Travel the Book: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Death on the Nile was one of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot detective books. As she’s a fabulous scene-setter and incredible author, it’s easy to want to visit the places described in the novel.

Luckily, this is a book that’s easy to travel in the footsteps of the characters!

Abu Simbel in Egypt

Death on the Nile Overview

Death on the Nile is set as two honeymooners decide to travel through Egypt. Linnet Ridgeway is newly married, gorgeous and appears to have everything. As a proper detective novel, there is in fact a death while on the Nile, and Hercule Poirot investigates the case.

The book starts in Aswan, though it makes references to Cairo and further down the Nile.

Where to Stay From Death on the Nile

The first part of the book takes place at The Old Cataract Hotel, in Aswan. The hotel is still in existence today (as the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel), and it’s one of the most opulent in Egypt. It’s been modernized and is an absolutely perfect place to stay. Most nights, you’ll be paying $150 – $300/night for it, so it can also be extremely expensive.

View from the Old Cataract Hotel

If you want a similar hotel experience without quite as steep of a price, consider the Movenpick Resort Aswan. You can find it as low as $50/night in the offseason. Virtually all the rooms have Nile views, and they’re well-appointed. You also have the safety of being on an island away from most of Aswan.

Sunset views from the Movenpick Aswan

Nile Cruise from Death on the Nile

The second part of the book takes place on a cruise down the Nile. Most Nile cruises go from Aswan to Luxor, or the reverse. But because in this book the characters end up at Abu Simbel, they actually took a cruise down what’s now Lake Nasser. You can still take a Lake Nasser cruise, though be aware that the availability is more limited due to that itinerary not being as popular as the Luxor/Aswan one.

A Lake Nasser Cruise will typically take you from Aswan to Abu Simbel, or from Abu Simbel to Aswan. Generally, the cruise will take 4 to 5 days and stop at a number of important sites along the way. Lake Nasser Cruises cost about $945 per person for the 4-day itinerary, so they’re also slightly more expensive than the traditional route.

Amanda Plewes in front of Lake Nasser

Alternative Nile Cruises

If you aren’t compelled to take the Lake Nasser Cruise, there are still a number of options for Nile Cruises from Luxor to Aswan, where you’ll still get the wonder of sailing through Egypt depicted in the book. These cruises are also four or five days, depending on what you prefer.

Luxor Temple

I sailed on the Steigenberger Minerva, and it was a lovely ship with an attentive crew. Bonus points for having a swimming pool in the Egyptian heat! In my opinion, the only way to see Egypt is with a Nile Cruise. You can book them with all of the excursions included, so you have a guide and admission to all the main sites – Philae, the Unfinished Obelisk, Edfu, the Valley of the Kings, and more.

Amanda Plewes at Hatshepsut Temple

Egyptian Activities from Death on the Nile

Visiting Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel features prominently in the book, and it’s an incredible temple worth the trek. You can find detailed instructions for visiting Abu Simbel from Aswan, and I was happy with my ride through Egyptian Sidekick.

Amanda Plewes at Abu Simbel

High Tea at the Old Cataract Hotel

This was one of my favorite activities. It’s been said Agatha Christie herself wrote much of Death on the Nile while sitting on the patio having tea here. It’s easy to see how she was so inspired. The view from the patio is lovely, and I highly recommend coming at sunset so you can watch the sunset over the Nile while enjoying your tea.

High Tea at the Old Cataract Hotel

Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, you can get reservations for tea. I visited during the off season and was able to have tea with no reservations at all. Expect to spend about $30USD for high tea at the Old Cataract.

Luxor Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

This is not in the book, but it’s being included because it’s such an amazing experience. Plus, if this had been available to the characters in the book, I strongly believe they would have taken it!

It costs about $100 per person, and it involves about an hour-long hot air balloon ride while watching the sun rise over the Valley of the Kings.

Luxor sunrise hot air balloon ride

Completing the Death on the Nile Experience

While the book focuses primarily on the Aswan and Abu Simbel areas, it also mentions Cairo briefly. No trip to Egypt is complete without a trek to the Pyramids! You can find great hotel choices in Egypt, as well as 10 things you must do in Egypt.

The pyramids in Cairo, Egypt

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A travel guide through Egypt from the book Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

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