Sailing the Nile River: Felucca or riverboat? | IML Travel

Travelling to Egypt without spending time on the Nile would be like going to Italy and not seeing the Colosseum or visiting India and not stopping by Taj Mahal.


Having said that deciding a lot of things and other questions pops into your head. For instance, when’s the best time to go? How long should I spend onboard? And, mostly, do I choose a felucca or riverboat?


I will quickly provide you an overview of those queries and answer those. October to April is the best time to travel because it’s not too hot (between 25-30°C), making temple sights much more pleasant. Also, on an Egypt trip you can expect to spend a maximum of one night sleeping on a felucca, but three nights if choosing a cruise.


The above details should give you some indication of what would you prefer. But, if you are still confused, don’t worry, all your queries will become clear in this article and help you differentiate between these two river options.

Option 1: Felucca on Nile River

Sailing the Nile River IML Travel (3)

FYI, a felucca is a traditional Egyptian wooden boat with a canvas sail. Moreover, Aswan is the place people usually board their felucca rides, although you can also hop on at Luxor. Once aboard you’ll sail along the river between these two spots, but how far you travel is heavily dependent on the wind and water current.


The felucca provides some welcome shade and protection from the sun (and other elements), but there are no cabins or enclosed areas. That is why; passengers will sleep in the open air on a communal mattress for the night. You’ll be provided with a blanket, but you can also bring a sleeping bag during the cooler months.

If you do not wish to bring a sleeping bag, you can always rent them locally and don’t need to worry about lugging all the way from home!




Nubian sailing crew, which is made up of two sailors and a chef, will cook all the deliciously hearty meals you’ll tuck into on your trip. Get ready to indulge yourself on local delicacies like foul (an Egyptian fava bean stew), falafel, hummus, pitta bread and more.


Also, you will share a sleeping space, which also triples up your dining and relaxing space. Moreover, you’ll share a bathroom with your fellow passengers. On a trip with few people, you’ll have access to a proper Western-style toilet and a shower, the only felucca on the Nile to have one! Who says travelling this way has to be basic?


Hints and tips

  1. Avoid wearing shoes on deck to avoid contact with your sleeping mattress. Leave them in a basket at the front of the boat when boarding.


  1. Swimming is safe (and encouraged). Swim between the section of Aswan and Luxor which is completely clean and taking a dip is a real highlight.


  1. You can enjoy a drink onboard, although these need to be ordered in advance. Please tell this to your tour guide ahead of departure.

Option 2: Riverboat/ Cruise on Nile River

Sailing the Nile River IML Travel (2)

If you are the one who doesn’t like to compromise on creature comforts, then a Nile cruise is absolutely the best ride for you. These riverboats could easily be compared to boutique four or five-star floating hotels, housing 50-70 private cabins. Just like the felucca, cruise also operates between Aswan and Luxor. However, they run on a schedule, which means you’ll always spend three nights on board.


Basically on Egypt trip, you have to get up early to explore before the heat of the day and then have the afternoon to spend at your leisure. You’ll leave the boat daily, which will give you plenty of time to check out the ancient sights around the shore. From Abu Simbel to Kom Ombo temple, you can look forward to seeing it all!




You’ll be sharing facilities with travelers who are not a part of your tour. It is a great way to meet even more like-minded people, right?


Facilities include a luxury lounge, sundeck, restaurant, rooftop pool and bar. You’ll also enjoy all your meals on board which will feature a wide selection of mouth-watering local dishes. Some boats even cater for gluten and lactose-free diets.


We could not end this section without mentioning the cabins, which come fully air-conditioned, beautifully decorated, with a private bathroom, color TV, minibar and more.


Hints and tips

  1. The boats are anchored at port each evening and only on the odd occasion it sails through the night. So, you don’t have to worry about missing out on the views.


  1. Bargain as much as you can as plenty of small boats will approach trying to sell souvenirs and onshore excursions will have their fair share of local merchants too.




No matter which option you choose, you’ll need to bring the following things along: swimmers and a towel, sunscreen and insect repellent, a good sense of humor and excellent conversation skills.


Want to experience the best that Egypt has to offer? Check out IML Travel’s diverse range of tours today!


“I am that person who dropped her B.Tech (really!) and chose to travel, specifically travel blogging. I’m Manmeet Kaur, a crazy, fun loving and adventurous person from Delhi. I knew I had an interest in writing since I was in school. I didn’t want to be an engineer, doctor or I would say a teacher. My plans were different. I wanted to travel which I guess no one,  specially girl had chosen to do in my family for a living. And like other human beings on this planet I have big dreams too. But my ultimate dream is to travel the world and share my experiences through writing and blogging.” 🙂

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