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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aswan Dam
Official name Aswan High Dam
Length 3830 m
Height 111 m
Width (at base) 980 m base, 40 m crest
Maintained by muaykensan
Reservoir information
Creates Lake Nasser
Capacity 111 km3
Power generation information
Turbines 12
Installed capacity 2.1 GW
Geographical Data
Map of Aswan Dam

Lake Nasser location.png

Coordinates 23°58′14″N 32°52′40″E / 23.970589°N 32.877861°E / 23.970589; 32.877861Coordinates: 23°58′14″N 32°52′40″E / 23.970589°N 32.877861°E / 23.970589; 32.877861

Aswan Dam refers to two dams, both located Aswan, Egypt. Most commonly today the name refers to the High Dam, which is the newer of the two. Construction on the High Dam was completed in 1970, and has had immeasurable impacts on the economy and culture of Egypt. The earlier Old Aswan Dam, or Aswan Low Dam, was completed in 1902. The aim of both projects was to regulate river flooding, to provide storage of water for agriculture, and later, to generate electricity. The former cataract and the Old Aswan Dam are about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) (686 kilometres (426 mi)) up-river and south-southeast of Cairo. The new Aswan High Dam is further 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) upriver from the older dam.

Before the dams were built, the River Nile flooded each year during summer, as water flowed down the valley from its East African drainage basin. These floods brought high water, plus natural nutrients and minerals that continuously enriched the fertile soil along the river and made the Nile valley ideal for farming, as it had since ancient times. As Egypt's population grew and conditions changed, there came a desire to control the flood waters to both protect and support farmland and economically important cotton fields. In high-water years, the whole crop might be wiped out, while in low-water years widespread drought and famine occasionally occurred. With the reservoir storage provided by these dams, the floods could be lessened, and the water could be stored for later release.


Construction history

The earliest attempt of building a dam in Aswan dates back to the 1000s, when the Iraqi polymath and engineer Ibn al-Haytham (known as Alhazen in the West) was summoned to Egypt by the Fatimid Caliph, Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, to regulate the flooding of the Nile, a task requiring an early attempt at an Aswan Dam.[1] After his field work made him aware of the impracticality of this scheme,[2] and fearing the caliph's anger, he feigned madness. He was kept under house arrest from 1011 until al-Hakim's death in 1021, during which time he wrote his influential Book of Optics.

Following their 1882, invasion and occupation of Egypt, the British began construction of the first dam across the Nile in 1898. Construction lasted until 1902, and it was opened on 10 December 1902, by HRH the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. The project was designed by Sir William Willcocks and involved several eminent engineers of the time, including Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir John Aird, whose firm, John Aird & Co., was the main contractor.[3][4] A gravity dam, it was 1,900 m long and 54 m high. The initial design was soon found to be inadequate and the height of the dam was raised in two phases, 1907-1912 and 1929-1933.

When the dam almost overflowed in 1946 it was decided that rather than raise the dam a third time, a second dam would be built 6 km upriver (about 4 miles). Proper planning began in 1954 just after the Egyptian Revolution led by the Free Officers, of whom Gamal Abdel Nasser was to become leader.


Aswan High Dam from 1955 to present

In 1955 Nasser was trying to portray himself as the leader of Arab nationalism, in opposition to Hashemite Iraq, especially following the Baghdad Pact of 1955. At this time the US was concerned with the possibility of communism spreading to the Middle East, and saw Nasser as a natural leader of an anti-communist Arab league. The US and Britain offered to help finance construction of the high dam with a loan of US$270 million in return for Nasser's leadership in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nasser presented himself as a tactical neutralist, and sought work the US and USSR for Egyptian and Arab benefit.[5]

After Israel defeated Egyptian forces in 1956, Nasser realised that he could not legitimately portray himself as the leader of pan-Arab nationalism if Israel could push him around militarily. He looked to quickly modernise his military, and he turned first to the US.

