Updated: Oct 15
Aswan, Egypt - a jewel on the Nile!
The Nile river flows north from east-central Africa through Egypt, to the Mediterranean, making it the longest river in the world at 4,100 miles long. In an effort to bring devastating floods to an end, The Aswan High Dam was completed in 1968 under the rule of Egyptian president Gamel Abd Nasser. The Aswan High Dam serves the irrigation needs of Egypt and Sudan, controls flooding, generates power and helps in improving navigation across the Nile. Now, former flood lands are green fields year-round.
I chose to stay at an airbnb for this portion of the trip, as I was eager to experience the life of the local Nubians. Each morning I would trek 5 kilometres from my apartment to the corniche. Once I reached The Aswan Stadium I knew to head west towards the Nile. The first stop was the juice vendor to enjoy the fresh doum (date) juice. This location was next to a military academy, so the young soldiers would pop in and out for a refreshing beverage before heading back to the academy.
As I approached the Nile I would make the detour to have a walk through the Aswan Old Souk (the marketplace) in search of the Nubian pants (think mc hammer!....stop, hammertime!) that are so comfortable in the 108 degree sun! After some intense bargaining and threats to walk away, a price was agreed upon!
The locals are excited to see foreigners and always reach out to say hello. Maybe it is to lure you in so they can overcharge you for their product, but there is some sincerity also. My wardrobe and Nike backpack indicate that I am not from here, but my Arabic responses always throw them for a loop. Talking with a group of teenage boys that were eating local currants, I tracked down the time and location of the soccer practice for the Aswan club, where I showed up to observe the high level practice session and speak with the coaches, a great experience!
The Old Cataract Hotel is a former palace of Egyptian King Farouk, the view from the promenade is surreal and captures the beauty of the eastern bank of the Nile lined with palm trees, feluccas on the water and the sun setting along the desert sands of the west bank - an amazingly serene experience - especially while the wooden flute whistles your stress away in the background.
The last day in Aswan I took a 3 hour felucca ride, stopping for a tour of the garden island, and also a local beach. Friday is a day of prayer, which made my Saturday stop very entertaining as it was filled with local families enjoying the beach. Kids were chasing each other trying to splash each other with a colored dye from their bottles. A dj was blasting away arabian tunes to a vacant dance floor. kids were taking camel rides along the fine sand dunes. This is where I took advantage of the opportunity reap the health benefits of the nile - rubbing the clean, fine grains of sand over my whole body and cleaning off with a swim in the chilly waters of the Nile!
Each evening on my trek back to the apartment, I would have tea with my Nubian neighbors. They invited me in their primitive accommodation, where I would practice my Arabic and slowly sip on my tea...
Put Aswan on your itinerary when visiting Egypt!