Sailing the Nile

The best way to experience the Nile is to sail down it. I spent twenty hours on a felucca, a traditional wooden sailing boat, from Aswan heading downstream toward Luxor, followed by a five hour drive to actually reach Luxor. The boats tend to have to tack the whole way against a headwind, pushed by the current, so progress is slow…

The felucca had three floors, down below for bags, a middle deck for avoiding the sun and sleeping, and the top deck for dinner and breakfast.

Heading out of Aswan we had good views of the Tombs of the Nobles dug into the hillside, and Kubbet el-Hawa crowning the hill.

In the distance were the lush looking Aswan Botanical Gardens.

But unfortunately the most prominent landmark in Aswan are the two huge Movenpick hotels on Elephantine Island.

Sailing was blissfully quiet and there was a cool breeze.

There were a number of other boats on the river though we missed the busiest time of the week for the cruise boats between Luxor and Aswan.

Perhaps even more frequent though were the trains passing by.

Upstream the Aswan Bridge crosses the Nile to connect New Aswan, one of many new cities being built by the Egyptian government to try and take pressure off the existing cities. Typical of the Nile is the surreal contrast between blue waters, lush greenery, and the desert immediately behind.

Unfortunately it got too windy to safely sail so we stopped on the east bank of the Nile for a couple of hours. Out of the wind and in mid afternoon it was punishingly hot. A couple of enterprising locals followed us with things to sell.

This boat got a tow…

We continued on a short way to stop for the night by an island in the river. As dusk fell we went for a short walk inland.

Dinner was served on the top deck, with the glow of nearby settlements lighting up the horizon.

I had been most concerned about the heat and mosquitos overnight, but neither were an issue. It was a rough night though trying to sleep though due to the combination of dogs barking, an incredibly loud generator humming away somewhere on land, multiple people in the group snoring loudly, the horns of trains in the night, and the 4.30am call to prayer, shortly followed by a local with a chainsaw…

I woke at sunset to stillness, allowing the most wonderful reflections.

This buffalo appeared to be walking on water.

And it was tricky but I got a few reasonable bird photos.

To finish with a few more reflections, before we crossed over to the West Bank of the Nile for breakfast onboard and then back on the bus.

Author: jontycrane

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