Nile Cruise: Sailing From Aswan to Kom Ombo

This review shows how the journey on a river cruise ship is like when sailing down the Nile from Aswan to Kom Ombo.

Aswan to Kom Ombo

Having checked in on the M/S Princess Sarah, I was all set for my Nile river cruise from Aswan to Luxor.

The ancient temple at Kom Ombo (alternatively written as Kom Ombu or Kom Umbu) is usually the first port of call after departure from Aswan on a downstream river cruise.

However, on the way from Aswan to Kom Ombo there are several interesting sights you can see from the deck of your cruise ship.

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The M/S Princess Sarah anchored at Aswan. ©Paliparan

Departure from Aswan

When your ship departs Aswan, you really should make sure that you are standing on deck.

Of course, you don’t want to miss the moment of departure as it really brings up the travel feeling that you are about to embark on a new adventure.

Although many of us might have a general idea what there is to see in the main Egyptian tourist destinations of Aswan and Luxor, the unknown lands along the River Nile in between these two cities does leave more room for imagination.

Besides, the Nile is perhaps at its most beautiful around Aswan as here you see high sand dunes flanking the river.

At 3.30pm, the moorings were cast off as we started the cruise down the Nile from Aswan to Kom Ombo.

The contrast between the deep blue waters of the Nile, green palm trees and the yellow sand dunes is absolutely striking.

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Just before departure, I went up to the top deck of the ship. ©Paliparan
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Looking down the Nile at Aswan from the top deck. ©Paliparan
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Another ship departing Aswan before we set off on our sailing. ©Paliparan
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The moorings are cast off! ©Paliparan
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Here we go. ©Paliparan
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Sailing out of Aswan. ©Paliparan
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On departure you are likely to pass other Nile river boats anchored in Aswan. ©Paliparan
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View over the Aswan suburbs. ©Paliparan
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The west bank of the river is dominated by huge sand dunes. ©Paliparan
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View over Aswan and the Nile from the upper deck of the M/S Princess Sarah. ©Paliparan
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A traditional felucca boat sailing next to my cruise ship in Aswan. ©Paliparan
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Looking back towards Aswan from the aft of the ship. ©Paliparan
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Last views of Aswan. ©Paliparan

Towards the Aswan Nile bridge

After departure, the first noteworthy sight you will encounter is the cable-stayed Aswan Bridge.

Located some 12 kilometres north of Aswan, this bridge was completed in 2002 and has a length of 977 metres (3,205 ft).

However, before you reach the bridge there are still plenty of interesting landscapes to admire on the banks of the River Nile, with sand dunes still dominating the left bank.

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Enjoying the fine outdoor views from the top deck of the ship. ©Paliparan
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When it gets a bit too hot out in the sun, you can simply move to one of the tables under the roof for some shade. ©Paliparan
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Passing by a small mosque. ©Paliparan
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Nile riverbank. ©Paliparan
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Unfortunately, the water in the swimming pool on deck was ice cold and not really suitable for a dip. ©Paliparan

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Sand dunes on the left bank of the Nile. ©Paliparan
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On the right bank, you will see the main riverside highway and a couple of villages. ©Paliparan
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Approaching the Aswan bridge. ©Paliparan
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At this point, I moved to the bow to see our ship sail underneath the bridge. ©Paliparan
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The Aswan Bridge. ©Paliparan
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Sailing under the Aswan Bridge. ©Paliparan
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Looking back towards Aswan Bridge from the aft of the ship. ©Paliparan

Fertile farming land

Leaving the desert landscapes and sand dunes of the Aswan area behind, the Nile riverbanks look more lush and green with every mile we sail north.

Thanks to the annual river floods, the soil on the banks of the Nile is extremely fertile.

Already in ancient times, Egypt was an agricultural powerhouse as complete empires such as the Roman Empire were dependent on Egyptian grain.

Although with a population of about 100 million people Egypt needs to import a lot of basic food supplies nowadays and isn’t self-sufficient anymore, the farmlands haven’t lost their importance to the country.

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The last of the sand dunes north of Aswan. ©Paliparan
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The arid desert landscape slowly gives way to more fertile riverlands. ©Paliparan
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Agricultural fields on the banks of the Nile. ©Paliparan
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The lush banks of the River Nile. ©Paliparan

Shipping traffic

As you may expect of such an important river, there is quite some shipping traffic on the Nile.

On your journey you will see a lot of other boats, ranging from river cruise ships in all sizes to traditional felucca sailing boats, rowing boats and cargo ships.

At this point of our journey, we were just sailing behind another river ship, the Steigenberger Regency.

Having trailed it for a couple of miles, we finally managed to overtake the ship in a wide river bend.

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At one point, we were closely following another cruise ship on the Nile. ©Paliparan
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Getting closer towards the ship in front of us. ©Paliparan
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Starting the overtaking manoeuvre. ©Paliparan
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Looks like we have the faster ship! ©Paliparan
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Sailing right along the Steigenberger Regency cruise ship on the Nile. ©Paliparan
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And we are now in front of the other ship with a clear view from the bow ahead of us! ©Paliparan
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Barren rocks on the right bank of the Nile. ©Paliparan

Cabin R&R

Having spent some considerable time on deck, I thought it was about time to retreat back to my cabin for some much-needed R&R.

After all, I could still enjoy the fine river views from the sofa in my cabin, even though I could obviously only see the scenery on the left bank of the Nile.

Before I embarked on the cruise I stocked up on some booze so I had a bottle of gin waiting for me in my cabin.

