The dahabiya represents the quintessential Nile experience, allowing travellers to sail down the Nile amongst traditional comforts. Here are some of the richest dahabiya experiences in Egypt today…
A voyage on the traditional dahabiya is the quintessential Nile experience. Imagine sailing past a scenery of rolling farmlands in complete silence, save for the whispers of the wind and the gentle lapping of water against the hull of your boat. These double-masted sailboats have historically been the preferred mode of travel for royalty and dignitaries. Nowadays they offer an intimate kind of luxury, swapping out modern conveniences like a roaring engine to take you down the ancient river by wind or tugboat, bringing you to some of Upper Egypt’s most well-kept secrets in peace and quiet, without leaving behind a sizable carbon footprint.
NOUR EL NIL
Bedecked with ornate wooden furnishings, vintage French chandeliers, slouchy couches and vibrantly coloured haute-bohemian embroidered cushions, the traditional Nour El Nil dahabiya is a true labor of love. Its hand-picked details add a flair of eccentricity to its otherwise charmingly classical decor. Tour operator Nour El Nil moves at a slower pace compared to its larger contemporaries, drifting along the Nile over six days of solitude.
Prices start at €1,250 ($1,412, or EGP 22,241) per person. To book a trip, visit nourelnil.com.
Eyaru Dahabiya brings to life the grandeur of ancient Egypt through a deep appreciation for local craftsmanship. ‘Eyaru’ is an ancient Egyptian concept that encompasses the splendor and opulence of the pharaonic afterlife. Drawing inspiration from this sacred belief, the Eyaru boat interweaves luxury with traditional pharaonic themes for a truly royal pampering. The entire boat - from its gilded wooden exterior to its dainty tea cups - is handmade and handpicked from local merchants and craftspeople across Egypt. The attention to detail is painstakingly sharp; every single cabin on board is decorated in its own unique style. The Eyaru is as authentic as it gets with the on-board staff getting off at each stop to pick out produce from the local markets to integrate into their exquisite fine-dining menu of traditional Egyptian cuisine.
Prices start at $2,695 (EGP 42430). To book a trip, call 1001688679.
ZEIN NILE CHATEAU
This traditional dahabiya from Sanctuary Retreats somehow manages to slip under the radar while it sails across Upper Egypt. Anyone who does catch a glimpse of the elusive boat will feast their eyes on some achingly glamorous, over-the-top opulence. The boat’s humble offering of only two suites and four cabins makes this the most intimate cruising experience on the Nile. Each room is an ode to a different era in Egyptian history telling the story of figures like Om Kolthoum and King Farouk through daring designs, carefully-picked decor and artful pops of colour. If this intimate luxury piqued your interest, heads up, you’ll have to rent out the whole boat to experience it.
Rates include accommodation, full board meal plan, all sightseeing activities as per the itinerary, taxes and service charges, and even the expertise of a resident Egyptologist. To inquire about the price, visit sanctuaryretreats.com/egypt-cruises-zein-nile-chateau.
SONESTA AMIRAT DAHABIYA
This intimate five-cabin, two-suite dahabiya by Sonesta is one of the most stylish boats sailing on the Nile, with exquisite decor inspired by the century-old vessels that were once the preferred mode of travel for royalty, dignitaries and swanky tourists. Over seven nights, the Amirat Dahabiya takes travellers along the Nile between Aswan and Luxor, touching down at tiny islands, idyllic villages and pharaonic ruins that are unreachable by standard Nile cruises. The boat pays homage to historic dahabiyas without mincing on luxurious modern comfort. Private terraces, a spacious sundeck and an open air oriental-style Jaccuzi might just entice you enough to rent out the whole boat, with an option to charter it.
To inquire about rates, call 02 22641211 or visit http://goddesscruisecollection.com/nilecruises/Cruises/Dahabiya-Amirat.
AMOURA DAHABIYA NILE BOAT
Amoura sails between Esna and Aswan, enabling travelers to experience a side of Egypt that is often overlooked by larger cruises. This expedited route hits off all the iconic spots in just four days, for those who want to experience a dahabiya without the week-long commitment. Its six elegantly furnished and artfully decorated rooms all feature large panoramic windows, giving traveller unrivalled views of Upper Egypt’s passing scenery. The beautifully crafted twin-masted sailing ship features an all-wooden, ornate sundeck perfect for soaking up some sun or basking in the Nile’s warm breeze.
To inquire about the price, visit nile-dahabeya.com or email info@Nile-dahabeya.com.