A Nile Cruise is one of the best ways to see the variety of sites between Luxor and Aswan. While you can add additional excursions onto your cruise, most cruises will take you to at least the sites below.
Luxor Sites Visited
Karnak Temple is one of the largest temple complexes in Egypt. You’ll get to walk down the Avenue of the Sphinxes to enter. It’s said that the Avenue of the Sphinxes used to extend all the way between Karnak and Luxor Temples! These days, it’s much smaller, but it’s still a breathtaking way to enter the temple. You’ll see an incredible collection of columns within the temple.
Luxor Temple is much smaller than Karnak Temple, but is still an incredible place to visit. You’ll see where there’s a mosque – Luxor Temple has been the site of worship for thousands of years. It’s cool to see the juxtaposition of history and worship in one place.
As you enter, there is one obelisk on the side. There used to be two. If you’ve been to Paris, you might have seen the second one – it’s at the center of the Place de la Concorde. Interestingly, the obelisk in Paris is set alone, has been restored with a gold cap, and is on a pedestal – so it looks much bigger than it’s mate in Egypt!
Hatshepsut Temple is near the Valley of the Kings, and is one of the only temples in Egypt devoted to a woman. It had been largely destroyed, but a giant effort was undertaken to rebuild it and restore it to its former glory.
Because it’s set alone in the hills creating the Valley of the Kings, it’s an imposing site. In my opinion, it’s one of the more picturesque temples in Egypt.
Colossus of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon were only rediscovered fairly recently, and when the ruins were identified, a rebuilding campaign took place. The Colossi are interesting to see, but know ahead of time this is a quick stop. You likely won’t spend more than 10 – 20 minutes appreciating them.
The Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is exactly as incredible and mysterious as you’d expect. On any day, just a few of the tombs are open to the public. Your entrance ticket includes three tombs. The tombs open to the public are generally of the more minor kings.
Of course, King Tut’s tomb is one of the main attractions. You’ll have to pay extra to enter it (but it’s worth it!). All of the tombs have incredible hieroglyphs preserved on all the walls. It’s mind-blowing to realize exactly how long ago those were done.
Edfu Sites Visited
The temple at Edfu is a quick stop on a Nile Cruise, and you’ll likely take a horse carriage to the temple. Yes, it’s normal to feel quite bad for the horses – they don’t seem to be treated especially well.
The temple itself is dedicated to Horus, the Sun God. It’s architectural style is very similar to Philae, in Aswan.
Kom Ombo Sites Visited
Kom Ombo Temple
The Temple of Kom Ombo is set right on the Nile, which is unique among the sites you’ll visit on a Nile Cruise. Because the path of the Nile has moved over the past millennia, many of the sites that were once right on the river are now removed from it. Kom Ombo is still right on the banks.
One of the cool sites there is a Nileometer, which was used to measure the height of the annual Nile flood. You’ll also find some incredibly well-preserved hieroglyphics.
Mummified Crocodiles Museum
This is a small museum, but a fun stop on your Nile Cruise. The Mummified Crocodiles Museum is composed of exactly what it sounds like – the mummified crocodiles found at Kom Ombo. Historically, the Egyptians worshipped and mummified the crocodiles as part of a religious ritual to bring good floods.
If you liked the mummies at the Egyptian Museum, it’s fascinating to look at the crocodiles, rather than humans.
Aswan Sites Visited
Philae Temple has an important fact in common with Abu Simbel; when they built the High Dam to create Lake Nasser, they moved it block by block to higher ground so it wouldn’t be flooded. One cool part of Philae is that it’s surrounded by water – you’ll have to take a boat to get there.
The architecture is similar to Edfu, and there are numerous awesome spots for pictures. The pictures here can be even better than normal because you have the water in the background.
The High Dam
The High Dam is, in fact, just a damn. It’s not that exciting, but there are great views from it. The thing that makes it interesting is that it’s what caused both Philae and Abu Simbel to be moved from their previous locations. It also stopped the annual flooding of the Nile.
The Unfinished Obelisk
The unfinished obelisk is another quick place to go, but fascinating in its own right. If you ever wondered how the Egyptians carved and built the incredible obelisks, this is where you can see how it was done. The Unfinished Obelisk is in a granite quarry, and you can see the outline of the obelisk. It appears that it cracked during the creation of it, which is why it was left unfinished.
Beyond a Nile Cruise
A Nile Cruise will help you hit many of the must-see highlights in Egypt, but it’s certainly not the be-all end all. Don’t forget to check out the Egypt Bucket List, a guide to the Pyramids, and a guide to visiting Abu Simbel.
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