A Nile cruise sounds exotic, perhaps even romantic – and it can be. But be prepared, it may not be what you expect. This page takes a look at the both the charming and not so charming aspects of the cruise, plus some other aspects of tourism in modern Egypt.
The Nile cruises generally run between Luxor and Aswan (one way; as you depart another group boards your vessel to sail in the opposite direction). There is also a stop of up to several hours at the locks at Esna. The Nile cruise is the best way to see the magnificent temples and other archeological sites at Luxor, Thebes, Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, Edfu, Kom Ombo and Aswan. In addition, one can take a brief day trip (by air) to Abu Simbel (which I highly recommend).
There are, however, a staggering number of huge, floating hotels that travel the route between Luxor and Aswan. To give you an idea: one morning while docked in Aswan, I went out for a jog. Vessels were tied up three deep along the shoreline. I ran about a mile and a half and never reached the end of the queue. Surprisingly, even on these gigantic Nile cruise vessels, Egyptian vendors manage to find you. They know that many cruises feature costume parties where the tourists dress up as Egyptians for the evening. While the ships are tied up waiting to pass the locks at Esna, enterprising vendors row out with a selection of robes for sale.
I confess that I was a bit overwhelmed by the throngs of tourists along the Nile. I am glad I went; the ancient sites were spectacular beyond imagination, and I didn't expect to have the country almost to myself (as in Iran, Tibet or Bhutan), but I wish I had a better idea of what to expect.
To continue the tour of modern Egypt, visit the Cairo page.
Out in the Countryside: Outside of the major cities, many people still live a very traditional life. Most of the photos here are from a street market in Edfu. Although Edfu receives hordes of visitors to the Temple of Horus, these photos highlight a street market that most tourists pass by without exploring. The market offers fresh vegetables, meats, spices and many other goods of interest to the local population, but no souvenirs to attract the tourists. (14 Photos) [Preview This Slide Show]