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Binocular recommendations for Nile cruise?

My wife and I will be traveling to Egypt this May, which will include a 7-day Nile cruise. Can anyone give me some recommendations for good, small, lightweight binoculars for viewing things onshore while on the cruise? Or for looking at other temples/pyramids/etc that are further away? We definitely need something as small and light as possible, as we have to pack very light {carry-ons). While I don't mind spending extra for true quality, I'd prefer to keep it below $200 if possible.

Posted by
266 posts

I'm afraid I don't have a specific recommendation for lightweight binoculars, but will note that I did a 5 day dahabiyya (yacht) cruise from Aswan to Luxor last year, and was very glad I had top quality binoculars, my full size Bausch and Lomb, as there was a lot to see at distance (activity on the river bank, fishermen, bird life, other ships, etc.), even though the size and weight was more than the lightweights. Also they were good for viewing Cairo from my hotel balcony and the Cairo tower. But if you only have room for lightweight binocs that is understandable and they would be sufficient also I think. You'll have a great trip, I expected that the temples and such would be good and they were, but I was also surprised at just how beautiful a river the Nile is despite being so heavily populated along the banks (in most places there is a green belt of trees and farmland right along the river, with the villages set a bit further back behind).

Posted by
4595 posts

I wasn't a birdwatcher when I was in Egypt and perhaps I didn't appreciate the value of binocs for general 'sightseeing'. I thought things were nice and close, but then I was also there soon after Arab Spring, and I wasn't dealing with crowds. I remember the cruise ship traveling along the banks, so good views. But all that being said, I don't have any small recommendations. There had been a pair of small Bushnell 8x25 Power Views. They were about $50 Cdn 5 years ago but discontinued after only a short period of time. Too bad, as they got great reviews. They worked for me for short viewings, (not birdwatching) and my son liked them so much I bought a pair for his birthday. You may be able to get them on eBay. Alternatively, if you have access to REI or Cabela's, they could help you out.
Now, if you are willing to spend a little, I can recommend my travel birding binocs - Vortex Diamondback HD 8x32 They weigh in about 1 pound. They don't cause me eye fatigue, which is a bit of a problem with the Bushnells I recommended above.

As we all have different eye width and vision, it is usually best to try binoculars in the store, but that doesn't always happen, I know.

Posted by
84 posts

Like MariaF, I'm a big fan of Vortex products, and own a pair of Diamondbacks and Vipers. With that said, All About Birds just released a review of low-end and middle-range binos. (All About Birds is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, one of the top bird research schools in the world.)

The trade-offs are between light weight, lens size and quality, and price. Lighter-weight lens are found at both ends of the price spectrum. The lenses in some inexpensive binos may weigh less because they're low quality glass or smaller diameter (lower magnification). High-priced binos may have lighter lenses because they're manufactured from expensive material and precise processes. Mid-price units split the difference - the lenses aren't as light as high-end units, but they're better quality that the cheap ones.

If you think you'll use the binos again in the future, I'd go for the recommended Opticron Oregon 4 PC Oasis. Check sites like 'B and H' or Adorama for used units, which often still carry full manufacturers' warranties. If you don't find the Opticrons there, you may find other reviewed models that's are in your price range.

Posted by
76 posts

I appreciate the replies. I would though, if possible, like to find something under one pound. Like I mentioned, we are going to be VERY tight on space and weight. We have to try to fit enough clothing and accessories for 2 weeks into our carry-ons.

Posted by
8643 posts

P&M check out the binoculars on The site lets you specify weight ranges and I see several models that meet your criteria.

Posted by
5688 posts

When I went to Africa (20 years ago), I took a pair of Minolta Pocket 8x22 8.2 wide angle binoculars. They are under 10 ounces. I still use them for birdwatching, although they are not as powerful as some other brands. I see a used pair on ebay for $35 (I don’t think they are made any more.

I think you will both want your own pair of binoculars. You might see if any of your friends have something you can borrow or even look for a used pair to keep the price down.

I recently spent 3 weeks in Africa & I took a pair of Bresser Pirsch Compact Binoculars 10 x 34 mm Also available in 8 x 34 mm. I purchased from They fit your description in cost & weight/size. $139.99 / $169.99 before tax.

For more details:

Safe travels!

Posted by
14251 posts

I'm a birder and a couple of years ago switched from Leupold 10x40 to Zeiss 10x25. The Zeiss' are much lighter and way more compact than the Leupold's. I got them at Costco but they don't carry them any more. Here are similar ones on Amazon:

I love the size as they fit into a coat pocket or my purse as long as I don't have my birding harness strap system on it. They are more than your price range but seriously you get what you pay for. Don't get any gadget-y things like an auto zoom or camera feature. My local REI brick and mortar location does not carry a good selection of binoculars but if you have one near you they might. I also suggest going to a Cabelas or Bass Pro shop which will have them for hunters. Try some out to see how they fit in your hands. That's how I decided on the Leupold's as they fit my hands well.

I also started many years ago with entry level binoculars which were Nikon Sportster 8x25 which were fine although the Zeiss are magnitudes better optically.

BTW, I always travel with binoculars. They are great for churches or looking at building details and even in museum to see painting details in addition to the random bird or two.

DO practice with them at home first. Go to a local park and practice looking at something in a tree then without moving your head, bring your binoculars up to your face and see if you can site the same thing. This is a skill to learn as well as how to focus.

Posted by
648 posts

Pam: do you take your birding binoculars on your international trips or do you take another pair which are more compact?
I too like to take a pair of binoculars, but sometimes can’t justify the space or weight.

Posted by
14251 posts

@Carol - I use the Zeiss all the time now..for birding at home as well as taking on vaca. I understand completely your dilemma. I took the heavier Leupold’s to Europe once and they were just so heavy. Now with the Zeiss they fit in my pocket or purse. I take off my good birding harness and just use the cheap thin neck strap that came with them so that saves space and weight. I don’t need the harness while traveling like I do when I am spending hours looking for birds!

Honestly, the RS ones are not very powerful. They are 7x18. The 7 means magnification amount. To me 8 is lowest number you’d want to purchase. The 18 number is the amount of light the lenses will gather so you’d need to be using them in good light.

Posted by
76 posts

Hmmm...hadn't considered a monocular. Not sure how that might stack up against binoculars. Anyone have any idea?

Posted by
7906 posts

We took two trips to Africa this year, the first a safari in Kenya and Tanzania, the second two weeks in Egypt with Gate 1.

I took my binoculars for the safari and really didn't need them much at all, but I did use them a bit.
I didn't take them with me to Egypt and glad that I didn't since I didn't need them.

When on the Nile river cruise, the key items that you see from the riverboat, you will see them up close.