Many people visit Egypt with the intention of going on a Nile Cruise. More often than not, they narrow their choices down to a felucca or Nile Cruise liner, not really giving the dahabiya boats any thought. This is usually for a very specific reason – most visitors to Egypt aren’t here with an unlimited budget, and dahabiyas are pricey. However, if your budget can run a little higher, it’s a great choice. Here’s why:
- Dahabiyas are small – very small. The average boat can house about 10 – 16 guests, depending on its size. Most dahabiyas have 5 – 8 cabins, which are usually double occupancy. This means a couple of different things. First, the service is very tailored to each guest on board. From turndown service to food preferences, staff can focus on each individual’s choices and the details essential to making this trip truly memorable. Another advantage to this is that guests can actually get to know each other on a more personal basis. Since the dahabiya organizes the tours, guests get to know each other in a fun setting, as well as a relaxed setting on the dahabiya, as opposed to normal Nile Cruises where there are between 100 – 140 people on board, and where the experience can be quite impersonal, even with the activities usually planned.
- You actually see more on a dahabiya than on typical Nile Cruises. Because the boat is small and all trips are organized by the dahabiya itself, and not a separate tour company, everyone is on the same schedule, which frees up a lot of time otherwise spent waiting for random guests to return from their excursions. This means that besides visiting the typical major sites in Aswan and Luxor as well as Edfu & Kom Ombo, you also stop at various other islands along the way. These include El Hegz Island to visit the Temple of Horns, stopping at Gabal el Selsela and its ancient sandstone quarries, as well as other sites along the way.
- Yet another attraction to the dahabiya is its history. While most dahabiyas are quite modern and were only built in the 1980s or so, there are some still in commission that were actually used by royalty from the mid 19th century through to the beginning of the 20th century. These royal holiday ships carried royalty between Luxor and Aswan, and way back in the day even reached Cairo. While they’ve no doubt been renovated, they definitely haven’t lost their old world charm. From kings, queens, princes and princesses, to foreign dignitaries to famous friends of the ruler, only the most luxurious and acclaimed members of society traveled on these extravagant boats. Traveling on these renovated boats today, it’s almost as if you’re right there alongside royalty as you enjoy comfortable quarters and beautiful scenery.
While it may not be within everyone’s budget, a dahabiya is a truly remarkable way to sail the Nile. If you can put in the effort to save the extra cash, do it - you won’t regret it!
*The average Nile Cruise can cost around US$ 500 for 3 nights and 4 days, per person.
A dahabiya can average US$ 1000 for 5 nights and 6 days, per person.
If you’re looking to book either one, shoot me or our travel team and email and we can help you out!