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The Boats of the River Nile

The history of Egypt is totally dominated by the River Nile. At one time nearly all transportation was by boat along the river. Consequently it was always thought that the Gods would travel by boat - or barque as it was called. The souls of the dead also travelled by barque in the afterlife.

The falcon-headed god Re-Horakhte bringing the morning sun
(image from the tomb of Sennedjem, Thebes)

FELUCCAS - The felucca has remained, over the centuries, the primary transportation of the Nile. Its ancient form still graces the river as it has done since the time of the Pharaos. Motorised barges transport bulk material and modern cruise ships transport tourists, but the felucca remains despite modern alternatives.
The felucca rarely has any form of engine and relies entirely on the breeze which builds during the day and usually subsides at night. Some of the craft today are used to carry tourists who wish to enjoy an eternally peaceful journey carried along by the gentle breeze and the currents of the river.
Few are now made entirely of wood, but the basic layout has barely changed. They don't have a keel as such, but a heavy centreplate which can be raised in the shallows. The sails are seriously low tech affairs made of native cotton and other natural fibres.

A working felucca, the traditional Nile boat
Working feluccas alongside the riverbank
Hardy travellers seeing the Nile by Felucca
Two Feluccas sailing in the dusk towards Aswan
A Felucca full of people at sunset
The northern end of the eastern shore at Aswan with boat repair yards

Tour Boats - There are a phenomenal number of tourist boats on the Nile and most of them resemble a floating block of flats - they have little charm on the outside and absolutely no connection with Egypt on the inside. They are floating hotels designed to keep the Western traveller sanitised from the world outside - but Pharoah does exact his revenge!! There are one or two craft with some individuality - but they are rare.

A more traditional style of tourist vessel just leaving the town of Esna
Quite an old looking tourist cruise boat - the MV Sudan, turning in the river
Our boat was a converted ferry from Port Said with virtually no luxury whatever! Hmmm!
Our boat with its wonderful motley crew - wouldn't have missed them for the world!

YouTube Logo
'The River Nile'
Click the YouTube logo to enable you to view an animated slideshow
with music of the Nile, its Banks and some of the boats that sail on it.

It may be necessary to allow an Active-x Control to run, so close the alert message,
then click the top bar in the window and 'Allow blocked content' then click 'Yes'.

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