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THE NILE IN STYLE; Take a trip into the past with a cruise through Egypt.

Byline: Paul O'Hare

WE STOOD on the shore at Lake Nasser waiting for the sunrise like a crowd of space enthusiasts at a shuttle launch.

Itwas almost 6am and the moon was still in the sky behind us, shining down on the magnificent temple of King Ramses II.

Minutes later, the sun peeked over the horizon and lit up the grey sky as it lifted above the water.

It was a breathtakingly beautiful sight and one that captivated the small crowd that had set off in the middle of the night to reach Abu Simbel for dawn.

My wife and I were bleary-eyed when we left our cruise ship on the Nile to catch the 5am flight from Aswan.

We had heard rave reports about one of Egypt's premier attractions and it morethan lived up to the hype.

Inthe 1960s,The Great Temple of Ramses II was moved stone bystone from its original location to higher ground.

Hundreds of huge blocks were placed inside an artificially built mountain, while the site they had occupied for 3000 years disappeared under the water.

Today, four giant statues of the King guard the entrance to the temple. And a plaque informs visitors: "Through this restoration of the past, we have indeed helped to build the future of mankind."

Inside, giant stone carvings and intricate hieroglyphics celebrate the battle triumphs of a man who fathered morethan 100 children.

It is all veryimpressive, especially an entirewall which depicts the king on his chariot shooting arrows at his fleeing enemies.

The trip was the highlight of a week-long Nile cruise booked through flyglobespan.

Our main concern ahead of the adventure was the food but I enjoyed the hearty breakfasts, lunches and dinners - as well as fresh crepes with afternoon tea.

The itinerary featured early starts and packed daily schedules as wedocked in fivedifferent parts of Egypt.

Our adventurebegan in Luxor with a trip to the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings.

The final resting place of more than 60 royals is one of the world's great archaeological sights and even today new tombs are being found.

The most famous is that of Tutankhamun , which was discovered in 1922 with its magnificent treasures virtually intact.

But our guide assured us the most impressive interiors could be found in the less-crowded tombs of Ramses IV, Ramses IX and Tawosret.

Their achievements are immortalised by intimate engravings and paintings, many of which have retained their colour to this day.

Our next stop, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, was built to honour the most famous female pharaoh.

The iconic landmark, partially set against cliffs, has been vandalised over the centuries. The main offender was Tuthmosis III, who removed his stepmother's name from dozens of walls and pillars.

If you want a different perspective on the West Bank, a hot air balloon trip, costing pounds 90 per person, is available.

On day two, we visited the East Bank and the spectacular temples of Karnak, which cover an area of two sq km.

The sheer scale of the complex is staggering and includes the Temple of Amun, reputed to be the largest religious building ever built. Wealso visited Luxor Temple and a papyrus factory before retiring to the boat.

When wefinally set sail, it was worth the wait. Within minutes of leaving the busy port at Luxor, we were surrounded by a variety of stunning landscapes ranging from lush green fields to barren golden deserts.

The cruise also includes stop-offs at Edfu, to visit the temple of Horus, and Kom Ombo for a trip to Sobek Temple.

By the end of the trip you will be all templed out and it is hard to take in the sheer volume of information the guides bombard you with.

The best bet is therefore to take plenty of pictures and refer to a good guide book when you get the chance.

Our final day in Aswan featured a visit to Philae Temple, the Unfinished Obelisk - which gives a fascinating insight into Ancient Egyptian engineering - and the vast High Dam.

If you want to tick all the boxes then day trips to Cairo which take in the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, home to Tutankhamun's treasures, are also available on departure day.

The cruise crams an incredible amount into a short period of time but it is well worth it.

Flyglobespan offer 14-night Nile Cruise and Beach Stay holidays from pounds 825per person. Including return direct flights from Glasgow, all overseas transfers, seven nights half board accommodation at the four-star Grand Hotel in Hurghada and seven nights full board on a five-star Nile cruise ship, all inclusive.Superior upgrades are available at a supplement. For further information, visit www.flyglobespan. com or call 0871 987 1689.

CAPTION(S):

STILL WATERS: A boat passes down the West Bank on the Nile LANDMARKS: Main pic and left, the magnificent Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, and, right, the Valley of the Kings
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Nov 28, 2009
Words:828
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