Image by Veronica Garbutt Getty Images
Kitchener’s Island, to the west of Elephantine Island, was given to Lord Horatio Kitchener in the 1890s when he was commander of the Egyptian army. Indulging his passion for beautiful palms and plants, Kitchener turned the entire island into the stunning Aswan Botanical Gardens, importing plants from the Far East, India and parts of Africa.
Covering 6.8 hectares, the gardens are filled with birds as well as hundreds of species of flora. While it may have lost some of its former glory, its majestic trees are still a stunning sight, particularly just before sunset when the light is softer and the scent of sandalwood floats on the breeze. Avoid Fridays, when the place is invaded by picnicking extended families with stereos. Instead, come late afternoon when there is hardly anyone.
The island is most easily seen as part of a felucca tour. Alternatively, take the northernmost ferry to Elephantine Island and walk through the village to the other side of the island, where a few little feluccas wait on the western edge to take visitors across to the gardens. Expect to pay at least LE50 to LE60 for a round trip.