The best way to experience the Nile River is to travel along it slowly on board a felucca. A felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat and most Egypt tours feature a felucca trip where you spend one or two nights on board. We spent a very relaxing day sailing along the Nile from Aswan which was one of the many highlights of our time travelling around Egypt.
The felucca itself was a lot larger than I had imagined it to be and comprised a rooftop deck, the covered main area and a toilet. Our luggage went under the main area and we just kept a small bag with us with anything we would need for the next 24 hours.
The main area was shaded, with open windows and an enormous mattress that we all slept on. It sounds weird but there was actually plenty of room for everyone. As we were there in summer it was really hot so we didn’t need sleeping bags or blankets, however we were provided with blankets and pillows in case the nights get chilly. I have heard that during winter it can be freezing!
One of the good things about a Nile experience with Intrepid is that the felucca has a toilet on board, many other companies don’t and they need to pull up to shore each time someone needs to go. I’m the sort of person who when doesn’t have access to a loo, feels like I need to go all the time (even if I don’t), so I thought that would cause me more stress than anything.
There were three crew members onboard our felucca. Our crew were all local Nubians who were lovely, super chilled and loved Bob Marley! Apparently all the Nubian people love Bob Marley and they have his flags flying from their boats and houses.
Dan had a great time helping the captain steer the felucca for a while during the afternoon.
Meals onboard the felucca
The food on board the felucca was amazing and we were fed lunch, dinner and breakfast. If you read our article reviewing our Intrepid tour, you would know that I generally didn’t rate Egyptian food, however the few included group meals on our trip were by far the best and this included the felucca meals.
Our Intrepid guide Ahmed also arranged for us to order drinks (water, soft drinks, fresh juices and alcohol) before the felucca trip so that we wouldn’t need to worry about bringing anything onboard except for snacks.
A day spent sailing the Nile River
We boarded our felucca at 10:30am and spent the first few hours sailing along the Nile from Aswan. It was incredible how beautiful the scenery was and how much the landscape varied along the river. We visited during summer and Egypt was HOT, but we caught a beautiful breeze whilst sailing and it was the first time that we felt comfortable temperature wise (and weren’t dripping in sweat) whilst sightseeing in Egypt!
We then pulled up for lunch and had a swim. Half our group decided to swim (including us) and this is the one thing I wouldn’t recommend doing. My doctor had told me before we came on this holiday that if we swam in fresh water we would need to come and get some tablets afterwards.
It turns out you can get a parasite called schistosomiasis from swimming in the Nile and I was unlucky enough to get it. I am okay now as I had a dose of treatment when I got home however I definitely do NOT recommend swimming in the Nile, however hot it gets! It seriously isn’t worth it – just enjoy it from the boat!
After lunch and our swim we spent the afternoon sailing until around 6pm when we pulled up to a quiet shore where we spent the night. We sat up on the top deck and enjoyed the sunset and then around 8pm we had a delicious candle-lit dinner.
We all put plenty of mosquito repellant on but there luckily weren’t many mosquitos. The crew also draped an enormous mosquito net over the sleeping area on dusk so we were protected overnight.
We sat up on the deck having a few drinks and chatting until everyone slowly made their way down for bed.
The day was so relaxing and chilled on board our felucca!
Overnight & sunrise on board the felucca
We obviously didn’t have the best sleep ever, however still slept okay and woke up at first light. We had time to catch a beautiful sunrise both from the felucca and from the shore overlooking the feluccas! We then had an early breakfast before we sailed across the river and disembarked.
Final thoughts on our felucca experience
Egypt is one of the most incredible places we’ve ever visited and our week there was jam packed full of unforgettable experiences. The day and night we spent onboard our felucca was such a unique experience.
The felucca is an amazing experience which we loved, but it is important to keep in mind that it is definitely not for everyone as you sleep in a common area and there is only one shared bathroom.
It was lovely to take a day mid-tour to slow down and just relax as the rest of the tour was so full on with early starts and long, hot days of sightseeing. A must do when visiting Egypt (just don’t swim in the Nile)!