I don’t even know where to begin.
I’ve never been on a cruise type of holiday before. One where days are spent living on a boat, travelling to different destinations, hopping on and off to take in some sights. I had visions of kids running riot, squeezing past people through small corridors and crowded tourist visits. I’ve been told some of what I imagined is in fact the reality of holidaying on cruise liners, so I’m glad that my first experience wasn’t on one of those great big ginormous boats with cinemas, ballrooms and late night discos etc. I’m not a fan of constantly being surrounded by groups (I go into diva mode when I can’t see over all the tall people) so I think easing myself in with a smaller ship was definitely the way forward.
In my last post on Egypt, I mentioned that we had flown into Hurghada and driven across to Luxor in order for us to catch our water ride. Most travel agencies can arrange this journey for you or better yet, you could fly directly to Luxor airport if you want to save yourself some time (I’ve mentioned a few other travel options at the end).
Choosing to stay on a boat as beautiful as Le Fayan was probably not the best idea. Because if this is the gauge from which we started, it’s going to take a lot to beat.
Le Fayan is a seriously good looking boat.
There’s a comfortable lounge area, spacious restaurant, gym, spa, luxury rooms, suites and the piece de resistance, a sun deck with pool, jacuzzi and outdoor dining facilities.
There are 57 bedrooms on board, and our particular trip was fully booked. There are also three luxury suites, with access to their own private jacuzzi if you fancy splashing out that bit more (if I could, I would!).
Le Fayan was even better than some of the hotels we’ve stayed at. From the moment we spotted it on the banks of the Nile, lined up with the others, we knew it was special. It oozed luxury. Our room was on the upper deck, sunset side so we were always facing the river rather than the bank (when we’re moored). In our standard room, we had a floor to ceiling window, two chairs strategically positioned facing outwards, the perfect spot to sit and watch the world go by. Every day we spent there, I woke up and headed straight for the curtains, throwing them back to look out and thank God for blessing Mo and I to be able to embark on such a wonderful experience. And my favourite thing of all was that it never felt crowded! There was enough room for all of us to have our own personal space as and when we needed it.
We spent a total of five nights on board, stopping daily for excursions. We started our journey in Luxor, cruising down at a steady speed towards Aswan.
Some of the sites we visited during our cruise:
- Valley of the Kings
- Karnak Temple
- Nubian Village
Of course each of these sites will need their own separate blog post as they actually BLEW MY MIND they were that amazing, but for now I’ll leave you with a few teaser pictures (the video highlights are coming soon 🙂 )
One of the most interesting parts of the actual cruise journey, was finding ourselves in an extremely large lock. Like a real-life English canal-style lock but on a seriously huge scale. It was bizarre. Although, I should not have been so surprised as it was in fact built by the British to facilitate irrigation of the cotton fields. I had never really thought about the logistics involved in situations like this, even though it was something I had been reading about pre-trip (later this year, I will be going on my first ever barging weekend holiday with boutique narrowboats – **I can’t WAIT for it**, where lock navigating will be a skill I’ll pick up and hopefully become a pro at). To watch it in action, right here on the Nile, was kind of spectacular. To be stood on this large boat as it swiftly navigated the Esna lock with ultimate precision and to feel it lift up as the water rose was unnerving and fascinating all at the same time. The only unfortunate thing, was that we saw it all happen in the dark, so we were slightly limited in what we could see – but it was still special and I encourage you to head up to the top deck and watch it if you get the opportunity.
I’ve mentioned many, many times on here that there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting on a boat, gliding across the water and watching the world go by. I loved my boat trip in Mandalay, our sailing excursion in Rio de Janeiro and now I can happily add this journey down the Nile onto my list.
Riverboats allow you to get a real panoramic view of life by the banks. The views are ever changing, so different to anything you’ll see inland. Lush greenery and vegetation abundantly bloom, but that same starkness we witnessed on the drive from Luxor was still evident, further away in background. I watched people go about their daily life, washing, working, relaxing, kids playing…
Few things to note:
- It seems that everywhere you go in Egypt, complimentary wifi access means that wifi is generally only available in reception or communal lounge areas. This goes for Le Fayan too.
- I’m not sure if the food on board is pre-determined if you are travelling with a group – but it was probably the one part that I wasn’t too impressed with. However, this is down to personal choice – to be clear there was always a variety and the quality was great, but the menu as expected was continental/European style cuisine. Personally, I would have preferred to try more local dishes.
There are so many moments embedded in my memory from this trip. The first time we set sail; the time we had lunch on the upper deck; the time we spent with others on the boat; the friends we made. Our last day was extra special as many of the guests had left early doors, so Mo and I had some time to kill before catching the train. We packed in a few more sights on our own and then passed the remainder of the afternoon on the sun deck, feet in pool, basking in the sun, just the two of us reflecting on what had been a sensational holiday.
I always judge a trip on how sad leaving makes me, and I must say leaving Egypt made me very, very sad. Thanks to the trip organisers and the hospitality of Le Fayan, our first joint adventure to Egypt was one that ignited a passion and intrigue to return for more.
And when (not if) we do return, I can only hope we are able to stay somewhere as exquisite as Le Fayan.
*** Travel booking ***
There are no flights from Manchester direct to Luxor. Our options were to either transfer in Cairo, Hurghada or somewhere else – however because we had to be at Le Fayan by a certain time and date, and as we had limited time off work, the transfer flights didn’t work for us. This is why we chose to fly into Hurghada and take a car over to Luxor. Many people flew into Cairo and took the overnight train down to Luxor – this is an option I really wanted to do after my love-hate relationship with the overnight train in Bagan, and from the feedback the others gave, it didn’t sound too different!
Our tour was organised by General Tours Egypt and they did a fantastic job!
(I did a lot of research on getting around Egypt, so if anyone has any questions please feel free to drop me an email 🙂 more than happy to help)
Have you taken a cruise down the Nile? Where else would you recommend cruising? Or is not your cup of tea?