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If you’ve been reading my Egypt coverage so far, you know that my felucca ride up the Nile was the absolute highlight of my time in mainland Egypt. Boarding in Aswan and sailing towards Luxor, my Travel Talk Tours group spent two nights and two days of breezy bliss watching the world pass by with our fingertips dragging in the river.

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

The seeds of this trip were planted years ago when I read Angie Away’s blog posts about . I became captivated by the idea of sailing down one of the world’s most fascinating waterways using the same kind of boats and sails used by the ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids. What could be more cinematic?

It was a dream come true to finally make it happen. The felucca experience was the tipping point that pushed me over the edge in the decision to book a group tour rather than travel mainland Egypt on my own, and from the moment our group boarded our three boats in Aswan, I knew I’d made the right choice.

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Our group sailed as a caravan of three feluccas and one support boat, weaving around and past each other while on the move, and tied up together on the banks of the river for lunch and while docked for the night.

Feluccas are simple boats — during the days we slept, ate, and hung out all day on a big communal mattress on the deck. Need some privacy to change? You could crawl into the tiny bow of the boat and wiggle around in the dark. Need the bathroom? You could wait until we were docked and use the one onboard the support boat, or you could take the more adventurous option — leap off into the Nile with the boat still moving, grabbing a rope thrown overboard, and climb your way back onboard once you were finished.

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Need entertainment? I brought a book and a pile of crossword puzzles ripped from the back of New York magazine and stockpiled for occasions just like this, but I never cracked into either. Instead we passed the hours chatting, daydreaming, drinking the cheap Egyptian wine we’d brought onboard, soaking up the sun, dragging our fingertips in the Nile and marveling at surreal sights like a local kid bathing a camel on the shore.

The previous four days had been some of my most intense travel days ever, and so I savored this brief “vacation” interlude in between. While our guide Sam mostly relaxed alongside us and to our delight, just became one of the gang, my mind did keep wandering back to a few facts he’d slipped in. While we lazed away, watching the world pass by with time told only by the height of the sun, I thought about how Sam had told us that the ancient Egyptians watched the sunrise and sunset and watched the life cycle of crops along the bank of the Nile and they concluded that humans must reincarnate too. And thus, a belief system was born, simply by observing the natural world around us.

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

When we were docked on shore together, things got a little less reflective and significantly more silly. Jumping off the top deck of the support boat was the order of the day, which I had to use every ounce of self restraint that I had not to join in on. I was still recovering from the shoulder injury I’d sustained the last time I’d leapt off of something tall into a body of water, and with my yoga teacher training coming up, I simply couldn’t risk making it worse.

Assuming the role of photographer — and flying my drone — was my only salvation.

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

And since I know if I don’t address it, it will be the first question in the comments — no, there are no crocodiles in this part of the Nile. They all reside in another section of the Nile, cordoned off from our flailing bodies by a large hydroelectric dam. At least that’s what they told us, and as no one wanted to believe otherwise, we gratefully accepted the explanation as gospel.

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

I admit, the felucca experience is not for everyone. I’d compare it to camping by river — or, perhaps thanks to the support boat, we could stretch and call it glamping… but not really. You’re sleeping out in the open, in very close quarters with people who were strangers mere days ago. There are bugs and there are sunburns and you are at the mercy of the elements.

But I loved it.

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Our first night turned into a celebration, where everyone traipsed between boats by torch light to mingle with friends on other boats, share local liquor rations, and smoke hookah generously provided by the Nubian boat crew. We stayed up late but woke up early to the sound of a local mosque call in the distance, and the morning light peeking through the canvas sail flaps.

It was time for another perfect day.

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Somewhere along the morning, through the felucca grapevine, I heard a crazy tale that had happened after I’d turned in the night before. While Travel Talk Tours is primarily for travelers age 18-35, they do make exceptions, as they had for one girl who wanted to bring her mom along with her. How cool is that?

Her mom, poor thing, had slipped and fallen between the boats in the middle of the night and smashed her head into the deck, requiring serious stitches on her forehead. One of the crew immediately scooped her up and they had to trudge up the riverbanks in the dark, all the way to the nearest road, where he called someone to bring them to a clinic where a doctor was waiting to stitch her up. Now, it’s the middle of the night, you’ve just split your head open and had to move heaven and earth to find medical attention, and you’re finally all set. I think even I might be tempted to check into the nearest hotel and tell my daughter I’d see her in two days! But not this lady — she came right back to the felucca!

With such an absolute legend in our midst, there was little we could do but party on in her honor.

