Situated just north of the old Aswan Dam, the island of Seheyl was sacred to the goddess Anukis. Before the dam’s construction, the Nile would rush noisily through the granite boulders that emerged from the riverbed just south of here, forming the First Cataract. On the island’s southern tip is a cliff with more than 200 inscriptions, most dating to the 18th and 19th dynasties, of princes, generals and other officials who passed by on their journey to Nubia.

The most famous of these inscriptions is the so-called famine stele from the 3rd dynasty that recounts a terrible seven-year famine during the reign of Zoser (2667–2648 BC), which the pharaoh tried to end by making offerings to the Temple of Khnum on Elephantine Island.

Next to the inscriptions is a friendly Nubian village with brightly coloured houses. Several houses now welcome visitors, selling tea and good Nubian lunches as well as local crafts. It’s a pleasant place to stroll around.

Herodotus reported that an Egyptian official had told him that the First Cataract was the source of the Nile, which flowed north and south from there. Now the waters flow slowly and Seheyl makes an ideal destination for a slightly longer felucca trip.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Aswan attractions

1. Gharb Seheyl

0.58 MILES

Gharb Seheyl, the village opposite Seheyl island, has become popular tourist attraction of late, both with excursions from Aswan and for those looking for…

2. Nile Museum

1.23 MILES

A three-storey building on 146,000 sq metres of land, the Nile Museum exhibits antique items that tell of the waterway's history and photos that…

3. Aswan Dam

1.31 MILES

Completed in 1902, the Aswan Dam was a feat of engineering for its time and the largest dam in the world, measuring 2441m across, 50m high and 30m wide…

4. Swimming Beach

1.49 MILES

This lovely beach on the Nile is safe for swimming, but you'll need a motor boat to get there, or walk or take a camel from Gharb Seheyl.

5. Fatimid Cemetery

2.06 MILES

Among the modern graves are some ruined mud-brick domed tombs, some of which go back to the Fatimid period (9th century). The domes are built on a drum…

6. Nubia Museum

2.08 MILES

The little-visited Nubia Museum, opposite Basma Hotel, is a treat, a showcase of the history, art and culture of Nubia. Established in 1997 in cooperation…

7. Unfinished Obelisk

2.15 MILES

Aswan was the source of ancient Egypt’s finest granite, used to make statues and embellish temples, pyramids and obelisks. The large unfinished obelisk in…

8. Temple of Isis

2.17 MILES

Built to honour the goddess Isis, this was the last temple built in the classical Egyptian style. Construction began around 690 BC, and it was one of the…