Travelstick Aswan


The town of Aswan lies on the east bank of the Nile river. It is a small town with most things within easy walking distance of each other. Most of the best budget accommodation in Aswan is found on Elephantine Island. This quiet, laid-back island lies directly opposite central Aswan. The public ferry to the island leaves from beside the KFC and costs 5LE each way. In the town center on the mainland there are plenty of local shops and markets selling cheap food.

The train station is located towards the north of the town about 200m from the river. It is about a 2 km walk from the train station to the Elephantine Island ferry. Trains run north from Aswan to Cairo. The journey takes around 15 hours and costs 235LE (15USD in 2020) for a 1st class seat. Trains to Luxor cost 51LE (3USD in 2020) and take 3 and a half hours.

The west bank of the river at Aswan has several attractions. You can probably visit most of them in a single day.

Turning left after getting off the ferry will bring you to the remains of another "unfinished obelisk". Until around 2010 the obelisk lay in the western quarry out in the desert where it had originally been partially carved out of the rock before being abandoned.

The hills above the river contain the Tombs of the Nobles, some of Egypt’s most ancient tombs dating back to the Old Kingdom. Several of these tombs can be visited.

To the south of the tombs on top of the hill and past the Aga Khan mausoleum is the Monastery of St Simon. It was built in the 7th century and rebuilt during the 10th century, by which time it was one of the largest Coptic Monasteries in Egypt, providing accommodation for around 300 monks. The monks that lived at the monastery would travel into Nubia with the aim of converting Nubians to Christianity. The Monastery was mostly destroyed by Saladin and his forces in 1173 and never rebuilt. In the lower level there are some remains of early Coptic paintings on the walls. Entrance 40LE (2020)

If you walk directly north from the monastery into the desert it is a beautiful hike through the rocks and dunes. You can keep within sight of the Nile and the city on your right hand side almost the whole time. After a couple of kilometers you will come to the remains of a quarry, a strange landscape scattered with granite boulders.

There is a ferry running between the east and west bank just north of Elephantine Island (5LE each way).

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