Despite being part of Egypt, Nubia is quite a unique region that feels like a different country. It embraces the cities of Aswan and Luxor, and the people there have their traditions, language, and even culture. Aswan is one of the most highly visited Egyptian cities every year, and people call it the Land of Gold.
The naming is due to the fact of having several Pharaohs buried there. Ancient Egyptians thought gold wasn’t just a fascinatingly valuable element; they believed it was what gods’ flesh was made of. As a sign of respecting and honouring their rulers, they buried their Pharaohs in sarcophagi with golden embellishments.
There are several reasons that will encourage you to visit this spectacular city. Its weather is warm all year round, offering fascinating views you wouldn’t want to miss. Aswan sits at the far end of South Egypt, lying on the Nile River’s east bank. It also meets the borders of Sudan, explaining why people in Aswan so much resemble the Sudanese in features, costumes, and language.
Your Travel Guide to Aswan
Aswan is rich in history, nature, culture, and fun. There is so much you can do in this distinguished city that combines modern and ancient civilisations. Here’s how to have the perfect trip to Aswan:
1. Go Felucca Sailing
Wherever the Nile River courses, there’s always a higher chance of spotting a felucca. The latter is a wooden sailboat and has been a fixture on the Nile for centuries. Years back, this sailing vessel used to cruise across the Mediterranean region, especially in Sudan and Tunisia, but now it’s more commonly known as an Egyptian icon.
Aswan is one of the fantastic cities in Egypt worth boarding a felucca and cruising around its lands. Egyptians are naturally amusing and friendly; you’ll find them dancing and singing their worries away while sailing through the Nile. Meanwhile, you’ll be sightseeing colourful houses and picturesque views of the vibrant desert life overlooking the magnificent river.
2. Take a Look at the Nubian Village
Aswan is one of those splendid spots where you can snap Instagrammable photos and have plenty of likes buzzing on your phone. The culture around here is deemed distinctive even from the rest of Egypt, displaying unique traditions and customs. Aswan embraces its fascinating Nubian Village, where clay mud was used to create colourful buildings.
This place is like a cultural centre for Nubia. People here take pride in their heritage, displaying Egyptian souvenirs and unique handmade crafts. You’ll also find people dancing around, creating a vibrant vibe and singing in their language. It’s a great place to purchase mementoes, take amazing photos, and get to know a brand-new culture.
3. Experience the Stillness of Nature
Aswan offers some picturesque views that you cannot miss. It features several elements of nature, combining vast deserts with lush trees and a coursing river throughout the city. Egypt is naturally a bustling country that never sleeps, yet Aswan is a different story. It’s home to magnificent panoramas where you can watch the beautiful sunset in utter serenity.
Moreover, life around here isn’t as quiet as if you’ve reached the land of the dead. People still have their entertaining activities, dancing and singing their hearts out. Still, you’ll get to spend some time away from the fast-paced urban, enjoy their unrivalled kebab meals, and immerse yourself in their peacefulness.
4. Explore the Desert Life on Camels
Aswan sits where the borders of the Eastern Desert and Western Desert meet. It’s one of Egypt’s hottest cities; the climate is dry all year round. Generally, Aswan is a desert through which the Nile River courses, making it even more enjoyable. Among the significant activities to do around this magnificent city is to go on an adventurous camel riding experience.
Camels are potent symbols of deserts. They’ve always been signifying a prominent part of Arab culture and continue to be. Egyptians don’t ride a camel as a method of transportation in the cities, but in some rural areas, camels are abundant. They’re primarily used for tourism purposes; thus, you should take advantage of them and go through this unique experience. Meanwhile, you will get to watch some scenic views from a higher point of view.
5. Bargain at the Vibrant Marketplaces
The marketplaces in Aswan are a pure representation of the local life and traditions. Besides, they’re deemed as one of the cheapest markets around Egypt, offering Egyptian and African goods. You’ll find a couple of things that you’ll certainly like to take back home as mementoes or even souvenirs for your friends.
The market areas are known to be vibrant and lively districts. Bargaining is also a common custom, so don’t hesitate to negotiate an item’s price if you think it can cost less. Nubian people are extremely friendly and welcoming; they most certainly accept offers and treat their customers with great respect. Their friendliness is a great trait that you’ll find yourself admiring.
6. Explore the Ancient Monuments
Aswan may be home to scenic views around the Nile and the beautiful serene desert, but it’s more than that. This spot happens to be the final resting place of Nubian pharaohs, implying that a lot had happened around here. It embraces a wide variety of ancient monuments that speak of rich history.
Monuments like the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan and the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral are among the unmissable destinations. All of which are ancient landmarks that go centuries back. However, there’s also the Egyptian Russian Friendship Monument, which is deemed a bit modern. All of these great attractions to visit, and we still haven’t even mentioned the Tombs of the Nobles, the most ancient among them all.
7. Visit Elephantine Island
Elephantine Island is a renowned landmark in Upper Egypt that spans along the Nile River, where a part is in Aswan. This site is declared a UNESCO Heritage Site, one of the most ancient places. It was considered a sacred spot for Ancient Egyptians, who believed that the God of the Cataracts, Khnum, lodged on the island, controlling the Nile’s water throughout the year.
The island embraces more than a few archaeological sites and ancient ruins, where you can unfold layers of rich history and a fascinating past. Exploring the island is absolute bliss. The ambience is unique; besides, you will discover new stunning views while getting to learn about Ancient Egyptian history.
8. Don’t Miss the Temples
Historical monuments are plentiful around here, but nothing can beat the abundance of temples standing firm and tall for centuries. Abu Simbel Temple is the oldest of all temples, and it lies near the borders of Sudan. Philae Temple is another ancient monument dedicated to the Egyptian Goddess, Isis, and it’s worth a visit.
Temples around here are copious, yet each of them presents different layers of history and unravels great stories to tell. Kom Ombo and Edfu temples are among the unmissable temples. They offer amazing views featuring the Nile River and have a unique appeal to them. We also recommend you visit the Temple of Khnum while unravelling the secrets of Egypt’s history.
9. Find Your Way to St. Simeon Monastery
Among the significant reasons you should visit Aswan is that it’s also home to a colossal fortress dating back to the 7th century. Coptic monks had arrived and established this mansion-like monastery, seeking a serene spot suitable for worshipping. The monastery is currently a hot tourist destination that captures the attention of people from all over the globe.
The ways you can reach this iconic landmark are rather interesting. Ferries are available to take you to the Nobles Tombs, then you can ride a camel or donkey all the way there, which can be an exhilarating experience if you’ve never done that. Don’t miss booking your spot on one of the tours to the monastery and spend your day exploring fascinating ruins and discovering history.
10. Head to the Valley of the Nobles (The Theban Necropolis)
The Land of Gold is another name that Aswan goes by. This name comes from the fact that it is the final resting place of many pharaohs. The tombs of these noble figures are present in what is known as the Valley of the Nobles, or the Theban Necropolis. Hundreds of gold-covered graves span the Nile River’s west bank.
A rocky mountain houses the graveyard, with its walls having plentiful carvings and inscriptions narrating the life stories of the tombs’ inhabitants. This spot is considered a hidden gem that doesn’t receive the needed hype it deserves, yet it’s one of the elements that makes it even more enchanting.
What more reasons do you need to pack up and embark on this exhilarating journey? Aswan is an all-around Egyptian spot that offers thick pages of history, irresistible sceneries, mouthwatering food, and unique culture. All elements will take you on an exciting rollercoaster that you’ll want to return to as soon as you leave.