By now you might be sick of all these “throwback” nostalgia I’m writing about, 10 years this, and 10 years that.
Thankfully, there’s some new material as I had missed Aswan the last time I was here. Therefore it would be our first stop outside of Cairo after taking the 7:45pm overnight sleeper train from Cairo that I had booked ahead via Watania.
After a bender last night, we still got in at least full 8 hours in of sleep before waking up to a beautiful southern Egyptian morning.
We arrived the next morning at 9:25am in Aswan, the smallest of the three major tourist cities (Cairo and Luxor being the other two) on the Nile.
The furthest south of the three, it boasts a large population of Nubians that resettled from their homeland that had been flooded by Lake Nasser, as well as being the ancient Egyptians’ gateway to the rest Africa. Aswan is also home to many granite quarries from which most of the obelisks that we’ll see in Luxor were sourced.
We arranged cabs from our guesthouse to pick us up outside the train station . . .
. . . and took the ferry (5 EGP) over to Elephantine Island for our lodgings at El-Amin Guesthouse:
After lunch at the hostel, we then booked a private ferry on the Nile for the West Bank at the Tombs of the Nobles (60 EGP):
Rock-hewn tombs of princes from the Old Kingdom to the Roman period dot along the northern hills of the West Bank.
The 6th Dynasty tombs are decorated with hieroglyphic biographical texts, wall paintings of everyday life, and inscribed stories describiing the noblemen’s journeys into Africa.
The LE60 ticket gives you access to the Tombs of Mekhu & Sabni (which reliefs show the invasion of Nubia):
…and the Tomb of Sarenput II (one of the most beautiful and well preserved) on the left side coming up the hill, as well as the Tomb of Sarenput I on the right side:
All of which will need the key holder waiting for you when you come up.
We had a swimmingly fine time, you might get hassled by the key holder nonetheless (you probably have to pay him a fee for taking photos). We went in a group to make sure we could take some pictures when the key holder was busy, especially in the Tomb of Sarenput II., but I figured our group was so massive he gave up caring.
On the right side there is also a tomb with a bat colony at the far end, if you bring a flashlight. I’M BATMAN.
Climb a steep hill up 10 minutes to reach Kubbet el-Hawa, aka “Dome of the Wind”, a small shrine and tomb for a local sheikh and holy man overlooking an amazing view of Aswan and the Nile river.
3km away you can walk or take camels (you’re supposed to haggle them down to 50 EGP) to the Monastery of St Simeon (40 EGP), which 300 monks and up to 100 pilgrims at a time once called home.
We took the quick way and took our private ferry over 10 minutes to reach the dock for the Monastery.
There’s a point where you can see the effects of water on human civilization:
There is supposed to be an official entrance where you pay for tickets, but we gave up and climbed over a wall.
We then returned to the East Bank, where we started our walk at Feryal Garden.
Then we stopped in at the very modern Archangel Michael’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral:
And keeping to the tradition of entering illegally and exit legally, we did the very same at the cathedral.
About another 10 minute walk inland you can glimpse the Unfinished Obelisk (60 EGP), the largest known ancient obelisk. Be wary of the guy who demands baksheesh for making you watch an unnecessary movie about obelisks.
We then finished along the corniche by sunset before returning back to El-Amin Guesthouse for dinner where we were finally reunited with the final 2 members of our trip: Grace & Kasie!!!
Finally coming together “Aswan!”
….And some things don’t change.
On another note, Chyne just cut his finger with a huge laceration with blood everywhere while I was taking a shower.
Luckily with the timely arrival of Grace and Kasie (both of whom actually work with me at Mount Sinai Brooklyn ER!) we were able to staunch the bleeding and temporarily fix it with a pressure dressing. Still doing my day job on my side hustle (or is it other way around? I can’t tell anymore).
The following photo(s) may be NSFW! (unless you’re working in a medical setting):
Given how deep the laceration is at the joint, we’re sending Chyne off to the East Bank of Aswan right now to get some sutures (as hard as it is to believe, I don’t travel with a laceration kit…but I guess now I have to from now on).
Update: he’s back and totally fine! Got stitched up by a plastic surgeon in the ER and it cost only 200 EGP.
- At time of posting in Aswan, it was 27 °C - Humidity: 28% | Wind Speed: 10km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny