Aswan, Abu Sembel and Philae

Trip Start Jun 24, 2005
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Trip End Mar 24, 2008


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Saturday, September 3, 2005

The overnight train to Aswan took 15 hours. The train was heavily guarded with armed soldiers walking up and down all night. Security has been especially high since the recent bombings at Sharm-el-shielk in Eastern Egypt. Tourists in Egypt in general are actually very few right now and just looking around, you can see that the country is suffering because its economy relies so much on tourism.

Aswan is the largest city in Egypt in the South and quite poor. It is famous for the Aswan Dam which is only about 10 minutes away from the city. Most of the people that live in Aswan are Nubian and they are much darker than the Northern Egyptians. It is common for northern Egyptian men to come to the south to buy a Nubian wife because they are often very beautiful with large eyes. In Egypt you can trade camels for women. I know of one Australian girl who's brother bartered 10 camels and 3 chicken wings for her. Of course the transaction did not actually go through.

I stayed in Aswan for 3 days and made day trips to visit the Abu Sembel temple and the Philae temple. My hotel room cost me 25 LE/night which is about $5 CDN.

The Abu Sembel Temple is less visited than most other in Egypt mainly because it is less accessible. It is 4 hours from Aswan and visitors must join a tour for security reasons(no taxis or private hires). All the tour buses meet in the morning at about 4am and are together escorted by an armed convoy. The convoy was a bit of a joke because only the large coaches were able to catch up with it. The mini buses (I was in one) were not able to catch up and were miles behind. The temple itself is very well preserved. It was built by the pharaoh at the time to impress and scare off intruders from the south.

The Philae temple is not nearly in as good a shape because it was underwater after the Aswan Dam was built. With foreign help, it was relocated to a different island above water. The interesting part about this temple is that it was more popular when it was underwater because visitors liked the novel idea of gliding over it on a boat. Now that the temple is above water, visitors are few.
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