The Golden Boat of the Nile
Alan Dumelow

The origins of the dahabaya can be traced back to the times of the pharaohs, when they were primarily used by the ruler as means to visit his lands and be seen by his loyal subjects. At that time, the dahabaya was little more than a large rowing boat with one sail.

As time passed, the dahabaya developed into a two- masted yacht with multiple oars, used as the pleasure craft of pashas, sultans and kings. With luxurious and opulent accommodation, the dahabaya of this era were traditionally painted in gold; whence they became known as “golden boats”. By the time of the monarchy (1920’s -1940’s), the dahabaya had become a more common sight and more often used by aristocrats and wealthy travellers who where discovering a passion to travel the Nile in style.

The origins of the dahabya can be traced back to the Pharaohs.
Today, 38 dahabaya cruise the Nile. Some are originals, both beautifully and painstakingly restored in colonial style with superb matching period furniture . The oldest craft “Dongola” dates back to 1835. “Zarafa” (also built 1835) was originally owned by H.R.Sultan H.Kamel, the First Sultan of Egypt. “Nafan Ra”was built in 1910 for Omar Pasha Sultan. “Lazuli” (blt 1899), “Nefro” (blt 1885) “Vivant Denon” (blt 1889) and “Sheherazade” (blt c1900) completes the lineup.
New dahabaya enter service each year as the popularity and intimacy of these craft reflect a better experience than the mass-market regimented cruise ships. With between 5 and 10 cabins or suites, guest capacity is limited to between 10 and 20 on each cruise. Other advantages of the dahabaya are that it can moor virtually anywhere along the river and avoid the packed piers and berths used by the larger cruise ships. The dahabaya of Belle Epoche even moor at private banks to visit their owned luxuriant gardens frequented by rare exotic birds. Of the newer dahabaya, the fleets operated by Belle Epoche, Nubian Nile Cruises and Creative Resorts are the most refined and luxurious cruising the Nile.
Interior of DahabayaInterior of DahabayaInterior of DahabayaInterior of Dahabaya
Today 38 Dahabaya cruise the Nile and new ones enter service each year.