What is an Egyptian Dahabiya?

Herodotus said it 2,500 years ago: “Egypt is the gift of the Nile” – and what a gift it is – a narrow strip of cultivatable land teased from the barren expanse of desert that is home to one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. From the Sudan to the Mediterranean, the Nile was the life-blood of this remarkable culture that flourished for over 3,000 years.

So, what is a Dahabiya?  Identified by two large lateen sails, triangular in shape at a 45° angle to the mast, this shallow-bottomed, barge-like vessel has come back into vogue. Derived from the Arabic word for “gold”, today’s crafts are based on gilded state barges used by the rulers of Egypt in the Middle Ages. Similar vessels have plied Egyptian waters for thousands of years, and in the past two centuries, archaeologists and wealthy adventurers have voyaged along the Nile in comparable boats just as the ancient Egyptians did.  Until the end of the 1800s and the invention of the steamship, these vessels were the way to travel up and down the Nile.

Recently, Egyptian businessmen have recreated these 19th-century replicas for luxurious travel on the Nile River. With 10-14 luxurious cabins, an outdoor sundeck, and stylish indoor space to relax, a trip on these elegant vessels will take you back in time to a more leisurely mode of seeing Egypt and its greatest gift!

Travel with Far Horizons on a 3-night/4-day dahabiya cruise during our Undiscovered Egypt trip, led by renowned Egyptologist Professor Bob Brier.

Interested in taking an Egypt cultural tour? Browse our 2024 Calendar of Worldwide Archaeology Tours.