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River Boat Cruises in Egypt

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Giza Plateau

“Egypt is the gift of the Nile.  Nowhere are there so many marvelous things, nor in the world besides are to be seen so many things of unspeakable greatness.”

Thus wrote Herodotus, the Greek historian, in 325BC.  Remarkably, this is no less true 2500 years later.  River boat cruises are an ideal way to witness these wonders yourself – for much of the country, the only practical way.  To sail the Nile is to sail back in time.  Life along its banks continues as it has for thousands of years.

The Nile is the life blood of Egypt.  The annual floods replenish the soil and make agriculture possible along its banks.  Only 6% of the total land mass of Egypt is arable, all situated within a narrow band that hugs the shores of the Nile.  99% of Egypt’s population lives within this area.  All of Egypt’s major cities – Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Alexandria – sit on the Nile.  The river has long been Egypt’s principal thoroughfare and its trade route.  It’s the thread that has held the country together.

Abercrombie & Kent, Viking River Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, and Avalon Waterways are among the larger providers of river boat cruises.  Added to these are a number of high-quality vessels operated by large hotel chains, such as Sonesta and Oberoi.  When the numerous smaller companies are included, the total number of river boats from which to choose numbers around 250.

Most river boat cruises sail between Luxor and Aswan in either direction, taking 3 or 4 days in which to navigate the distance.  Some few cruises go as far north as Dendera, and some do 7 night roundtrips between Luxor and Aswan.  Sightseeing is provided at either end, with further opportunities to explore at stops enroute.  Typically, the river boats stop at Edfu, site of the Temple of Horus, the best preserved major temple in Egypt, and at Kom Ombo.  Kom Ombo, situated beautifully on a hillside just above the Nile, has the distinction of being dedicated to two gods – Sobek, the crocodile-headed god, and Haroeris, the sun god.  Passengers, if they’re lucky, will depart this site as darkness falls, getting a marvelous view of the temple in full illumination.

Technorati Tags: Aswan, Edfu, Egypt, Kom Ombo, Luxor, river boat cruises, Royal Viking Cruises, the Nile river