Aswan has a mixed and diverse population with a distinct Nubian culture. It has therefore an African atmosphere which is different from the rest of Egypt. The pace of life is slow and relaxing. To get a real taste of this ancient and rich culture, visit Nubia Museum and a number of Nubian villages in and around Aswan, often very picturesque and worth visiting. You can also stay overnight in one of the Nubian houses. It’s a memorable experience!
Nubians live in houses painted with bright colours. Traditionally, the floor was made of sand and not all the rooms were roofed. Protection against rain is not a priority since Aswan is one of the driest places in the world.
Nubians are friendly and hospitable. They often invite you to their homes for a cup of tea or “Karkade”, a drink made of hibiscus flowers. Many would happily show you their handicrafts. They sometimes invite you to taste their unique “Shamsi” bread which has a special baking technique. The bakers, usually the women of the village, let the dough rise in the sun before baking it. Some connoisseurs claim that the “Shamsi” bread is one of the best kinds of bread in the world. After such hospitality, a reciprocal gesture of generosity is not necessary but would certainly be appreciated!
Nubian villages are found in and around Aswan. A couple of them are located only 150 meters from the corniche onElephantine Island in Aswan archipelago. The island can be reached by felucca or by a public ferry.
Other interesting villages are located on the west bank of the Nile and can be reached by boats or cars. A famous one is “Gharb Sehel” which is located near the old dam south of the archipelago on the west bank.
Many Nubians used to live in the Nile Valley, 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.
If you are interested to learn more about the Nubian people and their history and culture, then a visit to Nubia Museum, located close to the Old Ctaract hotel, is a MUST.