Welcome to another travel feature from our trip to Egypt at the end of last year. As I mentioned in the Snapshots of Egypt post we did a great deal in our few days in Aswan! The Kom Ombo Temple already got it’s own post and is not included in this round up as it is not technically in the city but here are my highlights of the best things to do in Aswan:
Unfinished Obelisk | Just as the name implies, an unfinished obelisk is located in a Granite quarry in the heart of Aswan. The highlight is a piece of granite weighting 1,200 tons and dating back 3,400 years old, however, the giant piece of stone is still in the ground cracked as they were mining it and it was abandoned. We saw another obelisk from this mine at the Temple of Karnack though this unfinished obelisk, was planned to be found found times bigger – reaching 42 meters (138 feet) high and would have been the world’s largest obelisk. And an interesting, albeit sad, fact that I learned – – Rome has 13 obelisks (more than all of Egypt, only 8 left of the original 85).
Philae Temple | One of the best places I went to and the dozen of Ancient Egyptian temples we visited the water approach from Lake Nasser to the Temple of Philae in Aswan made it one of my favorites. The temple complex features the Temple of Isis which was the last temple built in Egypt and was directly on the boarder between South Egypt and Nubia Plus it was combination for Egyptian worship space turned Christians as a church.
Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel | This hotel is more than 100 years old and the most famous fact is that Agatha Christie wrote many parts of of her book Death on the Nile while staying at this hotel. We had tea here at sunset, just like Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and Princess Diana did on their visits.
Felucca Ride on the Nile River | I was told this boat ride was one of the best things to do in Aswan and the books were right, spending an hour sailing up and down the Nile is a terrific way to see the city. And for those who are curious, even though it may look like something you have seen before a felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat used in the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt. We also came across nearly half a dozen local Nubian kids singing alongside our boat for coins.
Visiting a Nubian Village | Half tourist trap, half local village it was an interesting place to visit. Walking through the streets was colorful and lively and when visiting a locals house it was some of the only coffee I got during my time in Egypt though I thought the pet crocodiles the locals kept was an odd custom.
The Aswan High Dam |. While not quite in the city a half our trip will take you 16 km south of Aswan to this massive damn. To be honest, visually from the top it is not impressive but if you drive around and see it from the river bed you can get a better sense of it’s size, plus learning the history, how the Egyptian leader Nasser built it to end the flooding of the Nile River and to bring more electric power to Egypt.
Birdwatch around the Cataract Islands | Checking out the Cataract Islands by boat is the best way to take in the dozens of local birds plus the pretty greenery while getting a breeze from the Nile.
There are a few other things to do outside the city proper like traveling through the Esna Lock or going around the Elephantine Island. But I would make sure before you visit you check on the temperature as it is often over 100°F in this city.
Which of these things wold you want to do in Aswan?