(10/16/2011) Aswan: felucca ride to Nile and islands
We will arrive early to Aswan train station and
the idea is going directly to the hotel. At that time we can or cannot
get a room depending of the hotel vacancy but, anyway, we will have the
whole morning for spending it on visiting Aswan highlights, avoiding
Philae temple and the High Dam, which we will visit next day as part of
Nile cruise package.
The main highlight then would be to get a felucca
and visiting the Nile islands and, overall, the Nubian village.
We should go to bed very early as we will have to
wake up at 3 AM next morning for Abu Simbel trip.
Wake up call (by knocking the door) at 7:00 for
being ready to breakfast; arrival to Aswan is scheduled to 8:00. Beds
are seats again and we enjoy landscape through windows until reaching
Aswan station one hour later than expected.
We’re carrying our bags across the platform until arriving to
the stairs to an underground walkway to the other side of the track,
where the exit is. Immediately, a couple of old men take our bags with
no word and do the job through the stairs at both sides. They cannot
hide their happiness when receiving our 20 pounds bill because is the
smallest we have.
Once again at the surface out of stairs we’re
taken by a taxi driver who we deal a trip to hotel by another 20 pounds
with. A short but steeped stairs up to the hotel are receiving us when
leaving the car, but driver to strive to help here too.
At hotel, and despite of the early times, we’re
offered one room now for changing cloths and tidy ourselves up or rest,
and the other one later.
So, at 9:00 we’re going out from the hotel in
order to start the plans for this journey, which results to be very
easy as, at the moment we put a foot on Corniche – the riverside
promenade - after a short walk, we’re offered a felucca trip by 50
pounds per hour. When I accept and think it’s very cheap I realize we
haven’t discuss if that price is per boat or per person, but answer
comes when they states it is 200 pounds. After some bargaining the end
price results in 100 pounds by going to Nubian village, at the other
side of the Nile, under Noble tombs, waiting for us one hour and coming
back. And that’s what we do, but, although we can see our target near,
felucca is doing the way very slow, zigzagging by making the most of
As you can see in the picture at right, the
felucca boarding and landing method is by a simple plank between both
A man with a long stick, which uses for helping
while walking although he doesn’t really need it, is sitting at quay
waiting for somebody to come. He welcomes us, understand we want to do
a one hour visit to Nubian village and start to bargain camel trip. We
talk about 4 camels and drop the initial price to 100 pounds, 25 per
person. But my parents don’t see themselves riding and end going by
walking along us. The Nubian village, which we could see from the
starting point, is colorful and we go briefly inside to end “parking”
the camels in front of the entrance to a blue house.
There, we’re welcomed by a woman, whole in black,
who offers soft drinks to us: 4 teas, two waters and two Sprites of
lemon which, maybe because of this special feeling while travelling, we
like the taste a lot more than ours.
The main attraction in this house, apart from the
special and exquisite decoration, is a baby crocodile in a sort of deep
bathtub. The usual is let tourists to take it and make pictures with
it, but it is not going to happen today. This one is not a baby anymore
and when the man uses the stick they have for immobilize it, it rebels
against the stick with such a speed and fierceness that any of us want
to have it close, not even our improvised “guide” who seems to have
more respect to it than usual
We’re resting in a complete peace for a while
woman, obviously, shows some items for sell, focusing on our women. We
only take three paperknives hand-carved from something similar to bone.
Then, women must choice a sample from a notebook which is going to be
their henna tattoo. My wife gets a long one in the arm and my mother a
very small one, in the arm too.
When we think it’s time to leave we take our “vehicles” at
entrance and come back to where the felucca is waiting for us, under
the Noble tombs. Once there, we must arrange prices. The man explains
at the moment someone is up to the camel he must pay to the owner,
whether this person is doing the tour with or without camel. As my
mother managed to be on the camel, even for just few seconds, but my
father didn’t, we close the deal by 75 pounds + 25 pounds of the
The felucca man complaints about the time we come back
stating we agreed on one hour and we’ve been one hour and a half. He is
exaggerating and I guess it is because he wants to get some more money
from us. He offers to raise the price to 200 pounds by returning around
the long Elephantine Island to be able of enjoying the view from the
Nile of the rest of the city highlights, as Kitchener Island, Agha Khan
Mausoleum or Hotel Old Cataract, famous because Agatha Christie wrote
“Death on the Nile” in it. We finally accept after bargaining the price
to 150 pounds. We have time to spend before lunching.
And lucky of us we could spend time! As the trip
around the island takes more than two hours at an average speed of 1
Km/h or even less. We could do that three or four times faster by
swimming! We finish really tired of felucca and our butts are hurting
for the long time seated on its wooden thwarts. And on top of that the
man asks 200 pounds because of the long time spent at felucca. I can
see he wanted 200 pounds from the beginning but I complaint about the
extreme slowness of the trip and we didn’t want to spend so much time
on it. When I say I’m not happy with it and I’m thinking about saving
the tip, he accepts and takes his 150 original pounds + 20 pounds of
We lunch in ”Aswan Moon”, located just besides the restaurant
where our felucca is “parked”. We order three soups, one tabbouleh,
three calamari plates and one of fish, with ice cream or dessert. But
the pace of life in Aswan, which we could notice in our four hours
activity, appears again. We’re completely alone in this restaurant but
it takes so long for each plate to be brought. It is exasperating!.
After 160 pounds, with all our pending sleep coming after eating, we’re
in our way back to the hotel. We’re spending six hours in a single
visit nearby and lunch.
Just before taking the stairs to the hotel entrance, we finally buy an
Egyptian SIM card for our cell phone by 2 pounds and charge 150 pounds
on it, which is enough for all our pending calls and still remains
something for next days.
At hotel, we’re asked to
pay Abu Simbel trip now if we’re already going to sleep. It is 70
pounds per person (around 9 €). They will wake us up at 2:45 AM because
we must be ready at 3:15. We will leave the baggage in the small room
they’re showing to us and they will give us a picnic bag for breakfast
for each of us. I cannot ask more by this price!
Before going to bed I’ve called to the Nile cruise agency as the emails
received few days before offered a boat upgrade which makes me think
that, even we hired and paid the cruise eight months in advance, the
day before we still haven’t been included in any cruise. They calm me
down by saying I must call tomorrow when coming back from my trip and
we already got a book on “Nile Style”.