Without the River Nile, the Ancient Egypt that we speak of today would cease to exist. It was, after all, this river which allowed the transportation of over five million blocks of limestone, which would eventually become the Pyramids of Giza - arguably the most recognisable historical monuments in the world. The annual floods from the river pioneered farming and irrigation techniques still used today. The Nile was the life source which gave rise to the greatest civilisation in history - there is perhaps no river in the world surrounded by so much history. This is without considering the geological feats - not only does the Nile flow unusually from South to North, it is also the longest river in the world. It was the perfect setting for some downtime after days of non-stop adventure.
Our journey started in Aswan, where we boarded a traditional Nubian sailing ship - a felucca. The structure of a felucca hasn't really changed since the ancient times, providing an epic insight into how the Egyptians would have travelled during the times of the Pharaohs. The felucca was essentially a floating bed - sprawling and open decked, covered in mattresses and cushions. The captain and deckhand of our boat, the 'Freedom Love', were obsessed with the late, great Bob Marley, and they played his music on repeat from a dinosaur-shaped speaker. Floating down the River Nile to the soundtrack of Bob Marley singing Don't Worry Be Happy was nothing short of surreal.
We spent a majority of the day lazing around - in the days preceding we had explored Cairo, Philae Temple, Elephantine Island, and just yesterday we'd been up at 3am for a round trip through the desert to Abu Simbel - epic, so so epic, but exhausting. The water was so calm, and the felucca seemed to glide over the surface rather than cutting through it. Our guide, Albeer took the time to tell us stories about Egypt's past, and the myths surrounding the Nile.
We moored after a few hours and met our support boat - the felucca had no bathroom, and definitely no place to make food or store drinks, so the support boat followed us on our journey for our needs. We went for a swim in the Nile, but only briefly (the water was freezing cold!) then continued our cruise down the river, ever Northward towards the capital of Ancient Egypt - Luxor.
The sun started to set, and colour of the water started changing - the young deck hand called it 'Golden Hour', and he was right - the Nile turned a deep golden red.
It was incredible.
As the last rays of sun disappeared, we climbed across to the support boat and split a bottle of wine, before indulging in a traditional Nubian feast. One thing that travel guides fail to mention is how great the food is in Egypt - so carb heavy, but so good! The top deck of the support boat had no roof, and with the total lack of light pollution, we spent the evening counting stars and swapping stories with the boat crew, before settling back on the felucca for a night in our 'million star hotel', as the captain called it. It was cold, but with the gentle rock of the boat and the sound of the water lapping at the shore, it was hard not to get the most incredible nights sleep - at least after you have gotten over the fact that you're sleeping on the Nile...