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And further north, the Temple of Karnak in Luxor’s USP is its size: it’s the biggest ancient religious site in the world. Obelisks and altars surround a sacred lake and you can lose yourself in a room of wide, imposing columns.

When it’s time for a felucca cruise, I’m ready to drink beer and do sweet FA for two days, while the wind pushes the craft up the Nile. Ahlam rounds up the group to lay down some ground rules. We can do anything we want, but the crew are pretty conservative. So, he says – looking at the couple who are on their honeymoon – “no canoodling on the felucca”. Fair play.
I crack open a beer and kick back as the boat zig-zags up the waterway. Lying on the deck with booze and book in hand, as music plays through a retro boom box, I forget anything else exists for the rest of the day.

Before it gets dark, the skipper moors for dinner – flatbreads, potatoes, soups and stews. Tonight, the group stops off at the Nubian-run ‘Adam House’, where travellers can enjoy tea and sheesha on comfy cushions, and get henna tattoos for 2EGP (20p) a pop. When the sheesha burns out, we all head back to the felucca and unravel our sleeping bags for a night under the stars.
I’d been apprehensive about camping out on a boat deck, a couple of feet above the murky river with just sheets for walls (especially knowing that mozzies like water). But I’m so chilled out from the day’s lounging, I’m asleep in seconds.
I wake to the sunrise and spend the next day exactly the same way as the previous one, with an added dip in the Nile’s chilly February water for the brave ones in our group.

That evening, the group stops off at our own private Nile beach, and, after dinner, the crew light a bonfire before cracking out guitars and drums and playing some traditional Nubian tunes. They get us all dancing, and we sing songs from home – I Still Call Australia Home for the Aussies; Spice Girls’ Wannabe and Oasis’ Wonderwall for the Brits.
The morning brings a drive north to Luxor. As amazing as the felucca experience was, the lack of bathrooms makes the five-star St George Hotel a happy sight.
From here, it’s a visit to the Valley of the Kings – in the desert outside Luxor – where pharaohs such as Tutankhamun were buried in rock-cut tombs.


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