For centuries, the River Nile has enchanted an array of adventurers with its mysterious landscapes. Now, it is your turn to explore the wonders of Egypt with a classic Nile voyage between Luxor and Aswan. As you embark on this journey, you will have the opportunity to witness awe-inspiring monuments, monuments of incredible history, and discover a unique way of life. From the tranquil waters of the Nile to the deserts of the Egyptian interior, come on board for a unique adventure.
1. Ancient Landmarks of Luxor
One of the biggest draws of Egypt is exploring the majestic ancient landmarks. Luxor is a perfect starting point to admire the best of Ancient Egyptian heritage, with iconic sites like the Luxor Temple, the funerary temple of Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings, and the Colossi of Memnon.
- Luxor Temple – Built around 1400 BCE, this temple is a masterful exhibition of art and architecture dedicated to the gods Amun Ra, Mut, and Khonsu. Its walled complex houses four courts, two colonnades, and numerous statues of gods and pharaohs.
- The funerary temple of Hatshepsut – Located in the Valley of the Kings, this terraced mortuary temple is one of the best-preserved monuments of Ancient Egypt. It’s renowned for its reliefs and statues of the powerful 18th Dynasty Queen of Egypt, Hatshepsut.
- The Valley of the Kings – This breathtaking necropolis lies on the west bank of the Nile and is the burial site of Egypt’s Pharaohs, dating back to the New Kingdom. The tombs are remarkable for the intricate hieroglyphs and ancient decorations, while the Valley of the Queens is another burial site for Egypt’s royal families.
- Colossi of Memnon – Dating from the 13th century BCE, these two immense statues are amongst the best-known landmarks in Egypt. Originally part of Amenhotep III’s funerary temple, they stand guard over the site and are a must-see for visitors.
These magnificent structures, most of which are well-preserved, allow visitors to relive the splendor of Ancient Egypt’s past. Don’t miss the chance to explore the best of this incredible land and its legacy.
2. Historic Sights Along the Nile
Valley of the Kings – Located on the West Bank of the Nile near Luxor, the Valley of the Kings is the burial site of royalty from the 18th to 20th Dynasties and is a must-see destination. It contains monuments, temples, underground tombs, and endless hieroglyphic wonders.
Karnak Temple – Overlooking the Nile on the east bank of Luxor, Karnak is a grand complex of structures from different eras including pylons, statues, columns, and courts. Its many offerings include the great Hypostyle Hall constructed during the reign of the 18th Dynasty pharaohs.
Luxor Temple – On the East Bank of the Nile, this temple is one of the most magnificent structures of ancient Egypt. The entrance is the 56-foot-tall Colossus of Amenophis III, under which lies the Great Court of Ramses and then the Hypostyle Hall. Also in the complex are the Sacred Lake and the four guardian statues of Sekhmet.
Temples at Abydos – About 130 miles north of Luxor are the remains of 11 temples, part of the ancient city of Abydos. This destination is a must-see for archeology enthusiasts as many tombs have been unearthed here, including the tomb of Seti I. Aside from the stunning architecture, its archaeological sites are unparalleled.
Edfu Temple – Located in the city of Edfu, this beautiful temple was erected by Ptolemy III and dedicated to the god Horus. It is made up of a courtyard, two pylons, and the main entrance with its colossus and a wall. Inside, visitors can find several huge halls adorned with reliefs and inscriptions.
Kom Ombo Temple – This incredible temple was built by both Ptolemy VI and VIII. It is made up of two symmetrical halves dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus. It is built on a hill and crowned with huge pylons and courts that are filled with sculptures, hieroglyphs, and plenty of murals.
Philae Temple – Sitting on an island right in the middle of the Nile, the Philae Temple is one of the most well-known monuments in Egypt. It is a complex of structures dedicated to Isis, Osiris, and Horus, featuring an ancient hypostyle hall with detailed reliefs and statues of the gods.
3. Discovering Life on the River
Embarking on an exploration along the Nile is an adventure like no other.Once you venture beyond Luxor you will find the simple pleasures of life that remain unchanged.
- Kom Ombo: take a visit to the twin temples of Kom Ombo, dedicated to two gods crocodile-headed Sobek and the falcon-headed Horus. The highlight is the remains of a large crocodile mummified in the form of Sobek.
- Edfu: gateway to the ancient city of Horus. The Temple of Hour stands proudly at the entrance of the city an intact temple where much of the colorful wall reliefs are still in tact.
- Esna: the old mud brick lighthouse has sightings of the Nile crocs between sunset and night fall. It is also a vibrant centre of the Nubian calendar and celebrates the annual moulid of Coptic saint Abu el-Haggag.
Don’t forget to make time to go see the Re-Harachte temple in Esna. This temple is dedicated to the goddess Re-Harachte and was built almost completely from limestone. It’s spectacular walls are well preserved and its vibrant colours will stay with you long after you have left.
Make sure to explore the West Bank of Luxor too. There you will find many grand tombs and monuments. These are secrets of an ancient civilization, and the stories told by the hieroglyphs and tiles will captivate you. Make sure to explore the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Ramesseum and many more essential sites.
4. A Guide to the Culture of Aswan
- Traveling in Aswan. Aswan is a great place to explore the ancient heart of Egypt; with the ancient cataracts of the Nile and the breathtaking ruins of the Pharaohs, it’s a unique and exciting destination. From the bustling souks of the Old Town to the breathtaking views over the Nile, it’s a great place to visit and experience the real Egypt.
- The Aswan Culture. The culture and lifestyle of the people of Aswan are deeply intertwined with the Nile. Its winding path plays an important role in the lives and history of the locals, and its banks remain their homes for years and generations. From the traditional food to the folklore, music, art, and customs, the culture of Aswan is unique and vibrant.
