We arrived in Aswan and went straight to the hotel. The rooms were not ready, so we spent a couple of hours by the pool. I got bored. Everyone tired and wanted to rest, so I arranged a boat trip and camel ride. This was one way to get everyone going again. We met the boat, by the hotel, at 2:30 and crossed the Nile to the Tombs of the Nobles for the start of the camel ride. Due to a misunderstanding the camel ride started at the top of the ridge. We had to walk up and visit the tombs first. Looking at the ridge and the steps I was fearful for Janine. The sun was beating down, 40+ degrees, and then the gentle breeze hit you it was like a blast furnace and ratcheted the temperature up a notch.
The kids started up the steps while I climbed up with Janine. At the top we were met by a guide for the tombs. He was accompanied by the now customary Tourist Police. We were shown through four tombs and were the only ones there. It was great; there were no photo restrictions inside. It was great to see and photograph Alex practicing his passion as an Archaeologist.
Some areas were grilled off. In one of the grilled off areas we were shown some bones in baskets and then the guide moved the light which exposed a large chamber full of baskets. He then removed the grill and pulled out part of a skull for Alex and I to touch. I knew we had hit the spot (with the trip to Egypt) when outside the first tomb Mikayla said "that was cool". In the tombs also lived bats, to Janine's horror and Alex's fascination. Almost at end of the tour, of the tombs, Janine was suffering from heat exhaustion. The guide assisted, by giving Janine a head massage with water. This did the trick and we were able to continue to the camels.
The camels were a highlight. Nice and comfortable to ride when they are walking. It got a lot harder when they ran or went downhill. It was hard to take photos and hold on at the same time. I thought that we were going to have a nice guided walk in the desert, while the real plan was for us hold the reins and the camel drivers walk/run behind. Compared to a horse, you are quite high up on a camel and the saddles had no stirrups. I was more than a little apprehensive, when as soon as I was on; I was thrown the rope and given control. It was like driving, a car, with no instructions and given the wheel, with the car moving,
and told nothing. I was hot just sitting on the camel. It must have been hard on the camels and the drivers who were running along side. The camels were stubborn and noisy, particularly Janine's. They kept banging into each other and trying to push each other around. To keep them moving the drivers were constantly hitting them with sticks. After about an hour, we got to the Monastery of St. Simeon and everyone was tired. We had just gone down a massive sand dune and up a rocky slope. I decided to skip the visit there. The Monastery was in the middle of the desert and the decision caused the drivers to shout (everyone seems to talk loud) amongst themselves. The next minute a Tourist Police officer appeared over the bank. However, there was no issue and we got back on the camels and off to the Nile and the boat. In retrospect we should have done the tour of the monastery and this was something that Janine regrets.
Back on the boat we headed up river, cruising along through the islands and the rocks of the 1st Cataract. We stopped at a beach, with sand dune running right down to the water. I regretted not bringing my togs and going for a swim. The sand is made of particles that are about twice as large is beach sand. We did have a paddle in the Nile. The water was cold. I brought a bottle of water from a local Nubian, as we had run out and were all very thirsty. The bottle disappeared just like that. A lesson learnt to take more than 1 bottle of water. I was impressed at how powerful the Nile was with strong currents and large eddies. At Aswan it looked no wider than the Waikato River; however it is 50m deep. Narrow here but deep and fast flowing. We finished the day with dinner by the pool and an early night.