How to rent a felucca in Egypt

View from Jotman's felucca on the Nile at Aswan.  Photo by Jotman.

Feluccas have been sailing the waters of the Mediterranean for hundreds of years.  Today, one of the few places they still operate is the Nile.

If you find yourself in Aswan, the southernmost Egyptian town before Lake Nasser, you will be tempted by offers to go for a felucca ride.    On a recent trip to Aswan, I decided to take a Nubian captain up on the  fair-sounding offer he made.

"Go ahead and get on the boat" he said as soon as we were down the steps, standing on the riverbank.   Before getting on the boat, I went through the terms of the captain's proposal and made a counter offer.

"30 Egyptian Pounds is a good price."  

It was reasonable.  I got into the felucca.

To make a long story short, here's where I ran into trouble.   Although I had accepted a fair price offer for a half day, at noon -- enjoying the experience far more than I had anticipated -- I told the captain that I  wanted him to take me to see a few more sights.  The captain and I agreed that I would be charged an hourly rate going forward.     

Can you guess what happened?   When I decided that I had had enough sailing, and I asked the captain to turn around, the felucca suddenly slowed to a crawl.   There was still plenty of wind.  All other felucca on the Nile late that afternoon moved faster than my felucca.  Much faster.

However, I did one thing right.  As I now anticipated, as our felucca -- the last one on the Nile that evening -- approached shore, the captain asked me to be paid.  

"I want to enjoy the rest of the trip, not talk about money," I said.   And I stood my ground on this point.

The trip ended -- as I sensed by then it would -- with an appeal by the captain for payment beyond anything that had been discussed.   But my feet were on shore, and having paid what was owed, I could walk away.

* * * * *

Is it possible to rent a felucca in Aswan without getting ripped off?   If you rent one yourself, maybe not.   The best approach is to arrange your felucca trip -- particularly the payment -- through a hotel you trust.  Rest assured that your hotel will have earned its small commission.

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