By , March 27, 2013 10:30 am

The Southern Stretch of the Nile between Aswan and Luxor is filled with the single sailed, wind-powered craft called feluccas. They are silent, graceful, and a joy to watch. Most carry tourists like us, but we’ve also seen them loaded with various freight like live cattle. They are a working ship that’s still very much in use today.

The graceful felucca

Of course there are also a large number of ships much bigger than the felucca. Loud ships that spew thick black clouds of smelly exhaust. These, naturally are called luxury cruise ships. Their numbers are not to be underestimated.

Regardless of your chosen method of transportation, one thing is for certain. No trip to Egypt is complete without spending at least a little time afloat on the waters of the Nile. At least that’s the way we looked at it. And, as you can probably tell from my description above, we chose to indulge our river-faring ways aboard a felucca and left the more expensive cruise ships to everyone else.

Two of many luxury cruise ships

We booked a group tour through our hotel for 250£ Egyptian each (about $42 CAD) . The itinerary had us mingling with a boat full of other tourists as we set sail northward from Aswan over the course of three days. After breakfast on the third day, we were to meet up with our land-based transportation and make our way to the temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo. Afterwards we would complete our journey by land to Luxor where we would be dropped off at the hotel of our choosing. But, we were in Egypt so that’s not really how the tour went. Since we’ve written about this already, I’m not going to re-hash it. If you missed our negative piece on Egypt, here’s the link.

Aside from the tour not going entirely as planned, and us feeling a little bit “taken”, the time on the river was quite enjoyable. We cruised for about 6 hours a day, gently drifting from one bank, tacking, and drifting back. Except when the cruise ships were passing, it was quiet, calm, peaceful, and relaxing. This carried on until the sun went down, giving us a nightly sunset display that we watched from the deck of the felucca.

After dark, the captain and first mate would glide the ship over to the river bank and tie us off for the night. We wrapped ourselves up in a couple of blankets and slept on the deck in the same place where we’d been seated most of the day.

Sunset on the Nile

Sunset on the Nile

A Few Thoughts

  • The food was quite tasty. As advertised, it was mostly vegetarian (tuna salad was part of one lunch), which is exactly what we were after.
  • There is no bathroom on board. We regularly spent 4 hours sailing without shore break, which meant holding everything for at least 4 hours. Of course we could have relieved ourselves at anytime – somewhat publicly over the side of the boat – but it never came to that.  Of course, this meant no showers for the duration of the trip.
  • The deck of the felucca was covered with a thin mattress and a number of pillows. It was comfortable enough, and we spent most of the day sprawled in the same spots.
  • Above the deck was a cloth sun covering that seemed to keep the sun off of us well enough, though not 100% of the time. Neither of us sunburned.
  • It was cold at night, but there were plenty of blankets on board to make this a non-issue.
  • We had no trouble with mosquitoes or other bugs. We’ve since heard from other people that have done the same trip that the mosquitoes on their tour were terrible. Either we were lucky, or they were unlucky. It’s hard to say.
  • The staff didn’t speak more than two words of English. Not that they needed to.


Shore Stop

Enjoying the sailing

2 Responses to “Sailing the Nile: Aswan to Luxor by Felucca”

  1. Sofie says:

    When I went to Egypt with my parents about 8 years ago, we also took a trip on a felucca, but a much shorter one. I actually don’t remember much of it, only that we’ve taken pictures similar to yours:)

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      As long as you remember taking the photos. I always enjoy seeing photos of places that I’ve been and seen.

Leave a Reply