The Nile Cruise

Written by Andrew Muigai

Egypt is where history first emerged. It is here that we haverepparttar first pictographic record of events and persons. hieroglyphics,repparttar 146512 system of writing used by ancient Egyptians can be traced back to about 3200 BC. At about 3180 BCrepparttar 146513 nations of Upper and Lower Egypt were brought underrepparttar 146514 rule of a single king titled Pharaoh. The first Pharaoh is thought to have been Menes, who set his capital at Memphis, 22 km south of Giza in today's Cairo. The Pharaohs establishedrepparttar 146515 systems that brought forthrepparttar 146516 highly successful Egyptian civilization.

The history of Ancient Egypt lasted for about 3,000 years. Ancient Egypt declined, was overrun and thereafter ruled by foreign powers. The Greeks and Romans who ruled afterrepparttar 146517 decline were aware ofrepparttar 146518 great similarity between their own gods and those ofrepparttar 146519 Egyptians. They not only tolerated Egyptian religion, but also expanded existing temples and dedicated new ones to existing cults. Some ofrepparttar 146520 new overlords, Alexanderrepparttar 146521 Great for example, styled themselves as divine priest-kings in imitation ofrepparttar 146522 Pharaohs.

Emperor Theodosius, who reigned after Christianity becamerepparttar 146523 state religion in Rome, extinguishedrepparttar 146524 last remnants ofrepparttar 146525 living culture. The Egyptians worshipped hundreds of gods - a great offense againstrepparttar 146526 monotheistic religions; whose first article of faith is that there is only one God. Theodosius decreed in AD 391that all pagan temples inrepparttar 146527 Roman Empire be closed. The Arabs, who brought Islam to Egypt in 640 AD, also had no time for deities such as Anubisrepparttar 146528 jackal, Horusrepparttar 146529 falcon god or even Amonrepparttar 146530 king ofrepparttar 146531 gods.

Ancient Egypt was dead for one thousand five hundred years, untilrepparttar 146532 French came acrossrepparttar 146533 Rosetta Stone inrepparttar 146534 nineteenth century invasion of Egypt by Napoleon. This priceless discovery was inscribed in both Greek and Egyptian, and it wasrepparttar 146535 key that allowedrepparttar 146536 deciphering of Hieroglyphics by Jean-Francois Champollion in 1822. The voluminous literature produced by Ancient Egyptians was now accessible to curious scholars. This rekindled great interest in Ancient Egypt inrepparttar 146537 West that remains undiminished to this day.

Religion isrepparttar 146538 common theme running throughrepparttar 146539 attractions of ancient Egypt. The diversity of gods found worthy of worship is astounding. There were over 2,000 of them of either sex and they supposedly manifested themselves to earthlings as animals. There were overlaps andrepparttar 146540 same gods could be known with different names in various parts ofrepparttar 146541 country. There was hardly any part ofrepparttar 146542 life experience that was not assigned a deity- digestion, mummification, sexuality, feasting, childbirth, writing - you name it. Some gods came and went out of fashion, but those connected with basic aspects of life were enduring. Such deities had cults and temples dedicated to them.

The afterlife was taken very seriously, and a lot ofrepparttar 146543 monuments relate to preparation for that glorious time. Mortuary and burial preparation was so elaborate as to ensure a painless and enjoyable afterlife. The custom of mummification, for example, was seen as necessary forrepparttar 146544 soul needed a physical body to occupy inrepparttar 146545 other world. There was however great inequality in preparation for eternal life. The Pharaohs and other royals, nobles and key officials were mummified and accompanied by grave goods and great treasure. The common folk who could not affordrepparttar 146546 full treatment had to do with statuettes of mummies.

The main draw to Egypt isrepparttar 146547 legacy ofrepparttar 146548 Pharaohs andrepparttar 146549 Greeks and Romans who ruled after them. Basically this legacy is associated with temples, tombs and burial places. People in Egypt fromrepparttar 146550 earliest times to present have always lived alongrepparttar 146551 River Nile and this is where you findrepparttar 146552 richest harvest of ancient monuments. As many travelers will testify,repparttar 146553 best way to experience classical Egypt is by taking a Nile cruise. The cruise is a very pleasant and relaxing way to get close torepparttar 146554 attractions of antiquity, most of which are not far off fromrepparttar 146555 banks ofrepparttar 146556 river. You also get a glimpse of rural Egypt where many eke out a living just as their forbearers did thousands of years ago.

