Nile Valley Overview
Egypt - The land of pharaohs - is one of the world’s greatest and most captivating countries. The Nile Valley is a mix of the old and the new, the classic and the innovative, and is cultural Egypt at its best. The sights along the Nile are top-of-the-list for most visitors to Egypt, especially those touching down for the first time.
The Nile is the longest river in the world, stretching the length of Egypt from its southernmost boundary to the north Mediterranean coast. The first major stop along the Nile is Alexandria, the country’s second largest city, and founded by Alexander the Great. It hugs the Mediterranean coastline to the north and forms part of the Nile Delta.
Heading south, The Nile flows past Cairo, which contains the Pyramids at Giza, one of the last remaining seven wonders of the ancient world. The Great Pyramid was built by King Cheops of the 5th dynasty around 2600 BC and stands some 515 feet high. A few steps away is the huge Sphinx with its body of a lion and a human head. Your clients can also visit Memphis and Saqqara to see the Colossus of Ramses II, the Serapeum and the ancient cemetery. Advise them to spend time in Old Cairo, with its traditional markets, and to visit city’s Egyptian Museum, which displays treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Further south, the Nile River flows through the towns of Al-Fayoum, Biba, Beni Mazar, and on to delightful El Minya, which has beautiful villas reminiscent of Tuscany, built by cotton merchants who made El Minya a wealthy town. The route then passes Asyut, Dandara and then onto Luxor and Thebes, where travelers will find the iconic Karnak Temples and the Luxor Temple, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, the Temple of Hatshep-sut, the Colossi of Memnon and the Ramesseum.
Finally, the Nile Valley reaches Esna and Kom Ombo, both historic sites. In Aswan which has a large Nubian community, visitors will find temples, as well as one of the world’s marvels of engineering, the Aswan Dam. In Abu Simbel, there’sthe impressive Great Temple of Abu Simbel and the Temple of Hathor, which is dramatically carved into the sheer rock face.
Click on the Agent Insight™ icon on the right to hear how intrepid travelers can maximize their experience.
The Dynastic Period
A quick overview of Egypt’s history will help you advise your clients when composing the perfect travel itinerary to meet their needs.
The history of Egypt stretches back to ancient times. It is a country best known the world over for its pharaohs, such as Tutankhamun, and its ancient civilizations that flourished along the banks of the Nile River, where visitors will find so many of the country’s iconic structures.
The earliest signs of civilization in Egypt date back to prehistoric times, before the pharaohs ruled the country, a period known as the pre-dynastic. The towns and cities of today trace their roots back to 8000 BC. This is the period when settlers began establishing communities on the fertile banks of the Nile River.
Next to come is the dynastic period, which is widely regarded as one of the oldest cultural periods in the world. The dynastic period earned its name from the series of dynasties that ruled the country, beginning around 3100 BC. The first pharaoh is generally believed to have been Menes, who was instrumental in forming a divided Egypt into one country.
A total of 30 dynasties ruled over Egypt during the next three millennia until the year 30 BC. Pharaohs desired a legacy of their own, and they put their own mark on Egypt by building beautiful palaces, temples, tombs and structures. It was during this time that many of the astonishing sights were constructed, sights that can still be seen today. Chief among them are the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx of the Old Kingdom, and the Temples of Luxor in the New Kingdom.
Click on the Agent Insight™ icon to see where these fall on this agents "not to be missed" list.
Egypt has seen many periods of history since the ancient dynastic era. Throughout the country are impressive reminders of how the country flourished under different civilizations. While Egypt has been occupied by the Persians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, British and the French, it is the pharaohs who have left the most awe-inspiring legacy – one that makes Egypt’s present day tourism one of the country’s leading industries.
Pharaonic Egypt, meaning a land ruled by Pharaohs, began some 5,000 years ago, and is the period that truly captures the imagination of people the world over. The period comprises 30 different dynasties that displayed a phenomenal knowledge of mummification, mathematics and astronomy.
Little information remains about the kings of the 1st and 2nd dynasties. It is the kings from the 3rd dynasty onwards that really made a mark on Egypt. They reigned during the period that became known as the Old Kingdom, when the pharaohs were worshipped as gods and had phenomenal wealth. It was theywho erected massive structures that still maintain an element of mystery, with the culmination being the Pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza.
The ancient king Tutankhamun, the young boy who came to the throne in around 1333 BC, and who ruled for only ten years, still holds fascination for modern travelers.Tutankhamun’s golden death mask was unearthed when his tomb was discovered in 1922, in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. Today, it is considered one of the world’s most fabulous treasures.