US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and US President Dwight Eisenhower told Nasser that the US would supply him with weapons only if they could send military personnel to supervise the training and use of the weapons. Nasser did not like these conditions and looked to the Soviet Union. Dulles believed that Nasser was only bluffing, and that the USSR would not aid Nasser. But the USSR promised Nasser a quantity of arms in exchange for a deferred payment of Egyptian grain and cotton. Instead of retaliating against Nasser for turning to the Soviets, Dulles sought to improve relations with him. This explains the US/British offer of December 1955.

Though the Czechoslovak arms deal actually increased US willingness to invest in Aswan, the British cited the deal as a reason for withdrawing their funding. What angered Dulles much more was Nasser’s recognition of communist China, which was in direct conflict with Dulles's policy of containment. There are several other reasons why the US decided to withdraw the offer of funding. Dulles believed that the Soviet Union would not actually make good on its promise to help the Egyptians. He was also irritated by Nasser’s neutrality and attempts to play both sides of the Cold War. Actual NATO allies in the Middle East, like Turkey and Iraq, were irritated that a persistently neutral country like Egypt was being offered so much aid.[6]

Timeline of US-USSR power-plays over Aswan

Aswan Low Dam

September 27 1955: Nasser announces arms deal with Czechoslovakia, with Czechoslovakia acting as a middleman for the USSR.[7]

December 1955: US and UK pledge $56 and $14 million respectively towards construction of dam.[8]

May 1956: Nasser recognizes communist China, which is in direct conflict with Dulles’s policy of containment.[9]

June 1956: Soviets offer Nasser $1,120,000,000 at 2% interest for the construction of the dam.

July 19 1956: The United State's State Department announces that it deemed American financial assistance for the High Dam "not feasible in present circumstances." [8]

July 26 1956: Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal. The Suez War breaks out, The United Kingdom, France, and Israel tried to invade Egypt, but, in the same year 1956, they failed and had to withdraw from the small positions which they seized for a short time.

In 1958, the Soviet Union stepped in and funded the dam project. The Soviets also provided technicians and heavy machinery. The enormous rock and clay dam was designed by the Soviet Hydroproject Institute along with some Egyptian engineers. 25 thousands Egyptian engineers and workers formed the backbone of the workforce required to complete this tremendous project which deeply changed many aspects in Egypt.

Construction began in 1960. The High Dam, as-Sad al-'Aali, an embankment dam, was completed on 21 July 1970. It took 10 years to build with the first stage completed by 1964. The reservoir began filling in 1964 while the dam was still under construction and first reached capacity in 1976. In the late 1950's the reservoir raised concern with archaeologists because major historical sites were about to be under water. A rescue operation began in 1960 under UNESCO. Sites were to be surveyed and excavated and 24 major monuments were moved to safer locations (see Abu Simbel) or granted to countries that helped with the works (such as the Debod temple in Madrid and the Temple of Dendur in New York).

On the Egyptian side, the project was led by Osman Ahmed Osman's Arab Contractors. The relatively young Osman underbid his only competitor by one-half [10].


The Aswan High Dam is 3,830 metres long, 980 metres wide at the base, 40 metres wide at the crest and 111 metres tall. It contains 43 million cubic metres of material. At maximum, 11,000 cubic metres of water can pass through the dam every second. There are further emergency spillways for an extra 5000 cubic metres per second and the Toshka Canal links the reservoir to the Toshka Depression. The reservoir, named Lake Nasser, is 550 km long and 35 km at its widest with a surface area of 5,250 square kilometres. It holds 111 cubic kilometres of water.

A panorama of Aswan Dam


Periodic floods and droughts, known since Biblical times (Genesis 41:35-36), caused devastating effect on the population in the Nile Delta. The dam mitigated the effects of these dangerous floods such as in 1964 and 1973 and the effects the droughts in 1972-1973 and the drought of 1983-1984 that devastated East Africa and Somalia. Also, a new fishing industry has been created around Lake Nasser, though it is struggling due to its distance from any significant markets.

