When it came to our journey from Cairo to Aswan, I think maybe it was a good thing our group was only four Topdeckers and a trip leader strong. The journey was about 1000 km long, which equalled to a good 12 hours in the Topdeck van. We left Cairo on the 17th around 7.30pm and arrived in Aswan the next morning around 8am, having stopped twice on our way to fill up on gas and have a wee and stretch break.
Upon arrival in Aswan we made our way straight to the M.S. Princess Sarah, which was docked on the Nile. We got about twenty minutes to rest, stretch the legs, and drink our welcome drink (typically cold hibiscus tea, which is very nice and typically given everywhere!), before we got back in the van and drove to a small harbour filled with boats ready to take the tourists (of which there weren’t very many at all, but that might be because it was so early) to the Philae Temple.
The boat ride was short, but sweet, and we were soon on the island where the Philae Temple stands. We had an amazing guide for the day, called Noubi, who had a great sense of humour, knew lots of English synonyms and loved using them, and had a great deal of knowledge about the sights of the day. The Philae Temple itself was quite an interesting temple – there are three different parts to it, all built at different times. There is a tiny bit that was built by Egyptian, and uses concave carvings and hieroglyphs. A huge part of the temple was built by Grecians and uses convex carvings and hieroglyphs (these two might be the other way around – I can’t remember exactly). And then the final part of the temple, its size in between the two others, was built by Romans. Apparently the Grecians and Romans wanted to build temples to honour Egyptians Gods to show that they too were appreciative and honouring of these Gods and thus could make good rules (or something along those lines…)
Upon return to the cruise ship, we quickly ate a lunch and changed into our swim gear and spent an hour or two on the top deck, dipping in and out of the small pool. Around 4pm we got on another boat that took us to the other West side of the Nile. There we got about ten minutes to swim in the Nile – it’s crazy to realise I’ve done that! – which was quite a bit colder than anticipated. After the swim, we dried off the best we could, slipped our clothes back on and mounted a camel (another one of those crazy things I’ve done!).
The start of the camel-ride was quite… scary. First of all, these animals, when standing up, are huge! Second of all, in order to get them to stand up, you need to lean backwards and sort of pull on the saddle. And then the standing up is a bit wibbly wobbly as well. There were
a few guides walking along with our little group, guiding the camels, but after a while my guide handed me the rope that was used as reins and began focussing on chatting with the other guides instead. Yikes. Now, I’ve ridden horses before, but they aren’t quite as tall as camels. Luckily, I managed to not let the camel ride of the track – mainly because it quite enjoyed following the others – and we soon arrived in a Nubian village.
Here, we got shown around a Nubian house, were given some mint tea (not quite my cuppa tea) and some more hibiscus tea (yum!). We also got to hold a small crocodile – which was really surreal and it felt so strange! – and for a fee of only L.E. 20 we all got some henna done. We returned to our cruise ship by boat as the sun was setting, which offered some beautiful sights.