Travel By Numbers: The Nile

This great river charts its course through thousands of years of history. Peter Harmer adds it all up
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The Independent Travel


The approximate length in kilometres of the River Nile, claimed by many to be the longest river in the world. Its primary source is the White Nile in Rwanda and its secondary source is the Blue Nile in Ethiopia; the two converge in Khartoum, Sudan. On the Go Tours offers a 10-day "Jewel of the Nile" holiday in Egypt for £779 per person, taking in Cairo, the pyramids at Giza, Luxor, Aswan and a three-night cruise up the Nile. The price includes accommodation, most meals, transfers and tours but not international flights.


The height in metres of the Aswan High Dam. Completed in 1970 it was designed to regulate flooding of the Nile. Together with the Aswan Low Dam (1902), it created Lake Nasser, a reservoir that extends into Lake Nubia in Sudan. The enormous body of water attracts scores of birds including white pelican, wigeon ducks, Egyptian goose and African pied wagtail – and also Nile crocodiles. Birdfinders Birdwatching Holidays offers an expert-led 14-day trip to Egypt this September, taking in Lake Nasser. The price of £2,495 includes flights, accommodation, full board and tours.


The number of minarets that are said to have given Cairo its nickname (though in reality there are far more). The capital of modern Egypt was strategically established upstream of the Nile delta. Discover the relics of Egypt's history at Cairo's Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, which contains over 120,000 items including royal mummies and artefacts recovered from tombs.


The year, BC that the temples at Abu Simbel were completed. The twin temples dedicated to Ramesses II and Queen Nefertari are aligned so that twice a year – once on the anniversary of Ramesses II's ascension to the throne and once on his birthday – sunlight illuminates the temple's inner sanctuary at dawn. The festival takes place on 22 February and 22 October annually. Abu Simbel is accessible from Aswan on a 45-minute flight with Egypt Air.


The number of rooms at the Kempinksi Nile Hotel in Cairo. The hotel, which opens after a major renovation in April, is located on the banks of the Nile in Cairo's Garden City, noted for its Belle Epoque architecture. Double Nile view rooms start at €200, room only.


The number of years it took to build the Great Pyramid of Giza, on the West Bank of the Nile opposite Cairo. The only Great Wonder of the Ancient World to remain substantially intact was completed around 2551BC and is made up of over two million limestone blocks. A limited number of tourists can enter the pyramid via the "Robbers' Tunnel", dug in the year 820. Cairo is served from Heathrow by BMI.


The age that the Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun died in 1323BC; it was revealed by scientists this week that his fate was sealed by a combination of malaria and bone necrosis. His tomb was first unearthed by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank of Luxor in 1922 and his mummified body is now displayed in the tomb in an acrylic case. You can cross the Nile from Luxor to reach the Valley of the Kings via a frequent ferry service.


The number of canvas sails on a felucca, a small traditional wooden sailing boat popular for cruising up the Nile. The boats offer a low-key alternative to the big cruise ships and luxury dahabeyas (pleasure boats) that ply the river. Facilities are basic but the experience is superior, allowing you to take in the day-to-day life on the river banks at a gentle pace, stopping off as you please at sights of interest. Nile Felucca Adventure offers three-night felucca tours from US$175 (£117) per person full board.