Aswan Things to Do Tips by June.b
Aswan Things to Do: 315 reviews and 687 photos
our boat approaching the temple
Just like the Abu Simbel temples, the Temple of Isis in Philae island was dismantled, chopped into pieces, moved and re-assembled to it's present location at Agilika island, some 550 meters from it's original location.
This is due to the continuing water overflow caused by the construction of Aswan high dam. The water goes up to 2/3rds of the temple that a team under UNESCO collaborated to move/save it from deterioration during the 60s and 70s.
This trip is a part of the private car tour I booked with my hotel in Aswan, cost EGP70 for the transport for 3 sights. Going to Philae Temple means you have to book a tour or hire a taxi that will take you to the lake where the entrance is -- not the entrance of the temple itself, but the entrance to the lake, then hire a boat there, and if you're alone like I was I have to hire the whole boat or if you're in a group, then split the cost of the boat trip --- to Agilika Island where the temple is. The boat cost for 1 whole return trip one person only is EGP50 (because I was alone), group would mean splitting the cost, cheaper than single passenger of course, most probably about 10 each depends on the number of passengers as you hire the whole boat. If you're alone, haggle for the cost but the least is 50.
The boat trip is about 10 - 15 minutes and the approach to the temple is nice. The boatman will be waiting for you at the small landing in the island.
For things to see on the island and photos of course, please check my Philae page.
If you're not that really interested to see a local village and their daily life, I would not really recommend it as on the top list to see in Aswan. In fact, I did not go there, some people I know did, I just watched it from my felucca sail. If you're in a tipping mood - go - but a visit to the village might turn out either enjoyable or you might end up thinking it's a tourist trap.
You can get a henna tattoo from the village women at a price (or baksheesh) which by the way, check if you ahve allergies with hennas, as you might end up scratching your tattood skin for several days.
You'll get to walk around the village, watch their daily lives, enter their colourful houses (get permission of course, but normally they will invite you), drink tea, partake with their shisha --- and of course, will be lured inside some souvenir shops.
I've seen two Nubian villages, one in the westbank side of Aswan centre, and the other one near the Agilika Island when I took the Philae Temple trip. Oh no, not 2, I saw several once I remembered when I took the train trip from Luxor to Aswan, the train passed by several Nubian villages along the way. (See photos). The houses are colourful, mostly in shades of yellow and blues.
Address: Aswan, Egypt
The Sharia as-Souq or Aswan Market or Tourism Market, it's all one and the same.
The souq or market area is a large area and in a long street. This should be on my Shopping Tip but well, the place is also a sight to see - either you buy something or you don't. It's colorful, you'll enjoy the sights, the sounds, the smell, the people, the stuff on sale - clothing, beddings, souvernirs like papyrus, statuettes, jewelries, talismans, nubian handicrafts, swords, masks, henna, perfumes, bread, food, fruits, vegetables, spices especially those attrative dark red karkadeh.
People said this is the most charming souq in Egypt - maybe - because of the lack of high-pressure selling prevalent in other souqs in Egypt, like in Luxor and Cairo. And I think the stuff here are better value and quality.
Best time to go is late afternoon, the atmosphere is quite different, like a flea market of sort, and of course it's colder as the night starts to fall.
Don't start to bargain if you're not planning to buy a thing at one shop or another, and if you won't - learn to say No in a polite way. Or if you're just wandering around the souq and not buying anything and shop people approach you and offer you their wares - just say "La Shukran" (no, thanks...) either with a smile or just not looking, but don't be rude... and they'll leave you alone.
Address: Sharia as-Souq, Aswan, Egypt
If there's nothing left to do in Aswan, take a leisure long stroll along the Nile Street - the cornische road. It's their promenade, you can even start your orientation of Aswan by strolling along here before heading onto any sightseeings, just to have a glimpse or get an overview of life in Aswan. Many local people walk along this promenade everyday and more during the early part of the night, in fact when I'm not walking down there, I'm watching the people from up there in my room on the 4th or 5th floor of Memnon Hotel just before retiring to bed.
