Egypt Travel: Nile River Sailboat Cruise

Posted by Steve Collins on

The Nile River is the central artery of Egypt. It is the sole source of drinking water and brings fertilization to the fields with the rich silt carried from deep inside Africa. The Nile is a major transportation corridor, ferrying people between the east bank and the west bank and facilitating commercial barge movement. But even with all that traffic, it is also the place where sailboats and motorboats cruise while filled with locals and tourists enjoying the sights.


In Cairo, the noise, traffic, sand, dirt, hustle-bustle and general commotion gets left behind the minute you depart from the banks of the Nile on a felucca (sailboat) or a motorboat and let the winds and currents whisk you from one side of the Nile to the other.


There is almost always a steady wind blowing from North to South, and the river's current is very strong from South to North, so a sailboat is always my first choice. Embarking in the late afternoon or sunset is one of the most relaxing things you can do in Cairo.  Later in the night, the atmosphere changes. It has become a favorite of Cairenes to pack into motorboats with flashing lights and loud music. Instead of a calm, relaxing ride, it's more like a party scene.


Farther south, In Luxor and Aswan, the Nile gets wider and everything is calmer. Historically, in Luxor, the only way to get from the east bank (where the town of Luxor is) to the west bank (where the Valley of the Kings is) was by boat.  Ferries would take cars, buses, animals, and pedestrians, while the motor boats would just bring pedestrians. Now there is a big bridge, but it is well out of town, so we continue to use motor boats when going to the west bank.

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