Cruises are an extremely popular way to see some of Egypt’s most amazing attractions. Voyages usually last from between five and fourteen nights, and cruise from Luxor to Aswan and back. There are boats available to suit all budgets, from the fairly basic to luxurious cruises – the best of these luxury cruises combine modern facilities like swimming pools with a colonial era touch of style and decadence. On board, you’ll have the opportunity to get involved with theme nights, play games with your fellow passengers, and enjoy some great food and drinks.
Ancient Egyptian sites along the Nile are numerous. The most famous is the Valley of the Kings, which includes the Tomb of Tutenkhamun. There’s also the Valley of the Queens, the Temple or Karnak, the Temple of Edfu the Temple of Hathor, the Temple of Seti I and numerous other jaw-dropping sights. It’s also possible to extend your stay and visit Cairo, to see its magnificent museums, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.
Felucca cruises are available on the Nile. These boats are the traditional way of navigating the river. You can do a day cruise, just to dip your toe into what it feels like to travel the Nile by sail. Or you can do a longer cruise – these are generally shorter than cruises in standard boats, and last around three nights. Often, you’ll sleep on the deck and facilities will be limited, but what you make up in mod cons you’ll gain back in relaxation, peace and a true enjoyment of the river. Feluccas usually sleep up to twelve, but are often smaller.
Dahabiyas or dahabeihs are bigger than feluccas and, while they have sails, can also have motors. These are a reasonably good way to experience the best of both felucca and mainstream cruises. Dahabiyas were extremely popular during the early 20th century, and can be a stylish and elegant way to see the Nile – the boats themselves are absolutely beautiful, and are a perfect way to enjoy some romance on the river. Dahabiya cruises are generally four to seven nights long, and can offer experiences and destinations that won’t be available to passengers on the enormous cruisers. Both feluccas and dahabiyas can be booked out for the use of a group, and a bespoke itinerary created. Dahabiyas can carry fifteen to thirty passengers.
Not all excursions are related to Ancient Egypt – trips into the desert are popular too. You can take to the skies in a hot air balloon to see the Sahara from above. Try a camel ride, or visit a Bedouin village. Quad biking trips are extremely popular, or you can try a jeep safari. If you’re really interested in finding out more about the desert, then visit the Siwa Oasis. Here you can take overnight trips into the desert, sand board, or hire a local guide to tell you more about animal and human life in the vast Sahara.
Egypt has been a tourist destination for a long time – the ancient Greeks and Romans visited here. It didn’t take the Egyptians much time to realise tourism was a money spinner. You’re likely to experience some hassle from people wanting you to buy things; be assertive if you don’t want something, but don’t get worked up about it either. Take lots of small change to temples and tombs for baksheesh, which will smooth your visit considerably.
Remember Egypt is an Islamic country – you may want to avoid visiting during Ramadan, when many restaurants won’t open until the sun has gone down, and it’s considered bad form for tourists to eat in front of locals outside of resorts and hotels. Also, although alcohol is available everywhere in resorts, in towns and cities its sale is fairly restricted. If you’re planning a cruise on a sailing ship, you may want to stock up at the airport.