Treat yourself to a Christmas-time Nile cruise aboard one of the river’s most luxurious boats—the Oberoi Philae—on this 6-night Luxor-to-Aswan journey. Swap long overland day trips for the comforts and views offered by this 5-star ship, and enjoy tours of the top sights and less-visited treasures including Dendera, Abydos, and Aswan’s Nubian Museum. A Christmas dinner and party; luxe accommodation, meals, and transfers are included.
Explore the Nile in style on a 6-night Christmas cruise from Luxor to Aswan
Make the most of Christmas aboard one of the Nile’s most deluxe ships
Tour top and lesser sites, from Edfu and Abydos to the Valley of the Nobles
Every comfort: festive dinner and party; luxe cabin, meals, and transfers
This Museum of antiquities is an absolute gem. The selection of statues and objects found in local tombs and Temples all stored here are perfectly displayed against a dark background to bring out the best features. Among the many highlights are a strikingly beautiful statue of an eternally young King Tuthmosis III, an extraordinary statue of Amenhotep III held by the crocodile God Sobek, and furniture from Tutankhamun’s Tomb. The important cache of statues, among them Ramses II and Tutankhamun, found a few years ago under Luxor Temple, are also on display here in the hall to the left of the entrance.An interesting new wing is dedicated to the glory of Thebes during the New Kingdom period.
Dendera, originally called Tentyris, was one of the most important religious centers in ancient Egypt. It is situated on the west bank of the Nile, south of Qena in Egypt. The city was rendered sacred by three sanctuaries: the Sanctuary of Horus, god of the sky and protector of the pharaohs, the Sanctuary of Ihy, the young sistrum-playing son of Horus, and the Sanctuary of Hathor. Only the latter has survived practically inact, while no more than a few traces remain of the other two.
The temple of Dendera, built by Ptolemny IX SoterII, stands in the middle of a huge area bounded by a wall of air-dried bricks, almost entirely ruined, whose sides are between 925 and 990 feet long; on the north and east sides are two magnificent portals built during the period of Roman rule. A part from the great sanctuary, some outstanding monuments stand in the sacred enclosure. Not far from the rear façade of the great temple are the badly damaged remains of a small sanctuary dedicated to the birth of Isis; the surviving reliefs portray Nut, goddess of the sky, giving birth while sitting on a stool in accordance with the ancient local custom.
Located about 2.5 hours by car north of Luxor, Abydos was one of the most important religious sites to ancient Egyptians. Much like modern Muslims hope to complete a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, ancient Egyptians would have hopes to visit Abydos, which for them was strongly associated with the entrance into the afterlife.
When visiting Karnak, you are paying a visit to the heart of Egypt during the New Kingdom. This huge temple complex was the center of the ancient faith while power was concentrated at Thebes (modern day Luxor) and its significance is reflected in its enormous size. In addition to its religious significance, it also served as a treasury, administrative center, and palace for the New Kingdom pharaohs. It is considered as the largest temple complex ever constructed anywhere in the world.
This temple might be the greatest testament to why Luxor has earned its nickname, “The World’s Largest Outdoor Museum”.
It's one of the best-preserved of all of the ancient monuments with large amounts of structure, statuary and relief carvings still intact, making it one of the most impressive visits in the Luxor area and all of Egypt.
Amenhotep III, one of the great builders of ancient Egypt, constructed the temple during his New Kingdom reign, which lasted from 1390 to 1352 BC. In its current form, however, the temple appears to be one of the many projects the Ramesses II commissioned during his long reign.
The Valley of the Kings is where the modern myth of Egypt began with Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, complete with all of the treasures with which he had been buried, in 1922. The fame of that discovers ushered in a new era of Egyptian tourism as the treasures of Tutankhamun toured the world and generated new, widespread interest in the history of Ancient Egypt. The valley is not very impressive at first glance.
Valley (Tombs) of the Nobles - as it is usually referred to, is a fascinating insight into the hundreds of tombs discovered here over time and many archaeological digs. Situated along the West Bank of the Nie and unmistakable sandstone rock cliffs, it was once an ancient City where all the burials took place.
