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Wednesday, September 26, 2012


 Aswan is the ancient city of Swenet, which in antiquity was the frontier town of Ancient Egypt facing the south. Swenet is supposed to have derived its name from an Egyptian goddess with the same name. This goddess later was identified as Eileithyia by the Greeks and Lucina by the Romans during their occupation of Ancient Egypt because of the similar association of their goddesses with childbirth, and of which the import is "the opener". The ancient name of the city also is said to be derived from the Egyptian symbol for trade.[1]

Because the Ancient Egyptians oriented toward the origin of the life-giving waters of the Nile in the south, Swenet was the first town in the country, and Egypt always was conceived to "open" or begin at Swenet.The city stood upon a peninsula on the right (east) bank of the Nile, immediately below (and north of) the first cataract of the flowing waters, which extend to it from Philae. Navigation to the delta was possible from this location without encountering a barrier.

The stone quarries of ancient Egypt located here were celebrated for their stone, and especially for the granitic rock called Syenite. They furnished the colossal statues, obelisks, and monolithal shrines that are found throughout Egypt, including the pyramids; and the traces of the quarrymen who wrought in these 3,000 years ago are still visible in the native rock. They lie on either bank of the Nile, and a road, four miles (6 km) in length, was cut beside them from Syene to Philae.

Swenet was equally important as a military station as that of a place of traffic. Under every dynasty it was a garrison town; and here tolls and customs were levied on all boats passing southwards and northwards. Around AD 330, the legion stationed here received a bishop from Alexandria; this later became the Coptic Diocese of Syene.[2] The city is mentioned by numerous ancient writers, including Herodotus,[3] Strabo,[4] Stephanus of Byzantium,[5] Ptolemy,[6] Pliny the Elder,[7] De architectura,[8] and it appears on the Antonine Itinerary.[9] It also is mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Isaiah.[10]

The Nile is nearly 3,000 yards wide above Aswan. From this frontier town to the northern extremity of Egypt, the river flows for more than 750 miles (1,210 km) without bar or cataract. The voyage from Aswan to Alexandria usually took 21 to 28 days in favourable weather.


The High Dam is one of the modern monuments in Egypt that are definitely worth mentioning. The dam was built sometime between 1960 and 1971.
The technical ideas were Russian-Based. And it was mainly built to save the Egyptian lands from the drought and the flood of the River Nile. And thus provide Egypt with a wider range for Agriculture.

Interesting Fact: The material used in building the High Dam can be used to build 17 Great Pyramids like the Giza Pyramids.


It lies in the Granite Quarries in Aswan; the unfinished obelisk is 42 meters tall. Unfortunately while working on the obelisk, the stones cracked and this prevented the obelisk from being finished.

Interesting Fact: If it had been completed, it would have been the biggest obelisk in Ancient Egypt.


Doka Restaurant is located on a small island behind the Elephantine Island. It serves authentic Nubian food with an extra flavour of an amazing view to the Nile and the feluccas sailing along. 

Interesting Fact: Doka is ‘Dining Room’ in Nubian language. 


The Nubian village is on the Elephantine Island. It is home to many Nubian villagers who have been a role model in protecting their culture and heritage. You can visit Nubian homes; they offer tea and bread and some of the Nubians pet crocodiles that you can watch and take pictures of. You can walk around and shop from the small shops, or enjoy a camel ride around.

Interesting Fact: The first woman to lead an archaeological dig; Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, who was a French Egyptologist, saved 14 Nubian temples from the flooding caused by the Aswan Dam.


This is one of the famous visits you do not want to miss. You can reach the Botanical Island by either sailing in a local felucca or by taking a motor boat to the Eastern bank of the Nile. This island was used in 1899 by Lord Kitchener who made it his army’s headquarter, it was then known as the King’s Island. Then when he left, the land was given to the ministry of irrigation and since 1928 the ministry has worked on making it a natural inhabitant to different trees and plants from the 5 continents. 

