Egypt & Luxury Nile Cruises

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Travel in Style Reviews
Sonesta Dahabiya Nile Cruise

Very cool. I am surprised by how barren it is. Is there any greenery? How did they live in that environment. Were you on a tour or did you do your own thing?

There is green--along the Nile--just the way it has been for since at least for 4-5000 years. There was a time when the Sahara was Savannah. The old saying is "Egypt is the gift of the Nile." The Egyptians had Nilometers way up river to help them predict the level of flood inundation so they could move the people to higher ground, predict the crop and set the taxes for the coming year.

Egypt was the mid-west of the ancient world. They did a lot of conquering, but not unlike us, their real strength was in their agriculture. It is for this reason that the Persians (600BC), Alexander (300BC) and the Romans (40BC) took it. Note, the Egyptians, for all their ancient splendor (3000-1200BC) became doormats to the latest super power. However their food resources were so great and dependent on local labor, that through the Romans, the new conquerors took on the local religions and customs to keep the system humming. Many of the Egyptian Temples are in fact Greco-Roman, no older than the Parthenon.

Back to the Nile. It is the world's longest river--over 4,000 miles.. It was first dammed by the Brits around 1900 and then by the Soviets (1965). It now could supply all of Egypt's electricity, but rather than put all their eggs in one basket, they rely heavily on antiquated fossil fuel plants causing severe pollution problems.


Of course, by controlling the river, it no longer lays down the rich silt (the real gift of the Nile) and the farmers have to rely on petroleum based fertilizers. Bad economics and questionable environmentally.

The hydrology is pretty interesting. The Nile peak flow, before damming, was about 290K cfs in the spring. By August it dropped to 20K cfs. It has no tributaries in Egypt, so except for evaporation, the flow at Cairo isn't that different than the flow at Aswan. It looses half of its flow in the Sudan before it ever gets to Egypt. By comparison, the Mississippi has many tributaries. Its average flow is 600Kcfs at New Orleans and only six cfs at Lake Itasca. Both rivers drain about the same area: 1.2 Mil sq. mi.

To me, the single most remarkable thing about the ancient Egyptians is that they had no monetary system--no currency. All transactions were made by barter, but a very standardized one. Workman at the pyramids (no slaves were involved) were paid in jugs of beer and loaves of bread--neither of which has a good shelf life. It was traded for leather goods, tools, meats, vegetables and so on.

Gold and precious stones were available--the Pharaohs virtually were clothed in them, but were for ornamental or sacred purposes. For sure they were symbolic indicators of wealth, but not a single coin has ever been found from the Old, Middle or New Kingdoms, though the Assyrians, Greek and Romans all had currency.

As to organizing the trip, I did it myself, but used an agent to make arrangements for our one week Nile cruise. It was on a small yacht--a dahayiyah--not a river boat. Avoid those!

We had nine on board--we were four. We did not mix that much; it was left up to us to socialize if we wanted to.

Photo Credit: Kerry Arquette - Richmond Party - Erin near the bank of the Nile Dahabiya on the Nile Jan 2010. Hi Omar, I was part of the Richmond party's wonderful adventure through Egypt. Thank you for making this adventure something to be remembered throughout our lives. Kerry Arquette

Our Nile cruise passengers come from all countries of the world, more from Europe, but also from North America, South America and Asia, and naturally they'll often keep the company of their own language and culture.

Your patience and extra efforts to interact are sure to bear rewards.

Some guests from the USA did bring up the issue that in some cases the boat did have 2 or 3 English speaking couples onboard, and that they expected more!

Most sailings have a few native English speakers, though the numbers, of course, vary by season, and are not guaranteed.

Photo Credit: Alan aka " The Mighty Ra" Yacht on the Nile 2010. Being around so many old things can only result in one feeling younger...than them.

Alan..that is one funny bit!!...thanks!! was Egypt???

We really enjoyed it. It is the third world so there are all the people who want you to give them money, pens, candy... But it is a magical place in many ways.

Just being on the Nile, the home of the oldest Western civilization (the Chinese always argue their's is older and since as a nation we are currently in hock to them, I thought I'd show some respect) and seeing and being in man made places that are 2500 years older than the grandeur that was Rome, is very special. The building of the Parthenon occurred midway between building the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, so that gives a unique perspective on the time line.

I had done my homework so I got a lot out of it. As a result I wasn't being numbed by the history of 20+ Dynasties, but able to go to the next level. I...........

So we got to see a lot and do a lot. The food was typical middle east--lots of grilled meats and fish, yogurt, hummus and fruit. Pleasant enough, but not a cuisine destination. I am a bird watcher, so I did get a few new ones and enjoyed going out at dawn before Egypt woke up.

Here are a few shots of monuments, Nile life, Nile light and a few birds:

Royal Gringo Tourists Photo Credit: Alan aka "The Mighty Ra" Yacht on the Nile 2010
Travel in Style Reviews
Subject: Re: Boyle/Logan - Syria+ Jordan + Egypt

Dear Omar,

I thought your service was great. Everyone was so nice to us. The schedule was just right - in the end we were a bit overwhelmed with all the sites we were able to see. The hotels were special - had to get used to the one in Petra since it was so unusual. I really liked the SUV we had in the beginning and the driver was great. The driver/guide in Jordan was very nice as well and the car very comfortable. The SUV that brought us to Jordan was less comfortable so I felt lucky we did not have it for the entire trip. The driver did not speak English either but we managed to cross the border and were delivered to the restaurant without a problem.

I really enjoyed Old Damascus, the drive to Palmyra, Petra and the jeep tour in Wadi Rum. Am afraid I did not spend much money on souvenirs, everything went into expenses for the trip.

Have already recommended you and your firm to friends. Again, thank you for arranging such a wonderful trip.