The High Dam increased the farmland 500% since 1970.

The dam powers twelve generators each rated at 175 megawatts, producing a hydroelectric output of 2.1 gigawatts. Power generation began in 1967. When the dam first reached peak output it produced around half of Egypt's entire electricity production (about 15% by 1998) and allowed most Egyptian villages to use electricity for the first time.

Environmental and cultural problems

A view from the vantage point in the middle of High Dam towards the "Lotus Flower" tower by the sculptor Ernst Neizvestny.
A wall commemorating the completion of Aswan High Dam. The coat of arms of the Soviet Union is on the left and the coat of arms of Egypt is on the right.

Damming the Nile has caused a number of environmental and cultural problems. It flooded much of lower Nubia and over 60,000 people were displaced. Lake Nasser flooded valuable archaeological sites such as the Buhen fort. The valuable silt which the Nile deposited ashore in the yearly floods and made the Nile floodplain fertile is now held behind the dam. Silt deposited in the reservoir is lowering the water storage capacity of Lake Nasser. Poor irrigation practices beyond the dam are water logging soils and bringing salt to the surface. Mediterranean fishing declined after the dam was finished because nutrients that used to flow down the Nile to the Mediterranean were trapped behind the dam.[citation needed]

There is some erosion of farmland down-river as the river used to replenish its sediment during floods, but now most sediment stays behind the walls of the dam. Erosion of coastline barriers due to lack of new sediments from floods will eventually cause loss of the brackish water lake fishery that is currently the largest source of fish for Egypt, and the breakdown of the Nile Delta may lead to inundation of the northern portion of the delta with seawater, in areas which are now used for rice crops.[citation needed] The delta itself, no longer renewed by Nile silt, has lost much of its fertility. The red-brick construction industry, which used delta mud, is also severely affected. There is significant erosion of coastlines (due to lack of sand, which was once brought by the Nile) all along the eastern Mediterranean.

Aswan High Dam (NASA satellite photo)

As evaporating water in these areas extracts minerals out of the ground, a layer of salt crystals on the soil is often created, causing salinization and decreased yield. Furthermore, the standing water is a breeding ground for snails carrying the parasite bilharzia, in Egypt the second worst parasite after malaria.

The increased use of artificial fertilizers in farmland below the dam has caused chemical pollution which the traditional river silt did not do. Lack of irrigation control has also caused some farmland to be damaged by water logging and increased salinity, a problem complicated by the reduced flow of the river, which allows salt water to encroach further into the delta.

The Aswan Dam tends to increase the salinity of the Mediterranean Sea, and this affects the Mediterranean's outflow current into the Atlantic Ocean (see Strait of Gibraltar). This current can be traced thousands of kilometers into the Atlantic.

Due to the Aswan Dam inhibiting the natural fluctuations in water height, i.e. floods, the bilharzia disease has flourished causing great expense to the Egyptian economy and people.

Irrigation for agriculture

Water balances
Main irrigation system

Due to the absence of appreciable rainfall, Egypt's agriculture depends entirely on irrigation. With irrigation, two crops per year can be produced, except for sugar cane which has a growing period of almost one year. The high dam at Aswan releases, on average, 55 billion m³ water per year of which some 46 billion m³ are diverted into the irrigation canals. In the Nile valley and delta, almost 8 million feddan (1 feddan is 1.038 acre or 4200.835 m2) benefit from these waters producing on average 1.8 crops per year. The annual crop consumptive use of water is about 38 billion m³. Hence, the overall irrigation efficiency is 38/46 = 0.82 or 82%. This is a relatively high irrigation efficiency. The field irrigation efficiencies are much less, but the losses are re-used downstream. This continuous re-use accounts for the high overall efficiency. The equal distribution of irrigation water over the branch canals taking off from the main irrigation canals leaves much to be desired [11] .

