Felucca from Aswan to Luxor
October 15 – 17, 2008
October 15th was a sleep in day! We since we didn’t have to leave the hotel until the early afternoon, we managed to sleep in until 9:30 and still grab breakfast! Sarah and I then headed off to the bazaar, where we did some AMAZING bargaining for her bag and some postcards (who ever had to bargain for postcards?!). Met the group in the lobby of the hotel, where everyone used the flush toilets again and again as it was the last time we would have easy access to them for two days! Then it was off to the feluccas!
Since there were 18 of us, we got two feluccas: Princess Sarah and the Prince of Love. Princess Sarah was the bigger felucca (and also the party felucca) and was where we ate our meals together. The feluccas were really cool – basically a large flat deck that was covered in pillows with a tarp set up about 4 feet above the deck to provide shade and shelter. The boats are pretty shallow, with a rudder on the back, two sails (the boom was above the tarp), and a centre board at the front. They sail very easily and need very little wind. We boarded our feluccas (8 on my felucca, 10 on the big one) and cast off on the Nile! We were tied together for the first little while, and floated along and ate lunch before separating and starting to sail.
According to Dave, all felucca sailing is a race, and he always has to win. Lucky for him, his boat was bigger, with a bigger sail, and they were easily ahead of us in no time. We didn’t mind too much, just chilled out, suntanned a bit, chatted – but unfortunately did not drink any beer as Dave forgot to give us our tick sheet!!! On board the feluccas there are two coolers: a small one for water and pop, and a big one for beer. The system is: take a beverage, tick it off on the sheet, replace cold beverage with warm one to cool. Seems like a grand plan – unless you have no tick sheet!! After a couple of hours without it, we saw the other boat (who had their tick sheet, and therefore were well onto their third, fourth, fifth beers) pull over for a bathroom break, so we followed suit and managed to get our sheet. After that the beers flowed freely until dinner, when we pulled the feluccas over to the shore and ate on the big boat. Lots of drinking ensued, and we moved ashore to join in the bonfire that the Nubians who work the boats had set up. They were drumming and singing and we joined in and danced and danced until the wee hours of the night. Drinking and dancing around a Nubian bonfire on the west bank of the Nile definitely goes down as one of the most memorable nights ever. Every once and a while I would turn to Fred or Laura with this look like ‘we are actually here!!’ and then we would just laugh. It was an amazing night! Note #1: drinking half the Bailey’s that Hannah and I intended for morning coffee straight out of the bottle after several beers on the side of the Nile is not a good plan . . .
Went to bed at some point, to be woken up by a Kelly, who fell in the Nile trying to walk down the gangplank to go to the loo. Note #2: lots of booze drunk on the shores of the Nile + gangplank to get back to the shores of the Nile to go to the bathroom on the shore of the Nile = just sleep on the shore of the Nile next time! That was an interesting few minutes for sure. Anne and I managed to get Kelly back on the felucca, get her warm (with some cuddling from Danielle) and get back to sleep . . . only to be woken up by the call to prayer sometime before sunrise – ohhh good! After that, it was earplugs in, eye cover on, and back to sleep until I woke up roasting in the Egyptian sun at 7:30, brutally hungover, but ready for a day of nothingness sailing down the Nile.
And nothingness it was! Nothing but glorious sailing for hours and hours after breakfast. Just lay around, talking and listening to music, occasionally breaking into song (Elton John’s Tiny Dancer will forever be ‘The Felucca Song’) and chilling out on the felucca – what a day!!
In the early afternoon we pulled over to the side of the Nile and had a swim and lunch break. Yes, that’s right, I swam in the Nile. Apparently it was a ‘clean’ spot . . . whatever, I’m pretty sure that whole river is disgusting, however, another thing ticked off the ‘things to do before I die’ list – so totally worth it. The water was not too cold, very refreshing, but the current is very very fast. You definitely have to be able to swim if you plan on jumping off the back of a felucca into the Nile. Back on the feluccas after lunch for a nap before we arrived at Kom Ombo Temple, which is also known as the Temple of Haroeris and Sobek. By this time I was feeling pretty awful. I hadn’t dunk enough water, hadn’t eaten enough food and almost fainted as soon as I got up the bank to the road, but I plowed through, drank some water and some Sprite and went to see the really awesome temple. It was also huge – bigger than Philae. There were still some colours left on this temple, as it was built high on the banks of the Nile, and far enough away from the dams of Aswan to not be flooded. Walked around for about half an hour, and then we headed back to the feluccas as the sun was setting for a two hour very leisurely (there was practically no wind) sail back up the Nile to our lunch spot, which is where we stayed for the night. Had another great dinner, and then a much quieter bonfire (I sang a couple of songs) before going to bed much earlier and much more sober than the night before.
The next morning (Oct 17th) we woke up at sunrise and had a quick sail to the spot where we had to leave the feluccas behind. It was bittersweet – everyone had really enjoyed the feluccas immensely, but we were all ready for toilets that flushed and were not out in nature on the side of the Nile and a shower. We met our bus and our convoy and headed off to Edfu Temple. The temple was great, and even bigger than both Philae and Kom Ombo. Massive halls filled with columns, falcon statues, tons of hieroglyphs, and a plethora of clean flushing toilets!! It was definitely a good morning. Then it was back on the bus and back in the convoy for the ride to Luxor . . .
Next up – Luxor: Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsuts’ Temple and more . . .