After a back-breaking 16 hour bus ride from Giza (note to self: next time choose the $100 short flight), we finally made it to Aswan. When I booked my tour, it was supposed to be only a 10 hour train ride, but apparently tourists are not currently allowed on the route. Around 6 hours of the drive was added time from checkpoints and required stops.
Aswan is one of the cities I was most excited about visiting, because of my fascination with Nubian culture. It’s located around the first Cataract of the river Nile. The weather here is warm all year and it rarely rains.
Our first site to see in Aswan was the famous High Dam! This is the most well-guarded place in Egypt, a fact we quickly found out when we wandered a bit too far while taking pictures. Oops!
The lotus-shaped tower to the left side stands as a monument of friendship to the Soviet Union, the only country to assist with construction of the dam.
To the south is Lake Nasser, the deepest artificial lake in the world. It was created by the dam, and resulted in many Nubian villages and historical sites being lost underwater.
To the north is the Nile river and the rest of Egypt. If you look far out into the horizon, you can see the low dam that was built by the British in 1902.
After visiting the Dam, we headed to Philae Temple. This island temple is from the Ptolemaic era, and was relocated after its previous island flooded completely. To get to the temple you have to take a boat. Not going to complain about that! The more boat rides in my life the better!
Philae temple is my guide, Ra Moz’s, favorite temple. I have to agree! The island setting makes it stand out, and the carvings are truly gorgeous. I could have easily spent hours here, but unfortunately we only had 2. This is a must-visit when you’re in Egypt!!!
Philae temple is dedicated primarily to the Goddess Isis, and it is thought to have been the last active site of ancient Egyptian religion. Christians used the building later as a church, and their crosses are still visible. Though the building was used as a religious center for centuries, it is currently forbidden to pray here.
After Philae temple, we headed back to the city to get some lunch and explore a bit. Most of the tour stayed at the hotel for a buffet, but Laura, Milica, and I couldn’t resist heading into the city for some local food. After asking several locals, we found an excellent street food place and accidentally ordered a feast. I have no idea what this food is called, but it was delicious. The whole spread cost 280 EGP (or around $15)
Later than night, we headed out by boat to visit a traditional Nubian village. Originally, we were supposed to be on the river at sunset, but unfortunately we were running late. The boat was absolutely freezing, and I wished (yet again) that I had brought a blanket to Egypt. Cold, desert nights are no joke!
The Nubian people have their own distinct language and culture from the Egyptians. It was very interesting to get to hang out with a family and learn a bit more about them.
Overall, Aswan was absolutely incredible! Next Stop on the tour: Abu Simbel.