Felucca down the Nile

Aswan Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 8 › view all entries
Up close and personal with a camel.

Right now I’m sitting on top of a Felucca on the Nile.  It’s absolutely heaven.  It’s 5.30am and, even though last night was a biggie, the religious chanting at 5am this morning made it impossible to keep sleeping – lucky for me as the sunrise of over the Nile is spectacular.  I’ll go back to Cairo though and tell you how I got here.

We caught the train to Aswan, l think I mentioned that.  Aswan was really pretty.  Set on the Nile it is a big town but not a noisy bustling city.  On our first day there we caught a small felucca over to Elephantine island and rode camels through the desert for almost an hour.

Ok, we all knew who the boss was between me and the camel....and he was a great boss.
  Camels were neither built for comfort nor speed but it was fun.  After 5minutes our guides let go of them so that we could steer and control the camel ourselves – now that was scary!!  We got used to that though and then had the camels cantering through the desert which was scary and fun.  At the top of the hill, the view in every direction was awesome.  On one side there was the Nubian village which is a cluster of small houses all painted indigo blue – stuck in the desert this looks amazing.  Then on the other side was St Simeon’s Monastery which was built in the 6th century.

We were taken out to the Nubian village one night for dinner.  We were all worried that, because we’re on a tour and all, it would be a little cheesy.  Far from it.  A Nubian village family cooks up a storm and we sit around in the courtyard of their farm.

Our Nubian dinner feast.
  I painted a picture of a farm with animals and all but picture a courtyard with mats for us to sit around on, no roof – to stare up at the starry night and that was pretty much it.  Fantastic night which was topped of at the end with some ‘sheesha’ – the Egyptian pipe.  I gave it a try because it was something I’d been wanting to do while over here and the men are  a little funny about women doing it in the cafes sometimes.  It was really good – tasted like apple which sounds like it wouldn’t be nice, smoking apple but it was addictive and I kept going back for more.  I only stopped when our guide told me that 15 mins of it was like having 15 cigarettes – nasty!


A 3am start is never high up on my list of things to do so you can imagine that it would have to be something pretty darn spectacular to drap me out of bed at that hour.

A felucca down the Nile. The top of a small monastery in the background.
  It was.  Abu Simbel.  We headed down towards the border of Sudan which took us about 3 hours through nothing but desert.  This trip is made as a convoy of buses (about 20+) and we are stopped along the way at a security point just out of Cairo with the bus completely searched with mirrors underneath.  We’re not really nervous about this – hey, if they are doing to all the buses then there’s nothing to worry about.  We arrive at Abu Simbel around 7-8am and have a good 2 hours to explore this magnificent temple.  It is amazing.  Built on the edge of the Nile by Ramses II, these two temples were dedicated to him and his wife Nefertari.  Unfortunately, she died before she could see her completed temple.  Also, unfortunately, in the 50’s the Egyptian government decided to dam the Nile which would mean that these awesome temples of gigantic proportion carved into the mountain would lie about 60 metres below the Nile.
Abu Simbel. Checkout the size of this compared with the people standing under the tree. Truly amazing.
  An international appeal started and a team of architects and engineers set about moving both temples higher up the Nile.  No easy fete.  The original temples took 6 years to build.  The planning stage to move them took 2 yrs and the actual moving took 4.  It is amazing!!!  In my books better than the pyramids – now that’s a big call.

We managed to walk through the bazaar in Aswan at night.  It was fantastic and Deb and I could’ve sold each other off for a few camels many a time.  Apparently we both have ‘beautiful eyes’ which is supposed to make us want to spend many an Egyptian pound in these lovely hustler’s shops.  It didn’t and we simply soaked up the market atmosphere and left.

The food here has been fantastic!  Lots of breads, vegetable dishes and kofta.  We’re really enjoying it.  They have a great local beer here called Stella (not the Stella Artios kind).  It’s amazingly like VB so it’s going down quite easily in the hot afternoon sun.  They come in bottles that are just over 500mls which is like a cross between a stubby and a long neck – pretty impressive. 

So yesterday morning, we boarded the felucca for a day and night of cruising the Nile to take us to Luxor.  We have 2 feluccas and a large boat for our meals stops.  There is a canapé over the top of us and just a heap of cushions thrown around the deck of these feluccas.  One of the women on the group is from Hawaii and she plays the harp and brought it along.  Just imagine cruising down the Nile, water lapping, harp playing, sun setting, donkey’s ee-orring on the bank and palm trees everywhere you look.  Alas, even paradise can take it’s toll so we spent the afternoon playing Connect 4 and cards.  Our guide – Amico taught us a card game called ‘Bullshet’.  Bullshet in Egyptian means cheat.  When you think the other person is cheating, you shout ‘Bullshet’.  The resemblance of this word to another in English was quite appropriate. 

The night was spent around a bonfire with many a Stella consumed and a few songs.  We were privileged enough to listen to “she’ll be coming round the mountain” in Egyptian – I kid you not!!  Now that’s something you don’t hear everyday.  After that – it was back to the felucca and our sleeping bags for the night.  Which brings me to here.  Sitting on the deck of the felucca as everyone starts to wake. 

This morning it is off to Luxor on the boats.  Deb and I hope to go hot air ballooning there which should be amazing.  They also have a great bazaar there – who knows might get someone offering me more camels this time for my sister J.

wookie691 says:
AWESOME! Aswan, Egypt is on my list of places to visit someday! Sounds like you are having a great time! Reading your story makes me want to go there immediately!
Posted on: Sep 27, 2007
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Up close and personal with a camel.
Up close and personal with a camel.
Ok, we all knew who the boss was b…
Ok, we all knew who the boss was …
Our Nubian dinner feast.
Our Nubian dinner feast.
A felucca down the Nile.  The top …
A felucca down the Nile. The top…
Abu Simbel.  Checkout the size of …
Abu Simbel. Checkout the size of…
photo by: Vikram