Why visit Egypt?
The view from an Aswan hotel
Aswan has to be one of the most
beautiful places in Egypt. Rolling dunes
of golden sand brush the edges of the
cool Nile River. Bright green palm trees
contrast starkly against the dusty
buildings and golden tones of the
desert. In winter the temperature can be
quite mild often in the seventies, but
it can get cold at night. As soon as you
step from your boat you will be barraged
by taxi drivers, of the horse drawn
kind. It is a very small town so you
will absolutely not need one.
You will discover there is a trip to
Abu Simbel Temple while in Aswan. Before
the Aswan dam could be built this
magnificent temple had to be relocated;
it is now a six hour round trip bus ride
from Aswan. The road is rough and
somewhat dangerous from natural and
human threats. It is supposed to be a
wonderful temple to visit, but the trip
is not worth the effort. If you have
been visiting the other temples on your
way to Aswan then skip this one.
What is worth a visit is one of the
many old hotels in town. Most of them
have spectacular views and cool drinks.
A sail in a felucca (sail boat) is a
must do while in Aswan. In fact, it is
best to take a felucca to Kitchener
Island. This island and botanical garden
is in the middle of the river and is one
of the most beautiful spots on the Nile.
Take a walk through the park and observe
exotic birds while breathing the
excellent Nile air.
See a video from Kitchener Island.
Nubian arts and crafts
No stopover in Aswan would be
complete without a visit to a
Nubian village. This excursion could
be the most rewarding experience of your
whole adventure. You can spend the
evening with a Nubian family in their
home and have tea and dinner with them.
The Nubian's live very modestly in a
medieval style, but they are welcoming
and seem very happy with their lives.
Nubian guides are happy to talk about
Nubian history, but it is difficult to
know what they are saying as their
English can often be limited. If you are
carried away by the Arabian Nights
atmosphere henna tattoos are available.
They say it will wear off in several
weeks. And finally the villagers are
more than happy to sell you their arts
and crafts. A wonderful experience! Of
course watch out for the food and drink
as it can leave you with a gift that
keeps on giving.
See a video from a Nubian Village.
Camel ride to the Saint Simeon
On the other side of the Nile from
the town of Aswan you can ride a camel
across the desert to the Saint Simeon
monastery. This is one of the oldest
known Christian monasteries and reflects
a time when Christianity was an
influential religion in Egypt. Riding
camels is fun except they are smelly,
dusty, and make the strangest gurgling
sounds from time to time. Make sure that
the price of your ride includes a saddle
and camel boy.
The Philae Temple on the island of
Aglika is also worth a visit. The temple
was moved from its original island after
the building of the Aswan dam, which was
a mammoth task as the temple is
See a video from Saint Simeon.
In my next article we will continue
our adventure around Egypt with a visit
to the Vegas of Egypt.
Fly from San
Francisco to Cairo from $1,258 to $1,532
and cruise from Cairo to Aswan for