Sept. 17-Aswan-tour Aswan Dam and Philae Temple
We awoke docked at Aswan. Aswan has about 500,000 people. It is known as the place where the high dam of the Nile was built. This is the dam that controls the Nile flooding and keeps it from being as severe as it once was. The dam was started in 1964 and completed in the 70’s. The plan for the dam meant that many temples were going to be inundated. Some the Egyptian government decided to preserve, like the Philae Temple and the Temple at Abu Simbel, but others it could not afford to save, so it put the word our to other countries that they could come and excavate and take the temples with them if they would preserve them. Many did.
Our guide Sam met us in Aswan. He took us to the High Dam so we could see the dam and Lake Nasser behind it. It is a massive structure, but not as high as Hoover dam. But it is very long.
It didn’t take long to appreciate the High Dam, so we headed out for the Philae Temple. This is one of the temples that the Egyptian government preserved by moving it piece by piece onto some higher ground. The temple at Philae was a Ptolemaic period temple, so it had Greek and Roman influences, but it still had the hieroglyphics and character of an Egyptian Temple. Later it was used as a Christian church, so there were crosses carved into it in some locations.
To get to Philae we had to take a small motorboat over to the temple. Motorboats were going back and forth constantly. But we saw many, many more boats moored and idle. Sam told us that normally “before the Revolution” we would have long waits to get into the smaller chambers of the temple, but we had very little wait time here.
The temple itself was impressive. It followed the same general style as the older temples like Karnak and Luxor, but the carvings were much more pronounced and some color had survived.
When we finished the temple tour we took the motorboat back and met our van, which took us to our next stop, the falucca. This was a sailing trip that is part of the tour where we sailed on the Nile around Kitchener’s Island. Our crew was made up of 2 Nubians, who entertained us with song and dance as we sailed and gave us a chance to buy authentic Nubian crafts. This sail was very relaxing aned well worth it. We had a beautiful day on the water.
This was our last time with our guide Sam. We thanked him for all the hard work he put in and the stories he told us. He urged us to send our friends and come back ourselves.
We had lunch back on the boat, then it was drinks and cigars for Mike and I in the afternoon. That evening we packed up as we will travel tomorrow from Aswan to Abu Simbel then back to Cairo.