For our Saturday adventure we took to the water. Many tourists who come to Egypt take a cruise on the Nile between Aswan and Luxor. There are different options for how to do it. One is a 3-7 night journey on a river cruiser with various levels of luxury. We saw about 35 of these parked along the banks of Aswan – they looked like some were waiting for passengers and some for high season.
We didn’t pick that option, instead we chose a more ‘traditional’ Adventure. Our journey down the Nile is on a felucca, a wooden sailing craft native to Egypt and the Mediterranean. They have been used by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans since antiquity. Today they are primarily used for tourists like us.
We boarded our boat around 10am in a steady, strong wind. We have a crew of two – Captain Mohammed and a first mate who sail the boat, cook our meals, keep us safe and try to make sure we have a good time.
We’re on a 22 hour ‘cruise’ which means we sail a little, stop at some sights, sail a little more etc. We have more a time limit than a destination- the van will meet us tomorrow morning at 8am wherever we landed tonight.
The strong wind that is straight into our face as we head north isn’t very favorable for our smallish boat so we take it slow. Our first stop was about 1/4 mile down and across the river. At the top of the hill was the Tombs of the Nobles, a 13th century honeycomb of entrance hall, pillars and burial chambers.
They contain former governors (mayors), keepers of the gate and other dignitaries of southern Egypt. Tiffany, CreeperPuppy and Suaram decided to explore the site while Brian and CreeperKitty stayed (napped?) on the boat.
There is still active excavation happening at the Tomb and there were about 10 people working today including a cameraman. Despite that, there were two tombs open for viewing with some beautiful wall scenes.
Our next stop was another short distance downriver, this time for lunch. We had fish similar in taste to tuna, soft mild cheese, tomato/onion/lettuce/cilantro mix and Egyptian bread. It was tasty with fresh oranges for dessert.
During our 3 hour lunch/wait for favorable winds, we saw 23 of the cruise boats headed north past us. Most looked pretty empty but they are on their way to Luxor. We’re doing an electronics free day on the boat (other than pictures and the post) so the kids are finding ways to entertain themselves. CreeperKitty spent about 30 minutes hitting sticks with other sticks.
We finished our stop with some Egyptian tea.
Our third sailing interlude was the longest and took us to our last stop of the day. The wind was still strong and some clouds made it a little chilly but it was a relaxing old school way to spend the day.
We landed a 5 minute walk from a Nubian Village of about 2,000 people. It was nice to stretch our legs a little and check out the town. Everyone was friendly – and seemed not too surprised to see us. A few other boats stopped at the same spot so we think it’s a common landing point for the feluccas.
In total today we sailed about 3.5 of the 140 miles to Luxor. But that’s ok, distance wasn’t really the point of the Adventure.
We got back to the boat around 6:15 thinking dinner wasn’t too far off. At 8:15 we were still waiting. The kids did a rolling contest for a while on the deck and when that inevitably started to turn violent we turned to stories. Huddled under blankets in the light of a candle the kids spun scary stories, made up songs and were generally pretty terrific waiting (and waiting and waiting).
Dinner cooked in a small boat over a smaller camp stove by the light of a flashlight isn’t an easy feat.
In the end we had a hot meal of chicken, potatoes cooked with tomatoes, rice and more Egyptian bread. It was simple and tasty despite being somewhat overdue.
As the evening closed we did see a couple of the big river cruise boats headed the opposite direction – upstream to Aswan – but we didn’t get a good count. The drifting felucca was calling us to sleep.