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

One of the highlights of the day was finally overcoming my fear of jumping off the boat while it was moving. Clearly, as a lover of leaping from things, it wasn’t really the jump I’d been avoiding — it was full submersion in the shockingly cold Nile! But I’d slightly overdone the Egyptian morning mimosas and with the support boat nowhere in sight, a pee jump was inevitable. Erica and I decided to tackle the challenge together, since everyone knows girls can’t go to the bathroom on their own, and on the count of three, we went for it, coming up shrieking with giggles and grabbing for the rope.

The boat had felt like it was traveling as such a lovely, lazy pace — until we were dragging behind it! Suddenly it felt like we were on a motor at full speed! I couldn’t stop laughing, and feeling the force of the Nile rushing past as we dragged behind our felucca is one of my favorite memories of those two days.

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Before we knew it, a day had passed and we were docked again for sunset, dinner, and a night of surprises ahead. This time we docked on a low beach with a few Nubian huts in the distance, and a few of the locals came over to say hi.

In the distance, fancy Nile cruises passed by, and I couldn’t have been more grateful to being doing it the old fashioned way — at least this time.

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

The crew had some incredible surprises in store for us that final night. After another beautiful meal of simple local food and a perfect sunset over the sand dunes, they gathered brush from across the banks to make a bonfire. Next the drums came out, the singing began and soon we were dancing in circles around the fire to the most incredible local music I can recall hearing on my travels.

It was the kind of night that felt like a scene from a movie, and I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. (Except the parts that I already forgot due to the aforementioned Egpytian wine spritzers.)

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

The next day we woke to the sound of enormous Nile cruises chugging by, a sign we were getting closer and closer to reaching civilization again. We shared breakfast, our final meal on the boat, before setting off for one last sail.

As we said goodbye to our crew, who had taken such great care of us, I only half-jokingly begged Sam to let us stay one more night.

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

This was, hands down, my most magical moment from mainland Egypt. Is it sad that I loved this even more than seeing the pyramids? Whatever, I guess it’s no secret that I’m a lady who loves herself some leisure. If you don’t mind a few nights of roughing it — I know from some readers that also did this that they felt quite differently about it, ha — than I cannot recommend this experience more highly.

I know that my time in Egypt would not have been the same without it.

Travel Talk Tours Felucca Odyssey Egypt

Overnight Felucca Ride in Egypt

Next… onto the Sinai Peninsula!

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Many thanks to Travel Talk Tours for hosting me on this trip. As always, you receive my honest and unvarnished opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.
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30 Comments...
  • janice
    July 1 2018

    Hi Meihoukai,
    from my non party mind, mentality-it sounds both amazing and awful and looks absolutely beautiful!
    janice recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 5 2018

      Ha ha, I can imagine. Egypt isn’t much of a destination for drinking for obvious reasons, so I think this felucca experience is a bit of a “let loose” for travelers who are otherwise going straight to bed after dinner and getting up at sunrise.

  • Rick
    July 1 2018

    “Breezy Bliss On The Nile”
    Words I would have never thought belong in one sentence 🙂
    Great post and pictures. Pretty girls swimming in the Nile – another first.

    • Meihoukai
      July 5 2018

      The Nile was surprisingly cold! Breezy indeed.

  • Wow, what a place, what a trip
    Jo-Anne the crazy lady recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 5 2018

      It really was. Thanks for reading Jo-Anne.

  • nikki bresch
    July 1 2018

    I’ve been reading all of your Egypt posts and now I’m totally planning a trip there end of Sept! You’ve made me a bit terrified of the all of the bus travel on this tour, especially bc my bf is 6ft4…can’t imagine it would be comfortable for him. I’ve been trying to find a la carte overnight felucca trips but I haven’t had any luck yet unfortunately and I don’t want to do a cruise as you’ve totally sold me on the felucca. Might try to just fly to/from Luxor from/to Cairo instead of taking the bus with the group. Think this is feasible?

    Can’t wait for your Sinai post as Dahab and climbing Mt. Sinai are in my itinerary and then off to Jordan!

    • Meihoukai
      July 5 2018

      Ha, there was one guy on our tour who I think was 6’6″ and on the long journeys he literally laid down in the aisle of the bus and slept on his back. Unfortunately I also did extensive research trying to find just a felucca group trip and it appears to be a no go. I think flying and meeting up with the group would totally be feasible! I wish I’d done it. Perfect compromise.