The typical Nile cruiser is really a floating hotel. Amenities on board will include lounges, restaurants, bars, swimming pool, discotheque and shops. The rooms are rather smaller than those of a land based hotels but will have air conditioning, TV and enough room for twin beds, private shower, nightstand and dresser. The quality of cruisers varies and they are graded with stars just like hotels. Top end cruisers have spacious suites and amenities almost equal to those of ocean cruisers. Generally,repparttar 146557 quality and romance of Nile cruisers surpasses other riverboats anywhere else inrepparttar 146558 world.

Nile cruises normally take three, four or seven nights. You will be able to seerepparttar 146559 most important and interesting monuments onrepparttar 146560 shorter and more popular cruises that ply between Luxor and Aswan. The longer sail takes you up to Dendera. The boats sail both downstream and upstream and onrepparttar 146561 shorter cruises, you can embark at either Aswan or Luxor. The more adventurous travelers or those on a tight budget avoidrepparttar 146562 luxury cruisers in favour of fellucas-repparttar 146563 traditional Nile sailboats. Though amenities onboard fellucas are very basic, those who can survive them, visit allrepparttar 146564 attractions alongrepparttar 146565 Nile at a fraction ofrepparttar 146566 cost ofrepparttar 146567 cruisers.

At Aswan,repparttar 146568 Nile is deep, calm and is at its most glorious. It is a good place to embark on your Nile cruise. Aswan was for long Egypt's southern frontier city and its gateway to Africa. This wasrepparttar 146569 region known as Upper Egypt, being upstream ofrepparttar 146570 Nile. After Aswan,repparttar 146571 Nile passes through a section of hard rock, resulting in rapids or cataracts. Thus by nature did Aswan attain its strategic position and it has served as a garrison town for those who have ruled Egypt overrepparttar 146572 centuries. And for this reason, there are monuments here associated withrepparttar 146573 Pharaohs, Greeks, Romans, Christian Copts and Islam.

At Aswan, make sure to visitrepparttar 146574 Philae Temple. Ptolemy II startedrepparttar 146575 temple whenrepparttar 146576 Greeks ruled, andrepparttar 146577 Romans completed it. It was dedicated torepparttar 146578 goddess Isis, an important figure in Egyptian mythology that was worshipped acrossrepparttar 146579 Roman Empire. Even after Emperor Theodosius ordered all pagan temples to cease operations, Isis was still being glorified at Philae, until about AD 550 when Emperor Justinian finally shut downrepparttar 146580 temple. The early Christians convertedrepparttar 146581 temple's hypostyle hall into a chapel. For good measure, they defaced some ofrepparttar 146582 pagan reliefs adorning its walls.

The temple forms an excellent backdrop forrepparttar 146583 nightly sound-and-light show. The temple was nearly lost afterrepparttar 146584 Aswan High Dam was commissioned inrepparttar 146585 1960's. It took UNESCO andrepparttar 146586 Egyptian government ten years to move it, one stone at a time, to higher ground on Agilka Island. Most people also visit Elephantine Island, which has temples and a museum. The Island has been inhabited since about 3000 BC and was an important trading and cultural centre.

Aswan is home ofrepparttar 146587 Nubians, a dark skinned people, related torepparttar 146588 people ofrepparttar 146589 north ofrepparttar 146590 Sudan. You can see some Nubian villages at Elephantine Island. The Nubian museum celebrates Nubian culture right from prehistoric times. Aswan was once an important centre for Christian Copts. You can seerepparttar 146591 ruins ofrepparttar 146592 once majestic Monastery of St Simeon, which was destroyed byrepparttar 146593 conqueror Saladin (Salah ad-Din) in 1173 AD.

