Felucca Sailing on the Nile

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When visiting Egypt one of the ‘must do’s’ is to take a trip on the Nile. This great river is literally the lifeblood of the country, so seeing the country from the river is a necessity. One of the best ways to experience this is to go Felucca Sailing on the Nile. A truly unforgettable experience and one which will undoubtedly become of the highlights of your time in Egypt. These trips most often start in Aswan and end in Luxor, with two nights on board the boat.

Image of sitting on the prow while felucca sailing on the Nile

This post covers everything you need to know about what it is like to go Felucca sailing on the Nile.

What is a Felucca?

A felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat, the like of which has been sailing the Nile for centuries. They are completely powered by wind, and rely on this and the current to sail. They are also not allowed to sail at night, as they have no lights. So at around 6pm, they dock at the side of the river for the night.

The floor of the boat is like a large giant mattress. You take your shoes off as you board and this is where you spend your time as you are sailing down the Nile. Above is a large span of canopy which covers the entire span of the boat, protecting you from the scoring Egyptian sun. Over night they had sides around the outside of the boat, so it is lovely and cosy over the night.

A nubian sailing the felucca against the blue Nile with the canopy

Facilities on board a Felucca

If you are travelling as part of a group tour (like I was), then you are most likely going to have a support boat sailing alongside you.

The felucca itself has no facilities on board, it is literally the one open area. However, the supply boat has two toilets, an eating area and even a bar (of sorts). The facilities are basic, however you are only on board for a night or two so it isn’t too much of a problem.

Food was also served on the supply boat. The lunch was very basic, but the dinner involved some yummy chicken. Breakfast was yoghurt and eggs.

What to take on board the Felucca

There is space on the felucca to take all your luggage. However, it is stored under the main area of the boat, so not accessible. Instead, bring a day bag with the bits you need for the one or two nights you are on the boat. These include book, journal and music for general chilling.

Also keep a jumper and some socks handy, it does get a bit colder at night. It was definitely warmer than expected, but at 3am you might be glad of the extra layer to hand.

sitting on the prow of the boat sailing along the Nile

The Felucca provides a basic (rather solid) pillow, blanket and the mattress base of the boat is soft enough to sleep on. However you might want to consider bringing a sleeping bag liner for that extra layer. This is a fab one which packs up really small, click here to have a look.

Booking felucca sailing on the Nile

If you are part of an organised tour, a night on the Nile will most likely be included. If not a night on a felucca, then most often a night on  cruise ship.

I was booked onto a G Adventures tour, which offered this as part of the trip. If you are interested take a look below:

Highlights of Egypt

If you are not part of a tour there are a couple of ways to go about felucca sailing on the Nile.

There are felucca trips you can book in advance, although these are often not going to be overnight stays. If this is of interest – take a look HERE.

three felucca boats on the Nile against orange and green palm trees with sand dune behind

The other option is to source a boat and captain yourself. A good place to find a captain is in the Nileside restaurants such as the Aswan Moon or near the Panorama restaurant. Alternatively Elephantine Island. Meet a few captains, and take a look at their boat, before deciding. Officially the feluccas can carry 6 – 8 passengers, and as a guide look to pay around 150EGP per person per day. The captain also needs to arrange the police registration for each person to sail which needs to be sorted the day before. This will be around 15EGP per person. It is wise not to part with all the agreed amount until you arrive at your destination.

If this is the option for you, then make sure you do the necessary research before setting sail!

The experience of felucca Sailing on the Nile

Hands down one of the best things you can do in Egypt (in my humble opinion). Any tip to Egypt can be really hectic, getting up early, heading to temple after temple and wandering around the bazaars. This is THE perfect way to unwind. Nothing to do but sit back, relax and watch the Nile sail by. The boats are sailed by locals, and their skill is something else. During one challenging moment, they had to get underneath a bridge. There is one place they can do this, as it is the only point they fit. Battling the wind and the current with the pressure of an oncoming cruise ship. It is quite something to see.

a felucca sailing on the Nile against a purple pastel sunset

Step back in time, unwind and experience the beating heart of Egypt in this peaceful and magical way.

Interested in Egypt? Take a look at these other posts!

Visiting Pyramids of Giza: Everything you need to know

Visting Valley of the Kings, Egypt

5 Must See Temples in Egypt

What to pack for Egypt

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