RTW Trip Aswan, Egypt Day 55: Our Sailboat Trial Run

Most people come to Aswan for one thing – an overnight felucca ride.  You can basically go as a group and sail the Nile River on a motorless sailboat.  Sounds amazing right???

The Felucca: the motorless sailboat

The Felucca: the motorless sailboat

As the Lonely Planet has suggested, we thought we should do some shopping around.  We were a bit intimidated by all the boat drivers approaching us, especially after a sleepless night of HONK HONK BEEP BEEP, so we decided to first take the city in a bit and walk around town.

A cool sewing machine shop

A cool sewing machine shop

We knew there were a few sights in Aswan other than the felucca ride, but thought it might be a good idea to head to Aswan’s tourist office.  We are so glad we did – the man working there was so informative on sights we should see, and how much we should pay.  This came in handy when we finally decided to start the day.

We opted to do a few sights for the day, so after a breakfast of some fruit and water, we took a taxi to the Unfinished Obelisk.  I think someone had mentioned that if the obelisk had been completed, it would have been the largest in the world, but they found a fault in it, and stopped working on it.  When you go see the Unfinished Obelisk (and don’t worry, all taxi drivers knew the word obelisk!), you will see a large rectangular shape carved in stone, with some additional carvings for detail.  Before you get to see the Obelisk, they will show you a National Geographic documentary about it.  There will be a couple men near the obelisk who will start telling you information about the obelisk, but be warned, they will act as an unofficial guide, and will expect money at the end. You probably won’t spend a whole lot of time there, but it is worth a peek.

The Unfinished Obelisk

The Unfinished Obelisk

Getting a taxi back to town was a bit challenging for some reason.  When I saw a pick-up truck with a bunch of passengers in the back, I thought that it would have been nice if they stopped for us.

I wanted to ride in this!

I wanted to ride in this!

After a few cabs, we were finally able to hop in one back to town, and ended up walking along the sea wall on the Nile River.

The personalized interiors of taxis in Aswan

The personalized interiors of taxis in Aswan

One guy approached us about felucca rides, and then another gentle looking older gentleman approached us.  I am a sucker for meeting older locals, and this one looked particular kind, and his excellent English instantly brought us in.

His name was Mostafa, and my guess was that he was probably in his sixties.  He was very well read, knew a lot about history and the world, and was generous with his compliments.  He asked if we would like to go on a boat ride with him for the afternoon and sunset, ride the waters, and see neighboring island, and told us this could give us an idea whether we wanted to do a longer journey with him on another day.  He really was so nice, so we agreed.  We hopped on the boat with him, and his sidekick, Mostafa 2.

Mostafa 1

Mostafa 1

Riding a motorless boat on the Nile River was so relaxing that you would forget about the faint echos of honking traffic.  We had perfect weather, saw only a couple of other boats go by, saw some ancient hieroglyphics, and even had a couple visiting children singing songs from their little boat.  For lunch, they asked us where we wanted to go, and I just said that I wanted to eat local food.  They said they knew of a cheap place in town, or a nicer place that was on an island just beyond Elephantine Island.  Since we were already sailing and on the boat, we didn’t want to cut our trip short, so we took option B.

Views of Elephantine Island

Views of Elephantine Island

Sights on our boat ride

Sights on our boat ride

Ad-Dukka Restaurant had a nice location on an island, and from the outside, it didn’t look like anyone was there.  For some reason, everyone was eating inside.  When we looked at the menu, we were pretty shocked to see how expensive everything was, and then I also remembered reading a review of the place saying that the portions were large, so we ended up just having one meal between the two of us.  We decided to have one of the Nubian chicken meals, and it was absolutely huge, and definitely one of the best meals we had on our trip.  The lunch looked so simple, but they made everything taste right.  We were stuffed to the gills.

Delicious Ad-Dukka Restaurant.  This meal was for ONE person!?!

Delicious Ad-Dukka Restaurant. This meal was for ONE person!?!

Our boat ride with the two Mostafas continued for hours, and we didn’t finish until sunset.  We were a bit surprised with the prices at Ad-Dukka, so we decided to take Mostafa 1’s cheaper suggestion that was in town for dinner.  When we finished the ride, Mostafa 1 walked us into town, and walked us right up to the restaurant.  It was a basic place, serving cheap food, with plenty of local men eating.  I was in.  We said our goodbyes to Mostafa, and told him that he should be expecting us in a couple days for a longer ride, and then continued with our meal.  We had some delicious soup, falafel, kofte, and sides.

Dinner at a local joint

Dinner at a local joint

We had such a great trial run with the Mostafas, that we couldn’t wait to go with them in a few days!  We particularly connected with Mostafa 1, as he had such great stories, so much wisdom, and just gave us the sense that he was deep down, a very great person.  I was hungry for more!

Costs:
Water and bananas and oranges 21 LE
Taxi to tourist office 10 LE
Taxi to obelisk 20 LE
Obelisk 80 LE
Taxi from Unfinished Obelisk to felucca area 10 LE
Lunch at Ad-Dukka Restaurant 95 LE
Sunset felucca ride 70 LE
Beer 85 LE
Dinner of falafel and kofte 50 LE

Total cost: 441 LE / 2 = $30.42 per person

What I learned: Head to Ad-Dukka Restaurant and order one meal for 2 people.  It is more than enough!

Panorama Cafe is no longer open, but you can find the Mostafas and their boat here!

Panorama Cafe is no longer open, but you can find the Mostafas and their boat here!

Greg on deck

Greg on deck

Nile River

Nile River

Actual date of travel: Oct. 28, 2014

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