Touring and Sightseeing in and around Aswan, Southern Egypt.
The following trips in Aswan Egypt can be easily acheived in one 3 or 4 hour taxi ride - stopping at Aswan High Dam, The Temple of Philae and ending up at the Obelisk and Fatimid Cemetery back in the city.
Visiting The Aswan High Dam - River Nile/Lake Nasser - Egypt.
Well the thing is it's world famous so you just have to take the 6km trip and stand on it. In truth there is not a lot to
see and even less to photograph. Firstly they of course charge for you to go on it (LE20) then you are only allowed to stop at a couple of 100 yards worth of Visitors Area - go any further
and the guards scream at you. So not much to see in reality but then it is the Aswan High Dam and you have been there. The Older Dam at Aswan looks quite interesting
what with it's brickwork and so on but the road across it is very narrow and there is no stopping unfortunately. You can however get a pretty good view of the Old
Dam if you take the boat trip to Philae Temple (which should certainly not be missed - see below).
Going to visit Philae and the looking at the Temple of Isis in Aswan, Egypt.
This is a really worthwhile trip and easy to do on your own - no need for an organised tour. A taxi will do the trip from the City for around LE60 including waiting and return back to Aswan. Philae is reached by hiring a small boat - these are located in a harbour
near the Old Dam - there are lots of boats waiting to take tourists and you pay for the boat and not per person. You need to negotiate your price for the
trip - how much depends on how busy things are but probably LE80 is enough. The boat waits for you for around an hour and brings you back - do not pay until you get back by the way
. The entrance fee is around LE60.
When the Aswan Low Dam was built in 1902 Philae Island and the Philae Temple complex was often flooded and this became a much bigger problem when the Old Dam
was heightened in the early 1900s and again in the early 1930s. Much of the Isis temple's reliefs were washed away and the temple complex became heavily silted
up. In 1960 in conjunction with UNESCO the Egyptians decided that the whole temple complex should be dismantled and re-instated on nearby Agilkia Island. This was landscaped to match the original site and has been beautifully done and looks most impressive as you approach in by water.
The steps from the landing stage lead past the Kiosk of Nectanebo II which dates from the 4th century BC. From here the long courtyard is flanked by colonnades with beautiful uniquely
caved Capitals - the carving on the Western Colonnade are in particularly good condition. The Temple of Isis. The First Pylon was built by Neos Dionysos and
shows reliefs of him being watched over by Isis, Horus and Hathos. The First Pylon into the temple of Isis was originally flanked by two obelisks but these
have disappeared over time and today's pylon is simply guarded by two lions.
Inside the forecourt the Birth house of Ptolemy IV is on the left - there are beautiful reliefs of Horus rising from the marshes. This courtyard then leads to the Second Pylon and the Hypostyle Hall and on into the Sanctuary. At the north end of the island are the ruins of the Temple of
Augustus and Gate of Diocletian - originally on Philae Island these shared the site with a mud brick Roman Village but this could not be moved and has been
lost to the Lake. Outside the main temple is the small Temple of Hathor but little of it remains - perhaps more eye-catching is the roof-less Kiosk of Trajan which overlooks the lake - it has beautifully carved pillars and shows Emperor Trajan making offerings to Isis and to Osiris.
Looking at the Unfinished Obelisk and then the interesting Fatmid Cemetery at Aswan, Egypt.
One of the pre-planned list of places to visit whilst staying in Aswan, this in our view was something of a waste of time. The Obelisk is
situated on the southern edge of Aswan at the Northern Quarries and we got our taxi driver to drop us off there on the way back from visiting the High Dam. The entrance fee is LE30 - you
trog across some open ground and then follow a man-made rocky path in and around a stone quarry (it's not very far) to arrive at this huge obelisk - it is just
lying almost horizontally and has few features - this because it was "unfinished" due to cracking. The obelisk is carved out of granite and if
completed would have been about 120 feet tall making it easily the largest ancient Egyptian obelisk ever erected.
Looking round Fatimid Cemetery at Aswan, Egypt.
Fatimid Cemetery is situated on the opposite side of the road to the Obelisk and is a particularly interesting place to visit. In fact if you wander through it you will end up on the main road into Aswan City and the Nile - just a further few minutes walk away.
The cemetery is always open and there are no entrance fees of course - what you will see are lots of mud built Islamic Tombs dating between the 8th and 12th Century although there are also more modern tombs too.
Looking round Elephantine Island, River Nile at Aswan in Egypt.
You can get to the Island by local ferry for just LE1 and don't be co-erced into paying more than that let
alone take up the offer of a "private" boat - also they don't like giving change at the ferry desk. There are two Nubian villages on the island which you can
wander around though in truth it is all pretty scruffy with lots of rubbish lying around. Perhaps the best part of the island to visit is the Temple of Khnum situated within
an archaeological site containing the ancient ruined town of Yebu and where there is also a Nilometer. Entrance fee is LE30 - this allows you to visit the
small but interesting museum, have a sit in some nice small gardens and of course entrance to the archaeological site.
