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Felucca adventures

The winner of our writing competition, Julie Musk, tells us all about the Felucca Adventure she had with her family in Egypt.

"Our two children (aged 8 and 10) will hopefully have some great memories of our family adventure experience. The tombs and temples were awesome, full of hidden meanings, which our guide Ahmed did his best to explain. Each visit to a different site reinforced some of what we’d learnt and each place had its own unique atmosphere.

It’s difficult to pick a highlight, but we all agree the felucca was very special, eating and sleeping on deck under the stars, and the feeling of being ‘in touch’ with the Nile. As we silently sailed along, watching the wildlife (water buffalo, camel, heron and egret), we thought how much better off we were than being on a large, noisy, fuming monster ploughing straight up the river.
The children also really enjoyed the overnight train from Cairo to Aswan. The cabins, though basic, were fun with their sleeper beds, and in the morning we woke with the sunrise and saw in the distance a posse of hot air balloons in the sky over the low hills (a reminder of yet another adventure we had to come).

Passing towns and villages, we were struck by the rustic simplicity of people’s homes. Most buildings had no roofs, just an open top floor built of rough mud-brick, very make-shift. Rubbish lay strewn around, dogs scavenging. Ahmed explained that most people scraped by on an average wage of only 800 Egyptian pounds a month (about £90). Despite their poverty, people were friendly, always ready to smile and joke, and most seemed happy. The call to prayer was very evocative to us ‘outsiders’. The temperature in October/November was perfect – balmy evenings and hot days – perfect for sunbathing without burning or sweating profusely. We had no real problem with mosquitoes, though the more bony members of our group seemed to attract more of the little blighters!

After sumptuous buffet breakfasts, no one was interested in eating lunch, content to go through to the evening. Egyptian food was delicious – healthy grilled meats, slow-cooked, roasted vegetables, flavoured rice, flat breads and soft white cheese. The children barely complained, always finding something on the menu to tempt them.

The desert was different to how I’d imagined – much rockier and hilly and less romantic. However, the camel ride at Aswan was a great experience, heading out for an hour’s ride across the hot sands. The children were thrilled to be given their own mounts.Later that evening, we sailed across the river and were transported a short distance to a Nubian family’s home. Invited into their courtyard, we relaxed with a drink of karkady (hibiscus tea) on colourful rugs on their clean sand floor. Watching the sky change through many shades of blue to black, enhanced by the purple-blue of the painted walls of their simple home, was a real experience, as was the home-cooked dinner (the best meal of the trip). Maybe it had something to do with the setting.

The most difficult part of the trip (and sadly where the locals are losing out) is shopping. We were afraid to show interest in anything for sale by overzealous marketers. A shame because we could have come back with some lovely, unusual souvenirs. Nevermind, instead we returned having experienced and come to understand a country and culture unknown to us before. This has sparked an enthusiasm to read and learn more (we’ll be visiting our library!). Our 8-year-old now enjoys writing hieroglyphics and is dying to show and tell to her classmates at school."

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Sailing on a Felucca
Sailing on a Felucca
Hot air balloon
Family time together
From £725pp exc flights
(average rating, based on 13 reviews)
Trip type: 
Adventure level: 
3. Moderate
Max group size: 
Minimum age: 

Egypt Family Holiday

Egypt | 9 days
Trip code: 
Families only
Egypt Family Holiday, camel trekking
This Egypt family holiday is full of fun and discovery - sail up the Nile on a felucca, travel by sleeper train to Aswan, explore ancient monuments including the Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings and snorkel over coral reefs.

Departs in:

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