The Cleopatra Oasis Onboard the Sun Boat III // © 2012 Sanctuary Retreats
After more than 16 years, Egypt’s Lower Nile (the northern section between Cairo and Luxor) has been reopened to river cruising, and Sanctuary Retreats has announced the first of a series of 10-night river cruises onboard the Sanctuary Sun Boat III, down the Nile from Cairo to Aswan, with departures beginning on Aug. 19.
Egypt's new minister of tourism, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, announced the end of the ban on cruising the Lower Nile at the end of 2011, along with plans for dredging the river bed and improving docking. Only boats with a shallow draft are being issued licenses.
Highlights along this reopened section of the Nile include the rock tombs of Beni Hassan, the ruins of Tuna el-Gebel and the white limestone temple at Abydos, the center of a holy city.
“This stretch of the Nile has not been open to visitors for decades and provides a unique opportunity to explore an astonishing third of the world’s ancient monuments in Upper Egypt in just 10 days,” said Katherine Gershon, sales and marketing director for Sanctuary Retreats.
Sanctuary has recently added three new boats in Egypt, including the Sanctuary Sun Boat III. There will be four more 10-night cruises in 2013: Aswan to Cairo on May 24 and Cairo to Aswan July 2 on Sun Boat IV, Aswan to Cairo May 10 and Cairo to Aswan on Sept. 10 onboard the Nile Adventurer.
There is special reason to book Sun Boat III, which was featured in Architectural Digest as the Jewel of the Nile, with its top deck Cleopatra’s Oasis, a pool and gazebos draped in linen. Adjacent is the Sahara Lounge, which is set up like a magnificent hunting tent, and the H. Carter Lounge, reminiscent of a colonial drawing room. The 18 staterooms include two royal suites with balconies and two presidential suites; all have river views, air conditioning, LCD satellite televisions and minibars, not to mention four poster beds and shutters.
Prices start from $1,200 per person, cruise only, for 10-nights on a full board basis with all sightseeing, entrance fees and guidance from major Egyptologists included.