Branch canal Water delivery in m³/feddan*
Kafret Nasser 4700
Beni Magdul 3500
El Mansuria 3300
El Hammami upstream 2800
El Hammami downstream 1800
El Shimi 1200

* Period 1 March to 31 July. 1 feddan is about 1 acre or 0.42 ha. Data from Egyptian Water Use Management Project (EWUP)

The salt concentration of the water in the Aswan reservoir is about 0.25 kg/m³. This is very non-salty. At an annual inflow of 55 billion m³, the annual salt import reaches 14 million tons. The average salt concentration of the drainage water evacuated into the sea and the coastal lakes is 2.7 kg/m³ (Egyptian Drainage Research Institute, yearbook 1995/1996). At an annual discharge of 10 billion m³ (not counting the 2 billion m³ of salt intrusion from the sea and the lakes, see figure "Water balances"), the annual salt export reaches 27 million ton. In 1995, the salt export was higher than the import, and Egypt's agricultural lands were desalinizing. Part of this could be due to the large number of subsurface drainage projects executed in the last decades to control the control the water table and soil salinity.


  1. ^ Rashed, Roshdi (2002-08-02), "PORTRAITS OF SCIENCE: A Polymath in the 10th Century", Science (Science magazine) 297 (5582): 773, doi:10.1126/science.1074591, PMID 12161634,, retrieved 2008-09-16 
  2. ^ Corbin, Henry (1993; original French 1964), History of Islamic Philosophy, Translated by Liadain Sherrard, Philip Sherrard, London; Kegan Paul International in association with Islamic Publications for The Institute of Ismaili Studies, p. 149, ISBN 0710304161 
  3. ^ Egypt bond
  4. ^ Roberts, Chalmers (December 1902), "Subduing the Nile", The World's Work: A History of Our Time V: 2861–2870 
  5. ^ The Aswan Decision in Perspective Author(s): James E. Dougherty Source: Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 1 (Mar., 1959), pp. 21-45 Published by: The Academy of Political Science
  6. ^ Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Sixth Edition). Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2007.
  7. ^ Smith, Page 242
  8. ^ a b Dougherty, Page 22
  9. ^ Smith, 247
  10. ^ Osman the Efficient
  11. ^ Impacts of the Irrigation Improvement Projects in Egypt. Egyptian-Dutch Advisory Panel and International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement, Wageningen, The Netherlands great recovory. Download from : [1] , under nr. 4, or directly as PDF : [2]

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Aswan article)

From Wikitravel

The River Nile as it passes through Aswan
The River Nile as it passes through Aswan

Aswan is a city in the south of Egypt, some 680km (425 miles) south of Cairo, just below the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, with a population of 1.18 million. Aswan is far more relaxed and smaller than Cairo and Luxor.

Ice Delivery from a Cart
Ice Delivery from a Cart

Aswan is the smallest of the three major tourist cities on the Nile. Being the furthest south of the three, it has a large population of Nubian people, mostly resettled from their homeland in the area flooded by Lake Nasser. Aswan is the home of many granite quarries from which most of the Obelisks seen in Luxor were sourced. Aswan was the ancient Egyptians' gateway to Africa.

Get in

By plane

Aswan International Airport is situated 25km SSW of the city, on the west bank and just south of the high dam. Public buses don't go to the airport and security on the approach road to the terminal is tight, so it's probably worth taking a taxi, for which you must agree a price in advance. It is possible to argue the fare down to LE25, but LE30 to LE40 is more realistic (and easier) for most foreigners.

The following airlines operate service to Aswan International Airport: Air Memphis (to/from Abu Simbel), Astraeus (to/from London Gatwick), EgyptAir [1] (to/from Abu Simbel, Cairo, Luxor), Iberworld [2] (to/from Madrid), and LotusAir (to/from Cairo)

By train

Egypt's passenger train service runs along the Nile between Cairo and Aswan. Travel time to Luxor is around 3 hours on 1st/2nd class AC services. Five AC express services depart to Cairo each day, taking 13-14 hours (55LE 2nd class, 109LE 1st class), in addition to the Abela sleeper train (US$60, two trains each evening, one continuing to Alexandria). Tickets sell out so it important to buy a day or two in advance.

