A visit to the southern city of Aswan affords some of the very best tours in Egypt. Meandering sedately through the region, the importance of the life-giving Nile is obvious, and around an area that abounds with natural beauty, it is as if time has stood still. Aswan is the second biggest city in upper Egypt in terms of history after Luxor. But despite the wonderful serenity, there are many amazing things to do on one of our Egypt tour packages.
Standing proud on a rocky island in the Nile, the Temple of Isis is one of Egypt’s most enigmatic and unique temples. Begun by Ptolemy II, it was actually completed much later by the Roman Emperors. But over 2000 years later the temple was almost lost, when the high Aswan dam was built in the 1960s.
After a combined effort between the government of Egypt and UNESCO, stone by stone the temple was dismantled and moved to higher ground, and one of Egypt’s most beautiful and significant temples was saved.
One of our most popular Egypt luxury tours is to the magnificent Abu Simbel. Marvel at colossal rock hewn statues of Ramesses II that have guarded the temple’s entrance for over 3000 years, and if brave enough to pass the massive guardians, exploring the interior will have you feeling like a real life Indiana Jones.
Originally cut into solid rock cliffs, the temples were created to celebrate Ramesses’ victory over the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh, and as a show of Egyptian power. Like the temple at Philae, the construction of the nearby dam threatened to destroy the temples, but in the 1960s, thanks to the initiative of UNESCO, the temples were moved to higher ground, with great care taken to orient both temples in exactly the same direction as on the earlier sacred site.
No Egypt tour is complete without a sail on the Nile, and around Aswan there are plenty of traditional feluccas ready to gently float you away like Queen Cleopatra herself. A felucca is the traditional wooden sailing boat in Egypt, and with all the world class sight seeing to be done, a placid sail along The Nile will restore your calm. Highlights include such beautiful locations as archaeologically rich Elephantine Island, St. Simeon Monastery, the Tombs of The Nobles and the Botanical Gardens, and all offer a wonderful snapshot of Egyptian history. There is also the Nile cruises sailing between Luxor and Aswan.
As if frozen in time, Nubian villages are as quaint and charming as they were thousands of years ago. Painted in bright colors, in stark but beautiful contrast to the faded desert hues, visitors really feel as if they have stepped back in time as they wander around the timeless villages and interact with the friendly, hospitable locals, who are certain to offer you a cup of Karkade, a tea made from the hibiscus flowers.
The Aswan High Dam, main cause of displacement and monumental upheaval in lower Egypt, and not to mention sparking the Suez Crisis, is, nonetheless, an example of the wonder of modern engineering. Its construction has created the world’s largest artificial lake, Lake Nasser, and an unbelievable amount of materials were used to build it, a staggering eighteen times more than The Great Pyramid of Giza.
Just south of Aswan, the dam offers tourists something different to the multitude of tombs and temples, and is well worth a visit. Not only is the museum detailing its construction interesting, but the panoramic views from the pavilion are exquisite.