Nile Cruise: Sailing From Edfu to Luxor

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

Edfu to Luxor

After the interesting visit to the Temple of Horus at Edfu, it was time to head back to the M/S Princess Sarah, my Nile cruise ship.

Late in the morning we would sail from Edfu to Luxor to complete my cruise along the River Nile, which has started two days earlier in Aswan.

I was looking forward to spend some time at leisure on the river boat enjoying the fine views over the Nile valley.

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The magnificent Temple of Horus at Edfu. ©Paliparan
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Inside the Temple of Horus at Edfu. ©Paliparan
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Horse and carriage ride from the temple back to the river boat. ©Paliparan

Departure from Edfu

Back at the ship, I enjoyed a late breakfast in the restaurant before heading straight to the upper deck to watch our departure from Edfu once every passenger had returned from the temple visit.

It was again a lovely winter day in Egypt with clear blue skies and a magnificent purple haze on the horizon.

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Leaving Edfu on my Nile river cruise ship. ©Paliparan
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The River Nile at Edfu. ©Paliparan
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The city of Edfu as seen from my river boat. ©Paliparan
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Bridge over the River Nile at Edfu. ©Paliparan
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Electrical cables across the River Nile. ©Paliparan

Boat salesmen

Shortly after our departure from Edfu, a couple of rowing boats appeared at both sides of our ship.

These are simply local salesmen on rowing boats trying to sell their goods to cruise passengers.

In order to do so, they skilfully attach their boats to the cruise ship with ropes and then sail alongside for a couple of miles.

They then try to grab the attention of the cruise ship passengers inside their cabins or on deck and show all kinds of souvenirs ranging from small carpets and towels to dresses.

My guide Mohammed was also standing on deck and told me that he once accompanied an American couple who were genuinely afraid that the people in the rowing boats were pirates trying to board the ship and rob the passengers!

It’s fortunately a rather more innocent affair and actually something that is jolly good fun to watch, especially when the salesmen throw their goods on board the cruise ship if one of the passengers wants to have a closer look or actually wants to buy it.

Passengers simply negotiate the price with hand gestures or by shouting an amount towards the salesmen.

Payment is usually done with one of the souvenir sellers throwing a towel sealed in plastic on board the ship, after which the passenger puts the money in it and throws it right back.

Most salesmen attempt to sell their stuff for a good 20 to 30 minutes, after which they untie the ropes, drift away from the ship and row back to their homes.

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View over the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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Local boatmen approaching our river cruise ship. ©Paliparan
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Skilfully, the boatmen attach their rowing boat to the cruise ship with some ropes. ©Paliparan
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The boatmen try to grab the attention of passengers and attempt to sell some souvenirs. ©Paliparan
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The whole spectacle is great fun to watch. ©Paliparan

Shipping traffic

One of the highlights of a Nile river cruise between Edfu and Luxor is watching the shipping traffic.

Whether it’s the local salesmen on rowing boats, traditional felucca sailing boats, freighters or other river cruise ships, the shipping traffic on the Nile is indeed highly variable and fun to watch.

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The swimming pool on the top deck of the M/S Princess Sarah. ©Paliparan
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View over the Nile somewhere between Edfu and Luxor. ©Paliparan
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It’s great fun to watch the shipping traffic on the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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Overtaking another river cruise ship. ©Paliparan
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Throughout the entire cruise from Edfu to Luxor, local boatmen would appear to hitch a ride alongside our ship. ©Paliparan
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View over the River Nile from the top deck of my river cruise ship. ©Paliparan
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Trailing another river boat on the Nile. ©Paliparan


The Nile river views between Edfu and Luxor were certainly more diverse than I expected.

Although most of the time the riverbanks are dominated by agricultural fields, reeds and palm trees, you do pass by the occasional village as well.

The backdrop is diverse too, as sometimes the banks are as flat as a pancake with hardly a hill in sight, while at other times some craggy rocks and mountains run almost directly along the river.

The same counts for the River Nile itself, which at certain points can get extremely wide.

One of the most scenic points between Edfu and Luxor is around the old house of famous Egyptologist and architect George Somers Clarke.

This traditional house stands at a particularly beautiful stretch of the Nile in between palm trees and rocky outcrops.