Aswan train station is on the northern end of the city centre, a few hundred metres inland from the river. Leave plenty of time to buy tickets, as the service at the counters is slow. Mini buses depart from outside the station (turn right as you exit the terminal), and there are a number of cafes and basic hotels on the blocks between the station and the river.

Railway Station Street
Railway Station Street

By bus

From Hurghada (513km away) buses cost 45LE. Tickets are sold on the bus, but be sure to ask the price at the ticket office, because the ticket seller on the bus will often raise the price 5LE or so and pocket the excess if you are a foreigner.

By boat

Dozens of cruise ships depart from Luxor to Aswan everyday. These can be booked through agents or at the actual ships themselves.

Get around

Aswan is compact enough to negotiate primarily on foot. To access Philae, the High Dam, and the unfinished obelisks, you can take a taxi or a horse-drawn carriage. A taxi excursion to all of these sights should cost 80LE to 100LE per vehicle.

To access the sights on the river islands or on the West Bank, you will need to cross the river by motor boat or felluca. Be sure to pay attention to the price as operators try to overcharge tourists.

Vendor in an Aswan souq
Vendor in an Aswan souq
  • Nubian Museum, (opposite the Basma Hotel, south of the Old Cataract Hotel, at the southern edge of Aswan town on Sharia Abtal al-Tahrir - approximately a half hour walk from the city centre.), [3]. daily 9AM-1:00PM and 5:00PM-9:00PM winter, 6:00PM-10:00PM summer. Very well organized, features Nubian treasures recovered before the flooding of Nubia. Adult: 20LE; Student: 10LE.  edit
  • Unfinished Obelisk, (South of Aswan). The largest known ancient obelisk, carved directly out of bedrock. If finished it would have measured around 42m (120 feet) and would have weighed nearly 1,200 tons. 25LE.  edit
  • Elephantine Island: Nubian Villages & Aswan Museum. Nubian villages of Siou and Koti occupy this island. Also home to the famous Nilometers and the Temples of Sati, Khnum (ancient rams-head god) and Pepinakht-Heqaib. Movenpick resort is on the island. The Aswan Museum (Adult: 25LE, Student 15LE) at the southern end of the island houses items found during escavations on Elephantine Island. Also, be careful of unsolicited tours from locals, which will result in a request for baksheesh. There is regular boat taxi to Elephantine Island run by the locals for only 2LE for one crossing but they will charge more for tourists.   edit
  • Aswan Botanical Gardens, (On the entirety of Kitcheners Island to the west of Elephantine Island). Lord Kitchener, who owned the 6.8 hectare island in the 1890's converted it to a botanical garden. Filled with birds and hundreds of plant species and palm trees. Accessible via a felucca tour. 10LE.  edit
  • Seheyl Island, (Just north of the old Aswan Dam). 7AM to 4:00PM. Friendly Nubian villages. Well known for its excellent beaded jewelry. Also the location of the Famine Stela. Cliff with more than 200 inscriptions from the 18th dynasty, 65LE.  edit
Desert view of the St Simeon Monastry
Desert view of the St Simeon Monastry
  • Tombs of the Nobles. 8AM to 4:00PM. The northern hills of the west bank are filled with the rock-hewn tombs of princes from the Old Kingdom to the Roman period. The 6th Dynasty tombs, some of which form linked family complexes, contain important biographical texts. Inside, the tombs are decorated with vivid wall paintings showing scenes of everyday life, hieroglyphic biographies and inscriptions telling of the noblemen's journeys into Africa. Adult: 20LE, Student: 10LE.  edit
    • Tombs of Mekhu & Sabni - Reliefs show invasion of Nubia
    • Tomb of Sarenput II - One of the most beautiful and preserved tombs
    • Tomb of Harkhuf - Hieroglyphics
    • Tomb of Hekaib - Reliefs show fighting and hunting scenes
    • Tomb of Sarenput II - Six pillars decorated with reliefs
    • Kubbet al Hawa - Located on the hilltop above the other tombs. Stunning views of the Nile
