Elephantine Island, Aswan

Elephantine Island, Aswan

COLOR, Fruit and other foods are sold at a rural market, top, on road to Aswan as [Ramses II]'s monumental figures at Abu Simbel, middle, stare serenely over the area. Aswan, below, dotted with high-rise buildings, is viewed from the west bank of Nile.; Nefertarii stands at the Pharaoh's feet in the Temple of Abu Simbel.; A leisurely half day can be spent sailing around palm-studded Elephantine Island on the upper Nile.; The temple at Edfu boasts an astonishing array of symbolic and religious scenes carved into its walls.

The island of Elephantine is very attractive in several respects. Its natural setting is quite beautiful, at the point where Nile's 1st Cataract has tossed gigantic granite rocks around. Elephantine is perhaps just a heap of such rocks, creating several beauty spots. Fresh vegetation, the white sails of the feluccas, colorful Nubian villages and the finest Nilometer along the whole Nile.

It is easily verifiable that the island's shape is similar to that of an elephant's tusk. This is the meaning of the Greek word "elephas". The layout of islands in the area can be seen from hillsides along the Nile. The island measures some 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) from north to south and is about 400 metres (1,300 ft) across at its widest point. It is a part of the modern Egyptian city of Aswan. „Koti" and „Siou" are on the island Elephantine, two nubian villages with together about 3.000 inhabitants, parted by gardens with palms, trees with bananas, guaves and mangos, fields with clover, molochea and corn.

The Aswan Mövenpick is on Elephantine Island with the bar on the 13th floor of the tower has a fabulous panoramic view of Aswan and Elephantine Island. The Movenpick Hotel on Elephantine Island in Aswan Egypt located on The Nile in present day Nubia, offers a way for one to see one of the most beautiful cities in Egypt. The Movenpick actually the remodeled Oberoi Hotel. Situated on the Northern tip of Elephantine Island. This beautiful, quiet hotel will give you a 360 degree view of all Aswan. The wonderful views of the Nile, Aswan, the Botanical Gardens on Kitchner Island, the West Bank and the Aga Khan Mausoleum are certain to make any event an unforgettable experience.”

Elephantine houses the ruins of Abu, Aswan's earliest settlement, dating back to 3,000 BC. The ruins do not warrant more than a quick passing, apart from the Nilometer. This quarry like enclosure that descends below the level of its surroundings, was used in ancient times to measure water levels. The island lies in the middle of the Nile, just across from the hotel. Instead of reaching it via tourist ferry.

After seeing the ruins, ditch the travel guide and get lost on Elephantine. Wander through the modern Nubian villages; very much alive and thriving. Tiny alleys of unpaved dirt roads separate between colorful houses that do not exceed two stories. Little boys and girls wave to visitors and will give directions if you ask. The smell of cooking fills your nostrils and a few chickens will cross your path as well. Ask for directions to the Botanical Gardens; youll be led to the edge of the island where a few Nubians with feluccas wait for tourists.

South of Koti one can marvel about the Aswan Museum and the excavation side of Yebu and temples around. (Yebu - old egyptian word for elephant - was the first settlement in this area which started about 6.000 years ago and which has been emporium for ivory. Present-day Aswan had been only the port of Yebu at that time. Still at the beginning of the Old Empire - 2.650 BC - the area around Aswan had been savannah with wild living elephants, according to climate researchers.)
Elephantine Island (as seen from the tower of Moevenpick Hotel), Aswan
For a cheap price one of them will row you across the Nile to the famous Botanical Gardens. A felucca ride is makes the most luxurious cruise boats pale in comparison. It is one of those rare opportunities to listen to the sound of silence. Nothing can be heard but the rowing of the oars. Your guide will let you try rowing, but you'll probably end up switching directions. Dont get up or move suddenly or the boat will capsize. Dim your whole arm in the freezing Nile as the boat moves and dont forget to taste it if theres one thing you must do in Egypt, its to drink from the Nile (in Aswan; it is too polluted in Cairo); by far the best water you will ever taste. Take the guides mobile number to call him to take you back when you are done.

The island that houses the Gardens was given to Lord Horatio Kitchener, the Commander of the Egyptian Army 120 years ago who transformed it into a garden by importing exotic plants and trees from all over the world. Wooden plaques tell the species and country of origin of each tree. The garden is most enjoyable an hour before sunset, when the light is soft and birds are chirping overhead. The Niles perpetual breeze makes you cool and comfortable at all times. An hour is about enough at the gardens. Take the felucca back to Elephantine and from there the ferry back to the East bank.

For More Information Visit: Aswan Tourism and Tourist Information

Last Updated on Sunday 5th December 2010