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Meandering from its source to the Mediterranean coast, the ancient Nile River has been Egypt's lifeblood for thousands of years. Over 4,000 miles long, this life-giving, beautiful river feeds Egypt's farmlands, ancient villages and the buzzing cities of Cairo and Luxor. Studded along its valley are the aeons-old monuments, tombs and relics of the ancient Egyptians, including the spectacular Temple of Karnak, the Valley of the Kings and the gigantic colossiguarded temples of Abu Simbel, located near Lake Nasser. A cruise along the Nile's calm waters, passing white-sailed felucca, date palm groves and glowing sunsets is a journey not to miss.
Set amid hilly terrain on the eastern banks of the Nile, Aswan is famous for the Aswan High Dam situated just south of the city. Built during the 1960's and stretching for an incredible two miles, it is one of the three largest dams in the world. Within Aswan itself, there are numerous ancient relics to explore including the magnificent Nilometre Edifice on Elephantine Island. Aswan is also superbly located for visiting the Temple of Philae and Abu Simbel, Edfu and Kom Ombo, all described here.
Located 2 kms from Aswan and dubbed the 'Pearl of Egypt', the Temple of Philae stands on an island in the Nile. A revered religious centre in ancient times, the temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis and built on the site where the ancient Egyptians believed an annual miracle - the flooding of the Nile - took place.
Situated on the West Bank of the Nile facing Luxor, the Valley of the Kings harbours Egypt's most eminent ancient sites. The mausoleums here were the final resting-places of a succession of mighty pharaohs. You can see the excavated tombs of Tutankhamun (small entrance fee payable locally) and Queen Nefertiti as well as over sixty others. Other must-see nearby sites include the Colossi of Memnon, two 66 foot high statuettes carved as funeral treasures for Amenophis III; and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, a stunning three-tier monument.
Standing just 3 kms from Luxor, this immense collection of temples dates back to the 20th-century BC. Its centrepiece is the magnificent Temple of Amun, the king of all gods: a vast edifice of soaring columns and statues built around a sacred lake and approached along a superb avenue of ram-headed sphinxes.
Set in the city of Edfu, the 2,000-year-old Temple of Horus is the best preserved in Egypt. Dedicated to the falcon-headed god of the sun and plants, the monument boasts halls and temples and its showpiece is a pair of solemn black granite statues of the god wearing the crowns of Egypt.
Erected in 250 BC, the Temple of Kom Ombo enjoys an awesome setting astride a hill next to the Nile, north of Aswan. It was built in honour of two gods: the crocodile-headed Sobek and the falcon-headed Horus, the monument consists of two linked temples.
Set to the south near the border with Sudan, this breathtaking 31 metre-high temple is unmissable. The most imposing legacy of the reign of Egypt's greatest pharaoh, Ramses II, it boasts four stupendous statues of the seated king.