Aswan

The River Nile as it passes through Aswan

Aswan (Arabic: أسوان‎ àswân) is a city in the south of Egypt, some 680 km (425 miles) south of Cairo, just below the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, with a population of 275,000. Aswan is far more relaxed and smaller than Cairo and Luxor.

Understand

Aswan is the smallest of the three major tourist cities on the Nile. Being the furthest south of the three, it has a large population of Nubian people, mostly resettled from their homeland in the area flooded by Lake Nasser. Aswan is the home of many granite quarries from which most of the Obelisks seen in Luxor were sourced. Aswan was the ancient Egyptians' gateway to Africa.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 22.9 25.2 29.5 34.9 38.9 41.4 41.1 40.9 39.3 35.9 29.1 24.3
Nightly lows (°C) 8.7 10.2 13.8 18.9 23 25.2 26 25.8 24 20.6 15 10.5
Precipitation (mm) 0 0 0 0 0.1 0 0 0.7 0 0.6 0 0

Source: World Meteorological Organization
See also: Egypt#Climate

Get in

By plane

Aswan International Airport is situated 25 km SSW of the city, on the west bank and just south of the high dam. Public buses don't go to the airport and security on the approach road to the terminal is tight, so it's probably worth taking a taxi, for which you must agree a price in advance. It is possible to argue the fare down to LE25, but LE30 to LE40 is more realistic (and easier) for most foreigners.

The following airlines operate services to Aswan International Airport: Air Memphis (to/from Abu Simbel) (VERY bad quality), Astraeus (to/from London Gatwick), EgyptAir (to/from Abu Simbel, Cairo, Luxor), Iberworld (to/from Madrid), and LotusAir (to/from Cairo)

By train

Railway Station Street

Egypt's passenger train service runs along the Nile between Cairo and Aswan. Travel time from Luxor is around three hours on 1st/2nd class AC services. Five AC express services arrives from Cairo each day, journey time is around 13–14 hours costing 57LE for second class, 113LE first class. In addition there are two sleeper trains, departing 8PM and 9:35PM from Cairo's Ramsis station, prices starts at $60. Tickets often sell out so make sure you buy them a few days in advance.

  Aswan railway station is on the northern end of the city centre, a few hundred metres inland from the river. Leave plenty of time to buy tickets, as the service at the counters is slow. Mini buses depart from outside the station (turn right as you exit the terminal), and there are a number of cafes and basic hotels on the blocks between the station and the river.

By bus

From Hurghada (513 km away) buses cost 50LE. Tickets are sold on the bus, but be sure to ask the price at the ticket office, because the ticket seller on the bus will often raise the price 5LE or so and pocket the excess if you are a foreigner.

By boat

Dozens of cruise ships depart from Luxor to Aswan everyday. These can be booked through agents or at the actual ships themselves. A passenger ferry operated by Nile River Valley Transport Corporation leaves from Wadi Halfa in Sudan once a week. Journey times is about 24 hours, first class tickets with cabin costs from E£385.

Get around

Aswan is compact enough to negotiate primarily on foot. To access Philae, the High Dam, and the unfinished obelisks, you can take a taxi or a horse-drawn carriage. A taxi excursion to all of these sights should cost 80LE to 100LE per vehicle.

To access the sights on the river islands or on the West Bank, you will need to cross the river by motor boat or felluca. Be sure to pay attention to the price as operators try to overcharge tourists. If you take the public ferry to the West Bank, you pay only 5LE.

See

Aswan Town and the East Bank

The River and Islands

Also, be careful of unsolicited tours from locals, which will result in a request for baksheesh. There is regular boat taxi to Elephantine Island run by the locals for only 2LE for one crossing but they will charge more for tourists.

West Bank

Around Aswan

Philue Temple

Do

Buy

The souqs (markets) in Aswan are refreshingly exotic without the same level of high-pressure selling found in some tourist towns further north. You will generally find that Nubian handicrafts are of higher quality and better value in Aswan. All other goods will be more expensive than in Cairo due to shipping costs to Aswan and the lower tourist demand. Having said that, the Aswan souk is

Eat

Drink

Ice delivery from a cart

Aswan is much less strict on drinking alcohol than Cairo or Luxor, and many of the restaurants sell Stella (Egyptian brand not the Belgian brand) and Saqqara, both of which are lagers and comparable to European beers.

Sleep

Camping

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Aswan is generally a very safe city. However, do watch out for quite blatant attempts at pickpocketing in the souq. These thieves will approach you carrying scarves, shirts or even papyrus in one hand to sell to you, while attempting to go into your pockets with the other hand. The locals know this goes on, but do not count on them to intervene. Also, women should avoid travelling alone if they are not comfortable with leering men, although they are all bluster. Most horse carriage drivers will not commit on the price when you arrive at your destination and you are expected to give more.

Connect

Internet access is available at Keylany Hotel and Noorhan Hotel for 10LE per hour; but internet speeds are very slow. Kothor Hotel has more easonably fast internet available for 5LE per hour or 10LE unlimited for your stay.

Cope

There is so much to do around the Aswan area that time can be an issue. The local people are generally very cooperative, and for a price, doors might remain opened regardless of the hour.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 11, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.