Linked to Aswan by a public ferry, Elephantine Island is also a favorite destination on trips by the traditional river boats called feluccas. Some felucca tours feature guided visits of the island, while others simply cruise past the scenic shoreline. Once there, top sights include the Pyramid of Elephantine, the Aswan Museum, and Animalia, a museum covering Nubian culture and natural history. In the island’s two Nubian villages, find colorful houses and vendors selling everything from spices to souvenirs.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Since the Elephantine Island villages are somewhat more conservative than downtown Aswan, travelers may feel most comfortable in clothes that cover knees and shoulders.
- There are no cars on Elephantine Island; plan to get around the island on footpaths.
- Perfect for travelers interested in seeing a less-developed side of Aswan.
How to Get There
The public ferry to Elephantine Island departs from a pier off El Sadat Road in Aswan; tickets are one way and the return trip is free. If you’d prefer to visit by felucca, boats can be hired in many places along the Aswan waterfront. Since hiring a felucca on the river often requires a bit of haggling, pre-purchasing felucca tours can save time and hassle on the ground.
When to Get There
Powerful midday sun means Aswan is best explored in the cooler morning or evening hours—these are the best times for photography, as well. Watching sunset on the Nile River is a favorite experience for many visitors to Aswan, and some felucca tours are timed to catch the warm, evening light.
Staying on Elephantine Island
With a more traditional feel and easy access to central Aswan sights, sleeping on Elephantine Island is an appealing alternative to downtown accommodations. Options include a handful of smaller hotels, guesthouses, and the landmark Movenpick resort. Some hotels provide in-house boat service, making it easier to return to the island after an evening onshore.
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