Sailing the Nile River on an Egyptian Felucca

After my lost baggages debacle upon arriving at Cairo Airport, my brother and I made our way to the South of Egypt with less than what we had anticipated. We flew into Aswan, boarding our felucca from the Nile river bank, we set sail for 3 days 2 nights to Ko Ombo, covering only a mere 35km. The entire journey is slow and tranquil, using only wind energy to guide the sail boat northerly upwards to our destination. Its definitely an environmental friendly way to travel, but it is also painfully boring and relaxing at the same time. The crew took our order request before we set sail, since we are going to be on a boat for quite some time, there are limitation of things to do, its best to be sure we are well stocked with beverages and snacks. Typical me, I over indent beers and also I cannot live without sparkling water.

A felucca is a traditional Egyptian boat with a canvas sail. Aswan is the usually the point of embarkation for felucca rides, although you can also alight from Luxor which you will sail towards the South of Egypt vice versa. Once aboard you will sail along the river between these two location, making pitstops are possible as there are plenty of Egyptian temples dotted along the river nile, but how fast you travel is entirely dependent on the wind and water current of the river. Meals are included in the felucca hire. There is breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner. The meal were surprisingly good considering there is no space at all to whip up a storm. Bring your own wine and wine glass if you want to be posh.

The felucca is fairly straight forward set up, there are no private cabins. All guest will sleep in the open air on a communal mattress every night. You will be provided with a blanket, but for hygiene purpose I highly recommend you to bring your own sleeping bag especially during the colder months.

It was my first time sailing on a river, the Captain was very kind to let me steer the vessel and learnt a thing or two about sailing. I managed to get some good shot of our felucca with my drone, it was my first time trying to land a drone on a moving vessel, it was challenging and my heart skipped a beat or two trying to land my drone safely. Spare time is abundance on the felucca, my brother zoned himself out through meditation and I did some reading in my corner while the cooling wind lifts us to our destination. We were sailing during month of October, the weather was warm enough to jump into the river for a swim. It gets cold only at night, so do take note of the weather of when you decide to go. October is considered low seasons, we were the only felucca sailing on the lone river. Our felucca attracted a lot of attention whenever a huge cruise ship with mostly British tourist passes us. We were basically being photographed non-stop by the tourist curiosity, so do not expect any privacy when sailing with felucca. Wear a sunglass to remain discreet if you must!

The crew is consist of a Captain, a deck hand and a chef. The felucca can accommodate up to 15 people during high season. Fortunately for me and my brother, we were the only passengers on board. We have ample space on the vessel among ourselves. There is a proper toilet on the felucca, mainly for number 2. If you need to shower, its better to just swim on the river. Beware of crocodiles. Just kidding, ever since the Egyptian built the Aswan High Dam, the wild crocodiles are all contained behind the dam. Every night, we would dock at the river bank to sleep. The crew makes bon fire either for barbecues or smores which is especially romantic under the stars as there is no light pollution. Safety wise, the crew does take precaution to shield the entire communal deck with a tight canvas to prevent midnight burglary. YES, river pirates might come on board to steal or worst, kidnap? In general: Egypt is considered safe. I slept soundly without any worries.

The journey was super memorable. It was an experience of a lifetime, to be able to travel like Cleopatra centuries ago. Swimming on the famed river Nile was the highlight of my trip to Egypt. In summary, its a great digital detox from our hectic modern day life. With limited 3G signal, I felt very in touch with the surrounding nature, watching birds migrating, livestocks drinking from the river bank, witnessing local fishing in the early morning, farmers collecting water for their fields, landscape gradually changes as we go along the river flow. This goes to show how much life flourishes from a single river.

AP Tips: Stock up on snacks, beverages, modern conveniences like sleeping bag, wine, soap & shampoo, bottled water, handheld fan, portable charger that you need. Great way to pass time is to bring a book, boardgames, playing cards for some social activities between crew and guest.

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