Sambal soiree

If you’re an adventurous traveller, with a desire to go back in time, navigating the Irrawaddy Delta in comfort and style, then a cruise on the River Vessel Sambal is for you. This 77-foot traditional riverboat offers private charters for as many as eight people (in four cabins) and the opportunity to experience a former, gracious era afloat.

Sambal will take you on a leisurely voyage along the historic Twante Canal and into a maze of inland waterways in the heart of delta. The area was affected by Cyclone Nargis in 2008 but has regained its vitality and dignity. The delta communities have shown great resilience and have rebuilt their lives and re-established their livelihoods.

Travellers can visit temples, mosques, churches and colourful local markets while meandering through lush and varied landscapes. On the waterways, you will enjoy tranquility, see mangroves and encounter fishermen and turtle egg hunters alongside exotic migratory water birds paddling in the shallows. There are possible sightings of saltwater crocodiles and the famous Irrawaddy dolphins.

Looking over the land, there are rice mills and farmers out in their paddies, working with oxen as they have done for millennia. Coconut and toddy palm tree climbers scale the trunks with such ease. Watch the river traffic and local people going about their daily business — the canals are their roads the small craft their main form of transportation.

Gaze in awe and wonder at Burma’s magnificent golden spired pagodas along the way from Sambal’s large sundeck with a choice of chairs and sun loungers.

All meals are provided on board and the kitchen can also be used by guests (to make them feel totally at home). Daily excursions ashore are tailored to whatever you may fancy.

Each cabin — two doubles and two twins — has it own ensuite washroom with hot and cold showers. Air conditioning throughout.

Sambal was designed for medium to high-end touring for excursions of three to four days. Extended private charters can be arragned with appropriate infrastructure to refuel and replenish at key locations along the way.

For short day and evening cruises, Sambal can take up to 25 people. Looking after passengers are stewards, housekeeping and bar staff and, of a course, a Burmese chef. Sambal is under the command of a captain, engineer and two deck hands.


LOA 77 feet 10 inches

LWL 56 feet

Beam 26 feet

Draft 4 feet

Engine Hino 200hp

Gensets 2 x 15kVA

Fuel tanks 550 gal

Fresh water tanks 1000 Imp gal

The design of Sambal is based on the traditional Burmese samban. Originally used for carrying rice in coastal areas, the actual design dates back over 600 years with propulsion originally by sail. But this style of boat is still very much in use in lower Myanmar waters and moves general cargo and, in the last few decades, transports sand.

Sambal was designed by U Soe Min Naing and Bo Colomby.

For more information contact Bo Colomby of South Asian Nautical Explorations on (95 9) 7315 2089.

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