El Bey is one of a handful of true yachts sailing between Aswan and Luxor, known as dahabiyyat when they were the preferred way to cruise the Nile in the 1920s. Egypt had just emerged as a remote, adventuresome tourist destination and most visitors came by rail from Europe, then passenger ferry across the Mediterranean. When they reached Luxor or Aswan, they boarded a dahabiyyat for their tour.
Most of these travelers were Mideast royalty, well endowed museum executives, Indiana Jones fossil hunters and the very wealthy. For the times, the private bathrooms and large complement of servants for ships that never had more than eight cabins, was the epitome of luxurious adventure.
Several years ago an Egyptian company began to retrieve what was left of these dahabiyya. El Bey is a patchwork of an original yacht and new Egyptian craftsmanship, fashioned to recreate the original splendors of the 1920s yachts. From the deep hardwood, to the tea cups and towels, the yacht recreates the atmosphere used by the rich and famous in the glamorous era between the wars.
El Bey measures 125′ x 20′ and is designed to travel by sail, although engines are used when there’s no wind. Generators provide electricity. There are six private cabins, each 19′ x 8Â¼’ plus a bathroom that is 4′ x 8Â¼’ including a private shower. Some cabins have twin beds and some have a single, queen-sized bed.
From the bow, two staircases lead to the partially shaded top deck. Here, guests can sunbathe or just enjoy the spectacular views from comfortable rattan deck chairs, or in oriental seating areas of colorful cushions and carpets. Meals are also sometimes served on the top deck, a great place for cocktails and stargazing.
The chef is an expert at preparing wholesome, appetizing Egyptian and international cuisines, while barbecues and picnics will be organized on the riverbanks and islands in the Nile. The famous travel writer, Peter Hughes of London’s Daily Telegraph called the yacht’s food “outstandingly good.”
The yacht moors on privately owned portions of the riverbank at Luxor and Aswan, where luxuriant gardens are frequented by exotic birds. These gardens provide the yacht with fresh flowers and organically grown vegetables and herbs. Other moorings include by isolated Nile islands, whose virgin landscapes have hardly changed throughout millennia. Wandering the gardens and Nile islands is an idyllic pastime, a perfect compliment to your visits to Egypt ‘s matchless monuments.