Egypt – Cruising the Nile

THE TRIP

On board the “Sonesta Star Goddess” up the majestic Nile, on a breathtaking voyage in a 5 star modern luxury cruise ship with upscale hospitality, as we watched 5000 years of history unfold before our eyes.

THE EGIPT

To visit Egypt and soak in the truly impressive story of a civilization that is as old as significant in the world history, has been in my plans for many years.
But Egypt is not just Cairo and its pyramids, or the Sharm El- Sheikh´s sun. It is much more than that.
And that’s why I hopped into a cruise up the Nile from Cairo to Aswan city.
It’s a super smooth ride through the mythical, mysterious and majestic river (longest in the world, with 6853 kms) with a few stops scheduled so we could visit some ancient temples and pharaohs mummies.

CAIRO AND ITS PIRAMIDS
Going to Cairo and not visiting the pyramids is like going to Lisbon and not tasting the famous Pastel de Belém. It is possible not to do it, but we will regret it later.
The enigma of these pyramids goes far beyond the fact that still today no one knows for sure how they were built.
Only standing there, observing their grandiosity, you can really understand why this is the most difficult question to answer.
It is estimated that over 30,000 workers worked to get them built, for more than 50 years. They had to move (or built on-site) over 2,000,000 stone blocks, each weighing about 2 and a half tons .

Observar a proporção entre uma pessoa e a pirâmide

Amazed by the proportion between the people and the pyramid

A beleza geométrica das pirâmides deixa os turistas sem palavras

The geometric beauty of the pyramids left me speechless

The necropolis is composed by the pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus and the Sphinx, which is believed to be the head of Cheops.
Words can not describe the scenery. You have to see, touch and feel the history. Guaranteed shiver down your spine.

THE CRUISE SHIP
We boarded the Sonesta Star Goddess cruise, captained by Mr.Qadry (25 years experience) and managed by Mr. Ashraf Fawzy, tall, inspiring confidence.
This cruise ship has all the perks that a tourist needs, with excellent Mediterranean food meals, buffet style, like a perfectly good hotel, and with a swimming pool and barbecue on the top deck.  There are also some other forms of entertainment like mini golf and “giant chess”.

Featuring 33 suites in 4 stories, named after famous compositors to keep with the elegance and sophistication. Each suite has a private balcony where we could enjoy astonishing views.
In the evening, we can fully enjoy a bar and guaranteed fun provided by a band that will be with us throughout the whole cruise.
On one of the nights, there´s the Galabaya Party, where travelers are invited to dress up in local costumes that you can buy on board, and learn belly dancing.

O Sonessa Star é um cruzeiro com toas as comodidades necessárias ao turista exigente

Soneca Star Goddess is a cruise ship with all the commodities a tourist needs

O deck do cruzeiro possui mini-golf e xadrez gigante

The upper deck has mini-golf and giant chess

O deck do navio cruzeiro permite ver paisagens indescritíveis

The upper deck provides us with stunning views

Belas tardes passadas na piscina ajudam a passar o tempo

Lovely afternoons spend on the swimming pool

The journey is extremely quiet and provide us with spectacular views on both banks, which allows us to make some great pictures. The sunset behind the right bank is unforgettable.

Impressionantes pôr-do-sol na margem direita do Rio Nilo

Impressive sunsets on the right bank of the Nile River

Suddenly we feel like we are assaulted by “river pirates”. Small boats that dock to our ship in full swing, and hitchhike with us for miles, trying to sell a little of everything to the tourists on board.
Super fun, with the tourists at the top of the ship haggling prices with the vendors on the small vessels below.
They hand throw the merchadinse to the upper deck (11m high) and receive back the payment…
So much fun.

Os vendedores ambulantes atracam-se ao cruzeiro em andamento e regateiam preços.

Selling in movement.

Toalhas de mesa, vestidos compridos...tudo serve para vender ao turista

Towels, dresses, shirts….they sell everything.

After the first night on the cruise, we arrived at Luxor, our first stop.

LUXOR
We are now in the city with the largest number of monuments in Egypt.
Little did we know how big was the privilege we were about to have, to see inloco some of the most important archaeological finds from the ancient civilization.
We started by visiting the Temple of Luxor and the Temple of Karnak.
I have to confess : these things touch me deeply.
I found myself, several times, just staring at the walls and sculptures and imagining those stones and walls being carved and placed by people who lived there thousands of years ago.
And they just lie there, oblivious to the passage of time. It was truly exciting.
Entrance to the Temple of Luxor is guarded by two huge statues of a sitting Pharaoh Ramses II .

Templo de Luxor

Luxor Temple

Templo de Karnak

Karnak Temple

The temple of Karnak, just 3 kms away, is also very impressive, with its large 43m height pillar, huge 8,000 sq/m patio, and the Colossus of Ramses II and obelisk of Hatshepsut – 29.5 m tall.
That´s where James Bond´s “007-The Spy Who Loved Me” was shot.

