Egypt is surrounded by dry, sandy deserts and is located in the north-eastern corner of Africa. The River Nile flowing from the mountains of East Africa to the Mediterranean Sea, has been the source of life and prosperity for Egypt for millennia, bringing fertility to the soil and creating a valley where communities have thrived and built cities from the earliest times. The Nile waterway is also the backbone of Egypt's transport system and a key resource for commercial and recreational shipping. If you're thinking of booking a Nile cruise then a trip to Egypt has to include an excursion to the Red Sea. Clear, tranquil waters allow you to experience tropical fish, stingrays and colourful coral.
Find out the key ports of call below and then check out some great itineraries for River Nile cruises today; just give us a call if you have any questions about visiting this unique and mysterious part of the world.
Port Said about a 2 and a half hour drive from Cairo, the modern capital of Egypt, and Africa's largest city. It is a city that is thriving, bustling, modern and ancient at the same time. The Great Pyramids of Giza are located on the edge of the city. The famous Khan el-Khalili souk is a traditional-style market that has largely survived unchanged from the 14th century, where you can buy spices, perfumes, leather, gold, silver and copperware and exquisite ceramics. Cairo is home to the Egyptian Museum, with its vast collection of artefacts recalling 5,000 years of history, including the famous Tutankamun mask. The Cairo Citadel, high on a hill, offers grand views of the city. The Cairo Tower is a curious modern structure built in traditional style, and is actually the city's TV mast with a restaurant and observation deck at the top.
Stop off at the port of Safaga and you'll call in at Luxor, known as Thebes to the ancient Egyptians. It's been called the world's greatest open air museum, for the number of ancient monuments in the area. Luxor is the gateway to the Valley of the Kings, renowned for the tombs of rulers of ancient Egypt, including the most famous Tutankhamun. Luxor has been a tourist destination for centuries, even during the Greek and Roman periods, but it really came into its own as a result of the fame it derived from the exploits of archaeologists of the 19th and 20th centuries, plus the Indiana Jones factor. Modern-day Luxor is three areas, the main city on the east bank of the river, ancient city of Thebes, and the temple complex of Karnak to the north. The Temple of Luxor is also a must-see landmark.
At the lower base of the Nile River and located just below the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser is the city of Aswan, Egypt's gateway to Africa. Aswan is Egypt's most southern city and the place where the Nile is perhaps at its most scenic, flowing round green islands covered in palm trees and tropical plants. The city's colourful traditional market, or souk, is full of fragrant scents from perfumes and spices. A major landmark of Aswan is the Dam which was built to try to control the Nile for irrigation and reduce the risk of annual flooding downstream. The Philae Temple dedicated to the goddess Iris was moved in its entirety during the construction of the dam to save it from being drowned in the massive lake created by the dam.
Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, stylish Alexandria lies at the foot of the fertile Nile River delta. Crowned the "Pearl of the Mediterranean," this is Egypt's second largest city and largest seaport. Some key sites include Qaitbay Fort’s Mameluk fortress built in 1480, the ancient Pompey's Pillar, the 2nd-century Roman theatre and the Cemetery of Mostafa Kamel. Then head to Kom el Shoqafa for Roman catacombs and a fascinating mix of Roman and Egyptian iconography, or visit Montaza Palace housing extensive gardens, a casino and a museum. The Alexandria Library features a planetarium, museum of archaeology and almost 8,000 ancient manuscripts and rare books kept in the basement. Other popular museums here include Alexandria National Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Greco-Roman Museum.
Abu Simbel has some of the most impressive temples in Egypt including the Sun Temple of Ramses II, with its colossal statues of the great Pharaoh, now protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The beautiful Lake Nasser, surrounded by mountains, is the world's largest artificial lake, resulting from the construction of the Aswan Dam. Your Nile cruise ship will dock in front of the Abu Simbel Temples.
In Ashdod you can stand on the sets of some of the bible's best-known stories. Start at the beginning of the holy book with a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Jerusale; it's thought to be built on the site of the stable where Mary gave birth to Jesus. Alternatively, start near the end, in the Garden of Gethsemane - where Judas betrayed Jesus.
Edfou is a small town on the west bank of the River Nile, between Luxor and Aswan, and the location of the Temple of Horus - the sky god shown in statues with a falcon's head. There are also remains of small provincial pyramids nearby. Other important archaeological sites show evidence of settlements dating back to the earliest times of Egyptian history. Kom Ombo has a double temple, with two entrances and two colonnades. One half was dedicated to the god Horus and the other to the god Sobek depicted with a crocodile head.
The city of Qena is a provincial capital built on a bend in the Nile River - between Luxor and the Red Sea. It has a great Islamic heritage and its grand mosque is a place of pilgrimage. Nearby is the Temple of Dendera dedicated to Hathor the goddess of love, beauty and joy. The carvings on the buildings bear the name of Cleopatra and it's possible that she was a frequent visitor.
Egypt is blessed with several popular holiday destinations and Sharm el-Sheikh, situated on the Red Sea Riviera is a particularly sought-after one. Perched at the edge of Sinai, coastal Sharm el-Sheikh is famous for water sports such as scuba diving and snorkelling. If you'd prefer some adventure on drier land then why not rent a quad bike for the afternoon? Experience the dusty desert and leave your mark on this dry landscape. Finish off the day with a sunset camel ride across the coast line.
The Sinai Peninsula is Egypt's easternmost region, lying between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Red Sea to the south. The most noteworthy landmark on the peninsula is Mount Sinai, reputedly where Moses received the Ten Commandments. At the foot of Mount Sinai is St. Catherine's Monastery, located on the site where God spoke to Moses at the burning bush. As the oldest working Christian monastery in the world, St. Catherine's is rich in religious art and houses a collection of ancient manuscripts second in size only to the Vatican's.
Petra also makes an appearance on the list of Red Sea cruise stops. This ancient city was thrust into the 20th century in 1989 when it was used as a film set for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The historic site was the place where whip-wielding Harrison Ford discovered the Holy Grail.
East of the Nile and on the Red Sea Coast is the resort town of Hurghada, where sandy beaches greet sun-seekers and water sports enthusiasts. Transformed in recent years from a small fishing village, the town of Hurghada has managed to retain its natural and historic charm. It's perfect for those seeking total relaxation with fantastic weather and warm sea temperatures throughout the year. Hurghada is the perfect base for day trips to Luxor and Cairo.
A cruise to this North African country really will lead you to adventure and variety. Whether you're interested in history and traditions, diving, camel riding or scrumptious seafood - this kind of holiday really will leave you feeling like you've discovered a whole new world.
If you wish to avoid the soaring African heat then travelling between October and March is wise. The majority of Egypt's religious and state holidays will not disrupt travel plans with the exception of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. During daylight hours many cafés and restaurants are closed, and bars close completely for the month. Offices also operate at reduced hours, though most general services, such as currency exchange and major tourist sites, operate as normal.
Most Egyptian cruises begin in eastern Europe or Egypt itself. Choose from ports including Venice, Limassol (Cyprus), Sharm El Sheikh or Piraeus (Athens). What this does mean is you need to consider booking a flight with your cruise. Call CruiseDeals now to find out more and book your fly/cruise trip to Egypt.
Key cruise lines sailing to the Red Sea include Avalon Waterways, Thomson Cruises, Holland America Lines, Azamara Club Cruises, Princess Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
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