A personal account from A Royal Steamer Restored
The River Nile has been the heart of Egypt for centuries, feeding the land and people that live along its banks. It has played such an important role in the history of the country and there is no doubt that cruising along this mighty river is the best way to see Egypt in all its glory.
A trip through Egypt brings to life an ancient world that once existed thousands of years ago, and with a little imagination, it is easy to put yourself in the shoes of the Pharaohs. The sheer number and magnitude of the temples is awe-inspiring considering their creation took place thousands of years ago. It is clear to see the workmanship that went into these brilliant sculptures - the meticulous detail, the stunningly preserved colours and the countless stories told.
Our first ancient site was the Temple of Hatshepsut, which is beautifully carved into the foothills of a seemingly lunar landscape. As we entered the temple, we were introduced to hieroglyphics for the first time. We wandered around whilst our guide brought to life the stories that had been carved into the walls. The main story was about Hatshepsut, the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Legends say that Hatshepsut’s stepson, Thutmose III, had tried to erase her from history by eradicating all the images of her as king on the temples and monuments. However, his attempts were unsuccessful, and this glorious temple is now dedicated to her.
Later we found ourselves wandering through Karnak Temple in the golden light of the early evening - a magical experience. The Hall of Columns seemed never-ending and it was hard to imagine how the Ancient Egyptians were able to erect and decorate these towering columns so intricately and with such skill. We learnt of how they used a grid system to ensure the carvings were consistent - an idea that seems so simple but required such effort.
The city of Aswan came as a total surprise to me. On one side of the river there’s the market which is bursting with people and on the other side golden sand dunes and swaying palm trees. The early mornings here were tranquil, watching the traditional Feluccas zigzag the river as the sun began to rise. My favourite spot of the trip was the Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha Christie famously wrote ‘Death on the Nile’. We enjoyed afternoon tea here as the sun set and the sky changed through every shade of pink, bringing a whole new dimension to our surroundings.
The following day we rose early in the morning for an excursion which we had all been looking forward to - Abu Simbel. The drive to Abu Simbel was through the boundless desert, making the final destination all the more impressive. As we walked around the mountain base, the colossal statues of Ramses II revealed themselves and we found ourselves astonished once again. For me this was the most impressive temple that we visited; it’s almost impossible to comprehend how this immense temple was carved out of one solid rock. but there is so much more to Abu Simbel than just the mountain face. Extending for 70 metres into the heart of the rock we discovered room after room, all impeccably decorated with tales of gods and kings alike.
There was a perfect balance between sightseeing and relaxation on our tour. In between the temple visits, there was nothing better than the serene experience of sailing past the lush green banks of the Nile and watching the locals as they went about their daily business. The people of Egypt are so warm and welcoming; we were often greeted with a wave or a ‘hello’ from the riverside as we sailed by. Having travelled to a range of different countries and experiencing their different cultures, I wasn’t sure how this trip would compare. Yet I was unexpectedly blown away by how different Egypt was to anything I have seen before. From the thriving countryside to the epic temples, my trip to Egypt was so much more than I could have anticipated. I cannot wait to visit again and explore more of what this captivating country has to offer.