The Big Cats of East Africa

Written by Andrew Muigai

The most charismatic of allrepparttar animals that roamrepparttar 146511 savannas of East Africa arerepparttar 146512 big cats. Safari enthusiasts exercise great patience and go to great lengths to ensure a sighting. To beholdrepparttar 146513 beauty and splendour ofrepparttar 146514 big cats inrepparttar 146515 wild is a prospect that warmsrepparttar 146516 heart of every nature lover. Among a number ofrepparttar 146517 ancient civilizations -repparttar 146518 Romans, Sumerians, and Egyptians-repparttar 146519 big cats were held in fascination and in higher esteem than any other wild animals. Some were indeed taken as gods, and many arerepparttar 146520 kings who have set images ofrepparttar 146521 big cats on their royal emblems.

The big cats have inrepparttar 146522 past been more widely dispersed inrepparttar 146523 world than they are today. In our time,repparttar 146524 redoubts ofrepparttar 146525 big cats are in Africa and small pockets of Asia. The cat family is known by scientists as felidae and refers to an assortment of animals grouped as small and big cats. The small cats are less well known and appreciated. In East Africa small cats include wild cats, sand and serval cats. The small cats are very widespread in almost all habitats in East Africa. But they keep their heads down and elicit little conflict with man-repparttar 146526 ultimate enemy of all wild animals.

The big cats you find outside Africa include tiger, jaguar, leopard, cougar and Iberian lynx. The big cats arerepparttar 146527 most committed carnivores inrepparttar 146528 entire animal kingdom. They are mostly nocturnal and rather secretive in nature. In common with primates, they read a lot from facial expression and love to play. The big cats capture and kill their prey. To witness a lion on a hunt is truly fascinating- if for a moment you take your mind fromrepparttar 146529 fate ofrepparttar 146530 prey. For allrepparttar 146531 fame ofrepparttar 146532 big cats of East Africa, there are just three of them: lion, leopard and cheetah.

The lion, so calledrepparttar 146533 king ofrepparttar 146534 jungle, isrepparttar 146535 largest carnivore in East Africa. The adult lion stretches between 1.4m to 2.2 m - excludingrepparttar 146536 tail. The male can attain a weight of up to 225kg, whilerepparttar 146537 hefty female reaches 168kg. The lion is noted for its exceptional strength and has been known to bring downrepparttar 146538 much larger buffalo, which has about 4 times its weight. For this reason, kings have understandably sought to be associated lions. But they hesitate to be associated with its reputation for sloth- forrepparttar 146539 lion shamelessly spends up to 20 hours daily resting.

Lions are social animals and ofrepparttar 146540 big cats, they arerepparttar 146541 only ones to live and hunt in family groups. The group or pride usually consists of a number of related females and few unrelated males. Young females usually join their mother pride, but young males venture intorepparttar 146542 outside world to seek female company. Females in a pride practice communal cub rearing and hunting.

Lions are highly territorial. Males enforce territorial integrity, by means of their characteristic fierce roars, scent marking and periodic border patrols.

Lions ofrepparttar 146543 same pride develop strong social bonds and practice head rubbing and social grooming. Females give birth after a gestation period of 3.5 months. After only 6 weeks,repparttar 146544 cubs are induced into a lifelong habit of meat eating. Cubs play in imitation of adults and this helps inrepparttar 146545 development of such useful skills as stalking prey. Though born to kings, cubs need protection from hyenas and leopard. And also from non-pride male lions- forrepparttar 146546 reason that females will not mate until cubs are about 18 months old. The cubs therefore stand in repparttar 146547 way of a mating encounter.

