If you had a top ten list of places to visit, I bet a cruise on the Nile would feature somewhere in that list. Everyone knows a little bit about Egypt – Tutankhamun, the Pyramids, and Cleopatra… but suddenly when you visit, it all falls into Place, into Time and into Wonder. Dregs of history, geography and astronomy surface your memory from school days and you realise what they were all so excited about. When you stand in the Pharaoh’s Tomb, or walk through the Temples, you are face to face with hard evidence of an era, a culture an obsession of a day gone by.
And what better way to witness this mingling of the past and present than from the top sun deck of a Nile boat. We boarded at Luxor amidst the chaos of luggage boys and waiting coaches, but were soon sipping a welcome cocktail and settled into our cabin.
Sinouhe II had all the comforts of home and more, a swimming pool, a restaurant, bar and dance floor, even a gift shop for postcards and souvenirs. Everything was a little basic, but spotlessly clean and comfortable.
Our routine was lots of sightseeing – with an excellent English speaking guide, Galal, who told us stories of Ancient Egypt in such a way a to capture our imagination and make us impatient for the next instalment. After lunch we’d settle down on deck with a good book (all about Egypt) and sail a few hours to our next port of call. Life on the banks would drift by, fishermen, women and children waving from the villages, all very calm and relaxing until suddenly…! Approaching a lock and negotiating our way through was entertainment itself. The chattering and seemingly argumentative lock men would work to a frenzy manipulating the gates and ropes to get us to the next phase of the river. Docking at Aswan and Edfu had us similarly entertained. Sometimes there was no space for us to fit along the quay, in which case we would tether ourselves in parallel to the next boat, and walk through it to get ashore! This was commonly done, and the most I saw were six boats alongside each other – but no one seemed to feel this unusual!
Abu Simbel was a short flight south of Aswan. We set off at dawn and the sight of this magnificent temple and the story it told were absolutely awe-inspiring. I wondered how many millennia those stony eyes of the Pharaoh had seen?
It was all too short – too soon we were back among the chaos and luggage boys at Luxor – leaving this land of legends to get back to the 20th century. Next on the list? Cairo! A short break, perhaps a visit to the museum to see the Boy King – Egypt is addictive and I’ve been hooked!