On the West Bank of the Nile across from Luxor City is located the The Theban Necropolis namely the Tombs of the Nobles.Many numerous tombs are located here with burial places of some who were the most powerful courtiers and people of the ancient City. Known to host hundreds of tombs, some were said to have been lost and not yet been located. In the period of the New Kingdom, the tombs had inscriptions of the tomb owners on them with some having a short prayer.
These two gigantic, 59-foots tall statues are the first sight that greets visitors who take the ferry across from the East Bank. They were made famous in antiquity by a mysterious sound emitted from one of them each sunrise. Scientists now think that this sound was caused by air passing through pores in the stone as it was warmed in the sunlight, but there is no way to confirm this since the sound stopped centuries ago.
Regardless of its cause, the sound was the source of the statues’ name as it caused the Greeks to believe that the statues were of the immortal Memnon.
In reality the statues are of Amenhotep III and his wife, Tiye, and they used to guard the entrance to a great temple complex that some believe might have rivaled Karnak in size. Amenhotep III, who ruled during the New Kingdom around the peak of Egypt’s historic power, is regarded as one of the most prolific builders of Ancient Egypt. This temple would have been the most significant of his building projects, but little remains of it today.
While it is not among the most well traveled sites on the West Bank, Medinat Habu is considered by many visitors to be among the most impressive sights they see in Luxor. This temple complex is impressively preserved, especially in comparison to the Ramesseum, on which its plan is based.
While the Ramesseum was built by a more famous pharaoh (Ramesses II), Medinat Habu, commissioned by Ramesses III, is a much more impressive sight with its pylon and many of its walls still intact and much more of the original painting visible on its carved surfaces.
Ramesses III (reign 1184—1153 BC) was the last of the great pharaohs of Egypt. After his reign, Egypt began a long decline that led to it being ruled by foreign powers for the majority of its history after the New Kingdom. After the empire stretched to its furthest extremes under Ramesses II, the pressure of invasion threats from multiple frontiers eventually proved too much.
Ramesses III is the last pharaoh to whom there are great building project attributed and this temples complex was the biggest of them.
During his reign, Medinat Habu functioned as a walled city with the temple and an administrative center inside of walls that protected the inhabitants of the area during hard times. Later on, the complex became a walled town for Coptic Christians living in the area.The first impression of the temple is immediately imposing as you enter through a massive stone gate that seems out of place in Egypt. It is a Ptolomaic addition to the complexc that hides the main feature of the complex behind it—the Temples of Ramesses III with its towering pylon with relief carvings still very well preserved, depicting the king defeating Egypt’s rivals from Libya and the Sea Peoples.
The temples continues from there into several courtyards with well-preserved reliefs and columns, many with their coloring still intact, and leading into a final hypostyle hall.
The Temple of Horus at Edfu is widely considered to be the most impressive of all of the Nile-side temples
Like at Esna, the temple at Edfu is a late construction. It was built during the Greco-Roman Period, but the builders painstakingly preserved the form of Egypt’s true pharaohs.
The temple is very complete, including a pylon that was built by Cleopatra’s father in the first century BC, which leads into a peristyle court and then a hypostyle hall that precedes the sanctuary of Horus, the ultimate and most important part of the temple. All of this replicates the standard layout of a New Kingdom pylon temple, the ruins of which can be seen at many other sights around Luxor and along the Nile Valley. The Temple of Horus at Edfu is by far the most complete example of this architectural style.
Kom Ombo is the third major stop that most of the Nile cruises between Luxor and Aswan make on their journey.
It dates from the Ptolomaic Dynasty and it was only completed under Roman rule. The temple has a dual dedicatation to Sobek, as well as Horus, and the plan of the temple reflects this dual purpose.
Temple of Sobek, the crocodile god, makes an approach by water the far superior way to visit this site.
The pylon entrance to the temples is no longer standing, leaving the hypostyle hall as the main feature that visitors see today. Also on the grounds of the temple is the Crocodile Museum, which has a display over crocodile mummies.
When construction began on the High Dam in 1960, it was the most heralded part of President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s effort to develop Egypt for all Egyptians. While the dam is certainly not the largest in the world, it is an impressive engineering feat nonetheless, over 360 feet tall and 12,500 feet across.
The dam was completed in 1971 and the huge reservoir behind it, named for President Nasser, finished filling in 1979.