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Although the banks of the Nile are mostly flat, you do pass some large rock formations at times. ©Paliparan
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Passing by George Somers Clarke’s house. ©Paliparan
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The lush banks of the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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Passing by houses and agricultural fields. ©Paliparan
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The fertile banks of the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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Another cruise ship on the Nile. ©Paliparan
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Racing another river boat on the Nile. ©Paliparan
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Palm trees on the banks of the Nile. ©Paliparan
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A sleepy village on the banks of the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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Overtaking a rowing boat on the Nile. ©Paliparan
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View over the River Nile from the top deck of my cruise ship. ©Paliparan
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At some points, the River Nile is extremely wide. ©Paliparan
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Enjoying the sweeping river views from the top deck swimming pool. ©Paliparan

Esna locks

Another highlight of taking a Nile river cruise between Edfu and Luxor is the moment you are passing through the Esna locks.

When your ship approaches Esna, make sure you go up to the upper deck and walk to the bow to watch the scenes unfold.

It’s quite a hectic affair on shore as lock keepers and salesmen all crowd the banks.

Again, a flurry of rowing boats with souvenir sellers appear as they try to sneak through the locks alongside the river cruise ships.

We anchored for a while at the first set of locks, which wasn’t in use.

After a while, we were given the all clear to pass through the narrow opening towards the second set of locks.

These are the New Esna Locks and here our ship was actually lowered.

Once the lock doors finally opened again, I walked to the ship’s stern to watch us sail out of Esna.

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Arriving at Esna. ©Paliparan
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The dam and locks of Esna appear in the distance. ©Paliparan
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Sailing through the city of Esna. ©Paliparan
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Looking out over Esna from the top deck of the Nile cruise ship. ©Paliparan
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Approaching the Esna locks. ©Paliparan
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There are plenty of local boatmen around the Esna locks trying to sell their goods to cruise ship passengers. ©Paliparan
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Arriving at the Esna locks. ©Paliparan
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Lock keeper attaching our boat to the river bank. ©Paliparan
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The actual dam at Esna as seen from the top deck of the river cruise ship. Note also the souvenir sellers standing on the shore! ©Paliparan
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Sailing through the first set of locks. ©Paliparan
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Passing through the locks at Esna. ©Paliparan
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Esna Nile dam. ©Paliparan

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Approaching the second lock. ©Paliparan
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Entering the New Esna Locks. ©Paliparan
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Inside the lock. ©Paliparan
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Water streaming out of the lock as our ship is lowered. ©Paliparan
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When the water levels were the same, the doors could finally open again. ©Paliparan
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Looking back towards the Esna Locks. ©Paliparan
Sailing out of Esna. ©Paliparan

From Esna to Luxor

The stretch between Esna and Luxor is equally beautiful as the previous part between Edfu and Luxor.

This time however, there are some impressive rocks appearing on the east bank of the Nile, although the view was slightly obscured by some haze.

On the left bank of the river, agricultural fields remained the dominant feature.

Although I was now in Egypt for quite some days already, the Nile views were still as mesmerising as they were on the first day.

I went back into my cabin to finish the last bits of the bottle of gin, only to resurface on deck when we approached our final destination of Luxor.

Just moments after we passed underneath Luxor’s sole Nile bridge, the ship moored at the east bank of the river next to some other river boats.

It was finally time to explore the famous archaeological sites of Luxor!

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Making our way towards Luxor. ©Paliparan
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Agricultural fields on the left bank of the Nile. ©Paliparan
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About one to two hours before arrival in Luxor, some beautiful mountains appear in the distance. ©Paliparan
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View over the east bank of the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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Nile view. ©Paliparan
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Even on the last day of the cruise, the Nile views were still mesmerising. ©Paliparan
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Radio mast on the banks of the Nile. ©Paliparan
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East bank of the Nile. ©Paliparan
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Fields and farms on the western bank of the River Nile. ©Paliparan
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View from the back of the ship. ©Paliparan
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As we approached Luxor, I made my way again to the upper deck of the river cruise ship. ©Paliparan
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Passing underneath the only Nile bridge at Luxor. ©Paliparan
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The outskirts of Luxor. ©Paliparan
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Berthing places for Nile cruise ships at the outskirts of Luxor. ©Paliparan


It’s great fun to make a cruise on the River Nile between Edfu and Luxor.

The scenery on the shores of the Nile is more diverse than you might think as you will pass by agricultural fields, mountains, palm groves, villages and cities.

One of the highlights is about halfway the cruise when your ship will pass through the locks at Esna.

Even though I had already spend quite a few days along the Nile, the river views certainly didn’t disappoint and the slow travel on board the ship certainly made for some unforgettable memories.

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
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 (current chapter)
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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