Fighting off males bent on infanticide appears to be one ofrepparttar 146548 reasons why females live in prides. The moniker "king ofrepparttar 146549 jungle" is misleading, for buffalo and hyenas sometimes kill lions. Elephants too have no fear ofrepparttar 146550 king - they will charge at lions to encourage them to move on. But man remains repparttar 146551 biggest threat to lions and he has huntedrepparttar 146552 lion to extinction in most ofrepparttar 146553 world. The lion population in Africa is today estimated at only 23,000 andrepparttar 146554 survival status is listed as vulnerable in international conventions. In most parks and game reserves of East Africa, however,repparttar 146555 lion is impressively visible. Particularly inrepparttar 146556 grassy plains and dry forests whererepparttar 146557 large plains herbivores they prey on thrive. You will easily seerepparttar 146558 king in Ngorongoro and Serengeti in Tanzania and Amboseli, Nairobi, Lake Nakuru, and Maasai Mara in Kenya. In some other locations- such as Lake Manyara in Tanzania, Tsavo, in Kenya and Queen Elizabeth in Uganda, patience and skill is called for.

Earlyrepparttar 146559 last century, lions received extremely bad press when they disruptedrepparttar 146560 building ofrepparttar 146561 East African railway inrepparttar 146562 Tsavo area of Kenya by feeding onrepparttar 146563 workforce. The movie "The Man-eaters of Tsavo" has captured this macabre drama. It is in this atmosphere that Theodore Roosevelt,repparttar 146564 American president who was a pioneer safari enthusiasts said of lions: "except when resting and inrepparttar 146565 breeding season,repparttar 146566 whole career of a lion may be best summed up inrepparttar 146567 single word: rapine".

Lions when deprived of their usual prey occasionally attack domestic animals and even human beings. Lions that are infirm- such asrepparttar 146568 old andrepparttar 146569 sick can easily attack humans and you are advised to exercise caution and take your photos fromrepparttar 146570 safety of a car. So if you are out camping, watch out! All said incidences of lions attacking humans are extremely rare. The image ofrepparttar 146571 lion has recently been rehabilitated inrepparttar 146572 minds of many byrepparttar 146573 popular children cartoon drama "Lion King", whose hero is Simba- Swahili for lion.

The future ofrepparttar 146574 lion inrepparttar 146575 savannas of East Africa is not assured. The main challenge is conflict with man, his ancient enemy. People living in areas bordering parks, sometimes inflictrepparttar 146576 ultimate punishment to lions when they are caught preying on livestock. Inrepparttar 146577 Serengeti plains of Tanzania,repparttar 146578 king has recently experienced attacks by a viral disease know as FIV -Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. FIV, just like HIV in humans, results in lowered immunity makingrepparttar 146579 animals vulnerable to other diseases. Unlike HIV, however,repparttar 146580 primary means of transmission of FIV is bite wounds and not sexual intimacy.

Ofrepparttar 146581 big cats of East Africa,repparttar 146582 most elegant isrepparttar 146583 leopard. The leopard isrepparttar 146584 most naturally adapted ofrepparttar 146585 cats. It can survive in almost in any habitat offering sufficient food and cover. That is why, ofrepparttar 146586 big cats, leopards thrive inrepparttar 146587 most diverse range of habitats; and of land mammals they enjoyrepparttar 146588 widest distribution inrepparttar 146589 tropics. In East Africa, they have been found inrepparttar 146590 most unlikely of places- from deserts, to mountaintops and even in cities. That not withstanding, scientists were surprised, when in 1990 three leopards were found living in a Kampala city train station. The full grown adult stretches between 1 to 1.5 m and can reach a weight of 60 kg. Man (and especially woman) has always been jealous ofrepparttar 146591 leopards beautiful coat. Those of East Africa have round spots unlikerepparttar 146592 square spots ofrepparttar 146593 southern African species. Leopards are solitary animals and you hardly ever find them in groups. The sexes associate only long enough to mate! Females are ready to breed at about 2 years of age, when they produce up to 3 cubs after a gestation periood of about 90 days. The leopard therefore faces less danger than eitherrepparttar 146594 lion orrepparttar 146595 cheetah. Notwithstanding that they are very widely distributed in East Africa, you are unlikely to see them in large numbers. In addition, this most secretive of cats is nocturnal. The traveler who is determined to see them must be very calm and patient, for onlyrepparttar 146596 most persevering are rewarded. Even scientists have such trouble spotting them, withrepparttar 146597 consequence that they are not as well studied asrepparttar 146598 other cats.

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