River Nile travel guide, including map of Egypt, top River Nile experiences, tips for River Nile travel, when to sail the River Nile and River Nile tips
The bray of a donkey, an ox cart working the fields by the riverbank, wood smoke rising from a simple hut – the sights and sounds that glide past on a Nile cruise today could almost be plucked from any century in Egypt’s history.
The River Nile is Egypt’s lifeblood, tracing the country’s entire length from the southern border with Sudan into the Mediterranean. Boats have plied the Nile since time immemorial; these days, many of the Nile’s vessels are transporting travellers in search of the most romantic of travel experiences.
While the Nile dissects the whole of Egypt, the government forbids cruises from Cairo to Luxor; tourist boats may only sail as far north as Abydos. Most Nile cruises travel the Luxor-Aswan section, which can take between three and seven nights. This may discount a large section of the river, but most of Egypt’s historic sites – such as the temples of Kom Ombo, Karnak and Edfu – are along this stretch.
Picking the right boat for your Nile Cruise is essential: more than 250 vessels operate the route, plus feluccas (wooden sailing boats).
Feluccas offer real no-frills travel – no cabins, no toilet, no running water. You will sleep on deck or camp ashore. There are plenty of cheap ’n cheerful cruise boats available, as well as luxury liners that can be opulent in the extreme – plush and spacious cabins, swimming pools, cigar lounges, even a full-on spa.
A dahabiyya (barge-like houseboat with sails) offers the authenticity of a felucca but with a lot more comfort. These restored and replica 19th-century sailing vessels have style and glamour as well as all the mod-cons.
But however you chose to sail, a trip along the River Nile will give you a timeless look at this oldest of tourist destinations.