Breathtaking, mystical and profoundly touching are just some of the words that came to me as I started to write about my recent 11 day Secrets of Egypt & the Nile aboard AmaDahlia. So many people have written so much about this destination and yet nothing compares to what you feel when you are standing at the foot of the Pyramid of Giza, watching the light filter through the towering pillars at the Temple of Hathor or winding your way through the narrow underground passage into the vibrantly colored tomb of Nefertari.
Cruising down the Nile every day is a feast for the senses as the landscape changes from the barren desert of the Valley of the Kings and Queens to lush fields still farmed in ancient traditions; and from feluccas gracefully sailing by to the colorful merchants in motorboats who pull up beside our ship offering their local goods. You can’t help but develop an unexpected deep connection with ancient history as you marvel at the brilliant colors on the walls of hidden tombs, attempt to decipher the hieroglyphics engraved on temple walls or try to put into perspective some of the incredible scientific and architectural achievements, like the Great Sphinx of Giza, that has survived for over 4,500 years.
From the moment your Cruise Manager greets you in Cairo, you can relax and enjoy as each new day dawns with unexpected sights, sounds and culinary delights. Whether enjoying the comfort of the Four Seasons at the First Residence in Cairo with its refreshing outdoor swimming pool; an included lunch at the Mena House restaurant with its jaw-dropping views of the pyramids; or your dinner on board AmaDahlia with its lively Chef’s Al Fresco Restaurant serving up delicious cuisine, Egyptian wine and panoramic sunset views… your senses are in for a journey like no other.
No two days resemble each other—from the moonlit tour of Kom Ombo, a temple dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god and the falcon-headed Haroeris, to the imposing Temple of Horus in Edfu, to the 200-acre Temple of Karnak dedicated to the sun god Amun-Ra where each pharaoh left their mark, including one of the seven female pharaohs, Hatshepsut. And how can you compare the visit to an authentic Nubian village to the intimate traditional Galabeya evening celebrated on board? Ancient history and current culture come alive thanks to our wonderful crew, knowledgeable local guides and the remarkable Egyptologists who provide onboard presentations and accompany all our tours.
One of my favorite afternoons was the visit to Philae Temple on Agilika Island. This beautiful oasis in the center of the Nile River is a remarkable tribute to the preservation of the world’s treasures when you consider that in 1971 the whole site was relocated, stone by stone, to protect it from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. Another highlight for me was our final day in Cairo when our guests shared memories and said heartfelt goodbyes during an exclusive visit and lunch at the Presidential Palace.
My pre-cruise visit to Jordan was an unforgettable addition to this cruise and land package – but that destination deserves a separate blog – so stay tuned!
If a river cruise on the Nile still hasn’t made it on to your “must-see” list, then you can learn even more exciting program details by watching our Egyptian Sip & Sail on YouTube.
Tips From Our Guests
Visas and Travel Entry Requirements: To avoid the often challenging process of navigating visas online and to avoid delays and additional paperwork when purchasing a visa upon arrival to Egypt, we recommend guests with US, Canadian, European and UK passports purchase the VIP Egypt Visa pass through AmaWaterways before departure. Purchasing this is seamless; there is no paperwork involved and the best part is that an AmaWaterways representative will meet you on arrival, hand you your visa and assist you through the immigration process. Plus, the cost is just US$35.
Seasonal Variations: Traveling December-February can be cool, so be sure to bring a warm windbreaker as daytime temperatures in Luxor are a very comfortable 78°F / 24°C but evening temperatures can dip as low as 40°F / 5°C or less. During other times of the year, you will experience very warm daytime temperatures making sun hats and cotton clothing a must. Good walking shoes are also critical and a light scarf for women will come in handy.
Currency: Street vendors gladly accept USD, just make sure the dollar bills are new. You can withdraw local Egyptian money (Egyptian pound) at ATMs in major hotels or change your dollars at banks (at the Cairo airport or exchange shops in the major centers). Don’t tip in foreign coins as Egyptians are not able to convert and use this money. When bargaining for jewelry or art, don’t be surprised if you are charged an additional 3% fee if you choose to use your credit card for payment.
Two great things to buy: Golden “cartouches” with your name in hieroglyphics (the shipboard boutique has a wonderful selection) or beautiful Egyptian art painted on papyrus paper created by traditional methods.
For more information on our 11-night Secrets of Egypt & the Nile itinerary, visit AmaWaterways.com/Egypt.