The River Nile
Herodotus described Egypt as being "the gift of the Nile" and without it, the country would be desert. The Pharaohs were well aware of the importance of the annual floods and many inscriptions describe the dire events which resulted if they failed to appear.
The entire west bank opposite Luxor is a giant necropolis, riddled with tombs and mortuary temples. Not only kings were buried here but princes, queens and nobles found a resting place for all eternity. Difficult to see everything on offer in one visit, we recommend visiting the highlights Valley of the Kings, temple of Queen Hatshepsut and perhaps either the tombs of the Nobles or the Valley of the Queens - on a first visit, returning to savour the other sites at a later date.
Dedicated to the falcon headed Horus - son of Isis and Osiris - the inner walls tell the story of Horus's epic battle & ultimate triumph over the evil Seth. The temple is in an excellent state of preservation and much of the roof is still intact, casting deep pools of shadow over the dark and mysterious interior. The great hall of columns was built by Ptolemy VII, known as "fatty" to his friends...
These traditional river boats can be seen depicted on the walls of many temples and tombs - the hull may now be made of steel instead of wood, but the design has remained the same and they are still in use upon the river today.
Dedicated to two gods, Horus the elder & Sobek, the crocodile headed god, mummified crocodile and references to medical impliments can still be seen at the temple today.
Regarded as one of the finest temples in Egypt, this bold temple was intended by Ramses II to confront invaders sailing up the Nile to Egypt. Twice a year, on the birth & coronation dates of Ramses, the rays of the rising sun pierce into the inner depths and illuminate a statue of Ramses.
Temple of Isis, Philae
This romantic island temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis - during Roman times, worshippers travelled from the furthest corners of the empire to make offerings at the temple.
One of the greatest & largest temples in the world, the 250 acre site of Karnak is, quite simply, astonishing. Dedicated to the supreme god Amun, the site & its priests was all powerful during the New Kingdom era, one of the richest periods of pharaonic history.
In the heart of the modern city was classed as a "minor" temple in ancient times - a thought that makes the mind boggle after seeing the sheer size of this extraordinary temple.
One of the largest man-made lakes in the world, Lake Nasser & the Aswan High dam are essential to controlling the Nile floods and hence the prosperity of Egypt. Almost a kilometre thick at its base, the dam took eleven years to build and Lake Nasser stretches for over 500km, deep into Sudan.
NB: Not all sites are visited during a Nile cruise.