The Undercover Pilot
SAILING THE WATERS OF PHARAOHS AND QUEENS
IN THIS ARTICLE...
"Egypt is a gift from the Nile"
We sailed in the Sheherazad of the Oberoi group. I was looking for a 5-star ship and preferred it to Movenpick, and Abercrombie and Kent, although my first choice was Sonesta's Star Princess. However, there are many options but they fill up really quickly in high season. I recommend the 4-night cruise but there are also 3 and 7 nights cruises as well. The itinerary is basically the same. You start or end in Luxor in the north or in Aswan in the south, and for the 7-night the boat turns around and returns to the city of origin.
At the time I traveled to Egypt I did not know the Sun Boat III and Sun Boat IV. If I were to travel back to the Nile I would definitely go for any of those. They are always full...but either contact us directly via email of if you prefer, take a look at their webpage: Sanctuary Retreats. This is sophistication at its best!
Instead of flying to Luxor, we took an overnight train from Cairo. It was fun. It was a cool experience to arrive at Cairo train station in the middle of the night, boarding the train and then sleeping in mini cabins lulled by the sounds of the train. They made me feel in another era. The train was kind of scary.
The Sheherezad's cabins are quite large but the social areas are small. The food is almost always buffet style but abundant and good. Of course, typical : I got sick with something I ate. I spent two days in bed with some kind of stomach virus that struck me down.
In the evenings there is music or Arab dancing shows. Our ship and almost all have a small pool on a terrace with views of the Nile and the Temples on the banks.
The visits to the ancient cities are totally organized. They are waiting for you at th port and take you on a guided tour. It works perfectly.
Some companies can always organize a private tour for you.
LUXOR (night on board)
On the first day, we visited the Eastern Nile Temples: Luxor and Karnak. The next morning you get up early to visit the Colossi of Memnon and then the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. All of this on the western side of the river.
On the night that we remained anchored we got off the boat and walked throughout the city. We bought Egyptian pizza for the children and tried to get to the recommended Restaurant / Café for Sofra, for a night cap, but it got late, so we just wandered around.
Then we went on to visit the Temple of Esna. It is quite far and you travel by bus.
The boat continued on to visit the Temple of Horus.
Sobek is a Temple that you can see from the boat when in Kom Ombo
ASWAN (night on board)
Upon arrival in Aswan we went to the High Dam and the granite quarries. But we also navigated on a replica of an ancient felucca, the typical Egyptian boats that sailed the Nile. It was scary and exciting at the same time. There was a lot of wind so the sails moved from one side to the other and the sailors were sooo young, looked so inexperienced and barely spoke English that we ended up having mixed thoughts about our boat ride. At the end the children were so amused that we were happy too!
Then the next day we visited the temple of Philae which is reached by motorboat.
We crossed over to the other side of the River where the San Simeon Monastery is. To get there we had to ride on camels for about 45 minutes. It was so fun. Riding one by the other on these huge animals that thankfully walk slow since we were clueless about how to control them.
Late that afternoon we took a taxi to go have tea at the Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile, but we weren't allowed in because we were not guests at the hotel, so the taxi driver recommended us to go up to the terrace of The Nubian House at the top of the hill. We enjoyed a stunning sunset overlooking the Nile and the Elephantine Island.
Since we were unable to book a flight for Abu Simbel this time, so that was our farewell night.
Egypt is undoubtly monumental. We left with unforgettable memories...
ABU SIMBEL Buy your air tickets some time ahead of your trip. We thought it would be very easy there and upon arrival we did not find any flight despite the fact that there are several flights a day and it only takes about 25 minutes by plane.
The temples are visited in 2 hours so it is ok to plan the trip early in the morning to take the flight back to Cairo via Aswan in the evening.
I think the visit to the Temples of Ramses II at Abu Simbel is a must… so I have a colossal excuse for us to return to Egypt!!