the Nile
Daily life: hanging out the washing on the banks of the Nile | Source

Sunday: Aswan: Dam/The unfinished Obelisk/ The Temple of Philae

The next day takes the clients to the modern city of Aswan, home of the world renowned Aswan Dam. A first (low) dam was first created in this area in the year 1902 by the British but then what is now known as the high Dam was built in 1968 in an attempt to control the flooding of the Nile and to harness the electricity which would be generated from hydraulic force. The dam actually caused a great lake to be created; Lake Nasser named after President Nasser who proposed the dam.

The tour talkes visitors to the dam area by coach and you can have splendid panoramic views of the dam itself and the Aswan Cataracts.

After visiting the Dam, guests are taken to view the incredible unfinished Obelisk, still lying in the quarry bed where it was hewn. This obelisk is the largest in Ancient History, and would have had a length of 42m (120ft) and would have weighed a staggering 1200 tons. It had been abandoned after cracks in the granite were discovered. It is uncertain which pharoah commissioned the obelisk, however many attribute this piece to Queen Hatchepsut, as it is similar to her obelisk at Luxor.


Aswan: Dam and Obelisk

A view of the Aswan dam and the Nile beyond
A view of the Aswan dam and the Nile beyond
The unfinished obelisk
The unfinished obelisk

Falucca boat trip to Philae

The tour then goes on to take visitors to the Island of Philae by falucca (a small traditional sailing boat) to enjoy the wonders of the Temple of Isis. The temple was built on the remains of the temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor around 380-362 BC. This is a temple which was eventually permanently flooded of the after the dam was built but was rescued from the silt-laden waters. Work began in 1960 to carefully reconstruct the temple on higher ground nearby, after it being carved into approximately 40,000 blocks. A point of great interest in this temple is the coptic altar which was built inside the temple itself.

To the Island of Philae

The Temple of Isis at Philae
The Temple of Isis at Philae

Aswan city tour

After Philae, the group is then taken to Kitchener's island to enjoy the peace and serenity of the Botanical gardens, which is home to ......

In the afternoon, the party then has an opportunity of taking a coach tour of Aswan, entering a beautiful mosque with a local guide. After visiting the mosque, the group is then taken to one of the local shopping streets to experience a real taste of Aswan. A spice shop can be visited and then visitors are given some free time in which to purchase small souvenirs. This is the perfect opportunity for trying out your skills in that ancient tradition of ...bartering, which many westerners seem to find so extremely diffiicult.

Hieroglyphics: It needs hardly to be mentioned that the walls and columns in all the temples were strewn with the hieroglyphics (Ancient Egyptian characters) and have been the key enabling egyptologysts to decipher the fascinating history of the Ancient Egyptians.

However, it wasn not until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in the town of Rosetta, Lower Egypt that the true meaning of hieroglyphics could be discerned.

See the following link to have a more detailed understanding of Hieroglyphics

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics

Aswan City Tour

One of the the beautiful mosques of Aswan
One of the the beautiful mosques of Aswan
The statutory visit to the Spice market on the Aswan City Tour.
The statutory visit to the Spice market on the Aswan City Tour.
learning how papyrus scrolls were made at Papyrus workshop
learning how papyrus scrolls were made at Papyrus workshop
Enjoying a well-deserved rest after all the excitement of the day
Enjoying a well-deserved rest after all the excitement of the day

It's must be Abu Simbel!

On this specific tour, Monday, was a day on which guests can choose their activity from a range of several options. One of the favourite options was a trip to the Abu Simbel Temple at 3 hours drive away or by air. In order to miss the scorching heat of midday, the coach leaves Aswan at 4:00am, arriving in Abu Simbel at 7:00 am.

Abu Simbel is yet another of Ramses II's great works in order to perpetuate his name and image for eternity. The majesty of the statues and the magnificence of the illustrations within the temple are awe-inspiring, like all which Ramses built for his own edification. He also built a temple nearby dedicated to his wife, Queen Nefertari. In this temple, one can appreciate the love Ramses must have had for his queen.

Abu Simbel has a fascinating story as it was about to be drowned forever from the public's sight when the Aswan High Dam was opened in 1960. In an unnerving fight against the clock, Egypt appealed to world leaders to find some way of rescuing Ramses II's great temple from the engulfing waters of the newly created Lake Nasser. Scientists and arqueologists throughout the world came together and planned an escape route for the temple, which was carefully dismantled from its original site and meticulously reassembled 200 metres up on higher ground.

This in itself was a great feat of engineering, almost befitting the feat of engineering the original must have entailed 3000 years ago!

Click here to see detailed information about the rescue of Abu Simbel from the waters of Lake Nasser

Grandeur and Majesty

John and Marie at Abu Simbel
John and Marie at Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel: Temple of Ramses II and his queen, Nefertari

The wondrous temple walls embrace you and hold you, enchanted, throughout your visit. The walls depict, among other events, the great pharoah's version of his military victory over the Hittites at the renowned Battle of Kadesh, but they also show historical fact mingling familiarly and blending perfectly with Ancient Egyptian mythology and religion of the time. Where fact meets fiction and the two become one fascinating story.

