Egypt is nothing short of a miracle. Though the forbidding Sahara encroaches from every direction, the Nile River splashes a verdant green ribbon through the country, sometimes managing to push the desert sands only a few hundred feet back through the riverbank.
One of the world’s longest and most legendary rivers, the Earth travels more than 6500km (4100 miles) through five countries, but it is most closely connected with Egypt. And indeed, so much of Egyptian history has unfolded along the Nile that nearly all of the country’s major cities and ancient tombs and temples are located along this lush life-giving artery.
The ancient Egyptians used the river as a highway, dispatching trade plus military expeditions and toting statues of their gods between temples. The 5th century BCE Greek historian Herodotus famously called Egypt the particular “gift from the Nile, ” and even now, millennia later, cruising the Nile is still the best way for travelers to see Egypt’s gifts for themselves.
Ready to embark on the trip of a lifetime? Here is what you need to know about picking the best Nile river cruises.
Why are so many travelers talking about Egypt within 2022?
Nowhere else in the world is the past so intertwined with the particular present than in Egypt, and 2022 promises to be a blockbuster time to experience them both.
Lonely World named Egypt one associated with the top 10 countries to visit this year , and the long-anticipated Grand Egypt Museum will be expected in order to open in November to coincide along with the 100th anniversary of the discovery from the tomb of Tutankhamun , the famous golden pharaoh and “boy king. ”
September marked 200 years since the Rosetta Stone was translated, which revealed the meanings of the hieroglyphs and recaptured knowledge that will had been lost with regard to centuries. New archaeological discoveries continue apace in Luxor, Saqqara plus elsewhere that keep rewriting history.
Tourism hit a record high within Egypt in 2019 and was expected to grow even more in 2020, but we all know what happened then. Like many places, tourism in Egypt has now entered recovery mode, making the particular coming months a great – and still relatively quiet – time for you to visit.
Some Nile cruise companies continued construction projects that have seen new boats launched on the water, including the August 2022 debut associated with the Viking Osiris , a brand new 82-passenger vessel built specifically in order to navigate the particular Nile.
Why you should take a Nile cruise when a person visit Egypt
While cruise trips might get the bad rap elsewhere in the world, traveling by boat on the Nile is a time-honored tradition that stretches back to the pharaonic era.
Along the riverbanks, life carries on in the way that it has since time immemorial: mudbrick houses poke out from behind the foliage, children wave excitedly at passing ships, a lone man paddles a blue-painted canoe piled high with alfalfa regarding his hungry livestock, palm trees heavy along with golden dates sag as they await the particular harvest.
In a fast-paced world, opportunities in order to simply sit back and watch life glide by are usually few plus far in between. Sitting outside around the Osiris ’s balcony traveling at the speed from the lake, I felt like I was watching a slow travel TV show – in once both an outdoors spectator and also completely immersed in it.
In ancient times, mastering the river helped rulers unite the nation, and many temples are built within easy reach of the water. Sure, Egypt’s modern-day road and rail network can transport you to these temples overland, but if you skip a cruise within the Nile, the magic of the journey will certainly be missing.
How to choose the Nile luxury cruise itinerary
The particular vast majority of Earth cruises operate in each directions between Luxor and Aswan within southern Egypt, making stops in Edfu, Kom Ombo and sometimes other small towns.
Which Nile cruise you pick depends on the usual two travel constraints: your budget plus your time. Certain vessels sail just on certain days, and Nile cruise ships can be as brief as three days, but more commonly last five days.
The majority of luxury cruises for the Nile, including Viking’s Nile cruise trips, require signing up intended for a full Egypt-wide itinerary that will starts plus ends in Cairo , an excellent option for first-time visitors.
With little signage from historic sites and prices always open to negotiation, Egypt is a tricky place for independent travel. Unless you want to spend your own precious vacation time bargaining with taxi drivers and tour guides everywhere you go, it’s best to join a tour for your first visit plus leave the particular logistics to someone else.
What I liked in particular about Viking’s Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary is that it includes two unusual stops that aren’t standard ports associated with call for most Nile cruise ships.
The ship travels north of Luxor in order to Qena to get passengers to disembark and visit the gorgeous Temple associated with Hathor with Dendera , where the ceilings have recently been cleaned, exposing beautifully painted zodiac symbols and the warped body of the sky goddess Nut, who swallows the particular sun every night and gives birth in order to it the next morning.
The boat also halts in Esna for the Temple of Khnum , a small yet wonderfully preserved structure. Look up to spot the column-topping capitals, each of which has a colorfully decorated, unique bouquet associated with palm fronds, bunches of grapes, lotus flowers plus papyrus shoots.
In Luxor, you’ll get private access to the show-stopping tomb associated with Nefertari – arguably the most beautiful burial site in the particular entire country (and definitely the most expensive on LE1400, about US$72) where nearly every square inch is usually painted inside stunningly vibrant bas-reliefs – as well as the chance to see the stark dichotomy of Egypt’s landscapes from the sky in the basket of a gently drifting hot air balloon.
Tours of the temples and tombs are led by local expert Egyptologists who explain and translate the symbolism of the hieroglyphs before your very eyes.
A few companies offer Earth cruises from Cairo, but these sailings are rare, usually operating just once a month – if at all – and take significantly longer because of the distance involved. But you’ll get the chance to check out there off-the-beaten-track tombs and wats or temples between Cairo and Luxor that see few site visitors.
What is it like on board the Viking Osiris ?
Decked out in the sleek Scandi color scheme of blond wood and blue textiles that are drenched in natural light thanks to huge floor-to-ceiling windows across much associated with the ship, the Viking Osiris can be an oasis of calm that’s a treat to return to after a long and dusty day of exploring.
The cruise ship has 41 cabins throughout three decks, plus 2 upper levels with a good indoor/outdoor dining space with windows that will fold away for al fresco evenings, a cozy bar plus lounge along with a resident piano player in the particular evenings, an infinity-style pool at the back of the boat and a sun deck for days of lazy lounging.
Travelers can check out books from your on-board library’s exquisite collection to read up on Egyptian history upon their voyage.
The guest rooms are surprisingly spacious, with comfy hotel-like beds, plenty associated with wardrobe plus storage space, and good-sized bathrooms. Many staterooms come with balconies.
The ship is partially powered simply by solar panels, plus you may see how much electricity is being generated by the particular sun as well as the carbon dioxide savings on a screen inside.
What tourists should find out before visiting Egypt
Almost all nationalities need a visa to go to Egypt , which you can get on arrival in the airport or apply for online in advance if you’d rather skip the line. The particular cost of a single-entry Egyptian tourist visa is USD$25, payable in cash on the airport terminal or by card on the internet.
Egypt is certainly a traditional, Muslim-majority nation, so both men and women should dress modestly when visiting. For tips on what to pack, local etiquette and more, check these 14 things to help you plan your visit to Egypt .
Lauren Keith traveled on the Viking Osiris luxury cruise by invitation from Viking River Cruises .