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Alicia & Rich's Roads to Everywhere London to Australia on the route less traveled

Aswan

EGYPT | Wednesday, 22 October 2008 | Views [739]

So we decided the best way to get around the rest of Egypt would be by train. When we say “the rest of Egypt”, we really only mean the Nile Valley, as this was all we had time for. There are plenty of other places of course, including Mt Sinai, the Red Sea & Dahab to name but a few. Alas, they will have to wait for World Tour II… (this is Rich writing this by the way, who says Alas anymore!)

Back to the train - there’s an overnight sleeper train that can take you all the way to the south of the Nile Valley; to Aswan. We took it. We had our own cabin with bunk beds and a sink. (which they say lazy men use as a toilet in the middle of the night) The ride was nice, we had dinner in the cabin, which was similar to airplane food, and we washed that down with a bottle of Egypt's finest, home grown wine. We slept soundly that night and awoke to find that we were going to arrive in Aswan 2 hrs. late. (sweet a sleep in!) 

We got off the train at about 11am and arrived at the hotel at about 11.05am as it was just across the town square. Aswan is very clean (compared with Cairo), hot (temp in mid 30's) and acts as a good base to see many cool sights such as the Sun Temple in Abu Simbel, the High Dam and Isis Temple.

 As soon as we’d had some lunch, we went straight out to the High Dam. To be honest, we found it to be a bit of a rip-off in the sense that you pay to go up on to a dam where, OK you can take a few pictures, but there’s really nothing else to do. I suppose it is worth it though because it gives you some good background knowledge about the area and explains the impact Lake Nasser had on the two aforementioned temples.


After the High Dam we moved on to
Philae Island…or did we? What we thought was going to be Philae Island did in fact turn out to be Agilika Island. Not an easy mistake to make you might think, but as it happens, you’d be wrong. The Isis Temple of Philae was originally built on Philae Island (as the name would suggest), but following the building of the High Dam, Lake Nasser sunk Philae Island and the temple on it. Therefore, to preserve the temple, they moved it brick-by-brick to neighboring Agilika Island. This was clearly a massive task but well worth it we’d say as it’s pretty cool. There’s even some graffiti on the walls from when Napoleon and his troops reared their ugly heads in Upper Egypt.

Interestingly the south of Egypt is called Upper Egypt. Why? Because the Nile flows from South to North and Egyptians go with the direction of the Nile rather than the more conventional and much less confusing compass method.

 Now that was quite a busy day and upon arriving back at the hotel we felt we deserved a good rest. What we didn’t expect was to be told about our impending 2am wake-up call for the following morning! Due to previous kidnappings, terrorist activity and probably a slightly over-cautious government, you have to drive in a ridiculously early convoy when heading down to Abu Simbel. The convoy leaves at 3am and if you miss it, you’re not going, simple as that.

Leaving Cairo on the overnight sleeper train

Leaving Cairo on the overnight sleeper train

Tags: train rides and sight seeing...

 

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