Explore the Nile

The tomb is eerily silent.

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Sanctuary Sun Boat pool offers  a perfect spot to relax after a day of sight-seeing
Sanctuary Sun Boat pool offers a perfect spot to relax after a day of sight-seeing

It's the kind of silence that deafens and makes you take a humble look at your surroundings.

Above my head, intricately carved heiroglyphs - still as bright as the day they were painted more than 3000 years ago - depict King Ramses VI's ascension to heaven.

Beside me, a large granite tomb lies split open. Its precious contents were stolen long ago, like most of the Pharaohs' tombs, here in the Valley of the Kings.

Emerging from the cool stillness of the chamber, my eyes adjust to the brightness of the sun. I expect to be bombarded by gaggles of tourists - after all, this is one of the top sights in Egypt - but I'm standing alone. In fact, there are only a handful of visitors today, and we have this ancient place all to ourselves.

Egypt has been on my must-see list since I was a little girl, and a cruise down its famous Nile is on most people's bucket list. Unfortunately, the idea of long queues and a river teeming with hundreds of boats has always put me off, but since the Arab Spring in 2010, tourism in Egypt has taken a massive hit and with the country's future still uncertain, many tourists are worried to return.

But if you want to experience the sights without the crowds, now is the time to visit.

I've signed myself up to a four-night Nile cruise with Bales Worldwide, taking in some of the ancient wonders from Luxor to Aswan.

The Valley of the Kings, just a few miles from Luxor, was the final resting place for powers such as Ramses the Great and Tutankhamen. Sixty two known tombs belonging to Pharaohs from the 16th century BC can be found here.

A short drive but a world away from this hive of tombs is the Mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt's only female Pharaoh. Backed by limestone cliffs, this extraordinary monument looks almost modern; with clean lines cut out of the rock, it resembles something from the 1920s. It's hard to believe this was created over 3000 years ago.

Taking in the majestic view, I can't help but notice the guards armed with automatic rifles. Reading the reports on the news, it's no wonder people are cautious about travelling to Egypt, but the home office has lifted restrictions on the southern parts of the country and the guards feel like more of a reassuring presence than a foreboding one. Tourism is a vital industry in Egypt and its people are keen to protect it.

After a day of sightseeing, staff aboard the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV are awaiting us with smiles and fresh lime juice. This beautiful and stylish boat is one of the best on the river, and its 40 art deco inspired cabins boast floor-to-ceiling windows that show off the splendour of the Nile.

Before the revolution, 300 ships crowded these waterways but now, only 13 are currently in operation - and even these are not nearly at full capacity. Our boat has just 28 passengers on board, so we're well looked after by the 52 on-board staff.

A four-day Nile trip is still one of the greatest cruise journeys in the world. Empires have come and gone, as have modern regimes, but these temples have withstood them all for thousands of years.

Once all the commotion in modern Egypt has died down, the temple will still be here. But there may not be a quieter, cheaper and more interesting time to visit them than right now.

Stephanie Maskery was a guest of Bales Worldwide (www.balesworldwide.com; 0844 488 1157) who offers a four-night cruise on the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV from £1395 per person, including international and internal flights, transfers, accommodation, meals and sightseeing.

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