Blog - Sail the Nile

Unknown Egypt – The Rock Tombs of Meir

Unknown Egypt – The Rock Tombs of Meir

The Rock Tombs of Meir are among the hidden highlights of Central Egypt, with their naturalistic portrayals of daily life. But groups of international visitors rarely stray to this necropolis, which lies on an ancient caravan route through the province of Asyut. A pity – because these tombs of provincial governors contain many spectacular reliefs that are unparalleled throughout the Nile Valley. In addition to spectacular reliefs portraying subjects from nature, including the mating and birth of various species of wild animals, these tombs also contain rare depictions of starving and poverty-stricken Bedouins.

Interested in other hidden highlights of Egypt? Join us on a journey of discovery through unknown Egypt! We are the only dahabiya operators to follow the footsteps of earlier explorers and adventurers, leaving the beaten track behind.

Captain Mohamed Sails the Nile

Captain Mohamed Sails the Nile

As we leave the shaded medieval alleys and magnificent Temple of Khnum in Esna behind us, Captain Mohamed unfurls the splendid sails of the Dahabeeya Abundance. Dahabeeyas need to be pulled by a strong tugboat when there is no wind. Captain Mohamed though is a traditionalist and a passionate sailor. He loves nothing better than to sail the Dahabeeya as it should be sailed: gliding majestically over the waters of the sparkling blue Nile, propelled by nothing but the wind in its own two huge sails.

It is a sight to see the wind filling up the canvas and pulling the boat along. There is a silence and an elegance to sailing that sparks a similar stillness inside of us… A quiet lassitude descends on the top deck as the beautiful banks of the Nile flow past… Green, luscious fields with diligent farmers working the small strip of fertile land next to the Nile against the backdrop of the desert mountains not far away, water buffalos, donkeys, goats and sheep grazing, village women washing clothes and children playing in the glistening waters and shouting enthusiastic hellos to us as we pass by in our ‘golden boat’ – the meaning of the name dahabeeya. We can do nothing other than just take it all in and raise our hands languidly to return the children’s energetic waves.

As Lady Lucie Duff-Gordon said about dahabeeya sailing mid-19th century in her book ‘Letters from Egypt’:
“Enjoy the luxury of doing absolutely nothing.”

The luxury of doing absolutely nothing… That has become a coveted luxury indeed in our present times, but it is something we can tap into easily on the smoothly sailing Dahabeeya Abundance – everything is taken care of, there are no noisy engines, and all we need to do is lean back and give in to it all… The gentle breeze, a glass of mint tea, the lovely views, the sun caressing the Nile.

Whilst we start to relax, Captain Mohamed and his crew are working hard! Sailing a dahabeeya is no mean feat: the sails are not adjacent but apart, one at the bow and one at the stern. Since we are sailing upstream, he needs to take advantage of every bit of wind, and know every little eddy and sandbank in our mighty river. It is not an easy task, but one he loves with all his heart – just ask him.

Real dahabeeyas are old boats. They became popular when Victorian travelers like Lady Lucie started to explore the Nile – but in style, obviously. They converted these beautiful ships into their living quarters for their long voyages, with a salon with a grand piano, luxurious furnishings and a top deck with all the trappings where all meals were served and many hours of tranquil Nile-gazing took place. It is very easy to imagine ourselves in those days long past when we sail as lords and ladies ourselves on this vessel of luxurious abundance, in the highly capable and caring hands of Captain Mohamed and his crew.

The private tombs on the West Bank of (Luxor) – Time capsules that reveal the past

The private tombs on the West Bank of (Luxor) – Time capsules that reveal the past

Even after more than 3000 years, the frescos in the tombs of the high-ranking Egyptians still glow as colorfully as ever. However, in contrast to the paintings in the far better-known tombs of the Valley of the Kings, these depict not only scenes from the afterlife, but also – and, indeed, principally – daily life in this world. The images portray the bustling activity along the fertile banks of the Nile and provide insights into the life and death of the people who lived there, their everyday joys and sorrows, and their often hard circumstances.

The tombs’ inhabitants and their families are generally depicted as ageless, with luxuriant hair and wrinkle-free faces. Opportunities to look behind these smooth masks are rare, but careful observers will discover an unshaven mason with white chest hair in the tomb of Rekhmire or lamenting women in the tomb of Ramose, their bare breasts succumbing to age or gravity.

These occasional signs of age are joined by indications of sickness and suffering: one of the barbers in the tomb of Userhat is marked by polio, one leg clearly shorter than the other. An image in the tomb of Menena is less tragic, but no less moving, showing one girl extracting a thorn from the foot of another.

But life on the Nile was not always hard. There were also plenty of opportunities for leisure – clearly enthusiastically embraced by the winemakers in the tomb of Userhat, who can be seen sampling the sweet grape juice as they work the wine press. Their unsteadiness and slurred speech is captured here for eternity.

Would you like to explore life on the Nile, as it is today and as it was many centuries ago? Come to Luxor and join us on an unforgettable journey!

Exploring Egypt’s Secrets – In Style

Exploring Egypt’s Secrets – In Style

Aboard our elegant dahabiya ABUNDANCE, we leave the beaten track and crowds of tourists behind and strike out from Luxor to El Minya in Middle Egypt, following the footsteps of earlier explorers and adventurers. Middle Egypt offers a fairytale setting straight out of the Arabian Nights, with spectacular temples and tombs from the era of the Pharaohs and stunning monasteries and churches from the earliest days of Christianity. Along the lush green banks of the Nile, we gain insights into the lives of the present-day inhabitants of the Nile valley, who welcome us warmly everywhere we go. Join us for an unforgettable journey through the Orient!

Luxor to El Minya November 10 - November 20, 2019
El Minya to Luxor November 21 - November 30, 2019

Booking deadline: August 31, 2019

Learn more at http://minya-cruise.com