My brother and I made our journey to the south of Egypt with less than we had expected after my misplaced baggage ordeal upon arrival at Cairo Airport. We flew into Aswan and boarded our felucca from the Nile river bank, sailing for three days and two nights to Ko Ombo, a distance of only 35 kilometers. The entire journey is calm and serene, with the sailboat being guided northerly upwards to our destination solely by wind energy.
It is undoubtedly an environmentally efficient mode of transportation, but it is also both excruciatingly monotonous and pleasant. Before we set sail, the crew collected our order request; since we’ll be on the boat for a long period with limited things to do, it’s ideal to make sure we’re properly stocked with beverages and snacks. I overindulge in beers and can’t live without sparkling water, as is typical of me.
A felucca is an Egyptian boat with a canvas sail that is used for sailing. Aswan is the most common departure location for felucca trips, though you can also board from Luxor and cruise to the south of Egypt or vice versa. Once on board, you’ll sail along the Nile River between these two points, stopping at Egyptian temples along the way if you choose to, but the speed at which you go is totally dependant on the river’s wind and water current. The felucca rental includes meals. Breakfast, lunch, high tea, and dinner are all available. The meals were surprisingly good considering there is no space at all to whip up a storm. Bring your own wine and wine glasses if you want to be posh.
The felucca is put up in a pretty straightforward manner, with no separate cabins. Every night, all guests will sleep on a communal mattress in the open air. Although you will be given with a blanket, I strongly advise you to bring your own sleeping bag, particularly during the cooler months.
It was my first experience sailing on a river, and the Captain was gracious enough to let me take the helm and teach me a few things about sailing. It was my first time trying to land a drone on a moving vessel, and it was tough. My heart skipped a beat or two trying to land my drone safely. On the felucca, spare time is plentiful; my brother tuned out through meditation, and I read in my corner as the cold breeze carried us to our goal.
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 trip was quite unforgettable. Being able to travel in the footsteps of Cleopatra hundreds of years ago was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The highlight of my trip to Egypt was swimming in the fabled Nile River. In conclusion, it’s a fantastic digital detox from our fast-paced modern lives. With only a few bars of 3G service, I felt really connected to the natural world around me, seeing birds migrate, cattle drink from the riverbank, locals fishing early in the morning, farmers gathering water for their fields, and the terrain gradually changing as we followed the river’s flow. This demonstrates how much life can be sustained by a single river.
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.