Interesting Fact: The Botanical Garden has many rare palm trees that are not easily found elsewhere such as the royal palm tree, sabal palm tree, and the phonic pam tree. 

In the 1970’s the temple was relocated to preserve it from the flood of the Nile caused by the High Dam this operation was done by a joint cooperation between the Egyptian Government and the UNESCO. The temple was originally dedicated to the Goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris, and mother of Horus. Isis is a very important figure in the ancient world; she was perceived as the giver of life, the healer, the protector of kings.

The sound and light show is very interesting, try not to miss it if you go there.

Interesting Fact: The word ‘Philae’ in Greek or ‘Pilak’ in Ancient Egyptian means ‘The End’.


1. Suʻād Māhir (1966). Muhafazat Al Gumhuriya Al Arabiya Al Mutaheda wa Asaraha al baqiah fi al asr al islamim. Majlis al-Aʻlá lil-Shuʼūn al-Islāmīyah.
2. Dijkstra, J. Harm F. Religious Encounters on the Southern Egyptian Frontier in Late Antiquity (AD 298-642).
3.(ii. 30)
4.(ii. p. 133, xvii. p. 797, seq.)
5.(s. v.)
6.(vii. 5. § 15, viii. 15. § 15)
7.(ii. 73. s. 75, v. 10. s. 11, vi. 29. s. 34)
8.(book viii. ch ii. § 6)
9.(p. 164)
10.Ezekiel 29:10, 30:6; Isaiah 49:12

Go to Egypt now! Click here

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Play of Colors: Mozambique Above the Clouds

Posted on http://www.wildjunket.com/ (September 4, 2012) by ‹ 

Getting to Bazaruto Island, Mozambique, was an experience on its own. Onboard a light aircraft, we flew over the spearmint blue water off the sparkling coast of Vilanculos, past hundreds of submerged atolls, to get to Indigo Bay. The sea was painted in striated strokes of beige and white, with subtle hints of sand dunes dancing beneath the water surface.
Tiny sailboats looked like little lego pieces lost in the vast sea of blue. Patchworks of islands were scattered throughout the sea and clusters of seaweeds sprinkled along the light beige seabed resembled polka dots on a table cloth. These sand formations were naturally created by the warm, southward-flowing Mozambique Current – but from above, they looked like the work of an artist.
Some say, the journey itself is often more important than the destination. In this case, I can’t agree more. Words don’t do the Mozambique coastline any justice – I’ll let Alberto’s photos do the talking. Enjoy the play of colors!

Sailboats lost in the sea of blue

 Reaching mainland Mozambique – where the waters off the coast are clear as glass

Disclaimer: Our trip to Mozambique was made possible by Indigo Bay (Rani Resorts) and Nicky Arthur PR, but as always, all opinions expressed above are our own.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The top 9 African travel experiences on your bucket list (and one in space) - Getaway Magazine

Taken from: blog.getaway.co.za [ 11.09.2012] Post by Sarah Isaacs

Getaway Magazine recently asked their readers, Facebook fans, and Twitter community about their ultimate bucket-list experiences, so here they are: the 10 things highest on their wanderlust lists.

1. Witnessing the Serengeti Migration, Tanzania

Perhaps, when the Masai called this place ‘Serengeti’ – the place where the land goes on forever – they weren’t simply talking about the landscape. It is one of the few places left on earth where humans have not made an indelible mark, where wildlife roam comparatively freely, unrestricted by park divisions and national highways (the Serengeti National Park is the Serengeti’s only wildlife reserve). Golden dawns and warm, dusky evenings epitomize East African days, each filled with so many sightings of lions and leopards, birds and elephants that its easy to become blasé. While the park’s high concentration of predators is something to be marveled at, it is the yearly migration of 500 000 wildebeest and 250 000 zebras for which the Serengeti is most famed, the largest mammal migration on earth.

Go and see it!  8-day Tanzania migration fly-in safari.

