Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kitchner Island, Aswan

By Claire
Mohamed picked us up at 8:45, made sure our bags would be safely kept with the boat then walked us to a motorboat for our ride to Kitchner Island, a gorgeous botanical garden given to Lord Kitchener as a thank-you for his services in the Sudan Campaign (1896-1898). With the aid of the Ministry of Irrigation, Kitchener rapidly transformed the small (750 meter long) island into a paradise of exotic trees and plants from around the world. I really loved this place and only wish Carol and Holly were with me to tell me about all the plants and birds. We spotted one bird that was the size of a duck and a gorgeous, irredescent green.

This tree trunk looks like a skirt

We felt like we were on the Disneyland Jungle Cruise ride, only better. But where's the hippo and the crocodile?

We spent some time strolling around, taking in all the exotic plants and listening to the multitude of bird calls. It was very peaceful and cool. This is a don't miss spot. We also loved the views and spotted the mausoleum and winter home of the Aga Khan who came to Aswan for treatments for his arthritis. He was very crippled and could barely walk but submitted to treatments that involved "bathing" in the sand at very high degrees for several hours at a time. Apparently the sand has a small amount of radioactivity in it. After about 6 months, he was cured. He asked his wife to bury him near their winter home.

We took the boat further to a Nubian village, one of the ones that was relocated during the building of the High Dam. We really enjoyed this treat as well. The people were very friendly and we spent some time in one of the homes drinking tea and touring the house.

The kitchen

Egyptians, enjoying the sheesha.

On the way back, we passed Elephantine Island, much larger and very interesting as well. This shot supposedly shows the back end view of an elephant.

Around noon we made our way back to the Nile Jewel, Mohamed coming in with us to make sure we had our bags. He then hailed a cab and gave the driver instructions to our hotel and told him to pick us up tomorrow morning at 8 am for our flight to Abu Simbel. He also told us what to pay: 10 LE to the hotel and 40 LE to the airport, no more. He was such a big help to us. His English is the best of all our guides in Upper Egypt and he is very informative. You can reach him at His cell phone number is 0103886346. He couldn't have made it easier for us. The cost for today, including entry fees and boat rides was 330 LE (€42.90).

We arrived at our hotel, the Kelany, and it is such a relief that it isn't a complete dive like the Happy Lands Hotel. This one just has a much better feel and free Wifi! I recommend it as a budget hotel. We're paying $24 per night.

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