This morning we flew from Cairo to Luxor for a 4-night Nile cruise. Flight time was exactly one hour.
Luxor airport is pretty low-key. We had our bags and were on our way within about 15 minutes of landing. The drive from the airport to the center of Luxor, where our boat was docked, is less than 5 miles.
Although some of the cruise boats were double parked so cruisers had to walk through a boat or two to reach their vessel, we were lucky to find ours parked right alongside the dock. We were cruising on the deluxe 5-star Amarco, in a junior suite.
Our room is very comfortable, spotless and cheery. Huge, floor-to-ceiling windows look right out on the river.
Shortly after we boarded, lunch was served in the dining room. It was a big meal for lunch but beautifully prepared and presented.
After lunch, we headed out for some touring. We were in a small group of other English-speakers, six total, with an Egyptologist guide and a driver. Our first stop was the immense Karnak Temple, which goes on and on and on and on (and it’s only partially opened to tourists). This is actually a complex of multiple temples built and added onto by dozens of pharaohs over the span of 2,000 years. The area open to tourists was largely built during the 18th dynasty, roughly the 16th-13th centuries BCE. Probably the most famous part of Karnak Temple is the Hypostyle Hall. This is a forest of gigantic columns, 134 total, some nearly 80 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter. The columns are covered in bas-relief carvings of pharaonic exploits. Words, even pictures, can’t do it justice.
Next, we visited Luxor Temple, which is about 2 miles from Karnak, right next to the river. The ancient avenue connecting the two temples was lined with sphinxes and is currently being reconstructed. When it’s finished, I’ll definitely opt to walk between the temples, rather than drive. After Karnak, Luxor Temple felt almost intimate. It’s very large, but easier to wrap the mind around than the never-ending “temple of temples” down the road, which is in fact the largest place of worship ever. Luxor Temple was mostly built by Amenhotep III in the 14th century BCE, with some relatively minor additions by his successors (Tutankhamun among them). Part of the temple was used as a church by early Christians and a whole neighborhood was built on top of the temple after it was buried in sand by the centuries. That neighborhood was destroyed when the temple was excavated, all but a mosque, which still stands within the temple.
Back on the boat, we had time to rinse off the dust and relax on deck with some Stella Egyptian Beers before dinner.
Dinner was delicious, served buffet style, with a good variety of Egyptian and Continental dishes.
After dinner there was dancing in the lounge with a fun DJ, who took requests, and a full bar. Everyone seemed to be there. There were around 50 passengers on the boat, mostly European – Italian, Spanish, British, Dutch, German – and a South African couple. We were the only Americans.
Stay tuned for more.
To see Egypt tours that include a Nile cruise, click here.