During an excursion to Aswan, you can see not only the sights of this city and the Aswan Dam, but also the Nubian village and the local botanical garden. An excursion to Aswan usually combined with a visit to another important attraction of Egypt, the Abu Simbel temples, which you read about in our other review.
The dam itself and the hydroelectric power station are not very interesting for tourists. Of course, if you have never seen such a structure, then it can greatly impress you. When you stand on the dam, think that you have a structure 110 meters high under your feet.
Compared to our Krasnoyarsk and Sayano-Shushenskaya HPPs, the Aswan HPP looks modest. And in the rating of the largest hydroelectric power plants, it occupies a very modest 70th place. Of course, an interesting building, you can see it, but there is nothing special to admire.
But, for Egypt, this hydroelectric complex is the largest and main source of electricity for the country, in addition, the dam controls the water level in the Nile River, it was after its construction that the floods of the Nile, which often caused floods, stopped.
For tourists, this structure is interesting to others. The fact that it built by Soviet engineers. A monument to the Arab-Soviet friendship erected in Aswan, which one of the main attractions of the city.
You can see it in the photo on the left. It built in 1970 in honor of the opening of the Aswan hydroelectric complex.
To be honest, the frankness of this friendship is a little strained, to say the least. President Nasser skillfully maneuvered between the United States and the USSR during the construction negotiations. Both superpowers interested in building, they wanted a strong ally in the Middle East. Nasser arranged some semblance of a competition, although it was already clear that it would be problematic for the United States to have both Egypt and Israel as allies at the same time.
As a result, the construction carried out by the USSR, having paid about a third of the cost from its budget. The rest of the Soviet Union gave Egypt a loan, some of these debts later written off. The expected turn to the path of socialism in Egypt did not take place, by and large, the USSR did not receive any serious advantages from this friendship.
On one of the walls of the monument there are two coats of arms, the first is the coat of arms of the Soviet Union, the second belongs to the Arab Republic of Egypt, and a quote from Gamal Abdel Nasser. If you find it difficult to read this inscription on this picture, then a higher resolution photo, as well as other photos of this monument, can viewed in our photo gallery of an excursion to Aswan.
The Aswan Dam not only generates energy, but it also has several important functions. Before its construction, the Nile River flooded every year, the water level in the river could rise up to 8 meters and the coastal cities simply flooded. For agriculture, this also not very convenient, the fields simply washed away with water.
Now the level of the river controlled here, the Nile no longer overflowing, and an organized system of irrigation of fields operates in the delta, the Egyptians collect three crops per year. Of course, not everything is so wonderful, the dam caused many environmental problems, because it did not let down the silt, which since ancient times was a natural fertilizer for the soil in the delta.
During construction, a vast reservoir to form, which is now called Lake Nasser, in honor of the second president of Egypt. Several important historical sites to be flooded.
The largest monument was the Abu Simbel temple complex. All of them simply cut into blocks and moved to other places, in total there were 22 such transfers.
The Egyptians are still solving various problems associated with the dam. The water level in Lake Nasser constantly rising, and canals constantly being dug here to divert water from it, otherwise the dam may simply not able to withstand, even though it built with a large margin of safety. Soils in the Nile Delta are degrading, fish in the Mediterranean Sea have become much less, and this is not a complete list of the negative consequences of the construction of the Aswan hydropower plant.
The next interesting place in Aswan is the botanical garden. Many readers will ask what could be unusual in a botanical garden? The fact is that Aswan is one of the driest places on our planet where people live.
It is on the contrast of the desert, the river and the whole island of greenery that the main impression of the botanical garden in Aswan is based.
Tourists taken to the Botanical Garden on small motor boats or sailing boats, which called “feluccas”, they easy to recognize by the oblique sail, sometimes there are combinations of a motor and a sail on the same boat. Of course, these ships look quite “flimsy”, but, on the other hand, there are no storms or disturbances on Lake Nasser or in the Nile itself.
This a very pleasant place to walk, there are many trees, flowers and other greenery, and birds walking around the garden, it looks like it shown in the photo below.
There is nothing special to tell about the garden, here you need to look and walk. For more photos of the botanical garden in Aswan, see our photo gallery.
The third place where tourists taken during the excursion to Aswan the Nubian village. The Nubians lived in these places since ancient times, perhaps, of the entire population of Egypt, they called the most indigenous.
Most of the inhabitants of modern Egypt are culturally Arabs. However, genetically they are not the same Arabs as they think they are. We talked about this in detail in the article “Who are the modern Egyptians.” The Arabs came to Egypt in the 7th century AD, during the conquests of the Arab Caliphate. Coptic Christians consider themselves indigenous Egyptians, and of course they have some reason to call themselves that, but there are not so many left from the ancient builders of the pyramids in them.
The Nubians have always lived here, they have nothing to do with the construction of pyramids and temples, they represent a completely different nation than the inhabitants of ancient Egypt and the modern population of the country.
They are very easy to recognize due to their dark skin, but they do not belong to the Negroid race. Their facial features are more like Arabs. It is more correct to call them Ethiopians.
The number of this people is small, no one will undertake to say the exact figure, but it definitely does not exceed two million people, this figure includes all the Nubians who live in Egypt and neighboring Sudan.
In ancient times, there an ancient state of the Nubians, which called Nubia, from the ancient Egyptian word “nub”, which translated as gold, gold actually mined here.
Camels used as transport to the Nubian village. Camels are not necessary transport; it would be possible to walk from the boat to the village or use any transport. It’s just more interesting on camels.
In the village you will see the everyday life of modern Nubians, in which you will not find almost anything ancient. These people do not live according to old precepts, they have electrical appliances and other benefits of civilization.
There is a huge number of souvenir shops in the village, so many that there is a doubt whether you have come for an excursion or a shopping tour. Souvenirs are colorful and interesting, the assortment differs from the standard set in souvenir shops in the resorts. See more photos in our gallery.
There are many items with African motives, ritual masks are especially interesting. Some of them scare away evil spirits, some are just for decoration. It is difficult to find out, since the locals hardly speak English.
There special entertainment in the Nubian village, crocodiles bred right in the village. The famous Nile crocodile, once the most formidable predator along the Nile coast from Sudan to the Mediterranean Sea, now almost completely defeated by man.
In the wild, it almost never occurs, but many farms created to artificially raise these animals. One of these farms located right in the village and all tourists allowed to touch small crocodiles.
We warn you, be careful, crocodiles, of course, are small, but they can bite, their jaws are strong enough. Do not bring your fingers to the mouth of the animal, it has a good reaction and developed reflexes.
Tours in Aswan are different in composition. In addition to the places that we talked about in this article, the city still has the ruins of an ancient Egyptian temple, the ruins of a monastery and other interesting places. We recommend that you look at the photo gallery for this excursion, there collected interesting photographs.
– Aswan is one of the hottest and driest cities on our planet. In winter, it is still relatively comfortable here, but in summer it can be unbearably hot. Do not forget about protection from the treacherous sun: be sure to cover your shoulders and wear a hat. We talked in detail about the dangers of the sun in the articles “What not allowed in Egypt” and “What to take to Egypt”.
– If you want to buy something in Aswan outside the tourist market, then dollars and euros will most likely not accept. Looking for Egyptian pounds. Read our in-depth review on Money Exchange in Egypt.
– And by the way, we forgot to remind you! If you burn yourself badly, then you will have to treat sunburns out of your pocket, since this a NON-insurance case.
Aswan City Tour