In Aswan the Nile is at its most beautiful, flowing through amber desert and granite rocks, round emerald islands covered in palm groves and tropical plants. Explore the souk, full of the scent and color of spices, perfumes, scarves and baskets. View the spectacular sunsets while having tea in one of the terrace of the old hotels , Aswan has been a favorite winter resort since the beginning of the nineteenth century, and it's still a perfect place to get away from it all. Every night Nubian dancers and musicians perform in the Cultural Center , just off the Corniche. Folklore troupes recreate scenes from village life and perform the famous Nubian mock stick-fight dances. The city proper lies on the east bank of the Nile, Relax here, visit a few mosques, but then prepare for an adventure, The bazaar runs along the Corniche, which continues past the Ferial Gardens and the Nubian Museum, and continues on to the Cemetery, with its forest of cupolas surmounted tombs from the Fatimid period, Just east of the cemetery in the famous area quarries is the gigantic Unfinished Obelisk. Just to the south of this, two Graeco-Roman sarcophagi and an unfinished colossus remain half buried in the sand. The most obvious is Elephantine Island , which is timeless with artifacts dating from pre-Dynastic times onward. It is the largest island in the area. Just beyond Elephantine is Kitchener's Island ( Botanical Island ). It was named for the British general Haratio Kitchener (185--1916) and was sent to Egypt in 1883 to reorganize the Egyptian army, which he then led against the Sudanese Mahdi. But the island is known for its garden and the exotic plants the Kitchener planted there, and which continue to flourish today. On the opposite shore (west bank), the cliffs are surmounted by the tomb of a marabut, Qubbet el-Hawwa, who was a local saint. Below are tombs of the local (pharaonic) nobles and dignitaries. Upriver a bit is the tomb of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan who died in 1957. Known as the Tomb of the Aga Khan , it is beautiful in its simplicity. A road from there leads back to the Coptic Monastery of St Simeon , which was built in the sixth century in honor of Amba Hadra, a local saint. Just up river a bit, there is also the old Aswan dam, built by the British, which was enlarged, expanded, but unable to control the Nile for irrigation.
- Ride a camel or climb to the ruins of the Coptic Monastery of St. Simeon, originally founded in the 7th century AD. Rebuilt in the 10th century, the monastery was a base for missionary monks who converted the Nubians to Christianity. Frescoes of the Apostles still remain in the roofless Basilica.
- The Unfinished Obelisk, measuring 41 metres in length and 4 metres square at the base, still lies where a crack was discovered as it was being hewn from the rock. Possibly intended as a companion to the Lateran Obelisk originally at Karnak , now in Rome , it would have measured 120 feet and weighed over 1150 tons when complete. It is a concrete example of how the ancient Egyptians went about fashioning these graceful monuments. Nearby is the Fatimid Cemetery , consisting of hundreds of mud-brick tombs dating back to the 9th century AD.
- The northern hills of the West Bank are filled with the rock-hewn tombs of princes from the Old Kingdom to the Roman period. At night they are illuminated with hidden spotlights and can be seen clearly from the east bank of the Nile at Aswan . On the inside, the tombs are decorated with vivid wall pictures depicting scenes of everyday life. Hieroglyphic biographies and inscriptions tell of the noblemen's journeys into Africa