I will preface this post with a note that this tour is *a bit* of a tourist trap. I had read a similar review of that before hand so I had my expectations aligned BUT I also have a few reasons for why you should consider this tour add on as well.
Why you might consider this tour add-on:
When given the option of a 2 hour tour where you
- Swim in the Nile River from a beautiful beach
- Take a scenic motor boat ride along the Nile
- See crocodiles that were caught from Lake Nasser (not the part of the river you just swam in)
- Get to learn even a little bit more about the Nubian culture, a culture that’s been around as long as the ancient Egyptians.
OR getting to spend a couple more hours in a cruise ship room because the cruise doesn’t depart until 1 in the afternoon… which would you choose?
About our tour experience
Our tour started from our cruise ship (where we spent the previous night just docked in Aswan) at around 8:30 AM.
We took a very leisurely 30ish minute motor boat ride alongside Elephentine Island and up a few smaller sections of river where the world was quiet apart from the rushing of the river, the birds in the trees, the rustling of the grass on the river bank, and the quiet motor of the boat.
It felt a bit like being on the river cruise at Disney minus the dad jokes. Some of my favorite views were the sandy hills home to Nubian royal tombs, lush plant life along the banks of the river, and as we got closer to the Nubian village- the camel riders moving to and from the village.
Swimming in the Nile
After exploring the river we stopped at a pristine sandy beach for a swim and considering the day was already heating up, I was happy to hop in.
*We were assured that the crocodiles which are found a plenty south of the High Dam in Lake Nasser, are never found down river (north) of the dam where we were swimming. The water was clear and felt amazing to swim around in. We stopped there for around 20-30 minutes to enjoy it but it would have been even more enjoyable if we weren’t hounded with sales people the whole time. (I was ok since I just swam out away from them and stayed in the water but Braden didn’t wear a swimsuit and was held somewhat captive)
Even after buying one thing from each of them, they still didn’t leave us alone the whole time we were there making this the perfect example of why you won’t get to relax on a vacation to Egypt. Haha
Visiting a Nubian home/ museum
Following the beach, it was another short boat ride to what I can only call a welcome house within the village. It was sort of a cross over between a museum, a restaurant, and someone’s actual house. As we walked in we passed a couple rooms with traditional woven bowls, clothing, and other home wares on display. We learned about why the concrete roofs were domed and that they would store things needing refrigeration in bowls hung from the ceiling since under the dome was actually the coolest part.
Our guide then took us to the top of the home for a view of of the low dam and rest of the village in both directions along the river.
One of the most interesting things about these villages is that they were given by the Egypt government to the Nubian people who were displaced as a result of the high dam (and lake Nasser). The Nubian people are primarily fisherman (when they aren’t in the tourist trade) and camel traders. I’d hoped to see more camels in the village itself but we really only saw them outside the village and “evidence” of them on the streets inside the village.
The blue guest house also was home to the afore mentioned crocodiles which were held in a concrete container in a corner of the room. There was one larger croc (estimated to be about 1/3 of full size and couple years old) and then a bunch of babies which our guide said are constantly getting caught up in the fishing nets by the villagers fishing on the lake. (evidently they trade them out sort of catch, show off, and then release is what we were told)
Exploring the village
We spent some time in the guest house having some hibiscus drink and I got a henna tattoo before voyaging out into the town.
It was all in a all a pretty quiet walk with most people probably hiding from the heat of the day but we did get to see some spice/ tea shops. Then we hopped on the boat and took the short way back to our cruise ship in preparation of setting sail to Luxor.
On the boat ride back we took a more direct route to the cruise ship but passed the famous cataract hotel and remnants of other ancient buildings on the Nile, now flooded and lost to time.
Overall, I can’t say it was the most educational of experience but it beat hanging out in a cruise ship room all morning and how many other people can say they’ve swam in the Nile.