To escape the summer heat sometimes you just have to sail on the Nile. Feluccas are something you can’t miss when walking along the Nile River. The boats are generally brightly colored with neon lights draped over the sides and loud, mostly cheesy Arabic songs blasting from the speakers. The boats are located all along the Nile around the hotels and tourist attractions. But felucca rides aren’t just for tourists – you can see Egyptian families, couples and groups of friends all going for hour-long sails to admire the city from the river.
I recently celebrated the 4th of July on a felucca which seemed the best way to spend US Independence day in Egypt. While it wasn’t the typical holiday camping or grilling hamburgers, we did shoot off fireworks from the boat, which is a privilege not usually granted in the States anymore.
The feluccas usually start sailing around sunset and continue on all night. You can hire one for varying intervals of time – just be sure to negotiate the price beforehand. The sights from the boat are amazing and you can see how Cairo really comes alive after dark; Families gather on one of the many bridges for wedding pictures, groups of teenagers gallivant on the busy city streets and vendors sell delicious Egyptian sweets. Many people park their cars on the bridge and take a stroll overlooking the Nile while some men cast their lines hoping to get a big fish, though more likely they will catch a few palm-sized ones if they are lucky.
Riding a felucca enables you to experience a different view of Cairo, one where you can see the liveliness of the city without being entrenched in the crowds and where you can still feel a part of it all while relaxing on the gentle current of the Nile.