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“The mysterious Nile, that gigantic serpent that winds so fabulously, so ungraspably, back through history.” It is easy to see the influence of the Nile on Egypt and its people – the river is a constant presence throughout Egypt. Perhaps it is because of its life-giving powers; without the Nile, Egypt would be an endless desert. As you approach Egypt by air, you see the green strip surrounding the Nile that holds the desert back from the country’s cities and towns.

A Nile cruise booked through a reliable travel agent will ensure a fun-filled trip that covers all the sights and sounds of Egypt. It is very difficult for a first time visitor to travel on your own, especially in the countryside, thus the cruise is a perfect option. Most cruises fly you from Cairo to Luxor, sail to Aswan and then fly you back to Cairo. The total cruise takes about five days and covers a large area of Egypt. Luxor is the ideal starting point as it takes you from the earliest Egyptian monuments to the latest in Aswan – sort of like a virtual tour through time.

Once in Luxor, it is very difficult to miss the imposing façade of the Luxor temple, which is dedicated to Amon. The perfect time to visit the temple is at sunset – the natural light, mingling with artificial lights lends an almost otherworldly atmosphere to the monument. The town of Luxor was one immense temple complex in ancient times – the Karnak temple on the south is part of the complex. Equally impressive is the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple for Ramses II. This is the monument that inspired Shelley’s sonnet on Ozymandias.

There is an intangible quality to all the temples and monuments of Egypt – each has its own unique energy. One has to be made of the cool granite of the monuments not to be deeply touched by their magnificence.

On the opposite bank of Luxor is a wealth of monuments, including Queen Hatshepsut’s temple. She was the only woman to rule over Egypt as a pharaoh and her temple is rightly named Djeser Djseru, the splendour of splendours. Also located here is the world-renowned Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and Tombs of the Nobles, all circa 1352 BC. Although the most famous tomb is that of King Tutankhamun, it is not in my opinion, the most impressive. Be energetic and try to explore even the most inaccessible of the tombs. You’ll come away with an experience that will be indelibly marked in your consciousness.

As you travel down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, you will stop at even more temples. Don’t be fooled by their apparent similarity – Egypt has a unique way of surprising you in the most unlikely of places. Also, the experience tends to sink into you consciousness and then emerge again long after you washed the sand from your toes. Experience everything.

The Temple of Hathor at Dendera near Luxor is particularly stunning. The ceilings of this monument, dedicated to the cow-headed goddess of healing, is decorate with symbols of heavenly bodies.

Once in Aswan, the two most noteworthy sites are the Unfinished Obelisk and Elephantine Island. The felucca (ancient Egyptian boats) are plentiful here and it is a real treat to sail on the Nile in one of these stately vessels, pretending you are Cleopatra.