This was our final day on the cruise and we had quite a packed itinerary to deal with. We packed our bags, had our breakfast, paid our final dues, finished the check-out formalities were ready to leave for the 1st agenda item at sharp 8’o clock! Yes, we managed all that by then!
The first POA was to visit the High Dam of Aswan. It was constructed between 1960 and 1970, and has had a significant effect on the economy and culture of Egypt. Construction of the High Dam became a key objective of the Egyptian Government following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, as the ability to control floods, provide water for irrigation, and generate hydroelectricity were seen as pivotal to Egypt’s industrialization. Its reservoir, named Lake Nasser, is 550 km long and 35 km at its widest, with a surface area of 5,250 square kilometres. We spent time near the reservoir while Ahmed gave us another good briefing about the history of the dam.
Next up was the Temple of Philae which we had to reach after taking a short boat ride which Abhay thoroughly enjoyed.
Temple of Philae is located in an island in the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam, downstream of the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, Egypt. Philae in Greek or Pilak in ancient Egyptian, meaning ‘the end,’ defined the southernmost limit of Egypt then. It has an amazing story of resurrection. It was submerged after the first Aswan dam was built in 1906, and it was not until the seventies that many nations attempted to save the Temple. All these countries, together with UNESCO, selected a suitable place, but they had to wait until the completion of the High Dam, in 1971. Firstly, a coffer dam was built around the Temple and the water was drained. Next, the Temple was dismantled and transferred, stone by stone, from the submerged Philea Island to the redesigned Egilica Island. Each and every stone had to be numbered, and then replaced, in the same position, in the new location. It was a massive, and very complicated, project taking over 9 years to be accomplished.
The temple was quite magnificent and had beautiful design. We also visited the reservoir around which the temple was relocated. Abhay was in quite a fun mood thanks to the bright & sunny day and happily played around while we clicked some selfies.
We relaxed a bit in the shade at a café in the same complex and had an ice-cream session which was perfect for that weather!
We took the boat ride back to the shore and finally had a group selfie where all the Memphis Tours guests were captured in a single shot with Ahmed posing too!
Next we went to an Oil-based perfume showroom in Aswan where we had a wonderful time. The entire process was quite well-managed. First up was a briefing session about how the perfumed oils are made, the various types of perfumes and then the best part – a free massage session which was a God-sent for all of us. We bought 4 different types of perfumes and also a pack of designer bottles for gifting to our family members.
Later, we went back to our cruise boat and had a fabulous MTR Indian Lunch, thanks to the ready-to-eat packs we always carry during our trips. They take care of our Indian food cravings and also save a lot of money! We also gifted 2 packs to Ahmed as he enjoys Indian food a lot. After this heartening meal we were ready for the next interesting POA of the day.
Next up was a trip to the Nubian Island and visit a traditional village home. Many Nubians used to live in the valley of the Nile south of Aswan. However, the artificial Lake Nasser created by the construction of the high dam flooded many Nubian villages. As a result, more than 100,000 Nubian inhabitants of the area were relocated to villages north of Aswan and around Kom Ombo. Nubians live in houses painted with bright colours. And we visited one such home.
The tour consisted of a boat ride to and from the Nubian village with a Nubian guide who pointed out various exotic birds. He took us on a short walk through the village and gave us a briefing on the history of the village. We were served fabulous mint tea. The house was quite primitive and sadly we could not interact much with the villagers due to their inability to speak in English.
Another special spectacle about such houses are the baby crocodiles they keep in their homes. When the crocodile gets too big for the cage, they release it back to the Nile. I was so fascinated to see a crocodile at such close proximity and spent a lot of time just gazing at the features and also touching the scales! Abhay kept a safe distance but was equally fascinated. It was indeed a very special experience for us. They also had a small tortoise which got Abhay very excited!
The house also had some beautiful paintings depicting marriage scenes and some on the daily lives of the villagers. We had a real good time in the village in this short trip and it was fascinating to see the lives of these villagers. They also had another peculiar habit; displaying mummified animals, and they quite a few of them – fox, mongoose, snakes and obviously crocodiles!
The boat ride was fun too and the view from it was spectacular. We saw desert, water and forest in one single view which was absolutely astonishing!
While going back to our boat, Abhay saw a camel and got really excited! He had seen it on TV and heard its poems but this was the first time he was seeing it live so was naturally very happy about it. We skipped the idea of a camel ride as we had planned one in the Pyramids area and wanted to enjoy the camel ride with the Pyramids view which was going to be a real special experience for all of us.
We bid goodbye to our fellow group members; wishing them the best of luck for the rest of their trip, went back to our cruise boat, picked up our luggage and then proceeded towards the Aswan Airport to board our flight for Cairo.
The airport was absolutely empty and it was the first time I had seen an airport so silent and bereft of people! We had a real delicious Pizza meal at one of the small restaurants while Abhay ran around the airport area.
We reached Cairo safe & sound before checking into our Hotel. On the way we picked up some hot & fresh bread rolls for our MTR Dinner meal as we were in no mood to go out.
Our hotel was the Le Méridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa and I had pre-booked a Pyramids view room to make our next 3 days extra special! The hotel was choc-a-block and teeming with fellow travelers. Our check-in was smooth and we were very happy to see a lot of security at the entry of the hotel and also around the perimeter. We got into our super comfortable room on the 5th floor, had our desi dinner and then chillaxed before calling it a day. We were damn excited about the next day as finally we were going to gaze at the Pyramids and a long-pending dream was to come true for both of us.
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…