No visit to Aswan, No visit to Egypt infact would be complete without a Felucca ride down the Nile. The traditional transport for the people here for thousands of years. The Nile has always been the life and soul of Egypt, the reason for its culture, traditions, music, stories, and history the past 5000 years. It’s the peoples livelihoods, with 86 percent of the population of Egypt living on the Nile for work, tourism, and homes
I got the opportunity on my trip to have 2 nights onboard one of them, sailing towards Luxor, zigzagging across the Nile, swimming in the river itself, and also sleeping in a group of 16 on one. (was meant to be 14 but we wouldn’t seperate) It was the best experience I have ever had, really!
The Nile for me had a misjudgement, I thought it would be dirty, full of waste, rubbish and fresh water crocodiles. Its actually the opposite, with the Nile being the livelihood and sacred source of water, food, transport and certain beliefs for so long, its clean, clear and refreshing to jump into on a 45 degrees day! Its what the people here rely on for so much
We set sail from Aswan at around 1pm, with the living area on the boat used for shade, sleep and a large supply of food consumption. The captain and first mates of the boat cooked everything from scratch, had a small fridge for us to store water and alcohol, but mainly water on board, and was always stocked up due to the extra boat which kept coming to refill it. We had traditional food like fresh falafels, houmous, chicen soup and salad with tomatoes and cucumber. They ate with us and we all got to know each other a little more (should of brought name tags)
Traditionally you wouldn’t actually have a toilet or shower on these boats but luckily and hysterically for us we had a ‘’poo boat’ haha! Which also was turned into the party and pole dancing boat after sunset. So if you’re a little worried about giving up the luxury of a toilet this may not be the best thing for you. Research what the Felucca facilities are before you commit to one.
There are others who opted for a Nile cruise ship instead as a more sturdy but still as scenic option, and this is a 3 day option which actually takes you to Luxor, stopping off at certain temples on the way, and is part of the full Nile cruise you can do. Another option is a taster of the Felucca with a half day or even 1 hour boat tour around Aswan instead of staying on the boat over night.
The afternoon was full of sunbathing, relaxing after a busy first 5 days of the trip. Everyone talked, got to know each other while enjoying the sailing, even tried sailing at a few points and taking in the views. The Nile views are incredible, from the lush green banks, the locals jumping into the River as you sail by, the faint noise of donkeys and cattle eating by the banks… The glimpses of the villages along the River as well as the stunning playful boats and other Faluccas zigzagging in and out of ours with the sails in full breeze like they were playing with you. But the best part of the day was watching the suns vivids coloured reflection gradually set into the Nile the first night with the silhouettes of the palmtrees from the bankside making it look even more magical. By 7pm it was nighttime and that’s when it got a little more lively…
The first night there was 3 boats docked together by the side of some small sand dunes and a small village, not even that far from Aswan. The boats were made up of people from the same tour I was apart of which again shows just how socialable this kindof trip can be. We drank, sang, played cards on the boats and danced the night away getting to know others on the trip and the other boats. The food which was made by the crew was amazing with traditional rice, soups and houmous not forgetting the ever exciting Pita breads and Falafels. The ‘poo boat’ became the dance floor to some very cheesy songs and even the captain and boat crew joined in with dancing with one by one people heading into the boats which had been turned into mosquito free netted bedroom for us with blankets, pillows and extra layers if we needed them. We had been told to put our bags within the centre of the boat incase anyone goes past on boats at night and cheekily takes them from under the netting.
The sunrise at 6am woke me up straight away, unlike others on the boat who were happily cuddling me in a happy state. Waking up was unusual with 16 other people within a 10 sq/m area, but so individual at the same time. I ended up sneaking out to get some space, and enjoy the views at the top of the sand dunes. I found a small village just over the other side them with smoke coming out the small huts, and children waving at me while they went to bath in the Nile water. I stayed up on the top looking down at the 3 boats for a good hour, enjoying the morning sun on my skin, the stillness and quietness after a crazy loud night. 2 of the other girls ended up joining me for a morning catchup. It was the complete epitemy of calmness.
Once everyone was awake, breakfast was served with a fresh omelette each, amazing texture sauces, falafels and more food which we were definitely used to by now. We all jumped into the Nile for a morning swim, with no rushing around or need to head off. The dogs from the village coming for a cheeky bit of food watching us from the banks. We headed off by 10am, everyone washed, a little sleepy still, but all completely relaxed.
The 2nd day consisted of relaxing in the sun, snoozing, chopping up tomatoes to help the chef in my case, and trying very hard to read a book, but it was hard! You get easily distracted by the sudden colourful hut on the side of the River As you sail down the river there are also Temples on each side of the bank, one of them being the Komombo Temple, which worships the water god Sobek and Horus the falcon god of .Which has some of the dyed and painted hieroglyphics preserved on the ceilings to really show off the intricacy these Egyptians used to go too. Not forgetting the crocodile museum, which is weird but wonderful with mummified crocodiles and al about the crocodile god Sobek. We also stopped off twice to have lunch at a nice area where there was a kindof sandy beach along with the other two boats, We tucked into our lunch, me probably eating most of it due to it being like a tuna with tomatoes in with pita or on its own, I don’t know what they did but I ate enough for 4 people it was so good!
We got the opportunity to actually jump off the boat when it was moving at one point, which some of us loved after the wind disappearing and it being very hot, we were dragged through the river where the waves kept forming, hanging onto a rope. The current of the Nile is surprisingly very strong so if your not a strong swimmer I recommend making sure you are comfortable and not doing it on your own the first time.
The second night we docked along side a farm with water buffalos and traditional houses, a bonfire was set up and the crew after making our food (I helped a little with the tomatoes) started the Nubian singing and dancing off. Even doing the hakuna matata music which everyone loved. We managed to somehow find a guitar so one of the other girls on the trip started singing oasis and other songs that everyone sang along too. This finished the whole trip off perfectly with smors, marshmallows and drinks. It was like something off an adventure film.
The recommendations for a 2 night stay on a Felucca;
I couldn’t recommend a Falucca enough even for one night, you don’t go far but for a relaxing day after a lot of driving to the best Egyptian sites its just what you will need. This wasn’t just a rest for me, this was where you connect with the other people on the boats, with a small amount of space you soon get to know each other, with random card games, jokes about how English someone is (cough), and the common conversation of why you are all here. I made amazing friends on this boat, not only because I was already on a tour with them but because we laughed, we relaxed, we bonded, most of all we somehow ended up cuddling each other due to lack of space on the boat 😛 haha
By the 2nd morning, I still couldn’t get over the Sunrise, we had only travelled about 40 kms u the Nile so we headed straight over to the other side of the bank after breakfast to be picked up by our coaches. The crew could not have been more inviting or kind when we were leaving, wishing us well and saying they had had a lovely time too with us all. It’s an experience where I will always smile when I think about it and never Fellucing Forget!
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