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Aswan
© Giuliano Colliva TIPS / age fotostock
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Aswan

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Our Editorial team's advice

Located 547 miles away from Cairo and 140 miles away from Luxor, in a southerly direction, Aswan was built at the height of the first cataract of the Nile. Because of its considerable strategic importance, it once controlled the passage of vessels, opening the way to Nubia and Somalia. Today it is a tourist centre which has kept its charm. The Nubians are smiling and gentle people. The landscape resembles them. You will love the "joie de vivre" of the children who sing and serenade tourists, following the feluccas to the middle of the river in fragile skiffs. And then there's the Nile, a river with a true personality, quiet and soothing, and the smooth and round desert dunes, at arm's reach.
On one of the hills of the city, majestically situated, is one of the last great palaces in the world, the Old Cataract, former royal house converted into a luxury hotel. A legendary address located in a dream setting, opposite the island of Elephantine, where the remains of Egyptian and Greco-Roman temples are imposed on the scenery. The mildness of the evenings is unparalleled, with unforgettable sunsets. You can only succumb to the serenity of this beautiful landscape... An ideal place for relaxation and contemplation.

To see

Stroll the streets of Aswan, visit the Temple of Philae and the unfinished obelisk, the Nubian museum ...

To do

Sail in a felucca, and on the way discover the islands or the left bank of the Nile. Take a walk in the colourful souk. The excursion to Abu Simbel can be made by plane, from Aswan, or by car. On the route to the airport, remember to drop in at the High Dam.

We strongly advise you to see the sound and light show. The one at the temple of Abu Simbel is impressive, but you can also attend those of Karnak and Philae, which are very pretty.

Warning: Be careful not to fall into Lake Nasser, it is still infested with crocodiles.

Advice: The wind blows severely, so remember to protect your camera, and make sure it isn't exposed because the sand could damage it.

pros

  • +  The hospitability of the population
  • +  High quality hotels and a variety of restaurants
  • +  Different means of transport for the discovery of the area : taxis, bicycles, feluccas, carriages, camels, horses
  • +  The beauty of the Elephantine island
  • +  The wild banks of the Nile
  • +  The feluccas ball and the sunsets
  • +  The sand dunes in the desert nearby

cons

  • -  Mövenpick hotel, which disfigures the island of Elephantine
  • -  Constant solicitations from tradespeople, taxis and felucca boatmen

To think about

Remember to protect yourself from the sun with sun protection lotion and be sure to take a hat or a scarf to wear for when you enter the temples ...

To avoid

Try not to visit the temples too late; the sooner, the better ...

To try

You should taste the mezzes (tasty sauces for dipping bread), "foul" (mashed beans seasoned with lemon juice, herbs and olive oil), hoummous (cold mashed chickpeas with oil and sesame paste), stuffed vine leaves, grilled meat, stuffed vegetables, stuffed lamb, brick leaves, watermelon, dates, baklawas, dried apricots ... As for drinks, you can enjoy the karkadé, Egyptian wine or tea with mint ...

To bring back

For souvenirs, you can choose djellabas, tunics, embroidered cotton shirts (cotton is very cheap), sequinned oriental dance costumes, papyrus, Turkish slippers, Bedouin jewellery, boxes encrusted with pearls, sandals, glass and ceramic ware, copperware, perfume bottles, Egyptian music CDs, spices, ashtrays made of alabaster ...
Egypt : Discover the cities
  • Cairo Cairo, Egypt,
  • Alexandria Alexandria
  • Hurghada Hurghada
  • Luxor Luxor
  • Sharm El Sheikh Sharm El Sheikh
  • Dahab Dahab