Felucca




Felucca trips start in Aswan and stop at the most important sites of antiquity along the river before reaching Luxor. While in Aswan, waiting for final arrangements to be made, there are several interesting side trips including tours of the Aswan Dam and the Temple of Philae.

The new Aswan Dam, completed in 1970, created 300-mile-long Lake Nasser. One of the earth’s largest structures, the rock-fill dam, has a volume about seventeen times that of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The Temple of Philae, on an island between the old and the new dams, is the most interesting of Aswan’s antiquities. The creation of Lake Nasser would have completely covered the temple complex permanently had it not been for a cooperative world-wide effort that dismantled, crated and moved of the Great Temple of Isis to new location where it was reassembled. The oldest part of the Temple dates back to the 4th century.

Between Aswan and Luxor, there three important archeological sites and even though there are no fixed stops on a felucca sail, effort is made to stop at the most important - Kom Ombo, Edfu, and Esna.

Kom Ombo, situated on a hill overlooking the Nile, was a strategic location on the desert route to Nubia and Ethiopia. The temple is dedicated to Harwar, the hawk-headed god, and Sobek, represented in the form of a crocodile. To avoid offending either god, a twin temple was constructed, the left half dedicated to Harwar and the right half to Sobek. Although only the cases of the columns and the back walls remain, the temple’s majestic proportion and grace are impressive. The fine reliefs throughout the temple are worth careful attention. At the side of the temple is a small sanctuary containing mummified crocodiles.

Waiting by the embankment at Edfu are horse-drawn carriages ready to transport visitors on the short ride through town to the magnificent Temple to Horus (Apollo to the Greeks). The falcon-headed god guards the temple, the largest after Karnak. The foundation was laid in 237 BC under the reign of Ptolemy III, but the temple was not completed until two centuries later. The temple, considered one if the finest examples of Ptolemaic art in Egypt, is practically intact and is unique in that the roof is still in place.

The Temple of Khnum, in Esna, is one of the best preserved and restored because, for centuries, it was concealed under 25 feet of sand.

The leisurely and informal nature of the trip means that everyone takes a different trip. Some trips include a night as a guest in a Nubian village, others stop at villages to replenish supplies, buy fresh baked bread, and to visit the colorful bazaars. The scenes along the Nile are timeless. A man in a long flowing galaibya leads a donkey laden with sheaves of grain down the dusty road. A young boy flicking a switch herds a flock of sheep. A woman fills an urn with water from the Nile, places it on her head, and walks back to her home. A man leads an ox around the waterwheel bringing water up from the Nile to irrigate the fields of corn. Every day brings a new montage of sights and sounds.

To the people the Nile is everything. They drink it, wash in it, cook with it, fish in it, water their animals, and use it for irrigation and transportation. Life along the river seems to have changed very little through the years.

The trip is controlled somewhat by the elements. If there is no wind, or if the afternoon wind is too strong, then time is spent along the shore or on one of the sandy islands in the middle of the river. Often, to make up for lost time, sailing continues well after sunset. Falling asleep in the cool night air under the blue-black sky, counting shooting stars, hearing only the gently flap of the sail makes sailing at night magical.

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