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May 5, 2013

Sailing on the River Nile

My last post got me to thinking about the last time I went sailing, and it turns out that it was a Felucca trip out on the River Nile, not too long ago.  I found that Cairo was an engaging city, with a fantastic blend of modern society and reminders of ancient civilization.  While most people want to rush off an see the pyramids, myself included, it seemed that an evening on the River Nile allowed a quite different perspective.

A typical Felucca on the River Nile, in Cairo

A typical Felucca on the River Nile, in Cairo

Stepping onto a Felucca is like stepping back in time – not stepping back 10, 50 or 100 years, but stepping back to the days of the Pharohs.  These simple wooden boats ply the river now, just as they have for centuries.  I suspect the ‘captain’ of today is no different than in times past … a wizened old man with a quick smile, who tucks his  Galabeya (tradition Egyptian male dress) around his waist, squats at the stern and steers with his  feet.  Felucca’s are usually furnished with cushions on the seats around the gunwales and feature a fixed table in the middle, perfect for bring-your-own picnic or party.

As the evening progressed, we saw quite a few others out on the river

As the evening progressed, we saw quite a few others out on the river

With the wind, we sailed downriver while the sky faded to black.  The city lights seemed somewhat distant, but a reminder of the modern age.  It seemed that many of the other boats were filled with locals who were enjoying the cool evening on the river, although I’m sure there were other travelers soaking up the experience as well.  My friends and I had bought some fresh bread, and other local fare, and were able to enjoy a lovely meal while tacking to and fro across the river.  While 2-3 hours on the river sounds like a long time, I can assure you that it seemed to go much too fast – and I wasn’t at all ready for the evening to end (but couldn’t miss my early morning flight the next day).  Multi-day trips up/down the river are possible, and if you have the time – would be an incredible experience.

Dad’s Recommendation:
When in Cairo, or elsewhere along the River Nile, take some time to go out in a Felucca.  Plan ahead so that you have all you want to eat and drink – but don’t do this the night before your flight home.

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