How Did Cataracts in the Nile River Make Transportation Difficult?

August 10, 2023

The Nile River is a lifeline to much of Africa, delivering fresh water, fertile soil for agriculture, and transportation routes. However, its waters can be rough and dangerous, especially during the rainy season. Luckily, floods smooth the waters and make them safer for navigation. Read on to find out how did cataracts in the nile river make transportation difficult and how this affected ancient civilizations.

Cataracts are a series of rapids or waterfalls that occur in the Nile River, forming rapids where the river drops down over rocky formations. These cataracts are part of the Great Bend, a section of the Nile where it veers off-course towards the Mediterranean Sea and is blocked by the Nubian Swell. The river is still navigable in Egypt, but most of Sudan’s cataracts are now submerged as Lake Nasser fills the area around them.

The cataracts both helped and hurt the Egyptians. While they allowed them to sail on the stretches of water between the rapids, their treacherous waters made it impossible for river traders to travel by river and thus protect them from the lands that lay south of the Nile. Traders had to travel by land instead, which took much longer and resulted in much less wealth for the people of Egypt.

Mary is a writer and researcher for AllThingsNature, where she covers topics on science, nature, and the environment. She has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time exploring the outdoors.


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