Exploring the best of Egypt on a Nostalgic River Cruise
Picture yourself feeling completely relaxed and content after a day filled with enjoyable sights and activities. You're on the upper deck of your dahabiya, a delicious dinner has just been served. The sails above gently sway in the warm breeze. The tranquil waters of the Nile calmly drift by as you eagerly await your next adventure. Sounds good, right? Experience all of this and more on our Nostalgic Nile by Dahabiya tour.
The journey itself will be an incredible discovery. With the guidance of an Egyptologist, expand your knowledge and broaden your horizons as you’re led through some of the most renowned historical and archaeological places in the world. Even if you've been before, exploring these sites will still give you that same thrilling and unforgettable experience. End your tour with a luxurious five-night stay on board a traditional dahabiya boat, sailing along the world’s longest river, the Nile.
What to see and do on your tour
Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx and The Valley of the Kings are perhaps some of the most well-known sites in Egypt. But you’ll also be impressed by the Egyptian Museum in Cairo which is full of ancient priceless Egyptian artefacts, including Egyptian masks and jewellery as well as Tutankhamun’s priceless burial treasures, some of which were discovered 3,500 years after the tomb was sealed. Entry to Tutankhamun’s will cost extra but is well worth a visit.
Your tour isn’t short of visits to an array of fascinating temples. Visit the Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple in Luxor, as well as the Temple of Horus in Edfu and the Temple of Philae in Aswan. While these temples are impressive in their own right, full of historical and architectural value, the twin temples of Haroeris and Sobek on the island of Kom Ombo is something special. The rare and unusual double temple is almost perfectly symmetrical in design with the two matching sectors independent of each other for the worship of two deities. Haroeris, the Egyptian god of the sky, hunting and war; and Sobek the god of the Nile, creator of the world, and worshipped for his strength and fertility.
Read more about these fascinating sites here - History and Culture in Magical Egypt.
There’s enough free time during your tour to explore some of Egypt’s cities and appreciate their characterful settings. Cairo remains to this day the largest city in Africa - and is showing no signs of slowing down. Feel the energy of this vibrant city as you stroll the streets of this modern metropolis, observing the donkey carts that pass by - taking in the stunning sights of the lively souks, Coptic churches, and impressive mosques. The alluring aroma of Arabic coffee fills the air, inviting you to take a moment to savour it.
Aswan has a laid-back and calm ambience that attracted Agatha Christie to pen Death on the Nile there. Compared to Luxor or Cairo, Aswan has fewer sights, allowing you to soak up the riverside scenery, admire the feluccas gliding by, and enjoy the beautiful sunset at a local café during your free time. The souks here are also worth exploring, where you'll find a variety of spices and herbs with a pleasant aroma of incense emanating from the main street. Maybe take some home as a souvenir?
Introducing your dahabiya …. Queen Farida
After touring Cairo and Luxor, a fresh perspective to exploring Egypt is needed - and a river cruise down the Nile is a perfect way. Swap the bus for a dahabiya, which means 'gold' in Arabic - a type of sailing boat that has a shallow bottom and two or more sails that operate using wind power - they've existed in various forms for thousands of years and can be traced back to the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs.
As you approach your ship Queen Farida for the first time, you get a real sense of traditional sailing as you notice the impressive sails above, with ropes being pulled and tied into place ready to set sail. As you step on board onto the wooden parquet floors, you’ll find decorated with dark wooden furniture a lounge bar and a reception area where you can spend time relaxing or catching up with other guests. Listen to the peaceful surroundings from the upper deck. Enjoy the picturesque view of the Nile while sipping on a refreshing drink from the comfort of the sun loungers. It's the perfect spot to relax and take in the scenery.
The small size of your vessel allows for a more intimate and luxurious experience compared to other forms of Nile River cruises. Plus, another great advantage of the ship's size of just fourteen passengers, is that you can visit places that you wouldn't otherwise by larger ships or by road – and if you wanted to do this trip with family and friends, it would be possible to take use of the whole boat for yourselves… When it comes to food, you can expect freshly prepared gourmet meals on board - all cooked by the resident chef. This paves the way for what lies ahead - meals on board are simply divine, with a wide selection of a la carte options and multiple courses to indulge in while sitting alfresco as you gently glide down the river.
Mooring overnight on the tranquil islands such as Al Fawaza Island, Al Fares Island and Herdiab Island provide the perfect settings for peaceful evenings under the stars as you feel the gentle sway of the Nile waters below. The final days on board your dahabiya can be as laid back or as busy as you like with a free day of leisure to spend as you please. Take advantage of the facilities on board Queen Farida or perhaps partake in some more exploring of your own. Your last sunset over the Nile will be unforgettable as you enjoy your final dinner with your fellow guests and reflect on your adventures.
Observe local life and wildlife on the Nile
Exploring the Nile on a river cruise provides a unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and gain a genuine appreciation for rural life. As you sail along, you'll be greeted with the sweet aroma of eucalyptus as you pass by riverbanks lined with cypress trees and palms and Acacias. You’ll likely catch glimpses of local fishermen and farmers tending to their cattle plus visit charming villages that are not typically included in regular tours. The village Al Ramady is somewhere you'll venture ashore to witness day-to-day life on the banks of the Nile and perhaps have the chance to chat with locals adding to the enriching experience.
The river and its banks are not only significant to us, but they also provide a habitat for diverse and a vast array of wildlife. Have your camera ready to spot during your cruise various species of fish, birds, turtles, snakes, hippos, and even the enormous Nile crocodile, one of the largest reptiles on our planet! And if you're feeling adventurous, why not take advantage of island life for a refreshing dip in the Nile? (where it’s safe to do so, of course).
Cruising the Nile by dahabiya really is the perfect combination of adventure, learning and leisure. There's no better way to see the best of Egypt from a new perspective as you cruise along all 6,600km of its waters.
Joanne’s jam-packed travel journal includes trekking through jungles in Borneo, hiking in national parks in Canada, and learning the art of Byrek-making (a traditional spinach and cheese pie) in Albania. When she's not travelling, she’s busy blogging about motherhood, reading to her adorable twin girls and dreaming up new adventures to take them on.
Joanne Johnston | About the author
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