I’m so incredibly behind on my blog posts. Now that DD has started kindergarten (!!!!! She loves it, btw) and DS is back at preschool (he started the French immersion class at his school!!), I might have time to catch up. I’m trying to get a few of the quicker, shorter posts out of the way before tackling the longer ones. Figuring crossing off posts from my to do list will motivate me to do more!
Back in July my husband’s folks came to visit. Part of that included the kids and me taking them down to Upper Egypt (yes, down south is Upper–because it is the upper part of the Nile as the Nile flows south to north). We flew to Luxor, explored, did a 3 night cruise up the Nile on a private sail boat!! and then did 2 nights in Aswan before flying home to Cairo. They did a lot of exploring in Aswan, including a trip to Abu Simbel. But as the kids and I had already done most of Aswan before, we limited our sightseeing and did a lot of pool time instead!
Our first morning in Aswan we departed from our boat and drove to Philae Temple, after a quick stop at a pharmacy. My poor father-in-law had developed a sinus infection on the cruise and was in agony. Luckily, prescriptions are not required here and he was able to get some antibiotics from the pharmacist quickly and easily.
I’d done Philae previously, so while my in-laws went around with the guide, the kids and I explored more slowly on our own and spent some time in the shade with a snack. It was hot hot hot! July in southern Egypt is a scorcher! Luckily, they have bathrooms and seats and shade, so it is doable. Just remember to take it slow and drink plenty of water.
Next up was the hotel. This time around we stayed at the Hotel Sofitil Legend Old Cataract. (review is here) It is perhaps best known for Agatha Christie staying there to write Death on the Nile. It is right on the Nile and has beautiful views and lovely grounds and rooms. Last time we stayed at the Movenpick on Elephantine Island, which is also a good choice. My review for it is here.
My favorite story from Aswan is actually my mother-in-law’s. She wanted to get over to Elephantine Island to track down a well that a famous mathematician (Eratosthenes) presumably used to help measure the Earth’s circumference. We couldn’t figure out quite where it was, except on Elephantine Island. Anyway, she decides to take a boat over to see if she can find it. Hotel tells her the sights close at 4 pm (it’s already 4) but she could try anyway. So she gets a boat over and a Nubian boy tells her he’ll help her find it. He takes her all over the island trying to find this well. Never did find it, but she got quite the tour!
We did make our way back to the Nubian Museum, which is definitely worth a visit. It’s just a 10-15 min easy walk from the hotel. We’d been before, but DS had been cranky so I wanted to view it again at a more leisurely pace. It is stroller friendly and they even have an elevator to get you down to the lower floor (it requires a man with a key, but he appeared out of no where when I approached with my stroller).
My suggestions for Aswan:
Philae Temple–not near the rest of town, so arrange a car or taxi to stay and wait. We managed with a stroller, though there are a lot of rocks and uneven surfaces and steps, so an off-roading stroller or baby carrier would be best. Has bathrooms, small cafe, and shaded seats
Nubian Museum–walking distance from Old Cataract Hotel, stroller friendly with elevator, bathrooms. It has slightly different hours, so verify before arriving at it. Online seems to indicate 9-1 and then 4-9 pm in winter but 6-10 pm in summer.
Unfinished Obelisk–could walk from Nile or short taxi ride. Or do like my in-laws did and stop at it on the way back from Abu Simbel. Closes at 4. Lots of steps and climbing, so not stroller friendly.
Archaeological Ruins on Elephantine Island–Walking from Movenpick, or a boat ride from mainland. Old Cataract has a dock where boats (not hotel affiliated) wait to get passengers-just go down to the dock and negotiate. Walk all over to see the ruins, a nilometer, and the archaeological dig. Closes at 4.
Felucca–sunset felucca sails are always popular. Movenpick and Old Cataract both have feluccas docked at them. The captains like to suggest circling Elephantine Island–beware it can take a while if the wind is low. Ours took 3 hours!! With little kids, I find 1-1.5 hours is really the max. So suggest just going up and down the Nile and tell them your desired length ahead of time. You can get some gorgeous photos of the sun setting over the west bank.
High Dam–the High Dam is a quick stop you can do to/from the airport. It’s about 15 mins out of the way. At the middle of the dam, you’ll stop and park. Pay a fee, go through security, and then take a look at the dam. The stop only takes about 15 min. It has a cool display as well that explains it.
Pool time! We used the pool a lot in July for our visit. We didn’t when we went in December, but it actually would have been warm enough outside to go. Upper Egypt is about 15 degrees F warmer than Cairo and so the highs still go hot.
If arriving by cruise ship or flight early morning:
Day 1: Philae Temple, Unfinished Obelisk, hotel/lunch/nap, Nubian Museum
Day 2: Abu Simbel day trip, then pool and felucca
Day 3: Elephantine Island in morning, then stop at High Dam on drive to airport for flight home
If arriving later in the day:
Day 1: Hotel check in, Nubian Museum, felucca
Day 2: Abu Simbel day trip, High Dam, Unfinished Obelisk–start early to fit them in as Obelisk closes at 4
Day 3: Elephantine Island, Philae Temple, airport/cruise ship
For 3 nights in Aswan, check out this post.