There are a lot of stuff to see along the corniche, restaurants that offer a nice Nile river view line up the cornische and that include american fastfoods like KFC and McDonalds. There is also a small garden/park just before you reach McDo.
Start walking from the entrance of the Firyal Garden and end up past the McDonalds. Just soak up in the sights, watch the feluccas, the massive luxury ferries anchored at the banks waiting for their passengers - they sail between Aswan and Luxor - and when you get tired, dine in at one of the restos or sip a cup of hot tea or arabic coffee at one of the cafes. Plus of course get bothered by the felucca guys who will definitely approach you offering their felucca sails.
And as the sun starts to go down slowly and hide behind the sandy desert hills of the westbank, it seizes the Nile river scene in a perfect picturesque-orange-y moment... very dramatic indeed.
Address: Nile Street, Aswan, Egypt
It's the small park at the end of the Nile Street.
I passed by this garden on my first day on the way to the museum, it's Archangel Michael's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral. The day I took a full day's private car tour I availed from the hotel for EGP70, I ommitted the Unfinished Obelisk from the itinerary the last minute instead when we're about to reach the hotel, I spotted the garden again and told the driver to drop me off at the entrance and that he can leave, I'll just walk back to the hotel -- won't be more than 15-minute walk.
Entry fee to the Firyal Garden is EGP5.
The main feature of the garden/park is the panorama deck up on the edge of the Nile river. It command a breath-taking full view of the Nile river, the garden at your back, and both sides the river and infront of you in a distance is the westbank's desert with all of it's sights.
Familes, couples, children, just sit there on the grass or the benches having picnics. There's a snack kiosk, tiolets, playground for the kids, water fountain, and some rare trees and plants, some of them even have labels with its scientific names.
It was late afternoon so I just lay down on the grass and rest.
Address: Nile Street, Aswan, Egypt
the felucca captain up the pole
My last day in Aswan, I was thinking of going to the westbank or Elephantine Island, but I was tired and lazy and I just want to sit or relax, my legs are already complaining from the tiring trips to Philae, walks along the Nile street to Nubian Museum, the Abu Simbel trip during the previous days.
So I thought about, well, a felucca sail would be nice, just to experience it, though I'm not really a huge fan of sailing. Besides I felt sympathetic to the plight of the felucca owners who kept bothering me - one even approched me maybe 4 times in 2 days and followed me for minutes distressed about the lack of tourists and business - so I gave in. But of course I bargained hard at EGP20/hour and I said I need only 2 hours, yet I ended up paying 50 -- 10 as a tip, I'm on a tipping mood that day. After all it's not easy to start the felucca boat, climb on the pole to set down the sail.
A Felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat, no noisy motor, just depending on the wind to move around the Nile river.
The felucca captain (alone, no assistant) escorted me to his boat and laid down the wooden thing to connect the pavement where I was standing and the boat - the water in between, so imagine that it's a bit shaky and I have to balance myself. We sailed around and along the Nile - me and the captain, I was on the front deck lying most of the time on my back just watching both sides and the blue sky above. It was quiet, calm and I just take in all the sights along the baks of the Nile. We passed by the sights on the banck of the westbank but I'm not really in the mood of getting off the boat when the donkey or camel guy on the other side offered a ride to the sights on the westbank. I told the captain that I just want to relax on the felucca and wait for the sun to set down.
Sunset along the Nile while ON the Nile river was an amazing sight, could have been romantic -- except -- I was alone! Still it was relaxing, and a good feeling that I got a rest and likewise a nice feeling that some good soul earned his income for the day...or kinda...
These feluccas also could take you on an overnight trip to Komombo and Edfu, some even all the way to Luxor. Am so lazy to do that though and don't have much luxury in time. Besides a 2 days or 1 day on a felucca means you'll all (normally in groups) sleep inside the covered felucca at night near the bank somewhere as the boat doesn not sail at night, and you will have to use either any bush on the banks for those "call of nature" thing or a any local house known to the felucca captain (or not). Plus the pesky mosquitoes. It must be fun, just not on my plan.
