Egypt - A Journey down the Nile

If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring ancient Egypt longed to follow the footsteps of the Pharaohs or imagine the Desert sun setting over the Emerald Nile you’re ready to step aboard a Nile river cruise.

For over 5,000 years The Nile has been the lifeblood of Egypt and there is simply no better way to experience that wealth of Egyptian history, culture and architecture than on a Nile river cruise.

The Nile is a wonder in its own right, the well spring of civilization in ancient Egypt and northern Africa for the last ten thousand years. In a desert region where it only rains a few times a year, The Nile is the only consistent source of water to sustain the necessities of civilization such as agriculture and drinking water.

The Nile River is the longest in the world at 6000,695 kilo meters for good reason most of the great cities and wonders in ancient Egypt and neighboring Sudan were built along its banks.

Let's star our journey that perhaps the most famous of these ancient wonders the pyramids of Giza.

The Giza plateau

Is the northern extension of the necropolis of Memphis on the west bank of the Nile and is today among the suburbs of modern Cairo. When visiting the Giza pyramids for the first time you anticipate the experience of standing before these magnificent structures rising out of the desert sands in a kind of time wrap. The Giza plateau is famous for three pyramids Khufu, son Khafra constructed a pyramid next to his father's monument from a distance Khafra's pyramid looks higher than Khufu, but this illusion is due to the structures site on rising ground. The third pyramid belongs to Menkaure and is the smallest of the three. When they were built they were encased in thousands of blocks of white limestone from the Tora quarries across the river and must have presented an imposing sight shining from a great distance in the scorching sunlight of the desert. Now most of the casing stones have gone stolen in ancient times but some can still be seen the apex of Khafra's pyramid. To date archaeologists have found 118 pyramids in Egypt but the most perfect and biggest of them all is that built by Khufu, a ruler from the fourth dynasty two thousand six hundred to two thousand four hundred and eighty seven BCE known as the Great pyramid, the 147 meters structure is the first of the seven ancient wonders of the world and the only one still standing more than 4,500 years ago. About a hundred thousand workers painstakingly stacked up 2 million limestone blocks over 20 years to create a pyramid with a precise 51 slope on the four sides. The structure consists of an enormous quantity of limestone blocks estimated at around two million three hundred thousand quarried from an area southeast of the pyramid and transported over a ramp to the construction site. Khafra's monuments have survived better than most and his period makes an impressive backdrop to the Great sphinx which lies next to his causeway and was probably part of the pyramid complex. To the north Khafra's valley temple lies the Great Sphinx in its own enclosure. It is currently thought to have been modeled during Khafra's reign and would have been the first colossal statue in ancient Egypt. This monument almost the national emblem of Egypt has sparked the imagination of travelers, scholars, poets and writers for centuries. Fashioned from an outcrop of limestone left behind from the quarrying of stone of the Great pyramid The Sphinx crouches in a rectangular ditch bounded by Khafra's causeway to the south. It is a colossal crouching lion with a human head thought to be carved with the features of Khafra thought this is the subject of some debate. The body of the sphinx almost 60 Meters long and 20 meters high was carved from alternate soft and hard layers of Sediments and Majerle limestone laid down during the formation of the Giza plateau in the geological EC period.

Before leaving Cairo and heading downriver it is worth visiting the oldest pyramid in the world.

The step pyramid at Saqqara

Saqqara is the location of the principal necropolis of ancient Memphis dating from the time of the foundation of the city. The site covers nine thousand hectares crowded with burials that span much of the whole period of Egyptian antiquity.

A quick flight to Luxor Airport and was soon on our way cruising down the Nile. Before we depart however, we need to visit two sites of great importance,

Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple

Luxor (Thebes ) was the capital of New Kingdom, Egypt Karnak is the biggest temple complex in the world covering an area of a hundred hectares and there is nowhere more impressive to the first time visitor much of it was restored during the last century and our knowledge of the buildings here in different periods of Egyptian history increases every year. In ancient times, Karnak was known as Ipet-isu it isn't the most select of places. The temples are built along two axes east-west and north-south with the original Middle Kingdom shrine built on a mound in the centre of what is now called the temple of Amun. An avenue of ram headed Sphinxes leads the visitor towards the entrance. The Sphinxes are fantastic beasts with the body of a lion and a head of ram a symbol of the God Amun through the entrance is the famous hypostyle hall standing among it’s a hundred and thirty four gigantic columns, the visitor can’t help but be inspired by the grandeur of the place the center twelve columns are larger at twenty-one meters tall and haven opened papyrus capitals may have been intended to symbolize the original mound of creation. The other and twenty two columns are 15 meters tall and have closed capitals perhaps representing the swamp that surrounded the mound. Karnak can be a confusing place its building span a long period in Egyptian history. Most visitors on guided tours had a very little time to see much of the temple and many visits are needed to get even a brief idea of the temple as a whole.

The earliest remains found at Luxor Temple date to the 18th dynasty. Unusually the temple does not face the river but its main access faces Karnak with the remains of an avenue of Sphinxes pointing to the processional way, this remaining 200 meter avenue of human- headed Sphinxes was erected by Nectanebo I. The modern entrance to the temple is to the west and after descending the new stone steps the visitor faces the massive pylon from the Greek word meaning gate. A pylon is a monumental entrance wall to a temple. Leaving Luxor behind we’re soon cruising down the Nile our next stop is Edfu.

The Temple of Horus at Edfu

We arrive at Edfu, of all the temple remains in Egypt the temple of Horus at Edfu is the best preserved and the only one we know to have been completed until recently visitors approached the temple past its massive enclosure wall on the western side carved with figures of the Ptolemaic kings making offerings to various deities.

Moving on from Edfu, we trabel to Kom Ombo.

Kom Ombo Temple

Is very unusual it was dedicated to two triads of deities each with their own associated chambers and sanctuaries on the eastern side of the temple the crocodile God Sobek is honored with his wife who was here named as Hathor.

With only one more temple to see on our journey we decide to pay a visit to Kitchener island, an oval-shaped island in the Nile at Aswan was given to Lord Kitchener in the 1890 for his part in the Sudanese campaigns while he was the Egyptian Proconsul. Kitchener who a keen gardener turned his island home into a Botanical Garden importing exotic plants and trees which flourished in the Aswan climate. The visitors to Kitcheners island toady will find a peaceful paradise full of shady trees beautiful flowers and unusual plants the paved walkways. It is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll or a little contemplation during otherwise hectic holiday.

We leave the colorful Kitchener Island and head south to the last stop on our Egyptian Tour,

The Temple of Isis on Philae 

The short trip in a motorboat will bring the visitors suddenly to a magnificent vista of the island before landing at what would have been the ancient key on the south side, the earliest of the surviving monuments of Philae is the Kiosk of Nectanebo I of the 30th dynasty most of the other structures are Ptolemaic and Roman and were reused by the early Christians when the temples were finally closed by the Emperor Justinian in 550 AD.

Egypt has been known as the cradle of civilization for centuries and also is the cradle of inspiration, the source of many discoveries and experiences whether it’s a desert adventure or the unfolding of history that interests you. Egypt will be the destination that sparks a burst of inspiration in your heart and mind. A great story awaits you on the banks of the Nile.