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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Sobhy

Nile Cruise Adventure

Huge ocean liners and modern pleasure crafts have no place on the slow-paced Nile. Instead, the waterways are graced with traditional feluccas and the sailing vessels used to ferry tourists around. More than 280 ships are moored in the waters between Luxor and Aswan, the site of the nation's best-preserved monuments. Cruising is the easiest way for tourists to engage the Nile and the famous temples and tombs that straddle it: Luxor, Karnak, Kom Ombo, Edfu, Dendera, and the Valley of the Queens and Valley of the Kings.

River cruise ships were limited to touring Luxor and Aswan as a result of security concerns that followed a terrorist attack at a temple near Luxor in 1997. But they are now open for business, though a heavy security presence remains part and parcel of the region. There have been no terrorist incidents along the Nile in more than a decade (although that cannot be said for the rest of the country.)

The mighty Nile runs 4,184 miles in length and winds through nine nations, from Lake Victoria in Uganda to the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria, Egypt. Unlike most rivers, it flows south to north. It doesn't take more than a quick look to appreciate its value. Against its banks lies the nation's breadbasket: fields of corn, alfalfa, wheat, sugar cane and sesame. That constant throb you hear, like a heartbeat, is the sound of irrigation pumps. Not surprisingly, agriculture is the region's second-largest industry, after tourism. Move away from the Nile, and all that is left is desert.

Today, Nile river cruises, lasting three to seven nights, are a component of most package tours to Egypt.

Best Time for Nile River Cruises

The best time to go on a Nile cruise is between October and April. It's not too hot, which is important since you'll be hopping on and off to visit temples along the way. The heat in Aswan and Luxor is intense, and it's not recommended that you travel during the peak summer months from June through August. The average temperatures hover over the 100 F (40 C) mark, and it's even hotter when you're inside some of the tombs. Plus, there's not a lot of shade around.

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