Imagine the romance of drifting down a river, past ancient monuments and intriguing villages, sailing through epic, timeless landscapes and exploring some of the most incredible cultural and historical sites in the world.
A river cruise is a remarkable journey through history – typically combining sightseeing led by the most knowledgeable guides with time to relax on deck. Here are Sanctuary Retreats’ top three river journeys guaranteed to appeal to the adventurer in everyone.
Yangze River, China
The Yangze River starts in the mountains of Tibet and empties into the ocean at Shanghai, a distance of 6,380kms, making it the third longest river in the world. It’s also the symbolic heart of China, and the Chinese people have long seen the river’s power and beauty as representing the nation itself. Historically, the Yangze served as a divider between northern and southern China, a natural barrier against invaders and a waterway for transport and commerce. The river basin is the country’s heartland, home to 500 million people – a tenth of the world’s population.
A journey down the mighty Yangze is a chance to experience over 5,000 years of culture, not to mention incredible scenery and extraordinary landscapes including the breath-taking Three Gorges area of the Yangzi River and a glimpse into rural Chinese life.
One of the best ways to experience the Yangze, is aboard the intimate and luxurious Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer. With the largest cabins and suites on the river, all with private balconies, and carrying just 124 passengers, the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer offers the finest and most personalised service on the river. On-board facilities include a la carte dining, a luxury spa, an observation deck, 24-hour room service, a two-floor theatre, library, and beauty and fitness facilities. The ship also has the most spacious and indulgent spa on board any cruise vessel on the Yangzi.
3-night cruises priced from just US$1350 per person twin share.
The Nile River, Egypt
The ancient Egyptians were one of the most impressive civilisations the world has seen. The country’s ancient past is still alive in its majestic monuments and relics, many of them located along the Nile. The River was once the lifeline of ancient Egyptian civilization and today its banks of the river are dotted with ancient tombs and temples.
Undoubtedly a Nile cruise is one of life’s epic journeys following the mighty river from Aswan to Luxor as it flows through the heart of Egypt, visiting highlights including the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the Unfinished Obelisk, Philae and Luxor, as well more remote, but the equally spectacular Denderah, Kom Ombo and Edfu Temples.
Sanctuary Retreats’ intimate river cruiser, Sanctuary Sun Boat IV, provides the perfect combination of elegant surroundings, luxury service and cultural itineraries for an unforgettable Nile experience. Perfect for a relaxing journey along the River Nile, the stylish cruiser combines timeless beauty, grace and cutting-edge efficiency with the discreet ambience of an exclusive club. Smaller than the average Nile cruiser, its design ensures a more personalised service coupled with the leisurely pace of a longer cruise.
3-night cruises aboard the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV priced from just US$870 per person twin share.
Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar
A country of friendly people and a place of charm and culture, Myanmar is slowly unfolding its charms and hidden treasures to a world hungry for new experiences. The Ayeyarwady River is Myanmar’s longest, and is also the country’s main commercial transport route, with barges regularly ferrying piles of teak logs up and down its length. The most accessible section of the river flows between Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, and Bagan, famous for its temple-strewn plains. Mandalay, an important Buddhist spiritual centre, is home to thousands of monks and more than 2,500 Buddha images, mostly carved from alabaster from the Saygin Hills near Madaya. The ancient capital of Bagan, now a World Heritage site, contains around 3,000 pagodas, temples and Buddhas, including the world’s largest reclining Buddha.
The most luxurious cruises along the Ayeryarwady can be had aboard the Sanctuary Ananda. Custom-built using traditional Myanmar materials, the ship combines all the comforts of 5-star contemporary luxury with the refined elegance of authentic Burmese design, and also offers one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios on the river.
Itineraries available are 3, 4 and 7 night itineraries on the Upper Ayeryarwady River and 11 nights on the Upper and Lower Ayeryarwady River, sailing past dense jungle-clad riverbanks, grand gorges, endless rice paddies and snapshots of rural life being played out along the riverbank, including the occasional glimpse of saffron-clad monks bound for temples. While sailing along the river, guests are also treated to various unique experiences and cultural exchanges, including a visit to a local lacquer-ware workshop where gold is beaten down by hand at a speed of up to 70 times a minute into paper-thin gold leaf.
3-night cruises aboard Sanctuary Ananda start from US$1,099 per person twin share.