Sailing along the River Nile at Aswan in Southern Egypt

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.


view of part of Aswan Old Dam, Egypt


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).

The ferry boat to Philae Temple at Aswan.

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.
Philae Temple - Temple of Isis - Egypt. Aswan - Philae Island - Vestibule of Nectanebo. Hathor at Philae Temple, Aswan, Egypt. Philae Temple Eastern Collonade - Aswan. Western Collonade Capitals at Philae Temple near Aswan, Egypt.
Philae Temple's Western Collonade (Aswan).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.
Beautiful Capitals at the Western Collonade at Philae Temple, Aswan. The First Pylon at Philae Island, Aswan. Isis Temple Carving - Aswan, Egypt. Isis Birth House - Philae Island near Aswan. The Second Pylon at Philae Temple complex - Aswan, Egypt.
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.
Collonades at the Temple of Isis, Aswan. 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.
Temple wall reliefs - Philae Temple Philae Temple forecourt collonades - Aswan. The Temple of Augustus at Philae Temple near Aswan. Philae Temple (Aswan) - Temple of Hathor Kiosk of Trajan at Philae Temple near Aswan, Egypt.

The Unfinished Obelisk at Aswan in Egypt.

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.

Wandering around Fatmid Cemetery in Aswan.

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.

The Fatmid Cemetery - Aswan, Egypt. Egypt, Aswan - Fatmid Cemetery Fatmid Cemetery Aswan - Fatmid Cemetery Aswan - Egypt - Fatmid Cemetery

Local ferry port at Elephantine Island, River Nile, Aswan

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.
Nice Nubian pots seen on Elephantine Island, Egypt Elephantine Island Nubian houses outside of Aswan, Egypt. Elephantine Island Aswan - The Temple of Khnum. Ruined town of Yebu - Aswan, Egypt. Aswan Nilometer, Egypt.

One end of Kitchener's Island, Aswan.

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 island.*** 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.
Kitcheners Island is packed with a huge variety of flora. Lots of birds live on Kitchener's Island, Aswan, Egypt. Different species of trees everywhere on Kitcheners Island in Egypt. Botanical Island - Island of Plants at Aswan Beautifully laid out Kitcheners Island - The Nile, Aswan
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.

The Old Cataract Hotel at Aswan, Egypt.

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.
Swirling River Nile - First Cataract - Aswan

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.
View from Sehel Island over Aswan Colourful Sehel Island Nubian houses Nubian village of Sehel - Aswan Sehel Island - River Nile - Aswan View from Sehel Island of the First Cataract - Egypt

Camels waiting for tourists at Min Gharb, Aswan View of colourful Min Gharb village near Aswan, Egypt. The Nile seen from above Min Gharb village near Aswan

Aswan in Egypt and looking round The River Nile on the West Bank.

There are quite a few bits and pieces to look at on the West Bank. You can easily reach the West Bank by local ferry (6am to 11pm) which costs around 1LE and leaves around every 30 minutes from the railway station end of the Corniche El Nile and goes over to Min Gharb:

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. Tombs of the Nobles with the Qubbet el-Hawa above - Aswan.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.
Tombs of the Nobles - Aswan, Egypt Inside one of the tombs at Aswan Just a few beautiful drawings remain now at Aswan Tombs of the Nobles. Aswan Egypt - The Tombs of the Nobles. Other old structures near to Aswan's Tombs of the Nobles
Aswan Egypt - the Aga Khan Mausoleum

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

visit 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).

Moni of St. Simeon at Aswan, Egypt.

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.
The Coptic Monastery of St. Simeon, Aswan. Interesting ruins to look at - Deir Anba Samaan, Aswan Stone beds used by monks at Moni of St. Simeon, Aswan The refectory inside the Moni of St. Simeon, Aswan. Built like a fortress - Moni of St. Simeon outside of Aswan.
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