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Imagine serenely floating down the Nile on a full-service luxury
yacht, drifting by tranquil farms where sacred cattle graze along
the water’s edge, while tiny barges, overloaded with fresh-cut
papyrus, make their way downstream. After a few moments, between
the swaying palm trees on the horizon, you can make out ruins of
the massive Temple of Horus at Edfu, dating from the reign of the
Ptolemy Dynasty during the 4th century B.C.
This is exactly what you might experience when you take a Nile
riverboat cruise between Aswan and Luxor one of many deluxe
Egyptian packages available from Ya’lla Tours. I found myself
aboard the Royal Lotus, a five-star luxury cruiser that had been
recently acquired by Movenpick Resorts, a Swiss company with
regional offices in Egypt and the Middle East.
Our days were spent docked along the banks, and visiting the
many temples of Isis, Hathor and Horus, attempting to read
hieroglyphics and absorbing the ancient history of the region from
our very own Egyptologist, provided as a private guide by Ya’lla
for all groups of 10 or more. We also had plenty of opportunity
(and enthusiasm) for shopping in Aswan, where we visited a perfume
manufacturer. Here, the essential oils of lotus and jasmine flowers
are distilled to be used in the fragrances of famous French
perfumeries. After retreating to the boat at night, we would feast
on Arabic delights and belly dance until our feet hurt. Then we
would sink into our downy beds to dream of the day’s
In our cabins, bowls of exotic fruit awaited us, along with
towels folded into the shape of swans atop our comfy feather beds.
An in-suite bathroom featured a full-size bathtub flanked by marble
trim and elegant raised sinks made of glass. After a peaceful
night’s sleep, I took a stroll along the top deck, where a pretty
pool surrounded by lounge chairs seemed to call my name through the
The Royal Lotus is just one of the vessels offered by Ya’lla in
their Diamond category. The opulent new yacht, christened the
Sonesta Star Goddess, has become the jewel of the Nile.
Accommodations aboard the cruiser consist of 33 large suites, each
named after a classical composer, including Bach, Mozart and
Chopin. All suites have been fitted with plasma TVs, wireless
Internet and satellite service. Not far behind in grandeur sit the
Nile Philae and the Alexander the Great. (Check scheduled sailing
times at Ya’lla’s Web site.)
The months between October and April are the best for a low-key
cruise down the Nile, with Christmastime being the busiest season.
Itineraries generally span three to six days, and cruises usually
depart or arrive in either Luxor or Aswan, depending on whether you
prefer a sail up- or downstream. Stops include Karnak, the Valley
of the Kings, Hatshepsut’s Temple, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan’s High
Dam, the Unfinished Obelisk and the Temple of Philae. Private
felucca boats (a wooden boat with a canvas sail) are also available
for a trip to the islands to see Nubian villages up close.
Ya’lla Tours USA
12 percent commission
Note: Ya’lla recently announced the opening of Ya’lla Tours
Egypt as a full-service ground operator in Egypt, offering
accommodations, transportation and guiding.