The great river
Egypt without the Nile would have been like Libya, a country where people only lived along the coast, and along scattered oases through the desert. With the Nile, however, Egypt gave birth to one of the world's oldest civilizations. Rivers are what gave birth to all early civilizations, as the river provided rich agriculture and easy transportation for goods, materials and armies.
Cruise boats moored up in Luxor.
A cruise, or a felucca. Aswan.
Sailing a felucca between the rocks of the 1st Cataract. Aswan.
Even in Cairo, the Nile can be a tranquil and beautiful retreat.
The wide, blue river Nile cuts through a landscape of pink mountains and a narrow strip of fresh and delicious green fields. Of course, I would say, the boats sailing up and down are white. Even in the middle of the day, many scenes along this river are feasts to the eye. In mornings, with the sunrise, or in the evenings, fabulous visual explosions happen. But only for a few minutes, in these regions the afternoon transforms quickly into night.
Travellers along the Nile need not organize for a cruise. Egypt has fabulously few bridges crossing the river. Ferries carry people across, and in many cases also cars. But should you wish for a few relaxing days on the river, there are two main types of trips. Either medium sized boats with private cabins and restaurants, or the most basic type of boats, the feluccas.
With the construction of the Aswan Dams, important to control the annual flooding of the Nile, as well producing electricity, the Lake Nasser has been formed. Although impressive in its size, and with its many fjords, it bears all signs of its recent birth. Along its shores, no vegetation has started growing to allow new settlements. The shore of the lake is unrealistically barren, you will ask yourself how so much fresh water avoids creating proper vegetation.
Cruises are since decades possible on the lake, cruises that must be among most tranquil of any kind, but which stops at the handful of Ancient Egyptian sights along the way, concluding in the spectacular Abu Simbel shortly before the border line to Sudan.
North of Cairo, the Nile divides into several rivers and canals; the main rivers are Damietta and Rosetta. The landscape of rivers here is very different from the rest of Egypt, being so fertile that has many as every second Egyptian lives here. Did you get that? Less than half of Egypt's population lives along the actual Nile!
There is very little tourism in this region that treats the river as little but an obstacle for moving quickly about. But there are many beautiful spots here too, and the city of Zagazig has quite some charm there were it follows the meandering river. Rosetta also creates nice scenes along the river, and has several more attractions for tourists.
Old and new lakes
The Lake Qarun in Fayoum has been there since ever, but receives much of its water today from the Nile. From this lake, an artificial river has created two brand new lakes in the Wadi Rayyan, a very beautiful place that does not feel artificial at all.
Some tourism is now heading down from Paris oasis, or from Nasser Lake to spot the Tushka lakes. The Tushka are so far 4 main lakes in the barren desert that is intended to feed agriculture in the desert. The finalization of this project is still years ahead, so still this is a tour of grand lakes in a landscape of no vegetation.