- The Temples of Aswan. The ancient Temples of Aswan are among the most impressive sights in Egypt. From the beautiful Great Temple of Isis and the mysterious Temple of Ramses II to the stunning temples of Karnak, they are incredibly well-preserved monuments that really stand out.
- Local Experiences. Aswan is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the Egyptian culture. From the Picky-Paku markets and the colorful felucca boat sailing to the electrifying Nubian music played in the Old Town. You can learn about traditional goods, spices, and traditional crafts – and even take part in cooking classes to learn about the local specialties.
5. Accommodation Options for Your Trip
When considering your journey from Luxor to Aswan, you’ll want to decide on an accommodation option that best suits your needs. Here are five choices to consider:
- 1. Hotels: Egypt offers an excellent range of hotels in cities, towns and remote desert locales. Whether you want traditional accommodations close to culture and history, or something more secluded and romantic, you’ll find something suitable.
2. Luxury Cruises: Floating between the two port cities of Luxor and Aswan gives you an exquisite journey through ancient Egypt. Luxury cruises offer all the amenities and more that you’d expect, with some having a private pool and balcony for a view of the iconic scenery.
3. Guided Tours: You can join one of many organised tours and let experienced guides take you through the land of history and mythology. This is great way for those short on time, ensuring you get to all the major attractions and sites.
4. Camping: For the adventurer who loves the great outdoors, there are plenty of camping options in Egypt both along the Nile and around the Sahara Desert. You can rent or bring your own equipment and take in the guarded serenity of camping in Egypt.
5. Luxury Villas: Some villas along the Nile offer a more peaceful alternative to hotels and cruise ships. The villas provide luxury, relaxation and seclusion, as well as access to all the major attractions.
6. Shopping Tips in the Local Markets
- Know the Currency: Local markets in Egypt use Egyptian Pound. To make the most out of your shopping, brush up on local currency exchange rates before visiting.
- Shop in Groups: Local markets in Egypt are crowded and bustling. Shopping can be overwhelming for locals and tourists alike. To make the most out of your shopping trip, it is best to shop in groups so that you can ask the locals for advice and figure out the right bargain.
- Exploring in the Morning: Tourists should make it a point to explore markets like the Kornish in Luxor and Souq el-Sagha in Aswan early in the morning, from 6-9 am. Not only will the crowd be lesser, you will get to make a great bargain at this time.
- Patience is Mandatory: Egyptians love to take their time when it comes to bargaining and you must reciprocate. Show your enthusiasm, appreciate the art or craftsmanship they offer and don’t mind putting in a little extra effort for the right product at the right price.
- Research the Products: Thanks to the internet, researching what is available in the local markets of Egypt is not a problem. Do a thorough research online before hitting the market. Egyptian markets are flooded with fakes, so do your due diligence.
7. Dining Out in Local Eateries
As you travel down the Nile, don’t miss out on the local eateries that stretch all the way from Luxor to Aswan! Sample some delicious regional dishes and spoil your taste buds with the culinary treats Egypt has to offer.
Here are some of the must-try treats you can expect to encounter when dining out in local cafes and eateries:
- Kushari: A local favorite dish, kushari is made of lentils, rice, macaroni, and chickpeas, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and fried onions.
- Ful Medames: Another iconic Egyptian dish, ful medames is a seasoned mixture of fava beans, 蒜, cumin, and lemon juice, usually served for breakfast.
- Kebabs: Kebabs are you’re your typical grilled meats like chicken, lamb, and beef, served with a side of yogurt or taratour sauce.
- Mahshi: Mahshi, a popular dish in Egypt, is a combination of vegetables like squash, eggplant, and tomato stuffed with rice and herbs.
The Nile River has many hidden gems that offer the most delicious of eats. Don’t worry about price, as the food available along the journey from Luxor to Aswan is quite affordable, making it easy to sample many of the regional specialties!
8. What to Expect from a Nile Cruise
A cruise along the River Nile is undoubtedly a unique experience that all adventurers should experience. Embark on a journey of exploration and discovery, retracing the footsteps of Egyptian cities from Luxor to Aswan. Voyaging along the longest river in the world, cruise ships plough through the Nile and its waters, carrying you into the depths of the land and its history.
- Explore The Monuments: Tour the ruins of the ancient cities, exploring the great monuments such as the Valley of the Kings, the temples of Karnak and Luxor, the Colossi of Memnon and the pyramids of Giza.
- Cruise With The Sun: Start your day with the sun rising over the horizon and take in all the sights that it brings. Enjoy the tranquility of the river, letting the sounds of nature drift over you.
- Taste Authentic Cuisine: Savour the flavours of traditional Egyptian dishes, prepared freshly for you by the ship’s chef. Sample all sorts of delicious treats, from grilled seafood to exotic spices.
Visit historical sites such as the Tomb of Tutankhamen or the Temple of Kom Ombo. As you cruise to your destination, listen to the tales of pharaoh and gods from your tour guide. Feel relaxed and refreshed as you sip cocktails on the deck of the cruise and take in the majestic views of the valley river.
For a truly amazing adventure, take a cruise from Luxor to Aswan and explore Egypt along its mighty river. The experience is full of mystique and wonder, where time stands still and the wonders of the Pharaohs come alive.
The rich history of Egypt is hard to overstate. Exploring the monuments and ruins found along the Nile River is to experience a culture that has been held in reverence for over 5,000 years. Taking the time to navigate the Nile between Luxor and Aswan will provide invaluable insight into the culture, heritage, and spirit of Egypt. Therefore, see Luxor and Aswan, and be transported back in time to embrace one of the most ancient of world cultures.