When choosing your Nile Cruise, you will want to check the day they depart from Luxor to Aswan or from Aswan to Luxor. And fly into the destination from Cairo or take the train (10-12 hours to Luxor).
Luxor to Aswan is usually a 4 nights cruise and Aswan to Luxor is a 3 nights cruise. Some people choose to depart from Luxor and do the one week cruise to Aswan and back. Both itinerary include the same sights at a different pace.
Before I begin I’d like you to note something. All egyptian art is based on perfect balance as it reflects the ideal world of the Gods. You will come to notice that there is symmetry in everything, and that I find extremely beautiful. For photographers out there, it’s a photography heaven.
Day 1 – Luxor
On day 1, around 11/12 you embark on your cruise. Check in, take your room, have lunch at 1 pm and off you have the afternoon to yourself.
This day is dedicated to the East Bank of the Nile River with two important temples to visit.
Karnak Temple Complex is one of the biggest temples in the world. Dedicated to God Amon Ra – God of the Gods; it was the main place of worship of the eighteenth dynasty.
There’s a path between Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple. Known to be the path Amon followed to get to the Karnak. You will get to see a small part of it as you enter Karnak. The alleys of the Sphinx.
Luxor Temple is the place where Amon Ra appeared for the first time. Located right by the Nile, you can see it right from your cruise if you are lucky. It’s open until 9 pm.
Upon entering you will notice the right Obelisk missing. It was gifted to France and is now located at the Concorde in Paris.
Best time to visit Karnak is by sunset in my opinion around 3 till 5:30/6. Afterwards head off to the Luxor Temple to see it by night
If you arrive early to Luxor, visit Karnak then head to check in. And in the evening visit Luxor.
Day 2 – Luxor and sail to Esna
Today we will head to the West Bank of the Nile to visit the other side.
Valleys of the Kings: Nestled in between the mountains the valleys of the king is pretty extraordinary.
My tip is to visit: Ta Wesret’s Tomb, Ramses III, Ramses IV (one ticket includes 3 tombs). Ramses V and V (extra ticket but so worth it, it’s in my opinion the most beautiful one).
After your visit to Valleys of the Kings, head of to the Builders Tombs and the Valleys of the Nobles (visit Sin Nefer and Rekh Mi Ra).
You can also visit the Valleys of the Queens, the only worth it is the Tomb of Queen Nefertari. But it’s more on the expensive side (1000 LE for foreigners and 600 LE for Egyptians). This part is less visited.
Hatshepsut Temple has a very special place in my heart, it’s the only Temple of a woman’s Goddess. She was acting as a man, as in wearing what they wore, putting on a beard etc..
Colossi of Memnon that’s on the way. You just stop for a couple of minutes for a picture, it’s pretty impressive.
Upon arrival to Esna if it’s not too late you can visit Khnum Temple.
On the way to Edfu, in Esna, you will experience the Esna Lock. It’s a passage on the Nile where they elevate boats; as there’s a change levels of water from 80 in Luxor to 90 in Aswan.
Day 3 – Edfu Temple and sail to Komombo
To get to Edfu, the only method of transportation is through the village on a horse carriage. Takes you back in time. It’s a set price for the return horse carriage. And the “driver” will wait for you outside somewhere you both decide.
Edfu Temple is one of the most important antiquity from the ancient world. Why you ask? Because it has been conserved up to 96% of the what it originally was. It’s the temple of God Horus. It is one of the most beautiful and preserved Temple in Egypt. One of the most remarkable elements of the temple is the existence of a Nilometer.
Komombo at sunset is a beautiful sight. This sight shared by two god Sobek and Horus. It’s known as duality’s Temple, black and white, day and night, chaos (Sobek) and order (Horus). EVerything in this temple is doubled as there were two Gods.
Day 4 – Sail to Aswan and overnight in Aswan
High Damis a rock-fill dam located at the northern border between Egypt and Sudan. The dam is fed by the Nile River and the reservoir forms Lake Nasser. The lake is one of the largest human made lakes in the world.
Philae Temple, sacred to the Godess Isis. One of the most important monuments site in Aswan. Affected by the construction of the Dam, it was submerged with water. The temple complex was dismantled and moved to nearby Agilka Island as part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project. It can be visited at night for the sound and light show.
Unfinished Obelisk is the largest known ancient obelisk. It’s impressive!
Kalabsha Temple is one of the less visited temples. Still beautiful it makes for amazing pictures since it’s pretty empty.
If you are staying more time in Aswan, check out this more detailed article about Aswan click here 🙂 And specially don’t miss the Nubian Village (it’s a MUST) and meet the beautiful people of Nubia. You can even stay in the Nubian Village at Kato Dol.
When to go on a Nile Cruise
Best time would be October – November to March – April. As this is the time the heat goes down and the weather is pleasant. I went end of November and it was lovely. A bit cold in the evening but tshirts and shorts during the day.
Where to stay in Luxor and Aswan before or after the Nile Cruise
Of course Aswan my first recommendation is the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract (click to read all about my stay there).
For a cheaper option in Aswan there is the Movenpick.
Difference between the boats
There are 3 types of boats that sail on the Nile, the Felluca, the Dahabeya and the cruise.
The felluca is a an open air sailing boats with no cabins. Good for a cruise on the Nile in Aswan or Luxor or even Cairo.
The dahabeya is a small wooden boat that can be sailed with the wind on the Nile. They usually contain around 10 -12 cabins. Amazing for a family trip per example if you are a big family and can take the whole boat.
Then there’s the nile cruise which is a big motorized boats usually containing around 30 – 35 cabins.
What to wear during your Nile Cruise
Depending on when you will be visiting you will need a cardigan or heavy jacket. Very early morning are usually chilly, full day is usually super hot. So pack accordingly. Long dresses for ladies, linen shirt or t-shirt and shorts for men. And keep a shawl in your bag as it can get chilly in the shade and inside the temples.
Don’t forget your swimsuit for the cruise!
And the million dollar question, how much will all of this cost me?
I was on the Sonesta Nile Goddess – you can find its rates here and a review of it here.
It all depends on which cruise you will take. The top ones on the Nile in my opinion are The Oberoi (that I’m hoping to visit soon). As well as the Dahabeyas (we talked about them above) and the Sun Boat IV.
Depending on what you can afford you will find a range of cruises. Just look at the reviews and choose one that has good reviews regarding the food.
Also don’t forget that in Egypt people live out of the tips. It’s usually their main source of income. So please tip them, everyone needs to be tipped. From your tour guide to the guy who will carry your luggage with everyone in between!
If you have any question or if you’d like me to arrange a trip for you; get in touch here or on instagram @trannetastravels