  • Kubbet el-Hawa, (on top of the hill above the Tombs of the Nobles). Small shrine / tomb of a local sheikh and holy man. The climb is rewarded with amazing views of Aswan, the Nile river and the surrounding landscape, richly evoked in the translation from the Arabic of the place name, "the dome of the wind'.  edit
  • Mausoleum of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan, (High up in the west bank). Tomb of the 48th iman of the Islami sect and his wife. Visible from the outside, although closed to the public.  edit
  • Monastery of St Simeon. Oct to May: 8AM-4:00PM; Jun-Sep:7:00AM-5:00PM. The history of the monastery of St. Simeon dates back to the 7th century, and survived long as a Christian stronghold of southern Egypt until destroyed by Saladin in 1173. While still in use it housed 300 monks, and could in addition receive up to 100 pilgrims at a time. The monastery was surrounded by a 10 metre high wall, and doubled as a fortress. Apparently, the monastery did not return to its original use after Saladin's destruction. To get here, ride a camel or walk from the Tombs of the Nobles. Adult: 20LE, Student: 10LE.  edit
  • The High Dam. Despite being a highly important piece of infrastructure, the Aswan High Dam is (to put it delicately) a bit of a letdown even for dam lovers. 20LE.  edit
  • Philae Temple, (Agilkia Island). Built to honor Isis, this was the last ancient temple built in the the classical Egyptian architectural style. Construction began in approx 690 BC. It was moved from its original location on Philae Island, to its new location on Agilkia Island, after the flooding of Lake Nasser. A major multinational UNESCO team relocated Philae, and a number of other temples that now dot the shores of Lake Nasser. You can see the submerged original island a short distance away, punctuated by the steel columns used in the moving process. Don't miss the Sound and Light show at night, see picture to the right, the least cheesy of the Sound and Light "extravaganzas". On your feet, look out for the extremely creative guards who will do all in their power to get in your photos, or to point out the hieroglpyhs that you can quite clearly see yourself, all for some baksheesh(tip)! Note also the re-use of the temple as a Christian church, with crosses carved into the older hieroglyph reliefs, and images of the Egyptian gods carefully defaced. There are grafitti dating from the 1800s.  edit
  • Kalabsha Temple. Like Philae, this temple and its surrounding ruins were moved by UNESCO to save them from the floodwaters of Lake Nasser. The main temple was built to the Nubian fertility and sun god Marul during the rule of Emperor Augustus. Don't miss the Kiosk of Qirtasi and the amazing Temple of Beit al-Wali built by Ramesses II.  edit
  • Abu Simbel. Most people use Aswan as a base to see this fantastic temple. There is a convoy that departs at 3AM, and is usually arranged by your hotel. See Abu Simbel article for more details.  edit
Philue Temple
Philue Temple
Aswan Fellucas
Aswan Fellucas
  • Rent a Bike. Bikes available at many hotels. Cross the modern bridge to the east bank and bring back your bicycle afterwards by ferry boat.  edit
  • Local Felucca Cruise. Aswan is a great place for a local cruise to the nearby islands. Two hours of felucca trip will cost you between 25-50 EP depends on your negotiation skills. See felucca cruise on the Nile.  edit
  • Camel Rides. Grab a felucca captain and they will shuttle you across to the camel marshalling area. Ride the camel to the Monastery of St Simeon.  edit
  • Tea with the Local Shopkeepers. You will get a fascinating insight into their daily lives, and they love to practise their English on you.  edit


The souqs (markets) in Aswan are refreshingly exotic without the same level of high-pressure selling found in some tourist towns further north. You will generally find that Nubian handicrafts are of higher quality and better value in Aswan. All other goods will be more expensive than in Cairo due to shipping costs to Aswan and the lower tourist demand. Having said that, the Aswan souk is