Address: Nile River, Aswan, Egypt
As I was walking along the Nile Street on my first morning on the way to the Nubian Museum, I spotted this huge and very prominent cathedral just beside the nice Ferial Garden and right on the road bend leading to the Nubian Museum.
It's the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Archangel Michael. The cathedral was consecrated on March 2006 by no lesser than HH the Pope, and attended by a lot of bishops from different places and countries that the cathedral overflowed with attendance.
The size of the cathedral indicates a considerable number of coptic christians in Aswan.
Address: Nile Street, Aswan
Directions: Beside the Ferial Garden
Nubian Museum building from the garden outside
Upon exiting the Nubian Museum building, the surroundings which is walled and part of the 50,000 sqm. museum area displays some interesting structures and the Fatimid Cemetery on the other side viewable from the gounds of the museum. (See pics)
In the outdoor exhibition area you'll find a cave with prehistoric drawings of animals on its interiors, there's also a Nubian house, an outdoor theatre for 500 audience, the maqqam of Saida Zeinab and the maqqam of the 77 Walis, place of prayer, Qubat Al-Mukhasal, and several graves - the Fatimid cemetery on the opposite side of the road, and a water canal (minus the water) said to represent the River Nile surrounded by trees, plants, flowers and birds flying around the area, seen some white birds.
Address: Nubian Museum, Aswan, Egypt
Inside the Nubian Museum is a collection of display one scene after another of the daily life of Nubian's detailed in very attractive and interesting diorama.
Don't miss it, it's may be the last one you'll see right before you finish the museum.
It's kinda bizarre as I've seen a similar display only it's a miniature diorama (Turkish) in Konya 2 weeks later.
Address: Nubian Museum, Aswan, Egypt
On my first morning (I arrived late in the evening in Aswan by plane) I immediately decided to visit the International Museum of Nubia (or Nubian Museum for short). International because it was an ambitious project amde possible through the collaboration with UNESCO (multinational team of archeologists and technical people).
I walked from my hotel along the cornishche - Nile street - passing by all the persistent felluca owners. The weather was nice that morning, some cold breeze (until it got really hot near noon) and took me about 20 minutes about 1km and a half or so.
I reached the entrance which is near infront of the Basma Hotel. There are local school children on a museum tour and some tourists already on a queue at the ticket booth.
I paid EGP50 entry fee. The building looks like it's relatively new - well, it was anugurated in 1997. The Museum won the Agha-Khan Award of Architecture 2001.
The Nubian Museum houses a large collection - about 3 thousands pieces of antiquities, from various ages -- Geological, Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic, which are arranged chronologically. It houses the main finds of the UNESCO salvage campaign done at the time of the High Dam contruction which caused flood in the region.
Right at the entrance when you get in you'll be greeted by the huge imposing statue of Ramses II. The artefacts are arranged neatly, in fact, the whole museum looks neat and well maintained (unlike its Cairo counterpart which actually is a lot bigger and more stuff to offer), very orderly and you can easily follow the order of your movements along the way. The artefacts are house in the 3 levels of the building and the vast area outside are landscaped and there are several things also to see around it.
Standing at the garden at the back of the museum, you'll get a nice view of the Fatimid graveyard from a near distance.
The museum offers a lot of articles to see inside and out, so don't miss it when your in Aswan, for sure you can walk to there whenever you'll stay in the city as Aswan is not really a big city.
And by the way, my very first conman was encountered here - a taxi driver! I decided to take a taxi back to the hotel though I can walk again, it was really hot already. I took one of the taxis near the entrance of the museum (don't get a taxi there please!) and we agreed on EGP5 but when I reached the hotel he said it's far when in fact it's walkable so he angrily demanded for 10, we argued for awhile but well, I gave him the 10 and I raised both of my hands in the air like in a state of pray like "God, let this be the only income this scambag will earn this day", (my bad actually :-( ) he knows that gesture and he wanted to return my money but I closed his door and walked away.
Address: Aswan, Egypt
Directions: Near the Basma Hotel
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