Journey to Egypt, Part 12: Cruising the Nile & Visit to el Hegz Island

December 28, 2018

I was looking forward to the next portion of our trip – a 5-day cruise on the Nile, aboard  a 16-passenger dahabeya – in other words, a private ship for our OAT group of 14 people including our guide plus 14 crew members! This dahabeya, called Aida, is one of only two such boats owned and operated by Overseas Adventure TravelAida is the newer of the two and has only been in operation for a few months.20181228_121014d
You know how a new car has a “new” smell? Well, the Aida had a “new ship” smell – primarily of the wood used to build it. It was wonderful! Even more wonderful was that shortly after we boarded, we were served lunch in our private dining area!

Before lunch, we had time to freshen up in our staterooms – there are only 8 or 10 of these and each is named for an Egyptian goddess. Our stateroom was #4, named Hathor.
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I had not slept well in either hotel we’d stayed in up until then (this often happens to me in hotels) so I was very tired. First thing I did when we got into our stateroom was curl up on my bed and take a nap!
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Within a half hour, it was time for lunch. Aida has a small dining area with a panoramic view of the Nile and surrounding countryside.

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I took this photo from the ship’s lounge looking toward the bar. Behind the bar was our semicircular dining area. All meals were buffet style.
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In the lounge were comfortable sofas and chairs and each end table had an outlet with two USB ports! Needless to say, WiFi was available on board, though the reception wasn’t always great.
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Display case at the back end of the lounge

We cruised for a few hours to el Hegz Island on the Nile’s east bank, where we docked and went ashore. Here are some views from Aida‘s deck while we were cruising.

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Another dahabeya with its sail aloft.

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El Hegz is an island with mostly farms, but there is also a small village. We were given a tour by one of the farmers.

Transportation on the island is by bike or donkey, although there are a few motorized vehicles.
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The residents are very proud of their water sanitation and storage system which provides them with always fresh water. The water is piped onto the island and then goes through a sanitation process before it is stored in large tanks.
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The vegetation is lush and there is a canal and irrigation for crops.
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They grow bananas, sugarcane and other crops. The bananas and sugarcane are cash crops. Others, such as vegetables, are for consumption by the local population.

Scenes of village life
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We made our way back to Aida as the sun was about to set.
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Although we got back on board, the ship moored for the night off the island.
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Another dahabeya came along. This type of boat does have sails, but usually the crew of Aida did not use them, because that would require a lot of tacking – zig-zagging across the river, which would have delayed us. For this reason, usually we were towed by a tugboat, because dahabeyas do not have motors.
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The sunset over the west bank of the Nile was gorgeous!
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