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Day 28 - Aswan - Hot and Beautiful

Aswan Travel Blog

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The Nile, where desert meets water. If you're lucky, there might be a little greenery in between

Our train from Cairo arrived in Aswan just before midday.  It was immediately obvious that Cairo and Aswan are poles apart.  Cairo is a huge bustling, dirty, busy metropolis of 14 million people.  Aswan is a small town of about 50,000 people, surrounded by desert on either side but situated bang on the nile, around which everything is green.   The people seem more relaxed and friendly (although they all want to sell you something) and it seemed a lot cleaner. And Damn it was HOT.  It must have been at least 10 degrees hotter than Cairo.

All this holidaying is thirsty work
 

We were taken by minibus to our Hotel for the next 2 nights, the Basma Hotel.  After the 2 nights we’d spent in the Indiana Hotel in Cairo and the night on the train, this place was heaven. Mind you, it was a nice hotel in its own right.  It had a nice big swimming pool and rooms in which all the furnishings and fittings worked!! 

The afternoon was our own to do what we liked, so Michelle and I spent a bit of time wandering around the hotel, went for a swim, got a bite to eat by the pool and just generally relaxed. 

In the late afternoon Michelle, Zoe and I walked down to the river to meet our guide Mahmoud (for some reason we was put up in a different hotel).

A camels eye view of us as we arrived on the west bank
  As tempted as I was to sell the two girls for 50 camels each on the way there, I decided to bide my time and see how many more crude offers I could get from the local men.  The girls were doing a pretty good job at laughing off the jibes and stares from the local men but I imagine that it might eventually get a little tiresome.

Once we’d met Mahmoud he led us to a boat “Captain Sendbad (sic)” and the young skipper motored us slowly across and then up river.  It was amazing how abruptly the desert stopped.  In some cases, running right up to the bank of the nile.  Where they was greenery on the river bank, it would would be dense to a point and then just stop, replaced immediately by parched yellow sands and rock.  The boat ride was taking us up river to our evenings entertainment, a camel ride and a Nubian dinner.

We disembarked onto a sand beach covered in camel sh!t and make our way through the young kids selling postcards and trinkets, to the camels.

They don't look too happy about the idea of carrying us about
  What a smell!!   Michelle, Zoe and I each jumped aboard a camel (Mahmoud, didn’t join us for the camel ride, instead taking the boat further up river to meet us for dinner) and the young Nubian men “tch, tch” ‘ed them into action. Whilst I was anticipating riding quite high, I was still surprised just how high it initially seemed and how quick and awkward the rise was.  Once the camel had its 4 legs underneath it though, it was a relatively smooth ride.  The camel ride took us along the bank of the Nile, to a Nubian village, where we met Mahmoud for dinner.

Our Nubian dinner was actually served to us in a house, not a restaurant.  It was preceded by ice cold hibiscus tea (which was very welcome after the hot and sweaty boat and camel rides) and a chat about the Nubian people and their place in Egyptian history.  When we sat for dinner, we sat on cushions around a couple of small, low tables.

Three Wise ... travellers
  Our host, Zarah, had prepared a large number of dishes (way too much food for the four of us to get through), all of them absolutely delicious.  The vegetable dishes especially, were amazing. We gorged ourselves but still weren’t able to get through half the food laid out for us.

After dinner Michelle and Zoe each picked out a henna pattern they liked and Zarah painted the designs along the back of their hands and along one finger.

On the boat across the river we had asked Mahmoud about crocodiles and whether there were any on the river.  He almost laughed off the question and said that nowadays there were only a handful, introduced by locals who release pets into the waters.  We weren’t sure whether to believe his talk of locals keeping crocodiles as pets but Mahmoud proved his point after dinner.  Before leaving the Nubian home, he took us out the back and showed us a mud walled aquarium (for lack of a better description) with a number of small crocodiles in them.

Check out the huge range of colourful spices available in the Nubian Market
  Nice.  That’d make swimming in the Nile a little bit more of an adventure!!

Dinner was early, we left the Nubian village before sun down as we had an early rise ahead of us.  Mahmoud had requested 3am wake up calls for us all.  Tomorrow we were going to Abu Simbel.

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The Nile, where desert meets water…
The Nile, where desert meets wate…
All this holidaying is thirsty work
All this holidaying is thirsty work
A camels eye view of us as we arri…
A camels eye view of us as we arr…
They dont look too happy about th…
They don't look too happy about t…
Three Wise ... travellers
Three Wise ... travellers
Check out the huge range of colour…
Check out the huge range of colou…
Mishs Henna Art
Mish's Henna Art
Aswan
photo by: Vikram