The Nile River in Egypt is the heart of African river cruising, playing host to a great range of vessels, from simple traditional feluccas to very luxurious riverboats. Cruise lengths range from overnight to a week, with the longer cruises often continuing as far as Dendera. While the Nile is 6,671 kilometres long, making it the longest river in the world, its lower 1,000 kilometres, stretching between Abu Simbel (with its grand temple of Ramses II on the shore of Lake Nasser) and Cairo, passes most of Egypt’s highlights.
In fact, most Nile cruising takes place between the historic sites of Aswan and Luxor. Luxor is the centre for many of ancient Egypt’s archaeological riches: Karnak, the Valley of the Kings and the expansive temple of Hatshepsut. Cairo is a memorable entry point: here, everyone visits the Great Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza. Allow plenty of time to pore over the priceless exhibits at the Egyptian Museum, including the Tutankhamen treasures. It’s worth checking that your preferred cruise will operate, as the lock at Esna may close in December for a couple of weeks, and low water can also close locks around April.
If you’re seeking something very different, there are sometimes cruises along the Congo River. Typically, on these, you cruise by day and sleep ashore at night. You can also traverse the Niger River: one of the best Niger cruises is aboard a vessel called Callisto.