Don't Miss: Bird-watching in Aswan

Bird watchers have long come to Aswan to watch the migrating flocks. But being on the Nile very early in the morning, gliding along the edge of the islands, watching birds and hearing how they fit into ancient Egyptian history or into Nubian traditions, will appeal to a much wider audience than just specialists.

Mohamed Arabi is known as the ‘Birdman of Aswan’ and no bird escapes his eye. He has been taking twitchers and documentary-makers on the Nile for many years, but is also happy to take amateurs. Call him direct. His small speedboat glides into the channels between the islands while he points out the vegetation; sunbirds; hoopoes; purple, squacco, striated and night herons; pied kingfishers; little and cattle egrets; redshanks; and many other birds.

Mohamed Sobhi, the owner of Nubian museum Animalia, takes twitchers and others on nature tours along the Nile using a motor boat. He knows his birds and their significance in ancient Egypt.

Feluccas

The Nile looks fabulous and magical at Aswan, and few things are more relaxing than hiring a felucca before sunset and sailing between the islands, the desert and the huge black boulders, listening to the flapping of a sail and to Nubian boys singing from tiny dugouts. On days when cruise boats dock together in town, hundreds of feluccas circle the islands, so it's a good time to take a felucca a bit further out towards Seheyl Island.

Lake Nasser Day Trips

Lake Nasser is usually glimpsed from the top of the Aswan dam or seen over several days from a cruise boat, but there is nothing to stop you going out for a rewarding day trip. African Angler has small boats and offers day-fishing for perch with a fishing guide, or a mini ecosafari looking at wildlife on or along the shores of the lake. Everything is arranged for the day, including transfers to and from your hotel. Prices include rods and lunch, and get cheaper the bigger the group.

Swimming

Aswan is a hot place, and often the only way to cool down, apart from hiding in your air-conditioned room, is to swim. Joining the local kids splashing about in the Nile is not a good idea. Bilharzia or schistosomiasis (an infection of the bowel and bladder caused by a freshwater fluke) can be caught in stagnant water; boatmen know where the current is strong enough (but not too strong) for it to be safe for swimming, among them a beach on the west bank opposite Seluga Island, for which you will need to rent a motor boat.

Some hotels open their swimming pools to the public, generally from 9am to sunset and particularly if occupancy rates are low. The Mövenpick Resort Aswan on Elephantine Island charges non-guests LE180 to use its pools.