Day 2 – Aswan


At the end of day 1 you will recall I was in Aswan having spent a hectic morning visiting some of the historical sites nearby. Our guide gave us a choice for an two optional tours on day 2, before setting sail that afternoon.

Choice 1 – Up at “dark o’clock” for a three hour coach ride to Abu Simbel, spend two hours on site and then a 3 hour return journey.

Choice 2 – Have a leisurely breakfast, take a slow ride on the River Nile to a Nubian Village and be back in time for lunch.

Guess which one I chose?

River Nile
River Nile at Aswan

On the opposite side of the river to me on top of the hills are these towers. Further down the hill, below them lie the Tombs of Nobles carved into the hillside. At first I thought this was some sort of mausoleum, but apparently it’s an ancient signal tower and they are dotted all along the hilltops on the Nile to signal invaders

Signal Tower
A fire is lit in the tower to serve as a beacon

Off we set on our cruise on the Nile. The ship wasn’t big, but we had it to ourselves, unlike this one that set off just before us..

Nile River Boat
Fully Loaded.

That’s one of the benefits of having a personal guide for the duration of our trip on the Nile. He takes care of everything, arranging transport, entrance fees to historical sites, telling you the history, etc. Sure we pay for it, everything is included in the cost of the cruise, but for me this method took a lot of the hassle out of the trip.

Now this is a mausoleum and it is dedicated to Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, the 3rd Aga Khan, who died in 1957

Aga Khan
Mausoleum of the Aga Khan III

The outer structure was built using pink limestone whilst inside the tomb is of white Carrara marble. Each day a red rose is laid on the tomb following a practice first started by the Aga Khan’s wife Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

You may have noticed that all of the photographs today show clear blue skies. That’s what it was like, not great for photography because any shadows are harsh and with the sun beating down you tend to lose definition and texture in the rocks etc. In essence everything looks rather flat. But it can’t be helped. Ideally I would photograph at sunrise or sunset when the Dynamic Range is much better, but this is the downside of being on an itinerary based trip. You have to photograph there and then. There’s no possibility of going back later to get that amazing shot.

The river Nile gives life, I heard that all the time I was in Egypt. The nearer you are to Aswan and the High Dam the less polluted the river is.

Water Buffalo
The River Nile give life

This is because the dam has a filtration system to stop anything blocking the flow of the turbines which generate electricity.

Here’s an interesting point. Before the dam, this cow would not have been tethered like this at the side of the river. Why? Nile crocodiles. They were prevalent in this area, but the building of the dam stopped the free movement and the existing ones were hunted and either moved south of the dam, or killed for their skins.

People tend to live near the river, where there is a green belt before suddenly becoming desert..

Horse Whisperer
Kids trying to hobble a horse

After a leisurely 45 minute sail I could see the Nubian village just ahead. The camel boys were racing to get to the village. You can have a ride on a camel or perhaps have your photograph taken beside one, for a fee of course… and it doesn’t matter how many times you say NO! there’s always someone who will ask you.

Camel
Tourist camels. You get hassled to take photographs or have a ride

Walk along a street of vendors who will all pressure you to look at their wares. You can say no to the first one to ask, but the next one will ask anyway.

Market
Vendors will call to you.

Personally I found it annoying after a while, because if I’m getting hassled I don’t want to look at their goods, even if I was interested.

Spices
The smell is amazing

Every market has spice vendors, usually more than one. Prices are similar but as usual you have to haggle, it’s all part of the game.

But, that’s not the reason I’m here. My guide has arranged a visit to a Nubian family for me. Now let me say before hand. This Nubian family run what can only be termed as cafe in their house so I’m not alone. But I am going to be able to sample local food and be able to listen to local artist producing traditional music.

Cafe
It’s a cafe and a shop
Coca Cola
Hidden away a coke machine.

Mint tea, Shamsi bread, halva, molasses and some very acidic dip I never caught the name of were served and even although I only had breakfast about two hours before I proceeded to eat a fair amount of it whilst we were there.

Suitable refreshed it was time to take a wander around the village. I was immediately met by the photo squad who wanted me to take their photograph, for a fee of course.

Photograph
You’ll be approached to take their photograph, for a fee of course

At first it was funny but they follow you around and pretty soon the whining voices begin to grate.

However once I moved away from the main street, where the market is, and started to walk around the village they soon dropped off and I was left alone to explore in peace. Whilst walking around I met a few people and as expected all of them were really friendly.

As I wandered around the one thing that struck me was all the buildings were painted a similar shade of blue.

Blue Is The Colour
Every building is painted blue
Domed Roof
The shape of the roof provides air cooling in the hot summer
Blue Door
Every door in the village was blue
Blue Door 2
See what I mean
Blue Windows
Even the windows got the blue treatment
Artwork
Most buildings are painted with artwork
artwork
I love the art and colours here

All to soon it was time to leave, I missed this wall painting on the way up to the village, certainly beats some of the graffiti I see in the streets around my neck of the woods.

Artwork
An amazing wall painting

Our journey back was much faster, we had a boat to catch, but it wasn’t without incident. Our boatman ran out of fuel and we were drifting on the Nile. But not to worry. He called out to another boat, they came alongside and transferred some fuel to him, allowing us to get on our way.

Fuel
Helping each other

Later that afternoon we departed for Kom Ombo where we would be taking a night tour of the temple

River Boat
Time to leave Aswan

Although this is not ours, it’s pretty representative of most Nile cruise ships which ply their trade between Aswan/Luxor/Aswan.

Until next time and Kom Ombo at night – MIke

 

11 thoughts on “Day 2 – Aswan

    1. Having been up the day before at 02:15 to fly down to Aswan from Cairo and as soon as we arrived started visiting sites I just didn’t feel up to another early morning start with a three hour sit on a coach, Nishita.

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