Weirdly enough I didn’t manage to find any tonic during multiple supermarket and shop visits in Cairo and Aswan, so I had to do with some other mixers.

Fortunately, the Egyptian gin went down very well mixed with pineapple Schweppes.

It was an absolute pleasure to relax a bit with a drink, a good book and some gorgeous sunset views over the Nile.

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My cabin table and sofa all set up so I could enjoy the riverside views. ©Paliparan
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A drink, a book and some great views are all you need to kill the time. ©Paliparan
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View from my cabin over the Nile. ©Paliparan
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With views like these, sailing down the Nile from Aswan to Kom Ombo certainly didn’t bore. ©Paliparan
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Yours truly enjoying a G&T in his cabin. ©Paliparan
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The sun is slowly setting over the banks of the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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One last gin tonic before arrival? Sure! ©Paliparan
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An absolutely lovely sunset over the Nile as seen from my cabin. ©Paliparan
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Sunset over the Nile as seen from my cabin. ©Paliparan

Nile sunset

As we were getting close to Kom Ombo, I readied myself for arrival and climbed back up to the outdoor deck of the ship to admire the sunset views.

There is just something magical about seeing the sunset over the River Nile and the deep orange and red colours in the skies were absolutely gorgeous.

Just like the amazing sunset I saw over the Mekong river during a recent trip to Luang Prabang, also this Nile sunset easily makes it into my top 10 of most memorable sunsets.

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Watching the sunset from the top deck of the ship. ©Paliparan
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Nile sunset. ©Paliparan
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There is just something magical when it comes to sunsets over big rivers like the Nile. ©Paliparan
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The sun is setting behind some electricity poles on the left bank of the Nile. ©Paliparan
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The sunset colours were absolutely brilliant this day. ©Paliparan
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Although it was a bit windy at this point, I couldn’t understand why there weren’t any more passengers out on deck to admire the sunset. ©Paliparan
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The sun setting behind the horizon. ©Paliparan
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What an amazing sunset this is. ©Paliparan

Arrival at Kom Ombo

Even after the sun had finally set below the horizon, the skies above the River Nile continued to show off their beautiful colours.

While watching the twilight colours the ship finally approached Kom Ombo, although it still took quite some time for it to turn and dock.

I met up with my tour guide Mohammed again in the lobby so we could instantly make our way to Kom Ombo’s famous temple as soon as the gangway was ready for disembarkation.

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Beautiful twilight colours in the skies over the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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Sailing by a small town on the left bank of the Nile. ©Paliparan
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The town had a slipway from where small motorboats bring passengers across the Nile. ©Paliparan
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Motorboats crossing the Nile. ©Paliparan
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Twilight skies. ©Paliparan
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I just loved the exotic view of the palm trees on the riverbank set against the twilight sky. ©Paliparan
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Sailing down the Nile. ©Paliparan
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Approaching Kom Ombo. ©Paliparan
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Although it was getting chilly at this point, I still refused to go inside as the views were simply too good. ©Paliparan
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The town of Kom Ombo comes into sight. ©Paliparan
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Other Nile river cruise ships docked at Kom Ombo. ©Paliparan


The start of my Nile river cruise from Aswan to Kom Ombo was an absolutely delightful experience from start to finish.

On departure, you are treated with some fantastic views over the sand dunes on the left bank of the River Nile for which the Aswan area is famous.

The landscape slowly changes as you sail downstream from Aswan to Kom Ombo as the sand dunes make way for fertile farmland and lush tropical palm forests.

By far the most special moment of any cruise on the River Nile is the sunset as there is just something magical about the vivid colours in the sky and the silhouettes of palm-fringed shores.

If the upcoming shore visits and rest of the cruise would be as great as this sailing between Aswan and Kom Ombo, I would be in for a great time.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘Walk Like an Egyptian: A Grand Tour of Egypt‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Red-Eye Ramblings of a Late Night Flight to Cairo
2. A Visit to the Pyramids of Giza by Camel
3. Review: Sofitel Nile El Gezirah, Zamalek, Cairo
4. Exploring the Medieval Old Town and Islamic History of Cairo
5. Visiting the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo
6. Mar Girgis: The Churches of Christian Old Cairo
7. Review: Ernst Watania Sleeping Train Cairo to Aswan
8. The Ancient Quarry of Aswan and the Unfinished Obelisk
9. A Boat Ride From Aswan to the Temple of Isis at Philae
10. A Visit to the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser
11. A Visit to the Nubian Village on Aswan’s Elephantine Island
12. Aswan Guide: A Visit to Egypt’s Most Stunningly Located City
13. A Half Day Trip From Aswan to Amazing Abu Simbel
14. Nile River Cruise Guide: All Info for Your Egypt Boat Trip
15. Review: M/S Princess Sarah Nile River Cruise Ship
16. Nile Cruise: Sailing From Aswan to Kom Ombo (current chapter)
17. A Visit to the Ancient Crocodile Temple of Kom Ombo
18. A Visit to the Temple of Horus at Edfu
19. Nile Cruise: Sailing From Edfu to Luxor
20. Luxor, Egypt: Visiting the Sights of Ancient Thebes
21. A Visit to Luxor’s Giant Temple Complex of Karnak
22. Visitor Guide to Wonderful Luxor Temple
23. Valley of the Kings: A Visit to Luxor’s Ancient Necropolis
24. The Temple of Hatshepsut: A Visit to a Unique Mortuary Temple
25. Review: Sofitel Winter Palace Hotel, Luxor, Egypt
26. Review: Daytime Train Luxor to Cairo, Egypt

** rest of the chapters to follow soon **

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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