Egypt, the land of the pharaohs, has been a travel destination since time immemorial.
For centuries, writers, adventurous travellers and archaeologists with a thirst for travel exchanged cold Europe for a few months in warm Egypt, indulging themselves with legendary buildings and breathtaking works of art. Although travelling overland was impossible, the Nile was an ideal means of transport.
The Egyptian harbour of Boulaq, near Cairo, operated as the starting point where a Nile houseboat with a crew could be hired to sail in about eight weeks to the first cataract at Aswan. The houseboats became more and more luxurious and evolved into elegant wooden passenger cruisers, beautifully decorated and with every comfort. However, not everyone could afford such a long and expensive trip. In the second half of the 19th century, steamboats solved the problem and the Dahabiyas faded into the background.
Although a select group could still enjoy the ultimate sailing experience on the Nile in the early 20th century, these special houseboats were doomed to disappear. Huge modern cruise ships slowly took over from them.
Sailing the Nile by Dahabiya has inspired travellers to write about their experiences. Here you find a selection their stories. Enjoy reading them!Dahabeahs and Steamers
From Up the Nile by steam, by R. Etzensberger, 1872Letter III, from Cairo
From The Englishwoman in Egypt, by Sophia Lane Poole, 1844
From A thousand miles up the Nile, by Amelia Edwards, 1873
The downfall of the Nile
From Egypt (La Mort de Philae), by Pierre Loti, 1909