Often your Nile cruise itinerary will include free time for personal explorations into the fascinating culture and traditions of the region. Day trips can be arranged through your cruise ship or independently once you arrive and see what appeals.
The Old Market in Cairo
Known as the Khan Bazaar, this labyrinth of a marketplace has played a major role in Egyptian commerce since 1382 when it was developed to control the spice trade through the region. Bargain with the vendors for great deals on unique hand crafted goods and beautiful jewellery made with gold, silver and brass. Establishments like the Café of Mirrors provide an oasis of calm among the bustling vendor stalls where you can relax and try a shisha water pipe while sipping hibiscus tea and admiring your new found treasures.
Experience the serenity of the Nile aboard a traditional small but graceful boat known as a felucca with beautiful white triangular sails. Day trips launching from Aswan or Luxor take you out to fascinating landmarks offshore like Elephantine Island that is thick with ancient fortresses or Kitchener Island where you can stroll through lush botanical gardens. Marvel at the impressive structures along the shoreline like the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan.
As you are gliding down the Nile you will encounter fascinating water birds that consider this river home.
From the graceful grey Heron to the comical African Pygmy-goose, the waters and skies of the Nile River Valley abound with an amazing variety of birds that are fun to spot with field binoculars. Some cruises specialise in birding with in-depth lectures on board while others provide float trips in areas like Luxor where huge populations of feathered residents congregate.
Climb aboard the camel train for a unique view of popular destinations like the West Bank of the Luxor or take off with a caravan into the Sharm Desert. It is best to embark early in the morning while it is still cool and limit your trip to two hours. Otherwise you might wake up with “saddle sores” from muscles constantly adjusting to the swaying motion generated by these “ships of the desert.”
Hot Air Balloon Rides
Soar high above the landscape for a spectacular bird’s eye view of the fertile Nile River Valley and the deserts beyond that sweep the horizon. See the Valley of Kings from a whole new perspective as your guide points out popular attractions like the Colossi of Memnon that tower over an ancient Ethiopian kingdom. Your route will be determined in part by the prevailing winds, but skilled balloonists can ride the currents to descend tantalisingly close to the scattered ruins and tombs that dot the landscape below.
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