Travel to River Nile – Lifeblood of Northeast Africa
Emptying into the Mediterranean Sea in a vast delta the River Nile’s 6,695 kilometre journey begins in the heart of Africa, giving life to countless millions along its length from both its water and the fertile soil of its banks. This mightiest of rivers has enabled man to farm the lands on its banks and millennia ago created one of the greatest civilisations the world has ever seen.
The Nile is comprised of two branches: the White Nile rises in East Africa and the Blue Nile in the highlands of Ethiopia. They join just south of Khartoum in modern Sudan – in ancient times called Nubia – and are each fed along their length by numerous tributaries.
When the rains come to the highlands the river swells and much silt is carried downstream. Prior to the building of the dams at Aswan the inundation was so great in Egypt that the Nile broke its banks, flooding the low lying fields alongside and leaving behind vast quantities of silt when it receded.
This silt was the black gold on which the Egypt of the Pharaohs was built and which gave the country its prosperity. But Egypt is not the only country to rely on the Nile – all people along its length depend upon it in one form or another, for example south of the cataracts in Sudan the winter winds blowing up the river enable ships to sail south, using the flow for the return journey and thus bringing trade into otherwise inaccessible regions.
The Nile was and remains the lifeblood of northeast Africa.
Along the course of the Nile can be found countless treasures from those of Egypt’s Pharaonic era such as at the wonders at Karnak, Abydos, Dendera, Edfu, Kom Ombo and em>Aswan to those further south.
Northern Sudan was until recently known as Nubia and before that as Kush. It is here that the little known Meroitic civilisation flourished between 300BCE to 400AD, endowing the world with their own amazing pyramids and tombs, and where the more recent Dongola churches can be seen.
This area is rich for those interested in other cultures from an anthropological perspective as life carries on here in villages such as those close to the 4th Cataract largely unaffected by the modernity of the 20th century.
Relaxing by the Nile is one of the nicest things about a visit to Egypt. Take a felucca ride at sunset, a stroll along the Corniche in Aswan, or sit on the terrace of the Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor or the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan and enjoy a gin and tonic.