"Un voyage en Êgypte, c'est une partie d'ânes et une promenade en bateau entremelees de ruines." - Ampere
Ampere has put Egypt in an epigram. "A donkey ride and a boating trip interspersed with ruins" does, in fact, sum up in a single line the whole experience of the Nile traveler. Apropos of these three things - the donkeys, the boat, and the ruins - it may be said that a good English saddle and a comfortable dahabeeyah add very considerably to the pleasure of the journey; and that the more one knows about the past history of the country, the more one enjoys the ruins.
Of the comparative merits of wooden boats, iron boats, and steamers, I am not qualified to speak. We, however, saw one iron dahabeeyah aground upon a sand-bank, where, as we afterward learned, it remained for three weeks. We also saw the wrecks of three steamers between Cairo and the first cataract. It certainly seemed to us that the old-fashioned wooden dahabeeyah - flat-bottomed, drawing little water, light in hand, and easily poled off when stuck - was the one vessel best constructed for the navigation of the Nile. Other considerations, as time and cost, are, of course, involved in this question. The choice between dahabeeyah and steamer is like the choice between trailing with post-horses and traveling by rail.