If you’re a wheelchair user, then you might assume that the distance of ancient sites from the river and their fragility, as well as a choice between either busy and multi-decked cruise ships or much more basic felucca cruises
rule out the Nile as a vacation destination. Far from it, in fact, as although there is still plenty of work to be done when it comes to making Egypt a fully accessible destination, for wheelchair users it is relatively easy to embark on a Nile cruise, especially when opting for a tailormade accessible vacation.
Excursions along the Nile are manageable. Most (not all) of the key sites such as the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Karnak Temple and Kom Ombo, are easy enough to get around in a wheelchair, but you will want to have someone to assist you when going up slopes, over bumpy or loose ground, or carrying the chair up a few steps. Traveling by yourself would mean in many places you would be reliant on the kindness of others, or handing out liberal amounts of baksheesh
(a form of tipping) so joining an organised tour is definitely recommended.
A similar situation applies to the cruise ships themselves – they’re not perfect for wheelchair users, but doable. Many larger vessels will have lifts between decks, and will offer support to passengers requiring it when embarking and disembarking. At the present time we’re aware of only one small ship sailing the Nile that is completely wheelchair accessible, but that certainly doesn’t mean that others are out of the question, as long as you know what to expect.
The majority of cruise vacations on the Nile take place aboard small ships, which typically carry between 50 and 150 passengers, with smaller, sail-powered feluccas darting along between them. If you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible cruise on the Nile
then you will be traveling on a five-star, deluxe small ship. Expect a superb range of amenities aboard: air-conditioned, en suite cabins (several of them designed to be wheelchair accessible), restaurant and bar, comfortable lounge and an entertainment programme. Speaking more generally, most small ships on the Nile have open sun decks to take in the views along the banks (sailing is usually done by night but depending on where you are you may return to the ship during the hottest part of the day). And of course there are plenty of ships that have lifts between decks.