Felucca Cruises on the Nile
By Viator, August 2010
Feluccas are one of the defining sights of Aswan and Upper Egypt (which, as you no doubt know, is south). From a distance, the graceful white sails of these traditional single-masted vessels look like butterflies which have alighted momentarily on the water. To sail in a felucca is to travel according to the rhythm of the river. With a canopy to shield you from the sun and gentle river breezes wafting through, there is simply no better way to see the Nile, life-blood of Egypt through the millennia.
Some of the most ancient of ancient Egypt’s sites await you on Elephantine Island, which faces central Aswan. Its southern tip, which once marked the southernmost point of Egypt, was largely taken up with a temple dedicated to the god of the river’s cataracts; the extensive ruins make a fascinating sight. Elsewhere on the island you can visit Nubian villages nestled amongst fertile fields.
Travelling west from Elephantine Island, the same gently flowing waters which carry you to Kitchener’s Island irrigate the beautiful Botanic Gardens. This serene oasis is one of the must-see sights in Aswan, with the adjacent western bank of the river boasting yet more attractions, including the Tombs of the Nobles, Aga Khan Mausoleum and St Simeon’s Monastery.
Authentic Nubian culture is the chief draw of Soheil Island, the last of Aswan’s major islands before the Low Dam. You can visit dwellings and take tea where life goes on just as it did before Lake Nasser displaced numerous villages. There are numerous ancient inscriptions on the island, the most important of which is the “Famine Stele”, which records a drought in the Ptolemaic era.