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Aswan and its High Dam

Aswan Travel Blog

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We had docked during the night in Kom Ombo and Ossama had scheduled a wake-up call for 6:00 in anticipation of a 7:00 departure for a tour of the temple there.  However, we were starting to drag so, along with many others, told him we’d be sleeping in and cancelled the wake-up call.  Consequently, the ship was already underway when we awoke at 9:30.  We’d been told that if we slept late and missed breakfast, we could have a continental breakfast in the lounge. When we arrived, Karl and Gisela were already there and had been told we could have any breakfast we wanted.  Cool!

The Nile is much narrower near Aswan as is the band of vegetation along each shore.

  It was noon when we approached the city.  There were many boats crowded along the shore and a lot of activity as boats arranged themselves.  Several pulled away to make room for us at the dock and then tied up outside of us.  My assumption is that they wanted to be able to leave before us with minimal fuss. I would have like to have watched the whole operation but needed to get changed for lunch since we were heading out thereafter.

This was the first time we headed out after lunch and it was HOT!  Our first stop was at a granite quarry to see the unfinished obelisk.  Since it was so incredibly hot, we spent very little time there but we did visit a nice bookshop to buy a book recommended by Ossama.

Next we drove across the (older) Aswan and then the (newer) High Dam.

I distinctly remember the worldwide furor caused by the building of this monster in the mid-sixties. The fact that it destroyed countless archeological sites and displaced hundreds of thousands of Nubians made it a hot topic indeed.  We stopped at the center of the dam for some pictures, then headed back towards Aswan.. 

Next stop was Philae temple.  This temple once stood upon the island of Philae, which was covered by the waters of Lake Nasser created by the High Dam.  It was moved by UNESCO, stone by stone to its new home on the nearby island of Agilkia.

  The main temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis, her husband, Osiris and her son, Horus.  Getting to the island is a bit of a treat.  From a parking lot, the people proceed down a crowded ramp to the waters of the lake.  Along the ramp are ranged countless boats with people all clamoring for passengers.  Has we been alone, I’d have been hopelessly confused but Ossama quickly had us all situated in a boat and we were off.  I must say I was amazed that, though the boatmen were apparently competing for passengers, they seemed to collaborate effectively in getting them loaded. The temple was great, of course, but we’ve come to expect that!  As always, we had time to ourselves after Ossama’s narration was complete.

Upon leaving Philae, we experienced the most aggressive attacks by people trying to separate us from our money.

  While we’d gotten pretty used to “running the gauntlet” of hawkers between attraction and bus, most could be eventually discouraged by repeated cried of “La’, shokran” (“No, Thank you”).  At Philae, they were relentless and several of them surrounded octogenarians Curt and Phyllis, totally terrorizing them to the point of even grabbing their arms!  I waded in with my cries of “La’, Shokran and physically wedged myself between these guys and our friends.  Eventually they backed away but it really was unpleasant.

On the way back from Philae, Ossama asked whether some people were interested in stopping at a fragrance shop.  Those who were not were returned to the ship while the rest of us first saw a demonstration of the blowing of some very delicate flasks, then heard an explanation of the extracts available for sale.  Touristy, yes, but interesting.

Dinner was veal scaloppini and it was outstanding. At 9 we were hustled upstairs for a show but by the time we got there it had already started. A dervish was spinning in a way that would make anyone sick and he did it for a loooong time.  He was really spectacular.  The belly dancer was less so but still entertaining and she dragged Lin and me onto the floor to make fools of ourselves.

A group of us drank and danced in the lounge for a while but then were asked to move to the top deck where the music would not disturb the cabins.  We ended up quitting some time after 11.
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The unfinished obelisk
The unfinished obelisk
First cataract of the Nile
First cataract of the Nile
Us on Aswan High Dam
Us on Aswan High Dam
Gisala and Karl on the High Dam; L…
Gisala and Karl on the High Dam; …
Getting the boat to Philae Temple
Getting the boat to Philae Temple
Enroute to Philae Temple
Enroute to Philae Temple
Enroute to Philae Temple
Enroute to Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Aswan
photo by: Vikram