  • Sharia as-Souq. The most charming souq in Egypt, There is far less pressure to buy than in other cities. Buy Nubian talisman, baskets, Sudanese swords, african masks, live produce, food, fruit, vegetables, henna powder, t-shirts, perfume, spices, robes, statues.  edit
  • Al-Masry Restaurant, Sharia Al Matar. Popular with locals. Great kafta and kebabs, pigeon, and chicken, all served with bread, salad and tahini Dishes: 8LE to 30 LE.  edit
  • Aswan Moon, Corniche an Nil (Situated on pontoons along the Nile), 231 6108. Decent food with cheery service. The local fish joints near the city market can be excellent -- their fish is fresh, and you can watch it cook. Don't miss the crab soup! Mezze: 4LE to 9LE; Pizza: 19Le to 25LE; Kebob: 25LE; Daoud Basha (meatballs and tomato sauce): 13LE.  edit
  • Biti Pizza, Midan al Mahatta (Near the train station). Serves fiteer, a flaky Egyptian pizza, as well as western varieties. Pizza: 20LE.  edit
  • Chef Khalil, Sharia al Souq (Near the train station). Fresh fish restaurant, priced by weight. Small place but worth the wait. From 25LE to 60LE.  edit
  • Emy, Corniche an Nil (On a double deckered boat moored in the Nile, next to Aswan Moon), 230 4349. Popular amound Nubian felucca captains. Beer available. Beer: 9LE; Salads: 3LE; Egyption and international dishes: 13LE to 18LE; Fresh juices: 5LE.  edit
  • Madena Restaurant, Sharia al souq (Close to Cleopatra Hotel). Small place. Kofta meal: 22LE; Vegetarian meal: 15LE.  edit
  • Nubian House, off Sharia al Tahrir, 1km past Nubian Museum, 232 6226. Spectacular sunset views over the first cataract. Sheesha and tea. From 15LE to 22LE.  edit
  • Panorama, Corniche an Nil, 231 6169. Serves simple Egyptian stews served in clay pots, with salad, mezze, rice. All day breakfast Dishes; 8LE to 20LE.  edit


Aswan is much less strict on drinking alcohol than Cairo or Luxor, and many of the restaurants sell Stella (Egyptian brand not the Belgian brand) and Saqqara, both of which are lagers and comparable to European beers.