  • Marni
    July 1 2018

    Your pictures are amazing, particularly the ones from your drone! I think I’m kind of a mix of it-looks-amazing and maybe-too-many-people for my liking. Only one way to tell, I guess! 😉 Great post and thanks for sharing!
    Marni recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 5 2018

      The funny thing about the drone is I think I kind of accidentally brought it into Egypt illegally! Oops. I swear I’d researched it and it said they were okay to transit through with, but then everyone kept telling me it was a miracle it wasn’t confiscated at the airport. I still flew it twice after that, encouraged by excited locals 😛

  • Lisa
    July 1 2018

    SO happy you got to live your long term dream…it sounds amazing and I can’t wait to follow in your footsteps this September.
    Already booked ‘Sinai Old Spices’ thanks to your recommendation!
    My travel angel. 😊

    • Meihoukai
      September 25 2018

      Have you been to Sinai yet, Lisa? Hope you had a magical trip if so <3

  • Ashley
    July 2 2018

    This sounds like an amazing experience! Definitely adding it to my wish list when I make it to Egypt.
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 25 2018

      It still tugs at my heartstrings to think back on <3

  • Jamie
    July 2 2018

    Wow, what a dream! I got to go to Egypt for just 12 days, and I so would’ve tacked this on. Guess I’ll have to go back now!

    • Meihoukai
      September 25 2018

      I definitely ended up having quite a lengthy trip to Egypt… and I still left with more I want to see!

  • Marisa
    July 2 2018

    Hey Meihoukai – your trip looked amazing – I took a felucca trip when I was in Egypt and loved it – it wasn’t a party trip though as it was just my husband and I and one other couple – Yours looked way more fun! Just a word of warning – you might want to get tested for Bilharzia if you’ve been swimming in the Nile – my husband contracted it after taking a dip on our felucca trip (I didn’t go into the water because of the risk but he jumped straight in!). He didn’t get tested until years afterwards so it took some treatment before he was able to get a clear result. You’d have to be unlucky but it’s a possibility and way easier to treat early on 👍🏻

    • Meihoukai
      September 25 2018

      Whoa, had to Google that one Marisa! Luckily a few months on and no symptoms, so I think I’m in the clear 🙂

  • Rachel
    July 2 2018

    Wow, Meihoukai! I don’t think I could handle this style of travel, but it does look like a lot of fun. I did something similar in Croatia, but my skin was NOT happy about the living conditions… regardless, I loved this post. And I want to go to Egypt so bad!
    Rachel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 25 2018

      Ha, I barely handled it. I left this tour exhausted and sick… but smiling!

  • Dominique
    July 5 2018

    This sounds like so much fun! I think it’s mostly the people that made this trip what it was, but regardless. The landscape looks beautiful. I hadn’t heard of this kind of boat before, but I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future trips to Egypt!
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 25 2018

      You’re right, it’s definitely all about the group when it comes to a trip like this where there’s nothing for entertainment but lazy long chats and watching the world go by…

  • Katie
    July 18 2018

    The three days on the felucca was the highlight of my Egypt tour with Travel Talk too – such an incredible experience. Wasn’t so much of a party with our group – just, chilling, chatting, swimming and eating some amazing food.

    • Meihoukai
      September 26 2018

      That sounds lovely! That’s what our days were like, but at night things got a littttttle more lively…

  • Elyn Mckenzie
    August 15 2018

    Thanks for your inspiring post. I have yet to visit Egypt, although it’s on my ‘must visit’ list. We went to the Isle of Mull a couple of months back and that was very beautiful. I love the wild Scottish landscape. This year, we have another trip booked to Anguilla, but I would very much like to visit Egypt next year.

    • Meihoukai
      October 10 2018

      Sounds like some varied and beautiful destinations! Egypt would make the perfect addition 😉 Happy travels!

  • Erin
    September 25 2018

    Would you recommend taking this trip in late December? Considering how cold it will be then!

    • Meihoukai
      October 11 2018

      I actually think that they possibly stop these temporarily over the winter? I definitely remember reading something about the seasons — maybe they recommend sleeping bags or something? Check the TravelTalkTours website for sure — I have no experience with what that time of year is like personally, unfortunately. Best of luck!

  • Sam
    October 23 2018

    Hey Meihoukai, this is Sam travel talk guide, I really enjoyed reading you artical about the felucca, since I red your words about using the plastic plates that are are eating with, we decided to stop using plastic any more and now we are using seramic plates, thanks for inspiring us with the idea.

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2018

      Sam, you made my morning! So happy to hear this and hope you’ll spread the idea to other Travel Talk Tour guides 🙂 Hope to return to Egypt someday.