February 7, 2012
Aswan is one truly gorgeous and extraordinary Nile River town. It is located at the lower end of the first cataract or rapids in the Nile and the site of the old Low Dam and the newer High Dam that store up irrigation water and generate electric power for much of Egypt. Aside from the unique Nubian culture and language, it has fascinating tombs of the nobles dating back to the first intermediate period. It is possible to take camel tours to the tombs or out to the western desert abandoned monastery of St. Simon. Sailing or motoring between the granite rocks is absorbing; it is engaging to imagine that they resemble herds of stony elephants have a drink in the cold deep waters. The still-new Nubian Museum is a must-see opportunity even though they relocated Philae Island Temple is tops on the list of tourism. Nubian villages, with the long and inviting market, are filled with sights, sounds and delightful smells of spices. Another highlight is a quick flight down to Abu Simbel to see the amazing ancient monument to Ramses II and his queen-wife Nefertari. This is made more amazing because of the creation of Lake Nasser meant that the entire mountain needed to be cut away to move the rock-cut temple to higher ground. The remarkable botanical garden built by the British general Kitchener on his way to conquer the Sudan is also fascinating and truly a unique collection of tropical plants. There is so much to see and experience in delightful Aswan. It made departure after a short visit very sad and the wish to return very strong.