Review: The Nile
The Nile, Egypt
Went to the Nile and found Moses
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Well, the Arab Spring was in evidence as we visited Egypt, as was the lack of tourist.
We went for an experience that was portrayed in the book Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie; The Sun going down over the Nile; a Sunset Felucca sail; Well ,the romance I am sure is still there if you can get past the people selling beads; papyrus of the Egyptian gods, the scarves and the towels. But we did find Moses or should I say Moussa yes, that was the name of our cultural guide and Moses was a real find with an amazing amount of Egyptian history he walked us" like an Egyptian" through the temples and sights along the wonderful Nile.
Well, the cruise was to start at Luxor, but that is rather an exaggeration, we where taken to our ship the MS Serenade in a 'holding' area about 10 minutes outside Luxor, pleasant enough area and this gave us the opportunity to get acclimatised with our accommodation for the week. The rooms/cabins are a reasonable size with a large picture window, very few ships have a balcony. But like the old adage you get what you pay for, ours wasn't the best ship, but it turned out to be a half empty ship and after one day on board we where told we had to change ships and join another boat which strangely enough was also half full. There is over 300 cruise boats on the Nile and only 80 being used. The Arab Spring and the recession is taking its toll on the Egyptians. One of our party booked for the cruise boat Emily, it was in dock and hadn't been used for two years!! the travel agent the couple had booked through was still selling it!! Tip: If you have any disability the boats are not for you. You can get on them and find a down stairs room but most sun deck are on the top of the boat and after a week of going up three flights of stairs and down one flight to the lower deck for the restaurant this is not a mean feat for anyone who has a disability.
We visited the Valley of the Kings, Luxor and Karnak Temples and Hatshepsut Temple, this was on the first day!! We visited the Valley of the Kings a most amazing place and one best to see early morning, before the crowds get bigger. I can not describe the Valley it is surreal and walking into a tomb that was created over 3,000 years ago is quiet an experience. Some of the tombs have colour still on them reds and blues. The Karnak Temple is stunning, some of the obelisk carvings are spectacular and the Luxor Temple being so close to the city and the Nile is a special sight with its sphinx avenue. One of the obelisks is missing from Luxor Temple because it is in Paris!! Well, I am not sure why it has never been given back but hey ho! The Hapshetsut Temple is a must – riots and shootings have made the sight more famous in the past century but the temple has seen other things we can only imagine, it is a wonderful sight. Please note tour operators can book all off shore trips but others you book yourself from the tour guide on the boat. They can range from 15 pounds to 70 pounds per person. The tours are long but informative. Unfortunately they run them and you are there in the heat of the day so be warned, older people on our trip said it was too much and too long in the heat of the day.
The experience of "floating down the Nile" is wonderful, steeped in history. The river banks have people waving to the boats, cows graze in the shallow waters and fishermen work away not taking any notice of the boats. There has to be a down side with the plus – the Nile River is not the cleanest river and often plastic bags and pizza boxes also float by!. The sun sets are however, very beautiful, with the feluccas drifting by and the sound of the call to prayer from the mosques – well it can either get on your nerves or you will like it!.It is part of the atmosphere and sounds right with the sights of the river and the sun going down on the day.
Our first call was the Kom Ombu Temple – this temple is easily accessed by foot up to a very impressive temple by the river, once you have "run the gauntlet of the sellers" it is a very peacefully place, and with easy access back to the boat you do not have to stand too long in the hot sun.
We then had an interesting experience going through the Esna Locks. We approached in the evening, to be surrounded by sellers in little boats selling towels, blankets and gabaliers. They throw the goods up to the boat in plastic bags then if you like the item you throw down the money in the plastic bag – simple – well great if the bag doesn't land in the water!. This activity goes on all through the lock experience. The locks themselves are a master piece. Our next stop was Aswan, we stayed here for two days and by this time we wanted to get off and take a walk, there are obvious restriction on board but terra firma was something we realised we needed. It is difficult as the sellers and horse drawn carriage men do not know the meaning of NO, it can be very difficult, but my advice is keep on walking, they will soon get the message!! At Aswan the tours where the Aswan Dam and Philea Temple, also to Abu Simbel which was the highlight of our tour. A trip to a local village and a Felucca sail. At Aswan we visited the Lower Dam by coach on our way to the Philea Temple, the Dam which is British made is very impressive the Dam was built to control the annual Nile flood and provide much needed water supply for Egypt and Sudan. Our journey continued to the Philea Temple, which host a sound and light show in the evening, which is rather a good idea. To go to out of the heat of the day, but whenever you go it is worth the effort. The temple over looks the very impressive Nasser Lake and as our guide explained is a very interesting temple, in reasonable condition.
Our trip to Abu Simbel was amazing, we set off at the crack of dawn and had an armed guard on the coach and the coaches all went in convoy through the desert, a bit scary but wonderful and exciting watching the sun come up over the desert is a sight not to be missed. Abu Simbel is fantastic a sight to behold, how the Egyptians did what they did to carve the incredible statues and carvings is a wonder. Abu Simbel has been moved piece by piece further up the banks of the Nile to avoid being submerged in Nasser Lake. Don't miss it.
We set off back to Luxor at a faster speed and only had one stop at the temple of Edfu. To get to this temple you have to travel by horse and cart, yes another temple but all the temples have "something" and still project the magic and life of the ancient Egyptians that where a very clever nation and when we where in caves they where living the life of their Kings and Queens.
Our trip was almost over but one social evening was a must for every trip the "dressing up night" in Egyptian clothes – not obligatory but fun. People bought outfits for the occasion and made a real effort, the crew also dressed up the lounge bar, music and a buffet was provided. The boat does have entertainment when docked and we saw two belly dancers and two whirling dervishes – both very good. As we said goodbye to people we had met on the boat, the sun set on the Nile but the memories will linger forever.
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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.