Imagine the romance of drifting down a river, past ancient monuments and intriguing villages; sailing through epic, timeless landscapes; 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 is Sanctuary Retreats’ top three river journeys guaranteed to appeal to the adventurer in all of us.
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 Yangzi 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 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. Onboard 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.
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, flowing north to south from its source high in the Himalayas through some of the nation’s most spectacular and scenic regions before emptying into the Andaman Sea. Navigable for about 1,400km from its mouth, in August, when the Himalayan snows melt, the water is high enough to allow vessels all the way to Bhamo, close to the Chinese border in the country’s wild north.
The Ayeyarwady is still 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 follows a route 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 most luxurious cruises along the Ayeryarwady can be had aboard the Sanctuary Ananda. Custom-built using traditional Myanmar materials and arranged over four decks, this floating palace combines all the comforts of 5-star contemporary luxury with the refined elegance of authentic Burmese design. The Sanctuary Ananda offers one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios on the river, allowing guests to enjoy the mysteries of Myanmar with a choice of six itineraries led by expert guides.
The vessel is also the only all-balcony (fully furnished), all-suite ship on the Ayeryarwady River, with just 21 beautifully appointed suites as well as an on-board spa, library, gallery, lounge, cocktail bar, and plunge pool.
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 neophyte 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 $1,378 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’ three intimate river cruisers – Sanctuary Sun Boat III, Sanctuary Sun Boat IV and Sanctuary Nile Adventurer, each provide 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, each stylish cruiser combines timeless beauty, grace and cutting-edge efficiency with the discreet ambience of an exclusive club. Smaller than the average Nile cruiser, their designs ensure a more personalised service coupled with the leisurely pace of a longer cruise.
From October – December 2015, guests can save up to 30% on selected dates. Sail the Nile on any of Sanctuary Retreats’ three luxury riverboats and from just US$408 per person per night on 3 and 4-nights cruises.