Por dentro do Templo de Karnak

Inside the Karnak Temple patio

Detalhe do Templo de Karnak

Detail of the Karnak Temple

Detalhe do Templo de Karnak

Detail of the Karnak Temple

We continue west to dive in the Valley of the Kings, where there´s about 60 ancient graves, including some of the most important necropolis of Ancient Egypt and the world, including of course the most well known: Tuthankamón´s
You could only visit 3 of these 60 tombs and to enter the crypts as Tutankhamun and Ramses you will have to pay an extra charge of 70 Egyptian pounds.
Sad news for photographers (and everyone else, I believe): you are not allowed take any photos in the Valley of the Kings. As a photographer, this makes me sick every time.
It’s like telling a journalist he can´t take notes.
Entrance to each of the holy sites is controlled by security and only 5 tourists at a time are allowed in.
Once more I am blown away and find myself just staring at the Tuthankamón tomb, 5000 years old, at his head and feet (only uncovered areas) for far longer that any normal tourist.

Berbere no Vale dos Reis

Berbere at the Valley f the kings

Vale dos Reis

Valley of the Kings

Before that we payed a short visit to the Cairo Museum where we were able to see the huge amount of objects that were removed from the big box where Tuthankamon´s sarcophagus was found.
The quantity and size of what was found there (by Howard Carter in 1922) seems almost impossible to have fit in there .

Near the end of a morning full of history, we went to the Colossi of Memnon, two huge statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, or at least the little that remains of what is thought to be the largest temple in Egypt, the “Temple of Amenhotep III.”

EDFU
On the second day, the cruise route takes us to a few more historical sites such as Edfu where we see the Temple of Edfu.
Despite being a farming town, they are now most focused on the tourism industry.

De cima da charrete pode-se aproveitar e fazer imagens do quotidiano Egípcio

Detail of the daily life of the locals

KOM OMBO
Following up the river we arrived at the Kom Ombo Temple, with a dual worship: the crocodile god Sobek (the god of fertility) and Horus.

ASWAN
We finally arrived in the last city of the tour, and we quickly get aboard a small vessel (called Faluca), to the the temple of Isis.
This temple was originally built on the island of Philae but after the construction of the Aswan dam, and as the temple was most of the year submerged, they had to dismount it and rebuilt it in the Agilkia Island.

Os condutores da nossa Faluca, pai e filho.

Our Faluca drivers, father and son.

This temple honors Isis, the goddess of fertility and motherhood.

Shy but having fun.

Shy but having fun.

Vendedor junto ao Templo de Ísis

Salesman next to the Temple of isis

O povo egipcio sempre de extrema simpatia

Always a smile for the tourists.

Mulher do Assuão

Woman in Aswan

THE NUBIAN VILLAGE
Optional excursion, this visit to the Nubian village proved to be one of the highlights of the entire trip. In good time I decided to do (and pay) this extra part of this Nile adventure.
Once again we boarded a Faluca, and off we go from Aswan to the Elephantine Island where camels are waiting for us to take us to a typical Nubian house where we are welcomed with mint tea and shisha and where we can have our arms tattooed.
The Nubians are proud people.
Proud to have their own dialect, colors and traditions. “We are not Egyptians”, they always say.

De camelo a caminho da povoação Núbia

On a camel towards the Nubian Village

De camelo a caminho da povoação Núbia

On a camel towards the Nubian Village

De camelo a caminho da povoação Núbia

On a camel towards the Nubian village

We are delighted by all this children, super happy and very photogenic.

_MG_4528

A povoação Núbia vive do turismo. Sempre há alguém à nossa espera para vender alguma coisa.

A povoação Núbia vive do turismo. Sempre há alguém à nossa espera para vender alguma coisa.

_MG_4568PS

Dentro de uma casa da povoação Núbia

Inside a typical house at the Nubian Village

Dentro de uma casa da povoação Núbia

Quarto das crianças de uma casa da povoação Núbia

Chilreis bedroom – Nubian Village

À entrada de uma casa da povoação Núbia. Domingo.

We still had time to stroll through the Aswan market, where we had the opportunity to photograph the people in their daily activities.

Menina egípcia, contente por ser fotografada

Aswan girl, happy to be photographed

Crianças a caminho da escola em Assuão

Children on the way to school, in Aswan

Egipcios do Assuão num momento divertido

Criança Núbia envergonhada

Shy Nubian girl

Irmãs Núbias a brincar com o gato

Nubian sisters

Menina Núbia divertida com o gato, dentro do seu quarto

Entrada das casa Núbia.

Tatuagens típicas Núbias

And so we reached the end of one of the most enriching trips in the past few years, where the grandness and beauty of the landscapes, competed with the mysticism and wow factor go the history we just witnessed, to win what was the reason why this was such an unforgettable experience.

Thank you to the Egypt Tourism and to our guides Mohamed Zacaria and Mostafa Abdo Ahmad

USEFUL INFORMATION
CLIMATE
Sunny all year around with infrequent rain and cold during the evenings

CURRENCY
Egyptian pound

LANGUAGE
Arabic is the official language but English is widely spread.

ELECTRICITY
220 volts

No Comments