Measuring a mighty 4,150 miles (6,680 kilometers) from end to end, the Nile is the world’s longest river. It’s also the lifeblood of Egypt, flowing through the heart of the Sahara desert, and passing through cities, including Khartoum, Aswan, Luxor, and Cairo, before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria.
A boat ride along the Nile is a quintessential Egypt experience and there are plenty of ways to get on the water. Admire Cairo's illuminated skyline on an evening dinner cruise, marvel at the ancient wonders of Luxor's East Bank and West Bank on a sunset cruise, or set sail aboard a traditional felucca for Elephantine Island or Soheil Island from Aswan.
Multi-day cruises also run up and down the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, affording spectacular views and stopping at sights such as Aswan High Dam and the temples of Philae, Kom Ombo, Edfu, Luxor, and Karnak.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be sure to pack sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and lightweight clothing, as well as modest clothing suitable for visiting temples and mosques.
- Most multi-day cruises include a choice of standard or deluxe cabins, and meals (often a buffet) are served on board.
- Many boat cruises are wheelchair accessible, but it’s best to check in advance.
How to Get There
The Nile River runs right through the heart of Egypt, passing numerous towns and cities along the way. The main ports for multi-day cruises are in Aswan and Luxor, while short sightseeing cruises are a popular choice in Cairo.
When to Get There
Cruises run year-round, but the best time for a Nile River cruise is between October and April, when the weather is hot but manageable. Temperatures can reach over 104˚F (40˚C) in the summer months of June to August.
Wildlife of the Nile
The vast riverbanks of the Nile River provide a habitat to a huge variety of wildlife. Most notorious is the Nile crocodile, which can reach lengths of up to 20 feet (6 meters), but more welcome sightings include African tigerfish, Vundu catfish, turtles, and tortoises. In more remote rural areas, hippopotamuses, wildebeests, rhinoceros, and mongoose flock to the Nile to drink, while the Nile Delta in the north is home to a sizable population of water birds, including little gulls and whiskered terns.