There are many great things to do in Egypt but there is only one that’ll keep a place in your heart and soul forever. A Nile Cruise on a Dahabiya (typical Egyptian sailboat) is a remarkable experience that shows another side of Egypt far away from the dusty pyramids and crowded Cairo.
Most Nile Cruises are 3-5 days long and go from Luxor to Aswan or the other way around. The Dahabiya is perfect for all tourists, expats or locals who wish to experience Egypt at a leisurely pace. It allows you to enjoy the fresh river breeze, drink in beautiful landscapes and marvel at temples of the riverbanks.
I did a 6 day cruise together with some friends from Luxor to Aswan beginning of 2015. During our trip I saw, sensed and experience beautiful moments and would like to share my favorite scenery and impressions of our Nile Cruise.
11 Most Beautiful Places on a Nile Cruise
1. Sunrise in Aswan
One of the first things I noticed about Luxor, was the great view of the Nile. Throughout my stay I took endless pictures to catch the maritime atmosphere in front of its desert-like landscape. It was in the early morning hours that I felt Luxor was at its best.
2. The Luxor Temple in the early morning
Not just will you have the whole day ahead of you once you finished sightseeing the Luxor Temple but you will also almost have it to yourself. Our tour of the temple started at 7 am and there were a maximum of 15 people visiting it at the same time. Just 2 hours later it was 10 times more people and no chance to take pictures without anybody running into it.
3. The calm on deck
Cairo is chaos. Cairo is noise. Sailing on the Nile cruise is like being in a different world and a well-deserved break for your head and soul. No engines, no honking, just the wind and every now and then a bypassing (motorised) cruise ship.
4. A walk through the desert
On a Nile cruise you – this might be no surprise – see lots of water. Venturing off the boat and do (in our case) an 8 km walk through the desert can be a nice change of scenery but it is certainly a good exercise if you are in need to stretch your legs from all the relaxing and reading.
5. The sunsets every single day
It is not a cliché but sunsets watched from the water and for that matter from a sailing boat are really romantic and picturesque. That being said, it only rains 3 days per year in Upper Egypt (south of Egypt), so a clear and bright sunset is guaranteed every single night.
6. Explorations on the river banks
Whether you plan it or not but after a few days of relaxation on deck you long for some excursions far from the boat. It is surprising to discover a stunning variety of nature along both banks of the Nile. Be prepared to see dry deserts, lush greens, ancient temples, rural villages, small river towns, vibrant markets and welcoming people.
7. Our Dahabiya
Despite all the fascinating excursions off-boat, the excited feeling of coming back to the Dahabiya never wore off. And even more so because the staff was always greeting us with fresh hand towels and homemade juice or lemonade.
8. Life in the rural villages
It is easy to forget that there are people in Egypt that live outside of Cairo and the northern Nile delta. As a “rich” European, visiting hardworking families in rural villages might not be the most comfortable experience at first. But it is very rewarding as locals are welcoming and sometimes extremely curious about the new visitor.
9. Our breakfast table on deck
Waking up every morning to sunshine and a well-laid breakfast table with fresh fruits and hot pancakes is the perfect representation of a relaxing vacation. No more words needed.
10. Philae Temple in Aswan
Some people say if you have seen one temple you have seen it all. Yet, give Aswan’s temple a try. When you visit the Philae temple in Aswan you’ll be stunned by its location. Its is surrounded by water and you can only reach it by boat. Its a fun adventure and gives you lots of great photo opportunities.
11. The sight of the Old Cataract
When in Aswan, stay at the Old Cataract hotel (Sofitel Legend). Its brings you back in time to the early 20s when sophisticated travelers came to Egypt to cruise the Nile in style. The hotel was actually build by Thomas Cook to house European tourists and Agatha Christie’s novel Death on the Nile drew its inspiration from it.
If you are interested in going on a Nile Cruise I can highly recommend Les Gréements du Nil. They do speak English, the crew is fantastic and the food deliciously authentic (Egyptian).