A trip to the Nubian Village on Elephantine Island, located in the Nile River near Aswan, is a fun way to relax and soak up some of the region’s fascinating past. While you generally won’t find this site featured in many of our existing Egypt tour packages or even in our Nile River cruises, it is a lovely place to visit if you have some time to spare during a stay in Aswan.
Egypt, throughout its long and colorful history, has been home to many different civilizations. Of course it goes without saying that the Ancient Egyptians themselves were a fascinating civilization, but there were others present at the time that were equally as fascinating. Some of these ancient contemporaries still exist today, including the people you’ll meet at the Nubian village.
The Nubians Of Ancient Egypt
The Nubians were an ethnic group coming from southern Egypt and northern Sudan, who during the course of history started a number of settlements along the Nile River. They were famous for their horse riding skills and their impressive marksmanship with bows and arrows. They where generally held in high regard as a strong cavalry force.
During the course of history, the Nubians typically blended and merged with the Egyptians during the Pharaonic age. In fact, a number of ancient pharaohs were of Nubian decent, and their legacy has inevitably lived on. These days, there are still several Nubian communities scattered around the country. Many of these small villages have become very popular with tourists nowadays.
The Nubians Of Elephantine Island
Although Elephantine Island is a popular destination between locals and tourists alike, With so many other Aswan tourist attractions available, the island still often overlooked by tourists. It is a lovely place to visit since it offers visitors an ideal opportunity to take a break from the frantic city life found in Aswan. Unlike nearby Kitchener’s Island, visitors to Elephantine Island are able to stay on the island thanks to the many resorts and hotels, and this makes exploring the island so much more fun.
Visiting The Nubian Village
Although some travel guides speak of a single Nubian village on Elephantine Island, there are in fact two villages. The first Nubian village is Siou village and the second is called Koti village, both of which run across the center of the island. The two villages are connected by a footpath, and collectively, they are remains of three distinct settlements.
Many of the Nubians you’ll find living at either Nubian village were relocated here during the latter half of the twentieth century as construction of the High Dam in Aswan neared completion. The construction of the dam essentially meant that the Nubian communities had no option but to move.
Today, the Nubians of Elephantine Island inhabit the central portion, which is found between the ruins at one end and the modern luxury hotel at the other. Though some tourists find the stark contrast between the huts at the Nubian village and the luxury amenities a bit disconcerting, the Nubians themselves encourage travelers to walk along their garden paths and to explore their villages.
One word of advice to those who do decide to visit the Nubian village – bring a camera! These are some of the most colorful places you may ever visit. Mounds of spices are sold from a vendor’s table, small colorful dolls are made by another and tiny cafes with boldly colored plates and cups sell traditional Egyptian coffee. The Nubians are known for the kind and gentle ways and for their welcoming attitude.
If you are someone who likes to head off of the beaten path, you won’t have to go far when you visit Elephantine Island and its Nubian villages. You can enjoy the rare sites that the historic locations of the island affords, you can pay a visit to the Aswan Museum, and then you can enjoy a cup of tea and purchase some truly lovely handicrafts from the people that inhabit the island.
Remember, these are the remnants of an ancient people and their music, language, and traditions offer you a rare glimpse into another world and even another time. Do keep in mind that Western garments may be unsuitable, and women in particular are reminded to dress modestly.
Tour Egypt Your Way
If your heart is set on visiting Egypt you should definitely explore our Nile cruises from Aswan to Luxor or our Nile cruises from Luxor to Aswan. Please do keep in mind however that not all packages include trips to places like Elephantine Island. If that case, please contact our customer service department and we’ll be more than happy to add the Nubian Village to your itinerary.