Tuesday, January 01, 2008

High Dam and High Tea - 27 December 2007

Our first feluccaAnother morning of intense sun-lounging was our lot but the difference this morning was the presence of feluccas, the gaff-rigged sailing boats so distinctive of the Nile.

Cruise liners four abreastAfter arriving at Aswan, where we joined at least 60 other cruise ships moored 4 and 5 abreast, we disembarked for our bus trip to see the Aswan dams, Philea Island and Temples, and a perfumery. We drove across the lower, original dam en-route to the High Dam. This dam was built by the British in 1902 and flooded the Temple of Isis and it was not until 1987 that this Temple was rescued, reduced to 47000 pieces and repositioned on the renamed Agilika Island.

Philea TempleThe High Dam is just what one would expect and, as is normal with hydro dams, most of the interesting stuff is underground. The dam contains enough rock to build 20 Great Pyramids and holds back the largest man-made lake in the world, so long (500km) that it reaches into neighbouring Sudan. The dam was built in the 70s with Soviet assistance and now provides more than enough hydro-electricity to power the whole of Egypt as well as taming the annual Nile floods.

Philea TempleOn the way back to our boat we detoured to visit "Philea" Island and the Philea Temple complex. Since the Temple is on an island, a boat is required for access so the bus dropped us off at the waterfront tourist-tat bazaar where there were dozens of boats milling around and jostling for position to entice tourists to use their services. It appeared to be total chaos. If there was any organisation to the way it system worked it was not apparent to the outsider. Philea TemplePhilea Temple
Having, somehow, secured our boat we were delivered to the island for our tour while our boat waited, in the shade of another island, for our return. How all this was coordinated before the advent of cellphones is anyone's guess.

The Tombs of the Nobles across the NileIt was our intention to visit the Old Cataract Hotel for High Tea on the terrace where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile but unfortunately we never had the time to make it there and there were conflicting stories, one of which was that the Terrace was closed for refurbishment.

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