The great female pharaoh Hatshepsut was the longest ruling Egyptian king. Surprisingly, even though Hatshepsut was a woman, she was considered by her people to be a king and not a queen. Nefertiti, the wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, was another notable woman in Egypt’s history. Nefertiti’s life, as well as the location of her tomb, remains a tantalizing mystery.
The next period of pharaonic rule is the First Intermediate Period, which began in 2150 BC. It was followed by the Middle Kingdom from around 2000 BC when the capital became Thebes. The next period, the New Kingdom, began around 1539 BC and gave us some of the greatest pharaohs of all time, including Ahmose, Hatshepsut, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. In 1279 BC the heroic Ramses II came to the throne where he stayed for over 67 years. Ramses IIchanged the face of ancient Egypt and defended it against invaders.
Pharaonic Egypt ended around 30 BC, although a form of monarchy continued for several thousand years until the country was conquered by the Romans.
Click on the Agent Insight™ icon to hear why Egypt is a special destination for clients of all ages.
Romance: Sailing the Nile
Cruising on the Nile has been a popular pastime for countless visitors since the 19th century.
In 1849, Florence Nightingale was captivated by her trip on the river and wrote about it in glowing terms. Thomas Cook, the entrepreneur behind the leading travel company, was so smitten by the Nile that in 1869 he began offering cruises to his clientele, making him one of the first operators to do so.
The Nile has held a fascination for centuries and even today conjures up images of whimsical days and romantic nights on board elegant steamers. This can at least partially be attributed to English novelist Agatha Christie and her famous work “Death on the Nile”. The book was later made into a popular Hollywood film starring Peter Ustinov, with much of the filming being done in the Nile Valley.
There’s nothing quite like a touch of romance under the stars with that special person. If your clients are on a honeymoon, destination wedding, or vow renewal, they’ll be enamored by a cruise on the Nile. They’ll drift slowly past temples and sand dunes, watching the sun set together. They’ll see fishermen casting their nets, farmers tilling their fields, and flocks of birds taking flight.
Click on the Agent Insight™ icon on the right to hear one agents view on why its an ideal balance to the iconic highlights, as you can relax and watch Egypt pass you by.
These romantic experiences on the Nile may turn out to be the highlight of a couple’s holiday in Egypt.
To ensure the ultimate romantic adventure, make sure you book your clients on a cruise between Luxor and Aswan. Take care in avoiding the time of El Sadda El Shitwia, when the Esna Lock closes for two weeks each December and June. During those weeks your clients will have to use land transportation to reach Luxor from Esna.
A Variety of Ways to Sail
There are a number of ways to sail on the Nile. Click on the Agent Insight™ icon to hear a few.
Travelers can take a short hop of a few hours on a cruise boat, or on a small wooden sailing boat called a felucca. While these short trips won’t give your clients the full experience of an elegant and romantic journey drifting down the Nile, it will give them a taste of what it’s like and is a good alternative to a longer sail if your clients have a limited amount of time.
Another method to enjoying the Nile is to take a journey of several days on board one of the cruise ships or restored, ornate steamers. These are a familiar sight along the river. Many of these ships offer a luxurious 5-star experience, complete with gleaming wood paneled walls, high quality linens, and gourmet cuisine. Over the decades, these cruises have become as essential part of the Egypt tourism experience as the Pyramids.
Typically, a cruise will begin with your clients boarding the ship at Aswan, where they’ll set sail and kick back to take in the sights. Travelers can take a luxury cruise to Abu Simbel, passing by Kalabsha, Bait el-Walli, Wadi el-Subua and Amada Temple, or head north towards Luxor. Depending on their itinerary, their cruise might then sail to Kom Ombo to see the Temple of Sobek, and Hareoeris, a captivating sight from the river. Then it’s onwards to Edfu with the option to stop and tour the Temple of Horus, and thento see the Temple of Khunum. Finally, the cruise might end in Luxor, with visits to the fabulous Karnak Temples, and the Luxor Temple. Cruise passengers could also take a trip to the extraordinary Valley of the Kings, or travel beyond Luxor to see Dandara or Abydos.
Some ships may carry out a reverse itinerary, by beginning in Luxor. Whichever itinerary is chosen, your clients will sail at a slow pace. They’ll have ample time to see the sights, and enjoy the local color, such as fishing boats plying their trade, and children waving from the riverbank.