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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 **