The last stretch. Done with the Pyramids. The “major” temples. The Nile River Cruise. Back to the city now. Aswan. Checking out the spices and essentials oils plus some Nubian jewellery, arts and crafts. And yes, just a few more historical sites to do as day trips before really “settling” in Aswan. Like Gebel El Silsila, the sandstone quarry site sitting at that narrowest point of the River Nile. Quite an adventure here as our guide led us through mounds, climbing up some rugged path to emerge on a cliff overlooking the entire quarry site. I wasn’t prepared to climb up and told our guide I don’t feel confident after seeing it’s by the cliff edge. He said assuredly that he’d assist, offering his hand. Grabbed his hand and while I was deciding whether to go with my left or right foot first, he promptly pulled me up. Voila! By the time he pulled back his hand, I was left with no choice but to go on fours to reach the top. It was a short climb but I felt funny doing it. 😂

That’s moí leading the seniors 😂

As the ancient Egyptian builders switched from limestone to sandstone, Gebel El Silsilah met the stone requirements of the Theban temples. Like nearby Kom Ombo, this quarry site’s principal deity is Sobek, the crocodile god. More than just a quarry site, there were also rock-cut tombs and crypts discovered here. While larger boats cruising the Nile offer only a fleeting glimpse of this site, our Dahabiya (sailboat) slowdrifted and actually stopped to unload us here. Having visited the Karnak Temple earlier, one wonders how the massive stone blocks were quarried and then transported from here. My, these Egyptians!

Then there’s the unfinished obelisk in Aswan. Cracked and abandoned, this obelisk would have been the largest in Ancient Egypt if only it stood at 140 feet in height. The giant unfinished monument lying on a bed of granite is now an open air museum where scientists and Egyptologists can study how the ancient Egyptians constructed obelisks. Because it is right in Aswan, there were more than the usual tourists we found in other attractions.

Not far from our (huge) sprawling hotel complex in Isis Island is the Mausoleum of Aga Khan. Yes, Aga Khan — that celebrated imam who also happens to be dad-in-law to a Hollywood actor, Rita Hayworth. The elegant tomb looks more like a mosque along the banks of the Nile viewed from our hotel. Why was Imam Khan buried here? It is reported that he spent many winters here in Aswan until he died in 1957. His wife, who died in 2000, was also buried here. Although not open to the public, the couple’s winter Villa is located within the mausoleum gardens.

We found time to visit the Nubian Museum in Aswan. Nubia is now present-day Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan. In the ancient times, Nubia was Egypt’s supply chain for gold. Today, “Nubia” has become popular as a girl’s name. It has Egyptian origin and actually means “gold”. How so apt! The Museum building is an architectural beauty, and the many artefacts and antiquities inside is a good prelude to understanding Nubian history, culture and civilization. Amazing how these ancient kingdoms were so way ahead of their times! Heady with Nubian thoughts — hey, it takes awhile to let all that history to sink in — we ended our day with an end-of-holiday visit to the Coptic Cathedral and some retail therapy in spices and essential oils bazaar. Don’t you agree most holidays end this way?