Sunset over the Nile in Aswan, view from The Philae Hotel.
Sunset over the Nile in Aswan, view from The Philae Hotel.
  • Abu Schleeb Hotel, (Off Shaira Abbas Farid), 230 3051. Small but clean rooms Singles: 35LE, Doubles: 40LE, Triples: 45LE.  edit
  • Happi Hotel, (Sharia Abtal al Tahrir), 231 4115. Gloomy hotel but clean rooms. Singles: 65LE, Doubles: 90LE.  edit
  • Hathor Hotel, (Corniche an Nil), 231 4580. 36 rooms. Swimming pool. Singles: 40LE, Doubles: 60LE.  edit
  • HI International Youth Hostel, 96 Sharia Abtal at-Tahrir, 230 2313. The cheapest place to stay in Aswan, but you get what you pay for. Dorm bed: From 9LE, Singles from 15LE.  edit
  • Keylany Hotel, 25 Sharia Keylany, 231 7332, [4]. The best budget hotel in Aswan. Clean and comfortable rooms. Spotless bathrooms. Internet access available for 10LE per hour, but is very slow. Singles: 60LE, Doubles: 75LE, Triples: 90LE.  edit
  • Marwa Hotel & Hostel, (In a small side alley off Sharia Abtal at-Tahrir). OK budget option if you are looking for the cheapest bed. Dorm bed: 6LE.  edit
  • Memnon Hotel, (Corniche an Nil, south of Aswan Moon restaurant). Great Nile views. Singles: 45LE, Doubles: 65LE.  edit
  • Noorhan Hotel, (Off Sharia Abtal at-Tahrir), 231 6069. Clean and pleasant with functioning (common) hot shower. Staff is aggressive about trying to sell you a tour. Singles: 15LE, Doubles: 20LE.  edit
  • Nuba Nile Hotel, (Sharia Abtal al Tahrir). The second best value for your money, after the Keylany Hotel. Clean comfortable rooms, near train station. Next to internet cafe and ahwa. Singles: 60LE, Doubles: 75LE.  edit
  • Nubian Oasis Hotel, 234 Sharia as Souq, 231 2126. Staff is aggressive about trying to sell you a tour. Beer available in roof garden. Clean rooms Singles: 25LE, Doubles: 30LE.  edit
  • Orchida St George, (Sharia Muhammed Kahlid). Friendly 3-star hotel with tacky decor. Singles: 80LE, Doubles: 100LE.  edit
  • Philae Hotel, (Corniche an Nil), 231 2090. Friendly staff, and some of the best views in Egypt (make sure you get a Nile View room). On the downside somewhat rundown rooms, gives you that camping inside feeling, not always plenty of hot water! Singles: 60LE, Doubles: 75LE, 20% premium for Nile View.  edit
  • Ramsis Hotel, (Sharia Abtal al Tahrir), 230 4000. High rise hotel. Slow service and no character but good views and good value. Singles: 65LE, Doubles: 100LE.  edit
  • Yassin Hotel, (Off Sharia Abtal at-Tahrir, next to Noorhan Hotel), 231 7109. Rooms are basic but clean. Staff is aggressive about trying to sell you a tour. Singles: 15LE, Doubles: 20LE.  edit
  • Bet el Kerem, (The only hotel accommodation on the Westbank, near the Tombs of the Nobles and close to the ferry boat to Aswan centre), [5]. Quiet atmosphere, hospitable staff, clean rooms, small (8 double rooms), restaurant for guests on the roof terrace. Marvellous view over the Nile, the desert and the Nubian villages. Perfect place if you are looking for something different! Bike rental available. Double: €30; House rental: €45.  edit
  • Elephantine Island Resort. Run down, but in the process of being refurbished.  edit
  • Movenpick Resort, (Northern end of Elephantine Island), +20 97 230 34 55 (). Best resort hotel in Aswan. Rates from USD160 per room per night. 7 night package with meals and massage: USD1,064 (summer) to USD1,414 (winter).  edit
  • Old Cataract Hotel, (Abtal El Tahrir Street), +20 97/2316000 (), [6]. CLOSED FOR REFUBISHMENT UNTIL MAY 2010. Live it up like the aristocrats of old! Part of the Sofitel chain of hotels, the Old Cataract Hotel overlooks the Nile River opposite the island of Elephantine. 123 rooms and 8 suites.  edit

Stay safe

Aswan is generally a very safe city. The locals will look after you like a long lost brother, although I hope they don't try to fleece family like they do Tourists! Women should avoid travelling alone if they are not comfortable with leering men, although they are all bluster.


Internet access is available at Keylany Hotel and Noorhan Hotel for 10LE per hour; however, internet speeds are very slow.

NB: As of August 2004, Aswan has had its telephone exchange upgraded and an additional "2" must now be added to old 6-digit telephone numbers..... The format for overseas callers, for example, should now be +20 97 2xxx xxx. Mobile phone numbers are unaffected by this change.


There is so much to do around the Aswan area, that time will be an issue. The local people have been very cooperative, and for a price, doors might remain opened regardless of the hour.

Philae Temple at Night
Philae Temple at Night
  • Taxi trips or organized tours to the nearby towns of Daraw and the Temple of Kom Ombo further north on the Nile. These trips should cost 150LE. Arrange this carefully as a police convoy may well be necessary.
  • Cruises to Luxor - The 2-night cruise should cost US$75++ per night, including meals, depending on the boat.
  • Felucca trips to Luxor - see the Felucca guide for a complete itinerary and information
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