Visiting the excellent Kitchener's Island in the middle of the River Nile at Aswan, Egypt.
(Island of Plants or Geziret an-Nabatat) - the island is one quite large botanical garden - there is a ferry but this only
tends to cross when there are enough passengers otherwise you need to hire a small boat to take you to the entrance and wait for you at the other end of the
Entrance fee is LE10 and the gardens are open from sunrise to sunset - Fridays are best avoided as the area is very busy on that day. There is a cafe, souvenir shops and toilets. The area is laid out with paths
and quite peaceful apart from the irritating "gardeners" who keep trying to get money from you by picking various herb leafs and wanting you to guess what they are.
The island was originally given to Lord Kitchener as a reward for his actions during the Sudan War in the late 19th century.***We decided to hire a small boat for a trip along
the Nile to Sehel Island and included stopping here as part of it.
Local Boat Trips on The River Nile at Aswan Egypt.
The River Nile is beautiful around this area of Aswan - lots of wildlife, small boats and felucca everywhere, fish jumping and lovely vegetation. From a boat you can get excellent views of the (currently in a run down state) Old Cataract Hotel -
famous for being where Agatha Christie wrote Death on The Nile.
One good way of enjoying all this is take a felucca trip for a few hours - just meandering around the small Nile islands under sail is an excellent past-time - charge is around LE60 an hour or so.
Visiting Sehel Island at Aswan in Southern Egypt.
This is situated a few kms up river (south) of Aswan and on the trip to the village is where you can get great views of the
1st Cataract. Sehel itself is Nubian - there is a school there as well as the Nubian village and more views of the 1st Cataract of course.
Our small boat was initially hired for LE70 which was for the trip to Sehel
Island and back. However once finished looking round the village we decided we would go to Kitchener's Island where the boatman dropped us off and waited and hour or so. We then got him to take us on to Elephantine Island where our trip with him ended.
Touring the Tombs of the Nobles at Aswan, Egypt.
Entrance fee for the Tombs area is LE35 and the Ticket Office is along the path from the Aswan Min Gharb village ferry landing
on the left.
You will be bombarded by locals offering to hire a camel ride to the steps leading to the Tombs and then out across the desert to the Monastery
and Mausoleum. However if the intention is simply going to see the Tombs these are quite easily reached on foot as only a short distance from the ferry landing area - there are quite steep steps for the final walk
up to the Tombs. Once up the steps there are no signs but certainly another "guide".
However just go left to reach the tombs which are numbered but not named. The "guides" will still be around and offer to let you into the tombs however you have payed so just be
insistent that the doors are unlocked and don't pay any more money to them. The tombs are not ever so impressive (nothing remotely like those in Luxor) which is
probably why not too many tourists bother to go in the first place - but there are a few reliefs and so on to look at. Once finished looking around return to
the top of the steps and go straight on - you will find a small church and other old structures to look at. If you intend going no further then it's just back to the steps and down to the ferry.
Looking round Qubbet el-Hawa in Aswan, Egypt.
However before going back to the ferry you could go and have a steep climb on up the slope to take a look at the Qubbet el-Hawa shrine sat above the Tombs - this is visible from just about anywhere in Aswan so of course fairly essential to
visit. The name means Tomb of the Wind and it's a hilltop Muslim shrine - the views over Aswan are very good and you also get a glimpse of the Monastery and
also of the Aga Khan Mausoleum** - plus lots fresh air too. From here you can simply return to the ferry the way you came however you may decide to
the Moni of St Simeon at Aswan.
If you have hired a camel ride for this then that's all sorted already however it is perfectly possible and quite easy to walk there and
back. **The Mausoleum - which is not open to the public so you can only look from the outside - is for Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III who died on the 11th July 1957).
Visiting Monastery of St. Simeon (Deir Anba Samaan)in Southern Egypt.
The Coptic Monastery of St. Simeon is located around 4kms across the desert and is a reasonable walk mostly on a clear
wide path however the final part involves a steep climb down and then back up through soft sand.
The Monastery looks from the outside like a huge fortress - it was originally founded in the 7th Century and then re-built in the 10th Century.
The monastery is open from 0800 to 1600 daily. There are lots of ruins and various rooms to look at - the monastery could house 300 monks who slept on stone beds at 5 to a cell.
- These are some of our items about Egypt which may be of interest:
- Aswan Touring and Holiday Guide and Photos
- Visiting The southern Nile City of Aswan in Egypt - travelling to Aswan, hotels, restaurants, markets, things to do.
- Cairo Holiday, Sightseeing and Photos Guide
- About visiting Cairo, the airport, taxis, getting around, sightseeing, staying alive on the roads, eating in Cairo.
- Luxor Egypt Holiday and Sightseeing Guide and Photos
- Luxor is the starting point to see some of the world's most amazing archaeological sites and lots to see.
- Egypt touring and travel guides and Photos Our Home Page - shows all of our topics about Egypt.
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