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Beyond the Pyramids: 20 Favorite Photos from Sailing Egypt’s Nile River with Our Kids

On January 24th, somewhere between Aswan and Luxor, Egypt, I wrote in my journal;

“We have made it to the Felucca sailboat.  It slips slowly down the Nile’s black, evening waters, almost not moving.  The sun has set, and the silhouette of the palm trees outline the banks of the river.  One of our three Nubian captains is cooking a pot of stew.  The aroma of saffron, cumin, and tomatoes fill the air.  Our Egyptologist Guide, Sam, and our accommodations manager, Tom, speak together in Arabic, erupting into loud bouts of laughter without warning  A lone, mud colored cow, calls out along the grassy banks.  A camel grazes behind him.  Beyond the palm trees  is miles of desert, stretching long and wide.  There is a peace in this moment that I have not experienced any where else.  This is sailing down the Nile.”

Here are 20 of my favorite images with captions from our family’s Felucca experience, beyond the pyramids.

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    There are three ways to sail down the Nile; ancient practice of Felucca Sailboats , the more luxurious Dahabiyas, and the Nile Cruise Tours. Being a family, we opted for the relaxation and adventure that the Feluccas offer. You board the sailboat, and this is your world for the next three days.
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    The Nubian Captains cook your meals on the sailboat, making the BEST curry stews for dinner that you've ever tasted!
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    The Felucca is covered with a platform of flat cushions. During meal time, the food is spread down the middle. Lunch is a combination of pita bread, cucumbers, feta cheese, falafel, and cooked beans. In the evening, the platform is converted into your sleeping quarters.
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    Your Nubian Captains each have their own role. As one prepares your meals, the other captain continues to guide the sailboat down the Nile--while sipping a traditional, sweet, potent Egyptian tea.
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    For the next three days, your family just chills together. Doesn't that sound heavenly? You are unplugged with 100% down time that eases the soul.
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    At night, everyone puts their bags in the middle of the Felucca and watches the sunset.
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    Bathrooms? Where are they? Egypt Uncovered, our tour company, are the only ones that have a small boat that trails you the whole journey for when you need the restrooms or a shower. Typically, the Felucca trips are a lot like camping, and thus you "go" along the banks of the Nile. I LOVED the site of this little boat, always near and available!
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    With sleeping bags, you let the Nile rock you to sleep. Your captains stretch a canvas around the outside of the Felucca, as you can see in the image. But I would advise bringing mosquito repellent too. Those little bugs had a feast on the kids! Yet, it was worth every bite!
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    I found Brian in the early morning hours, filming and recording the morning songs of all the Nile birds. It's moments like this, when you are creating, interacting with nature, all while in a foreign land that you feel 110% alive.
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    There is so much amazing history to learn while visiting Egypt. But on the Felucca, you take a break from the monuments and have a chance to read--letting the hours slip by. If you haven't read it, The Alchemist is a GREAT book to bring to Egypt!
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    Blaze gets out his action figures and plays in the sun.
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    Ancient Egyptians divided their land into two parts; the "Red Land' which was the desert and the "Black Land" which was the fertile soil of the Nile. One of the craziest experiences in Egypt is that you can stand in both lands at the same time with one foot in the lush, green banks of the Nile and the other foot in complete desert sands. The two extremes, being so close to each other, are breathtaking and almost hard to believe.
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    You would think that the limiting space of a sailboat would start to feel to small for kids. I have no sailing experience, so when I realized the Felucca was our quarters for the next few days, I wasn't sure how the kids would handle it. But the experience was ever exciting from the wind in the hair, sitting on the bow, sleeping on the deck...all of it was an amazing adventure.
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    Your captains will also find wonderful, quiet pockets along the Nile to dock so the kids run, explore, and swim.
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    Here is a close up shot of that wonderful boat that has your bathrooms and shower! Super cute, right!
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    The local Egyptian children know how to find you and bring their beautiful bead jewelery and precious smiles.
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    After a couple hours of playing on the sandy banks, you are off again.
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    One of my FAVORITE parts to our time on the Felucca is when Sam, our Egyptologist guide (and newest family member), would sit and quiz the kids on all the history he had been teaching us.
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    Sam, is not just an Egyptologist, he has published books on Egyptology, taught all over the world, lectures at universities, and with all this academia...he still knows how to get the kids excited about history! What more could a parent want for their family's trip to Egypt!
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    The best part about Sam is his contagious laugh!
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    Before we went to Egypt, I pictured us visiting the pyramids, but I had no idea what else you do with your family. The joy that we experienced on our Felucca sailing adventure was one of the biggest highlights.
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    The Ancient Egyptian calendar was based on the three seasons of the Nile River; flooding season, growing season and harvest season. There was no Winter. Every season was an interactive experience in growth and provision. Living in a different climate, where Winter is a purposed season for plants to go dormant, to rest, to die down, I have often reflected on my own creative and spiritual winters--where from the surface you can't see evidence of life, and yet life is pulsing in the dark, underground. I couldn't help but wonder how a calendar with three seasons affected their creative process, their reflections and the spiritual droughts we all experience that make the flooding season so monumental.

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