Living and sailing upon a Felucca sailboat down the Nile River was always a dream of mine. I mean, how incredible is it to experience what it was like to sail down the historic path that the ancient Egyptians used to sail? And to make some new best friends and play card games and relax while you listen to the sounds of the waves crashing against your boat? Total dream. While I loved certain aspects of my experience sailing with a Felucca, there were some serious issues with the tour I booked with and the experiences that came with it.
The sun was bright, the waters were clear and we had only open water and 3 days of sailing down the Nile ahead of us. Alex and I were excited and eager to board the Felucca after our day exploring the Nubian Villages in Aswan. We were so excited, that we ended up being the first ones on Felucca #2! We packed 2 day bags complete with a travel candle, a few books, my quick-drying travel absorbent towel, Rummikub, a deck of cards, and some reusable utensils (the trash is heartbreaking in Egypt).
Here are some of our good moments:
My absolute favorite moment during our 3 days sailing along the water was one particular instance when Alex and I relaxed on the front deck of the sailboat chatting, dipping our toes in the refreshing waters and looking out towards the colorful horizon. Vibrant orange sand hills and lush palm trees lined the shores. Donkeys and camels and herds of sheep flooded the land, and there was always something interesting to notice. I’m glad I voiced my desire to do this to our tour guide, Sam, as we never would have been able to sail: our captain crashed our felucca boat into a massive metal pier earlier that morning and our sail and anchors were now broken. But later in the afternoon as the sun was started to decline in the horizon, I mentioned to Sam if we were still planning to sail instead of just floating at a standstill alongside the loud engine from the “poo boat” (yes, that’s right: we had a boat dedicated for poo.) and he readied the sails on the first Felucca so we could have some sailing time. It was the most beautiful experience I had on those few days aboard, and it was our first time ever sailing. We loved it so much, Alex and I are considering to take a sailing class someday!
Don’t worry – there are no crocodiles in this part of the river! But the water was chilly and 30 meters deep! Alex and I jumped off the boat into the river more times than anyone else in our tour (we are big swimmers!) and held on tightly to the long rope as the Felucca quickly zoomed off! We held on for dear life, our fingers rubbed raw from the woven rope and our head barely staying above the bobbing waves. But what fun! We laughed gleefully watching the sandy hills whiz by as we zoomed through the deep blue waters of the Nile.
While 95% of our group were into binge-drinking and talking about subjects that weren’t of particular interest or at all appropriate to us, I did meet 4 lovely friends on our boat that I was able to chat with about marine life, wildlife biology, and New Zealand. One of those 4 kindred spirits I found burning sage and we immediately began diving into subjects like reincarnation, Abraham Hicks and the cosmos. I was so grateful to meet someone I could connect with, especially when I was always surrounded by young twenty-something’s vomiting and playing drinking games. True human connection, I have found over the years, is what inspires and uplifts me most. I value deep connections and meaningful conversations; small talk and trash talk don’t interest me. Life is too short not to engage with people that are on the same wavelength, and while I have a social personality and love meeting people, I seek out the souls that resonate with me, and I don’t feel the need to have to befriend everyone.
Alright, I’m going to be honest. While I try to remain as positive in life as I can, I also use this blog to share my real, honest and messy opinions and experiences. And it would be hypocritical of me not to post the bad experiences I had with this travelling experience. While there were some definite good things about our Felucca tour, the negative aspects were too overwhelming for Alex and me to handle, which made us deeply regret booking this particular Felucca tour.
