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What Is a Felucca?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2014
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A felucca is a sailing craft native to Egypt and the Mediterranean. These boats have been used since antiquity by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and while they are primarily utilized as tourist attractions and leisure craft today, some working feluccas can still be seen in various corners of the Mediterranean. These boats are perhaps most famously associated with the Nile River in Egypt, and many tourists make a point of taking a trip on a felucca during a visit to Egypt.

These boats are narrow, designed to move quickly and efficiently, and they feature lateen rigging, a type of rigging characterized by a triangular sail. Lateen rigging also appears to be native to the Mediterranean, although it can also be seen on some traditional Chinese ships. A standard felucca can accommodate two to three crew members along with 10 passengers, with some boats being designed to carry cargo, while others are definitely built with passengers in mind.

Feluccas utilize the breezes which skim over the surface of the Nile for power, and captains can also take advantage of the prevailing currents in the river. On a brisk, breezy day, a felucca can move at a good clip along the river, while quieter weather can cause the boat to move sluggishly. Like other sailing craft, feluccas are also very quiet, in marked contrast with the motorboats which ply the Nile and the Mediterranean.

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Traditionally, the felucca is made from wood, although modern craft use other materials because they are cheaper and they can be more durable. The boat usually has a seating area with cushions in the middle which may surround a table which can be used to hold food and drink. Egyptians sometimes rent feluccas for a few hours to hold social gatherings on the Nile, especially in the hot summer months when being on the shore can be unbearable. Felucca trips can last an hour to several days, although lengthy trips can be uncomfortable because the boats are not designed for sleeping.

People who are interested in taking a felucca sailing trip while they are in Egypt can often find a multitude of these boats near the shores of the Nile. Fees vary, but are generally inexpensive, and tourists may find it advisable to seek out recommendations from the desk clerks at their hotels or from travel organizations. As with any sailing trip, if the craft looks unseaworthy or the captain appears to be suspect, people should seek out another boat to sail on.

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popcorn
Post 6

@manykitties2 - If you are looking into a felucca cruise along the Nile I suggest you visit some of the tour group sites available online. There are so many options for cruises, from budget cruises to luxury ones. For myself I paid $450 USD for a 3-night Egyptian felucca cruise from Aswan to Luxor, and we got to see the Kom-Ombo Temple, Edfu Temple and the Valley of the Kings on stops provided, as well as a few other temples.

I think one of the great things about Egypt's felucca trips is that they are quite affordable when you consider how much you get to see and that everything is usually included in the price. The meals onboard were delicious.

manykitties2
Post 5

One of my biggest dreams is to visit Egypt and take one of the felucca Nile cruises from Aswan to Luxor and catch all of the sights along the way. I have heard that the cruises on the Nile River can be quite expensive though, which means I need to start saving.

I am hoping that I will be able to see Philae Temple, which is supposed to be really lovely. Also, I have heard that Luxor provides really easy access to the Valley of the Kings, which would be something amazing just by itself. I suppose there is so much to do there, I really need to start planning. Any idea how much a cruise would actually cost?

truman12
Post 4

My neighbor actually built a felucca in his garage a few years back. He is a big fan of boats and water but he is not from Egypt or anywhere in the Mediterranean.

I asked him why he choose a felucca and he told me that he wanted to build something out of the ordinary and ultimately put a boat on the water that no one had ever seen before. It ended up being a pretty big project and probably more hassle than it was worth. For weeks the felucca was sticking out of his garage door because it was too long to close. Now he keeps it out by a lake. I'm not sure how often he uses it but I admire his ambition for building it.

ZsaZsa56
Post 3

My husband and I took a trip to Egypt last year and we rode on a felucca. I have to say that the boat ride itself was pretty unremarkable but the things we saw while on the boat were breathtaking.

People often think that Egypt is just a big desert filled with yellow sand as far as the eye can see. This is only partly true. In fact the areas around the Nile are quite lush and you can see all kinds of exotic plant and animal life. When my husband and I were on the boat we were enthralled with everything we were seeing. We almost forgot about our boat driver completely.

recapitulate
Post 2

@BambooForest- I wouldn't be surprised. A friend of mine was traveling in the Mediterranean and got the chance to ride on a Felucca, and she took many pictures. These boats have sails that really are reminiscent of dragon wings. I would love to go on one myself someday. Imagine taking a cruise in a lovely Egyptian felucca on the Nile.

BambooForest
Post 1

There is a web comic I read called Earthsong in which a character is named Felucca. She is able to fly and even turn into a dragon (it's a fantasy comic, obviously). This makes me wonder if the writer based the character name on this definition of Felucca. It'd be cool to think that a writer had that much extra research and information in mind when she named characters and worked out other details in her writing.

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