24 Dec 2008

Discover stunning ancient ruins and authentic colourful souks, on the banks of the Nile...

One of the best ways to explore ancient Egypt is by cruising the famous River Nile.

There are over 300 cruises to choose from (the options vary from the quirky, with Mozart blasting through the on-deck speakers, to the ultra luxe, complete with air con and private masseuses), but each one promises a peek at a country virtually untouched for 2,000 years.

Most cruises leave from Luxor – the heart of ancient Egyptian culture, and just an hour’s flight south of Cairo – sailing south to Aswan.

Known as the “world’s greatest open air museum” thanks to the number of monuments, Luxor is also home to the vast Karnak Temple – the largest temple in Egypt, and the awesome Thebes ruins. Coupled with bustling souks, reflecting the colourful Egyptian street life, it’s easy to lose yourself in the culture of the ancient city.

Venturing south, take in the eye-catching temples of Esna and Edfu, before continuing to Aswan. Here, the Nile winds though picturesque amber desert, granite rock and tropical plants. Don’t leave your camera on board!

While you're there...

Ride high
For a taste of luxury – and an unparalleled sense of beauty and stillness – take a hot air balloon ride over the Valley Of The Kings in Luxor, home to ancient tombs dating back to the 11th century.

Time for tea
Enjoy high tea at the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, where you can watch the sun set over the Nile.

Shop ‘til you drop

You’ll discover more semi-precious gems and gold than Ali Baba’s cave at Luxor’s souks. Also, make a stop off at the enchanting night market in Aswan – a must for fabrics and spices.

Be dammed

The High Dam in Aswan – the second largest dam in the world – is an awe-inspiring must-see.