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Life on the Nile: An Alternative Cruise

Posted by Jonny Bealby 4th January 2016
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Wild Frontiers MD Jonny saw in the New Year sailing along the Nile on our Slow Boat to Aswan itinerary. View our all our group tours to Egypt plus our tailor-made holidays there.

Rarely does the title of a tour explain so accurately a trip as A Slow Boat to Aswan. We have been on board our wonderful dahabiya, Scheherazade, for the past three days, sailing up the Nile, doing little else but relaxing and watching the world drift by. And it's been idyllic.

The dahabiya itself is a stunning craft some 40 meters long and 8 wide, with masts forward and aft. The top deck consists of outdoor dining, sofas and sunbeds all sitting beneath canvas awnings and on top of an elegant polished wooden floor. And down below is a cozy living area and 8 comfortable births; two master rooms and 6 twin rooms, each en suite. We have a chef who serves up great breakfasts, lunches and dinners and a friendly crew that hoist the sails and keep us moving forward.

That said, we don’t sail all the time; if we did I think it would take 40 days to reach Aswan not the four we have. We have a little tug boat that comes along with us and when the wind doesn’t blow or we simply need to make up time, pulls us upstream from a discreet distance in front.

But as comfortable as the dahabiya is, it’s when we get off the boat that the real pleasure of this trip becomes apparent.

On our first evening we simply disembarked where we moored to take a stroll through the countryside and were immediately invited into the home of a local farmer. We walked along a dirt track that dissected the sugar cane fields to his house where we met his wife and mother, his children and extended family. Besides farming sugar cane, he had goats, a donkey and made and fired bricks – an occupation we subsequently learned all about. Over the last three days we visited three more homes, a mosque where we had a crash course on Islam and a church where we learnt about Coptic Christianity, an ancient temple and quarry from where much of the temple stone that was used in the creation of Luxor and Karnak came from, we had the hugely impressive temple of Kom Ombo all to ourselves, we dropped in on a small community on an island that our guide Mohammed knew and wondered around the vegetable market in the riverside town of Darawa. Everywhere we’ve been we’ve been greeted by a very warm and welcoming population and never once felt any animosity towards us.

As I said in my last blog, at WF we pride ourselves in showing our clients not only the highlights of a country but the offbeat places as well; places where real life plays out, where the locals live. Of course it’s important to learn about the pharaohs and visit their amazing temples, but if you don’t meet the locals, ancestors of those that built the temples or that provided food for those that did, you only really get one side of the story.

Indeed, this was the main reason I set up Wild Frontiers as it is only through this kind of cross-cultural interaction that we learn; that we break down barriers, change preconceptions and ultimately destroy prejudice.

Tomorrow morning we’ll arrive in Aswan.

View Jonny Bealby's latest blog posts
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