Many boating companies offer cruises along the Nile River. Some companies of note are Avalon Waterways, Emerald Waterways, and Memphis Tours. Visit the company websites for information on fares and booking.
Located in Upper Egypt and often characterized as “the world’s greatest open-air museum” (characterized as such because the temple complex ruins in Luxor and Karnak are in the modern city). Temples and museums grace Luxor’s east bank. Temples also make up the many attractions in the west bank. In addition, you’ll find two valleys of note – Valley of the Kings and Queens – Tombs of the Nobles, Deir el-Medina (workers’ village), and Malkata (palace for Amenophis III, ninth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty).
Valley of the Kings
This is the place where people constructed tombs for pharaohs and powerful nobles for five hundred years (sixteenth to eleventh century B.C.). Visitors can find this valley on the Nile’s west bank. The valley is divided in two: East Valley and West Valley (most tombs are in the eastern zone). Unfortunately, most tombs are not open to the public, and the tombs that are open may sometimes close whenever restoration work must be done. Only one tomb is accessible to the public in the West Valley. Visitors must have a ticket in hand to see the site. Guides will show you around the tomb, but they cannot talk while visiting inside. Sorry, camera lovers: photography is no longer permitted inside the tomb’s walls.
Come see a mix of temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings at this complex. Construction began during the Middle Kingdom period and continued into the Ptolemaic period. Did you know that Karnak is a common name in popular culture? It’s been the feature location for a number of movie scenes in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Mummy Returns. Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile takes place aboard the S.S. Karnak steamship. And a number of music groups, including the British symphonic metal band Bal-Sagoth, make mention of Karnak in songs like “Unfettering the Hoary Sentinels of Karnak.” This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is another southern city in Egypt. What makes Aswan special? It teems with tourists year-round. In fact, Aswan is an ideal winter destination for many, since the Nile River offers breathtaking views. The river flows through granite rocks, round emerald islands covered in palm groves, and tropical plants. And like most Egyptian destinations, Aswan does not fall short of sites or monuments. Interested in visiting the Agha Khan Monastery? Sail across to the Philae Temple. If you want to see more attractions, why not take a trip to St. Simeon’s Monastery? Another feature of this city is culture. Take a bite into local fish produce at a restaurant while listening to Nubian music. Want to spice up your food? Stop by at a local market and purchase local spices. Up for a tattoo? You can get a henna (flowering plant) tattoo while you’re here. If you want to take a bit of Aswan with you as you return home, be sure to buy souvenirs and African handmade goods at the Aswan Bazaar. Finally, if you ever have arthritis or any type of pain during your stay, you can bury your body aches in the city’s sand. Aswan also has a number of sites for people to relax and rejuvenate.
Abu Simbel Temples
These are two massive rock temples located in Abu Simbel, a village in Nubia, near the Sudan border. You can find the temples on the western bank of Lake Nasser, 230 kilometres southwest of Aswan. To avoid being submerged by Lake Nasser, the temples were relocated in 1968. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the complex is coined the “Nubian Mountains,” since they run from Abu Simbel to Philae, near Aswan. Two temples await visitors upon their arrival. The Great Temple is the largest. When you arrive at the entrance, you will see a bas-relief representing two images of the king worshipping Ra Harakhti, a falcon head. Step inside the temple and take a look at the layout. It is triangular in shape, as are most ancient temples in Egypt. The hypostyle hall is characterized by pillars representing Ramses linked to Osiris, the underworld god. This indicates the pharaoh’s everlasting nature. You’ll also see colossal statues; some of them bear a white crown of Upper Egypt, and others wear a double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. A pillared hall follows the hypostyle hall. The pillared hall features various scenes of royalty and victories in past wars. The Small Temple is known for its statues of a king and his queen. Here’s one particularity with the Small Temple: scenes with the queen playing instruments adorn the walls. (The instrument in question is the sinistrum.) Pillars and bas-reliefs depict various scenes with pharaohs, queens, gods, and goddesses.