The project has always carried controversy with it. The construction displaced over 100,000 Nubian, whose civilization had called the banks of the Nile in southern Egypt and northern Sudan home for millennia, and the rising waters threatened a number of important ancient monuments and archeological sites. Despite this, the dam provides significant benefits to the people of Egypt.
At the time of its construction, the High Dam was responsible for around 50 % of the electricity production in Egypt, providing electricity to most of Egypt’ villages for the first time. By regulating the flow of the river, the dam also increased the cultivatable land in Egypt by around 30% and allowed development in new areas that were previously inundated annually when the river flooded.
The dam is only about a 15-minute drive south of Aswan so a visit is easy even if your time in the city is limited. It is an impressive sight and views south over Lake Nasser and north toward the old Aswan Dam are spectacular. Don’t be deterred by the tight security. The dam is heavily guarded since it would wash most of Egypt into the Mediterranean if it burst.
This beautiful temple complex is one of the most picturesque in all of Egypt. It sits on Aglika Island just south of the old Aswan Dam and you must ride a water taxi to the island to get to theruins. The temple was moved to its current location following the construction of the High Dam, which threatened to submerge it permanently.
The careful reconstruction at the current site carefully completed, painstakingly preserving the original appearance and layout of the complex and even landscaping the island to match its former location.
Philae rose to prominence during the Ptolomaic Dynasty as the center of the cult of the goddess Isis. This complex was actually one of the last remaining places where the ancient religion survived after the arrival of Christianity in Egypt, officially closing only in 550 AD. Early Christians then used the main temple on the island as a church.
This is the reason for the defacement of some of the figures of the ancient gods as these Christians often tried to remove the pagan imagery from their newly claimed sanctuaries. The Temple of Isis is the main feature here, but there are several other smaller temples on the island that are worth spending time admiring.
There is a sound and light show at Philae Temple, like at all of the other major ancient attractions in Egypt, but Philae’s is generally thought to be the most impressive of these often overblown affairs. The ambience of the island’s ruins bathed in floodlighting is hard to describe adequately, but this is definitely a recommended way to spend an evening.
Opened in 1997, the Nubian Museum is a belated, but well-executed, tribute to the culture and influence of Nubia and the Nubian people on the history of Egypt. This ancient culture, every bit as old as that of Ancient Egypt, existed along the banks of the Nile for millennia in the areas we call southern Egypt and northern Sudan today.
It was nearly destroyed by the construction of the High Dam, completely submerging the ancient heartland of Nubia, and over 100,000 people to relocate. The museum houses a collection of artifacts from the Nubia region, which tell the story of the development of civilization in the southern Nile Valley from prehistory all the way through the pharaonic ages, the arrival of Christianity and Islam, and the construction of the dam in the 1960’s.
The plight of the Nubia people is a highly politicized issue. In the rush to develop the country in the 1950’s and 60’s, the Egyptian government did not provide adequate compensation or a sufficient planning to resettle the people whose livelihoods were affected by projects like the High Dam.
The preservation of Nubia’s cultural legacy was equally neglected. International organizations came in to move some of the most famous monuments of Nubia to high ground, like the Abu Simbel temples. Others were dismantled and shipped abroad as compensation for aiding this effort. The Dendar Temple that now stands in the New York Metropolitan Museum is one such gifted Nubian monument.
The Nubian Museum was intended to help rectify this injustice. While that may not be possible, especially since it still makes no mention of the consequences of the dam for the Nubian people, it is very effective at telling the story of the region and providing a glimpse of the culture that continues to exist here. Reconstructions of traditional Nubian houses with artwork salvaged from areas that are now underwater are particularly striking.
The museum is near the Fatamid Cemetery, which is full of small mausoleums dating from the 9th century. Some of the tombs here belong to local saints and they are decorated accordingly with flags and often visited by local people seeking blessings. The cemetery stands next to the ancient granite quarry where the Unfinished Obelisk is located. At nearly 140 feet long,
it would have been the largest obelisk ever carved by the ancient Egyptians. It was completely finished on three sides, but left attached to the bedrock when a flaw in the stone was discovered. Visit to these two sites along with the Nubian Museum make for a great day of activities all located within a small area to minimize walking.