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Nile Cruises Egypt:How to plan your Nile cruise vacation
The River Nile Egypt
A cruise vacation on the river Nile Egypt
How to plan your Nile Cruise vacation
Taking a cruise vacation on the river Nile Egypt is still one of the most popular ways to see many of the sites of ancient Egypt.
Floating down the Nile on a cruise vacation is a wonderful way to see and experience Egypt. You will visit temples along the way but you will also get an insight into daily life in this country, and you will realize that life has actually not changed very much since the days of the pharaohs.
Traveling down the Nile you will see fishermen going about their daily tasks, water buffalo, women doing the washing in the river, children swimming and donkeys or buffalo in small rowing boats being taken to green pastures in the middle of the river Nile.
Visit ancient Egyptian temples
Where to start your Nile cruise
You can start your Nile cruise vacation from Luxor and there is also now one cruise boat operating from Cairo. The cruise vacation from Cairo is a bit more expensive but at the same time you get the chance to see a lot more of the country and it stops in the old city which was built by Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Most people to still choose to start their cruise from Luxor and often combine it with a week's stay in Luxor as there are many places to visit in and around the Luxor.
Some cruises leave from the centers of Luxor, others depart from one of the many small harbors around Luxor which are all hidden away behind the sugar cane fields.
How to choose your cruise boat
How to choose your Nile cruise boat
There are many different types and styles of cruises and you need to find one which is right for you. You can choose from luxury five star cruises to less expensive cruises - it all depends on what is right for you.
All of the cruises include food but on most of them you pay separately for drinks and other services.
The five star cruises can be very luxurious but some of the smaller boats provide a much more intimate atmosphere and are well known for their friendliness.
Whether you choose a luxury cruise or a standard cruise you will find the Nile river boats are clean, and the food is always excellent. Once on board you will discover the Egyptian love to cook and they are great hosts.
One tip - it gets very hot in Egypt so make sure the cruise boat you select has a pool that you can take a cooling dip in, and plenty of shade on its sundeck.
Traveling in Egypt is a bit like traveling back in time. There is just so much to see and take in.
Before you travel, or once you board your Nile cruise, make sure you book a tour package so you have an opportunity to visit on the amazing sites along the river Nile. This is especially important if you are on your first visit to Egypt.
Your tour package normally includes the services of a trained Egyptologist, and they have a fantastic amount of knowledge to share with you.
All Egyptologist in Egypt have attended university and are qualified to degree level. Most of them are also very entertaining and without an Egyptologist you will not get as much out of your visit. They are literally like walking history books.
You can even book your own personal Egyptologist for the duration of your Nile cruise and it is not very expensive.
Cruising along the river Nile
Cruise start and finish
Your Nile cruise vacation normally starts in Luxor and you may find you will be moored for two days in Luxor. Luxor used to be the capital of ancient Egypt and was known as Thebes. There are a lot of things to see and do in Luxor and be prepared for a hectic schedule. Your Egyptologist will take you to visit Luxor and Karnak Temple which are both in Luxor. You will also need to get up very early one morning to visit the Valley of the Kings and normally a visit to Queen Hatshepsut temple is included as well. It gets very hot in the Valley of the Kings and this is the reason why your day starts early. Also the Valley of the Kings receives over 10,000 visitors per day so the earlier you get there the more of a chance you have to enjoy the valley before the crowds.
Once in the Valley of Kings your Egyptologist will give you a guided tour and let you know which are the best tombs to visit.
Three tomb visits are included in your ticket but there is a separate charge for the tomb of Tutankhamun. A word of caution - this is a tomb which is quite difficult to access and if you have a mobility or access problem I would not recommend this tomb. All the tombs are spectacular and there is always restoration work going on in the Valley of the Kings.
After your visit you will drive through the rest of the Valley and you will see how immense this area actually is. The Valley also includes the Valley of the Queens and Nobles which you can arrange to visit separately.
The drive through the valley takes you to Queen Hatshepsut mortuary temple which is a must on any visit to Luxor.
Queen Hatshepsut reigned as pharaoh and was a strong powerful ruler. Her temple reads like a book of her life and shows her numerous expeditions to the land of Punt which is today's Ethiopia.
On the way back to Luxor your tour will normally stop at Ali Baba's alabaster factory. They have some lovely alabaster and they are really funny. Take the opportunity to buy some of the best alabaster you can find in Egypt.
The next day your boat, or during that afternoon, your Nile cruise boat normally starts the actual cruise and you will be on your way to visit the temples of Kom Ombo, Esna, Edfu and Philae in Aswan.
In Aswan you are normally given the opportunity to visit Abu Simbel which is about a three hour bus trip from Aswan. It is a fully air conditioned coach and you leave very early in the morning and travel in convoy with other coaches. Abu Simbel is another must see but the price of the visit is not normally included in the tour package but it is worth paying the extra.
Whilst in Aswan you should also visit the spice market which is easily reached from the Nile, and take the opportunity to visit
a manufacturer of essential oils as well. Aswan is well known for its production of essential oils and the prices are excellent.
If a visit is not included in your tour package make sure you ask your Egyptologist which is the best factory to visit.
In Aswan you can also enjoy a visit to the botanical gardens which are just spectacular and you may also want to try your hand at sailing a felucca. It is normally a bit more windy in Aswan and a felucca ride is an amazing experience.
Once your time in Aswan is over you cruise back to Luxor where you disembark. A lot of people choose to stay an extra week in Luxor or travel to one of the many resorts on the Red Sea.
Temple carving of Lotus blossom and map of ancient sites
First time in Egypt??? Top tips for a better holiday
Here are some of my top tips for a successful visit to Egypt.
1) You will need an entry visa into Egypt which costs 15$ and you can pay this on the coach which transfers you to cruise boat rather than standing in line in immigration for a long time.
2) Make sure your package includes transfers to your cruise boat or hotel. Luxor airport can be chaotic and it is much easier to use a transfer service. Your transfer guide normally meets you at the arrival gate so it is very straight forward.
3) Beggars and people asking for money - yes this happens a lot so be prepared. Avoid eye contact and don't say no thank you to a trader. Why? If you say no thank you they think you want to barter of the price. If you do want barter that is fine but street sellers and sellers around the main tourist hot spots can be very pushy. The word for tips or payment for a small service in Egypt is Bakeesh, and even the guy loading your suit case will ask for money.
Normally your Egyptologist will ask you to contribute 10$ towards the Bakeesh he needs to hand out at tourist sites. This country runs on Bakeesh.
4) Book an Egyptologist or join a tour group - this is the best way to appreciate the sites and find out more about the history of this vibrant country.
5) Drink bottled water. The tap water is okay but it is very rich in mineral content and may upset your stomach.
6) Bring a supply of vitamin B and perhaps some medication for an upset stomach. Some people do react to a change in diet and you will benefit from an extra supply of vitamin B as this is a water soluble vitamin and in warm countries you obviously need more as you sweat a lot. Remember this country would be a desert if it was not for the Nile.
7)Some essentials to pack - a hat, sun tan lotion, cameras and camcorder. Ladies you may want to bring a scarf to cover up with when going through the markets.
8) When in Luxor, and if you have any time left, visit the Museum of the mummies and a dealer in papyrus prints. A papyrus print makes an excellent light weight holiday souvenir and they show how they are made.
A big bonus - there are no malaria mosquitoes in Egypt