Abu Simbel

A view of the two temples at Abu Simbel
A view of the two temples at Abu Simbel

Monday afternoon..setting sail and heading back to Luxor

The tour is drawing to its close as you head back to Luxor on Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday. After all the amazing historical treasures, this is a elaxing time to wind down and leisurely enjoy the calming waters of the Nile. You can easily contemplate the green banks, and watch how children play on the shores, endlessly waving at all the river-boats as they majestically sail past.  You can now take time to soak up the sun and relax, assimilating the great amount of information you have been given by the highly professional tour guides.

Goodbye Egypt

The tour sadly ends and guests fly back to Manchester on Wednesday afternoon. It will take time for you to appreciate the significance of what you have seen. Now is the time to start doing more research into the fascinating story of Ancient Egypt and its pharoahs, queens, gods, goddesses and religion. A truly wonderful experience.

Please comment below and let me know if you found this article interesting. Please remember this is not an academic article, merely a subjective account of the Nile Cruise holiday I took in February 2010, and what I learned about such a fascinating subject.

Photo credits

All photographs taken by myself or my partner, except "Valley of the Kings" by Nathan Hughes Hamilton on Flikr

More by this Author

This is not an academic article. 17 comments

shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

I toured this differently. I stayed in Luxor and travelled via convoy to Aswan, stayed over and then travelled through the desert to Abel Simbel. We stopped and did all the temples on the way. Elephatine Island was amazing and the trips on the water was brilliant.

I prefer to diy trips, myself as I like to get involved with the culture and the people.

Lovely hub, well done!

marieryan profile image

marieryan 6 years ago from Andalusia, Spain Author

Thanks for commenting, Shazwellyn!

I imagine you must have had a wonderful time too. Next time I will do the trips myself and, as you say, get more involved with the people and the culture.

I just can't wait to get back there!

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 6 years ago

Thanks for the tour :-) I have never visited Egypt. The pics show you definitely had a great time. There are so many great things to see!

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

This sounds and looks like so much fun! Would love to do a Nile cruise someday. Reminds me of a Poirot mystery.

marieryan profile image

marieryan 6 years ago from Andalusia, Spain Author

Thanks Vox Vocis: so much to little time!

Rose: You are so right. The riverboat was exactly the same as the one in Agatha Christie's 'Death on the Nile' (but without the murder, fortunately)!

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

I love Egypt but have never actually been on a Nile Cruise. Thanks for the great information and the pictures are great.

marieryan profile image

marieryan 6 years ago from Andalusia, Spain Author

Hi CMHypmo. I know you are an expert! I have read many of your hubs and I am so pleased you enjoyed this one.

This trip really was an experience but then, I realise it was only the 'tip of the iceberg'. I'm going back for more!

Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

Wow! What a great trip! You're pictures are beautiful............ trip of a lifetime!

Thank you for sharing.........


Teresa Laurente profile image

Teresa Laurente 6 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

Lucky you to have spent some time in there and get to enjoy their kind of life. You made me think more of preparing for my next one in this destination. Thank you for sharing this information.

marieryan profile image

marieryan 6 years ago from Andalusia, Spain Author

Kaie: Thanks for commenting! It really was a great trip! Pleased you liked my amateur pictures

Thanks for the comment, Teresa. I was lucky to have been able to do it. It really was worth every penny! hope you get to see it too!

Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 6 years ago from Sydney

Marie, the Nile cruise was a highlight of our trip to Egypt. Looking at the other ships we passed, it does look as though there's quite a variation in standards so for those thinking of doing the same, it's worth doing the research on operators.

v_kahleranderson profile image

v_kahleranderson 6 years ago from San Jose, California

Just beautiful, and obviously and amazing trip! I think that Egypt holds much intrigue and mystery for many. I know it does for me, and I would LOVE to visit Egypt someday.

May I ask what memorable meals you can tell us about, and if you really liked the food?

Lovely hub. Thank you for sharing!


marieryan profile image

marieryan 6 years ago from Andalusia, Spain Author

Marisa: yes, I agree that there seemed to be a range of 'categories' of riverboats cruising along the Nile with us. However,the standard of accommodation didn't seem to become an issue as we were so preoccupied with the ancient history we were witnessing.

I agree that you must do some careful research beforehand to find the type of accommodation that best suits you.

Thanks so much for commenting!

v_kahleranderson: It was a wonderful experience, as you can imagine. Unfortunately we were subjected to an 'International' menu on the riverboat and had no opportunity to experience the 'real Egypt' or 'real' Egyptian food. This was the down-side of an organised, all-inclusive tour. I'm looking forward to the real experience on my next trip soon.

amagdy profile image

amagdy 6 years ago from giza, Egypt

really? you visited Egypt?

markbennis 5 years ago

This is a fantastic hub, your images are beautiful, I have always wanted to visit Egypt and after looking at your hub I think it won’t be long before I do, thank you...

Marie Ryan 5 years ago

Thanks Markbennis. You certainly won't be disappointed with Egypt. It was a most amazing experience.

SEO247 profile image

SEO247 5 years ago from Lancaster

This is the best article on Hub Pages relating to Nile Cruises. Check out our Nile Cruises article or visit

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