In Pharonic times Egyptians rowed and sailed on the Nile as their main way of transport. These days the feluccas sail with tourists, the traditional fisherman row in wooden rowboats and young Egyptians compete in modern rowing shells. What connects all of them is that they all love the Nile. Rowing on the Nile is an once in a lifetime experience and in 2014 two new rowing expedition are planned.
Carola, who lives, works and rows in Egypt and Martin, as an experienced Dutch marathon rower had the idea of rowing on the Nile. They teamed up and after one and a half year of organizing they made their dream come true with a first tour in 2013. A group of 15 experienced rowers from the Netherlands, Germany and America rowed from Luxor to Cairo. A distance of 720 kilometers in 10 days from the 26th of April to the 5th of May 2013. We rowed in two Egyptian C4x+ (gigs). That meant that every day 10 people would row and steer and 5 people could enjoy the rich Egyptian heritage and culture.
Most participants arrived early in Luxor to visit the beautiful ancient monuments, enjoy Luxor and to get accustomed to the heat. Their suitcases packed with white shirts with long sleeves, sun hats, and sunscreen and water shoes.
The expedition started with a day of rigging the boats fit for the expedition, making some test runs and getting to know each other.
The first day of rowing started with a ‘blessing’ ceremony with fresh flower leaves for a safe journey by a representative of the Egyptian ministry of Tourism and made us feel welcome. Rowing on the Nile past the Karnak Temple (Luxor) on star board side and the Theban Necropolis on port side was the start of a beautiful and gruelling expedition.
We mostly rowed on a slow moving winding river, with palm trees and villages on the river banks. On the smaller river arms we encountered a lush green scenery filled with birds and fisherman rowing traditional boats. Sometimes when the river had made her way through an area with rocky mountains we rowed with a barren desert on one side and cliff’s on the other. What didn’t change was the blistering sun with temperatures up to 40 degrees centigrade and drinking huge amounts of water and fresh juices.
The Egyptian government was very concerned about our well-being. That is why police boats escorted us all the way on the water and when we drove in a convoy. It was sometimes difficult to go out for an unplanned after dinner stroll with a hotel lobby full of guards. But on the other hand in Qena a polite police general accompanied us to the famous local mosque. Our lunch breaks in little villages along the Nile proved that the Egyptian people were very friendly. They provided us with fresh baked ‘sun bread’ , tea and shared the shade under their trees. In the evening they assisted in lifting the boats out of the water.
The crew that did not row was enjoying Egypt’s rich heritage. Like the Pharonic, temple in Karnak, the Coptic Red Monastry in Sohaq and the famous Islamic mosque in Qena. They went with a minibus on dusty roads and through Egyptian villages with friendly people and cattle on the road. Most participants also ‘enjoyed’ one or two days of not rowing due to food poisoning, sleep deprivation, heatstroke or exhaustion due to the daily distances of up to 90 km’s. Well……,we did call it an ‘Expedition’ from the very beginning.
Before we knew it we were rowing into Cairo. We finished accompanied by an armada of rowing boats, official representatives and the press. A dream came true!
New rowing tour and expedition are being planned
Due to the success of this expedition two new trips are being planned. The first will be a recreational rowing tour from Aswan to Luxor over 220 km in 5 days with a touristic program prior and after the tour. This trip will be followed by repeating the breathtaking rowing expedition tour from Luxor to Cairo over 720 km in 10 days. The first tour will be planned to start during the second half of October and directly followed by the 10- days expedition tour in October – November.
More information: Martin Paasman, firstname.lastname@example.org Please become a member of the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/286409574777813/ Or follow us on: http://thenilerowingexpedition.blogspot.nl
The Nile Rowing Expedition was an idea of Carola Grün and Martin Paasman, both members of Rowing Club De Laak in The Hague, the Netherlands. It was organized together with Dabuka Expeditions, Arab Contractors Sporting Club, Luxor Rowing Club and the Egyptian Rowing & Canoe Federation. Under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Tourist Authority.