• Juliet Weller

Cruising on the Nile River


As I did the research for today's article, I realized I could never capture even a smidgen of the treasures that learned egyptologists, documentarians, and scholars over the millennia have labored to study, and describe. But I'm determined to give you a tiny glimpse of the glories that await you on a cruise on the Nile River. This is the stuff travel dreams are made of.


Cruise the Nile in a manner once reserved for queens and pharaohs. For 12 adventure-filled days, experience Egypt's and the Nile’s most wondrous sites in style and luxury. Wander amongst the towering ruins of the Temple of Karnak, the world’s largest ancient religious complex, and the entrancing Temple of Luxor. Visit temples dedicated to Hathor, Horus, and other mythological figures, and pay homage to the country’s first female ruler at the Temple of Hatshepsut. Follow in the footsteps of renowned scholars and explorers as you venture forth into the Valley of the Kings, the ancient burial grounds of Egyptian royalty.


Yours is a captivating itinerary that begins and ends in Cairo, where you’ll visit the famous Egyptian Museum and its unrivaled collection of pharaonic artifacts, including treasures recovered from the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Journey to Giza to gaze upon the mighty ancient Pyramids and the timeworn, enigmatic Sphinx—iconic images that continue to amaze. An enchanting land of marvels, myths, and wonders old and new, Egypt is an extraordinary destination no culturally curious traveler will want to miss.


Tour Alexandria, once the largest and most prosperous city in the world, Alexandria is a can’t-miss destination for your Egypt tour: the Montazah Palace Gardens, the National Museum, Pompey’s Pillar, and Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque. You will see the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa—one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. The Catacombs are the largest and most important burial site in Egypt and, due to the time period of its construction, contain Roman, Greek and Egyptian artistic styles.


CAIRO

Take day tour of Cairo. The ancient quarter of Cairo is intense—the colors, the sounds, the density of people—and it’s likely been this way for thousands of years. Your local expert will show you a 12th-century citadel, the beautiful Alabaster Mosque and an unsurpassed collection of priceless artifacts, including mind-boggling treasures once buried with the boy king Tutankhamen.


LUXOR

You'll venture to Cairo to Luxor, on the east bank of the Nile, by air. Prepare to be amazed at the legendary Temple of Karnak, a massive and absolutely astounding site, with gigantic columns, broad avenues lined with stone sphinxes and halls of truly epic proportions. You can stroll through the grand avenues of sphinxes and halls of gigantic columns of the magnificent Temple of Karnak. This vast complex, situated about 2 miles from the Temple of Luxor, was originally established during the Middle Kingdom (1991-1633 BC), and various dynasties over the next 1,300 years continued to expand it. Karnak is a massive and simply astounding site, reflecting the combined achievements of many generations of ancient builders—as many as 80,000 laborers took part in its creation during the 19th Dynasty alone.

COLOSSI OF MEMNON, HATSHEPSUT TEMPLE AND VALLEY OF THE KINGS

Get an up-close view of two gigantic statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, better known as the Colossi of Memnon. Sixty feet tall and gazing toward the rising sun, the statues depict Amenhotep seated on his throne. Carved next to his legs are his mother and his wife, with side panels depicting the god of the Nile, Hapi. The figures originally sat in front of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III and are believed to have surpassed even Karnak in size. Unfortunately, the temple itself was slowly dismantled over the centuries to provide building materials for new temples; the twin Colossi continue to stand guard nonetheless, just as they have done for the past 3,400 years.


The Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri is another highlight today. One of Egypt’s rare female pharaohs, Hatshepsut is considered by historians to have been one of the most successful rulers of ancient Egypt. Both the setting and the construction of her temple make it unique among the landmarks of Egypt; built into the face of steep cliffs at the basin, the temple is made of limestone instead of sandstone, unlike any other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period. Hatshepsut’s successor, Thutmose III, attempted to remove her name from the temple, and many images of the queen were damaged or destroyed during his reign.


You’ll also visit one of the most famous archeological sites in the world—the remote and barren Valley of the Kings, used for royal burials for nearly 500 years. Much of our understanding of Egyptian mythology has been garnered from these ancient chambers, located about four miles inland on the west bank of the Nile. It was here that the bodies of great pharaohs such as Ramses II and Thutmose III were once laid to rest and where the mummified remains of the boy king Tutankhamen are still on display. The idea for establishing this royal burial ground is thought to have originated with Thutmose I, who opted to conceal his tomb far from his mortuary temple in an effort to deter tomb robbers. Subsequent pharaohs did the same, changing a tradition that had endured for close to 2,000 years.


ASWAN HIGH DAM, UNFINISHED OBELISK AND TEMPLE OF ISIS The Aswan High Dam, completed in the 1970s, is a marvel of modern engineering that boasts some truly epic dimensions—it is over two miles long, with a reservoir capacity nearly five times that of the Hoover Dam. You’ll also visit the Unfinished Obelisk, commissioned by Queen Hatshepsut yet never completed due to a flaw discovered in the stone. If completed, it would have been the largest and heaviest obelisk ever attempted, weighing more than two million pounds (907,185 kilograms). Visitors are welcomed to undertake the arduous climb, by the way.


Another highlight today is the beautiful Philae Temple complex, originally situated on the island of Philae. It was painstakingly transferred to the island of Agilika after the construction of the Aswan High Dam to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, a daunting UNESCO-funded endeavor that took 10 years to complete. The three principal monuments on the island all date from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods—the Kiosk of Trajan, the Temple of Hathor and the Temple of Isis.


You've read enough. Now you are primed to undertake this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. You are exactly on time for scheduling your NIle cruise for the upcoming optimal season from October to April. Let's go relax over afternoon tea at the historic Old Cataract Hotel Aswan, a colonial-era gem that counts Winston Churchill and Princess Diana among its former guests, and depicted in Agatha Christie’s acclaimed mystery novel Death on the Nile. Epic!

til next week...


 

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Contact: GLOBAL EXOTIC ADVENTURES - Juliet Weller, Founder

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