THE BEST WAY TO SEE THE NILE
Egypt presents an ancient past that is full of intrigue and wonder. As the old adage says, "Egypt is the gift of the Nile" and it sure is with a Dahabiya Nile cruise along this marvellous river. It's as timeless of a journey as it was in the late 18th century.Despite the political turmoil, savvy travellers are seizing the opportunity to visit well-known and secret temples and tombs. While there was a time when there were easily 350 Nile cruise boats, numbers have dwindled down to 60 which makes it the perfect opportunity to visit with no crowds.From the moment we were greeted by the banks of the Nile in Aswan and all the way throughout the day journey downstream to Esna, being aboard Djed Egypt Travel‘s The Orient was most magical experience during my entire time in Egypt.So what is a Dahabiya? In Arabic, it literally means "the golden one" and is essentially a large sailing boat with two large lateen sails. Think of it as a house-boat. In its heyday, archeologists, wealthy adventurers travelled through Egypt along the Nile in these very same boats just as the ancient Egyptians did. Today, these are 19th century replicas of the original boats but you wouldn't be able to tell because being onboard will literally transform you to that golden age of travel.While the winds were not strong enough to carry us downstream from South to North, a small tugboat pulled us along at a snail crawl's pace - the perfect speed. The minute you step aboard you immediate sense that you jumping into a time forgotten with its mix of elegance and old world glamour. Authentic period wallpapers line the bedroom, furniture and artifacts come from an antique shop, shiny metals can barely be found, and there's barely a trace of modern technology beyond the air condition which you're happy to have at night.This large awkward shaped vessel has a top deck which is perfectly designed for lounging and relaxing. It's here where you'll be eating all your meals. It's also here where you can hang out in a hammock in the shade, reading a book ancient Egyptian history from the library below, hang out along the railings to watch the unpredictable sights that come from the fertile lands that line the famous river, or grab a beach chair and lounge under the sun.Down below, Dahabiya’s such as The Orient only contain five cabins. Yes you read that correctly, even at maximum capacity, these boats can only carry 10 passengers. That’s a wonderful thing because what you get is a truly private experience.The best part is perhaps the crew that runs the ship. From deckhands, the captain, and chef to your own Egyptologist, everything feels like a custom tailored experience that is meant to impress. Every member of your crew is at your service the entire time and you barely have to lift a finger. And then you have the onboard Egyptologist. If there’s one thing that truly made this cruise so amazing, I would say it’s because of Abdulla’s encyclopedia of knowledge of ancient Egypt combined with his ability to communicate complex stories, and infectious energy and enthusiasm.There’s the food of course which were both authentic and delicious. There was never a moment when I felt hungry and there was always a good variety of food for everyone.What makes the Dahabiya Nile cruise so thrilling is the fact that you truly get to see a part of Egypt that isn’t accessible any other way. From the morning when you wake up to the morning sounds of being moored by a local farmer’s water buffalos, your senses start absorbing a symphony of sights.There’s life aboard the ship where you never know what you’re going to see. Ropes creak as the skipper pulls the giant rudder in place. Fishermen float by casting out nets. Horses take a peek up before going back to munching on the grass. The pace is peaceful and idyllic, with the river breeze flowing through and the sun beating brightly.