Kitcheners Island and Botanical Garden/Lord Kitchener's Garden in Aswan

Kitcheners Island and Botanical Garden/Lord Kitchener's Garden in Aswan

Historic sites in southern Egypt's Aswan are everywhere, though many, like the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan, are closed to the public. The botanical gardens on what used to be Kitchener's Island are still accessible, as are the ruins on the West Bank. This botanical garden provides local youth, girls in slacks and bright headscarves, young men in groups, a place to walk and enjoy the gardens and café. Named for the British general who led the Egyptian army in successful campaigns in Sudan, when granted the island, he created this garden, now a public park.

Visitors to the southern peaceful city of Aswan often miss it; the much larger Elephantine Island keeps it hidden from sight. Mohamed El-Hebeishy sails on a felucca heading for Kitchener's Island.

The Elephantine Island rough the modern Nubian villages 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.
Kitcheners Island and Botanical Garden across the Nile in 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 youll 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.

You may sail the Nile on a felucca boat (an Egyptian-style sail boat) to a small granite island called Kitchener of the Botanical island. On this unique journey, experiencing first-hand one of the ways the people of ancient Egypt traveled, you'll also visit Elepahntine Island.

Little History of Kitchener's island and Botanical Garden (which used to be called Lord Kitchener's Garden) British Lord Horatio Kitchener was an ambitious military leader during the early 20th Century. For his leading role and exceptional performance during the re-conquest of Sudan (1896-1898), he was awarded a tiny island on the Nile in Aswan. Being an avid gardener and keen botanist, Kitchener began importing exotic trees and planting them on his island.

In 1899, and with the help of the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation, the Botanical Garden was created. Twelve years after his death in 1928, Kitchener's Botanical Garden was transformed into an experimental station for local plants, as well as those native to equatorial regions. Even today, the island's southern tip is not open for visitors, since it hosts a biological research centre.

After the ownership of the island reverted to the Egyptian government, it was turned into a tourism attraction. While botany enthusiast will fall in love with the place, a stroll in the shady walkways of the Botanical Island will appeal to all visitors. It is an ideal way to spend a relaxed, lazy afternoon.

Known in Arabic as Geziret El-Nabbatat, Kitchener's Island offers more than just exotic plants and a leisurely walk. It is also a good site for bird watching. Ardent bird watchers can grab their binoculars and scout for shrikes, warblers, wheatears, egrets, or perhaps larger waterfowls like Purple Gallinule.

In Aswan where you can enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere and watch the sail boats go and admire the spectacular sunsets. Two main islands to visit are Elephantine Island with its ruins and museum as well as Kitchener Island, a beautiful botanic garden. Kitcheners Island in Aswan also famous for its exotic bird and plant life and a visit to a Nubian village where the people retain their ancient costumes, customs and architecture. This twin centre break is a must for those wanting to combine culture, relaxation and great value for money.

For More Information Visit: Aswan Tourism and Tourist Information

Last Updated on Sunday 5th December 2010