Here are the main reasons:
Oh. My. Goodness. To say that young Aussies and Kiwis know how to party is a serious understatement. They party hard. I even overheard a few of them remarking to each other how loud and rude Aussies can often be, and to be totally honest, I can see why they get a bad reputation from people of other cultures. While I have many friends from Australia back home in the states, this was beyond anything I had ever experienced. Imagine waking up to the sounds and smells of vomit being puked into the Nile River right next to your head at 6 o’clock in the morning, not being able to sleep because the partiers on the boat next to yours are loudly talking, screaming and singing at the top of their lungs until 3:30 in the morning. Despite my 4 attempts to ask them to please lower their voices so that the others could sleep, I was bombarded with aggressive screams and shrieks. “Get a private tourrrr!” yelled one of the more annoying girls. My jaw literally dropped. My group was very inconsiderate to the individuals in our boat who were trying to sleep and many of us didn’t sleep for those days. I was a bit disappointed that, despite our tour guide being awake and hearing the back-and-forth, he didn’t say anything or ask them to quiet down. I understand that this tour is catered to travelers between the ages of 18 and 35…but come on. Have some consideration for your fellow peers.
At 6:30 the next morning, one of the girls blasted Sandstorm on their stereo and all their feet flicked in the air dancing to the booming electronic music. “Rouuuuund 2!!!” one girl screamed. What. Alex and I looked at each other In horror. We got 2 hours of sleep the following evening – what would tonight be like?
It was an uncomfortable experience sleeping in a tight boat deck with 15 others, covered in sand and food crumbs and vomit pouring into the calm river next to us. Listening to someone throw up isn’t the first thing I want to hear when I wake up in the morning, you know? We were lucky however, one girl puked in the 1st Felucca the following morning and we were told it got everywhere. So in that way, I am grateful we were on Felucca #2. The intense morning sun and heat was a bit rough to wake up to, as well. I learned on this trip that I like my air-conditioning, and I made a beeline for the air conditioned bus the second we pulled up to shore. Not even a glance back at the Felucca, I was gone. What can I tell ya, it had been a long 3 days outdoors. Sweet sweet air-con, how I’ve missed thee!
Being forced to listen to booming rap music in the morning isn’t what I want to hear while on vacation. While I love rap music, I also don’t want it blasting in my ears, and I don’t think that everyone should have to be forced to listen to super loud beats. Especially when we paid for this experience of sailing along the river, where we clearly have no way to walk away or close a door. For those that like peace, this tour is not for you.
Alex and I didn’t ask enough questions before we booked the Felucca, and while the tour did not advertise itself to be a party tour per se, we should have asked beforehand. Later on, we asked our guide if this happens often and he confirmed that this tour attracts a lot of Aussies looking to party on the felucca after the long tour days. Looking back, Alex and I would not have taken Travel Talk Tour’s overnight felucca boat but rather the optional 3 day boat cruise that another girl on our tour went on. That would allow us to experience the land tour with Travel Talk as well as sailing aboard a Felucca for an afternoon as opposed to 2 nights living on it. Alex and I learned that we like simple pleasures like a good night’s sleep and choosing which foods we’d like to eat. We like having the option to leave the boat after a full day if we so choose or having some individual solo time when loud crowds of people are becoming too much for our quieter selves. For introverts that need space and alone time to recharge their batteries, and don’t align with the loud partying atmosphere, I can assure you that you will be in utter misery. Especially if you like 4+ hours of sleep per night. While I loved the moments of sailing and swimming in the refreshing waters of the Nile, we could have easily booked an afternoon trip.
But again, this is just our personal preference. For the majority of the people on the tour, they had the time of their life. Getting wasted and letting loose was a highlight for their trip, and while we personally aren’t heavy drinkers, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great touring experience for others. This experience provided us an opportunity for growth, and for that I am deeply grateful. I am appreciative for the many lessons we’ve learned about ourselves on this trip, for we learned about each other, our travel preferences and what brings us the simple joys in this little life.
Thanks for reading, friends! Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are on this big, beautiful globe! 🙂
These thoughts and opinions are my own and this trip was not sponsored.
July 20, 2018
2016 - 2019 Helena Woods | Helena Woods Portraiture is located outside New York City in Fairfield County Connecticut and travels worldwide for her clients. Helena Woods is New England and Connecticut’s premier family, children, baby and newborn photographer specializing in modern classic custom family photography with a timeless look that's always in style. As a professional photographer, Helena captures maternity, newborn, baby and family portraits in NYC, Westchester, Trumbull, Easton, Weston, and Westport, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norfolk and all Fairfield County surrounding areas.