2. Paddling a mokoro through the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Gliding through the clear waterways of the Okavango Delta in a narrow mokoro, engulfed by the melodies of squealing insects and chortling frogs, is the stuff that nature lovers’ dreams are made of. Painted reed frogs with round-suckered feet and delicate markings hang tightly from narrow reeds. Long-stemmed blue water lilies rise to the surface like brown, slippery snakes. Vultures drift in the dusty, blue Kalahari skies and fish eagles perch on high branches above your head. Beyond the reed beds are islands thick with sycamore figs, scraggly umbrella thorns and baobabs and through it all the thrilling promise of scaly predators and bone-crunching hippopotami.  Navigating the waterways by mokoro is not for the feint hearted but it is the best way to see the delta, unprotected and unrestricted.

3. Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Most of us with a taste for travel and adventure hope to climb at least one of the world’s great peaks. Mount Kilimanjaro is hailed as one of the most enchanting of the Seven Summits, thanks to Tanzania’s natural beauty, abundance of wildlife and uniquely African feel. Although beautiful, the climb is grueling (how to beat the pre-Kilimanjaro jitters). Reaching the top is as much about your body’s reaction to extreme altitude as it is about fitness. At such extreme heights (the peak is almost 6000m above sea level) your lungs and muscles start to crave oxygen, reducing climbers to slow lumbering movements. No amount of training can prepare you for such oxygen deprivation and it is the overcoming of this physical pain that makes summiting so rewarding. Reaching the top renders feelings not easily described so while you may look to other climbers for inspiration, this is one bucket list item that must be conquered to be appreciated (read more: sitting on top of Kilimanjaro). If you’re not adamant on ticking the “highest mountain in Africa” box, you might want to consider neighbouring Mount Meru instead. It’s just as beautiful with fewer tourists and a smaller price tag.

Climb it! : 7 Day Marangu Route

4. Adventure activities around the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Dubbed the adrenalin capital of Africa, Victoria Falls is a hub of adventure activities, giving visitors the opportunity to tick more than one box over the course of a single day. Arguably the most riveting of the adventures is white-water rafting the Zambezi, widely regarded as one of the greatest whitewater rafting experiences in the world (we recently went whitewater rafting ont the Zambezi with Bob Skinstad). Some crazies tackle the rapids by body-board, an option that should be practiced with utmost caution. If going up against a two-meter wall of surging water doesn’t do it for you, opt to stay dry at Victoria Falls. You can zip-line from one side of Bakota Gorge to the other, bungee jump face first into the rainbow-dappled spray of the nearby falls or jump feet first into a bridge swing. Ironically jumping feet first can be more terrifying than diving but that’s a matter of personal preference. Then there are helicopter flips, microlights, lion walks and abseiling. To wind down, sip G&Ts on a sunset cruise along the calm stretch of the Zambezi above Vic Falls.

Book Now: Vic Falls Specials

5. Overlanding from Cape Town to Cairo

British explorer Ewart Grogan was the first recorded man to traverse the length of the African continent, making his way by train and foot from Cape Town to Cairo in 1897. He survived wild animals, disease and exhaustion to prove to the father of the woman he loved that he was a worthy suitor. Modern day travellers follow in his intrepid footsteps for much the same reason, to learn what they’re made of and – hopefully – earn their overlanding stripes. Thankfully this now-famous route is completed with more ease than it was in Grogan’s day. Anyone with time to spare and a 4×4 can include this epic voyage on their bucket list with every expectation to one day cross it off. For most South African wonder-lusters, it is the ultimate expedition, an once-in-a-lifetime adventure across our dusty, bureaucratic, breathtaking continent.
If you are planning for the Cape to Cairo journey visit www.aa.co.za for essential border crossing information. 

Let us help you with booking your accommodation on the way!

6. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda

A decade or so ago this is a mission that few would have been willing or able to make thanks to Rwanda’s war-torn past. But today this is a country that seems to be putting its past behind it. One indication of this is the complete banning of plastic bags in the country (Rwanda in photos). They are not given out or sold at supermarkets and you are not allowed to bring any into the country. As a result the streets – that once ran with blood – are now clean, a symbolic gesture that, although small, is indicative of a country on the mend. Of course it’s not just clean streets that have come to epitomize Rwanda but the promise of mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park (check out our top 10 tips for gorilla tracking) . Gorilla trekking can take up to eight hours and the going isn’t always easy but when you consider that there are less than 800 of these resplendent beasts left in the wild, eight hours and a few bug bites is a tiny price to pay. Although you’re not allowed to touch the gorillas, you sit mere metres away from them, an experience that will leave your heart racing.

7. Desert wondering in Namibia

As our close neighbour, Namibia is one of those rare dream destinations that is reasonably accessible to most South Africans. A two-day drive over the border and you could be falling asleep under a blinding blanket of stars surrounded by nothing more than the sounds of slowly shifting sand and crickets singing their evening tune (top 10 things to do in Namibia). There’s a wealth of desert-wondering options in Namibia, one of which is the Namib-Naukluft National Park, just a day’s drive from Springbok in the Northern Cape. It’s home to Deadvlei’s famous petrified trees and the mammoth Dune 45. Sit atop the dune and watch as the Namib’s simple yet rich colour palette spring to life or, if you have a 4×4, beat the shuttle crowds and head straight to Deadvlei for sunrise. If you get there early enough you’ll enjoy perfect solitude as sunlight pours into the clay pan, its illustrious trees casting long, charismatic shadows across the cracked floor. A little further north of Namib-Naukluft you’ll hit the NamibRand Nature Reserve, internationally revered for its dark skies and stars, and to the far north Etosha National Park, one of southern Africa’s most acclaimed wildlife sanctuaries. Namibia is scenically spectacular and relatively affordable so if it isn’t on your list, add it now (how to do Namibia in a shoestring).

Reader Ian Dickinson says, “Namibia appeals to me for its vast open spaces, magical landscapes and amazing wildlife. I would love to head on a road trip from dorp to dorp taking in sights along the way. The Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei, Windhoek, Walvis Bay, the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park would all be on the itinerary. I’d definitely check out Kolmanskop – the eerie ghost town has a lot of photographic and spiritual appeal. I’d also plan to take in a bit of 4x4ing on the dunes as well as sampling the local Germanic-influenced beer … the latter not preceding the former of course!”

Book your Namibia Trip with us: Click here

8. Standing at the base of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

We grow up knowing about the pyramids. They’re like another family member, stitched into memory and as familiar as a sibling. Combine this longstanding relationship with the hype that surrounds these historical wonders and you’d expect the real-life encounter to fall a little flat. But it doesn’t (5 unmissable things to see in Egypt). No degree of anticipation could render the pyramids of Giza anti-climatic so they remain on every bucket list, clichéd as it may be. The stories you here about the Egyptian tourist trade are true. You can’t take two steps without being pestered by a salesman or colliding with a package tourist. But all this is forgotten when you’re standing at the base of the Great Pyramid, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids. At nearly 140 meters high and more than 4500 years old it is both ancient and gigantic, a double blow that no photograph or history book could ever capture.

Go to Egypt and see it for yourself! 

9. Visiting Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

The novelty of an unfenced wilderness park never wears off but there’s something special about one’s first time and Mana Pools National Park (top tips for visiting Mana Pools) is one of the finest first time dates. Most of the park’s game is concentrated along the Zambezi River among forests of winter thorn and ana trees. Great herds of elephants are often seen at the water’s edge, as well as island-hopping buffalo and waterbuck. The high concentration of game means predators abound, especially wild dogs, lions and hyenas. Camped along the river you are treated to primo wildlife sightings from the comfort of your deck chair.

Nyamepi Campsite is the main campsite with hot water showers, flushing toilets and neighbouring campers but there is a selection of more remote camps where your only neighbours are of the roaring, growling variety. You might not see a lion at Nyamepi but hippos and elephants will wonder a stone’s throw from your tent and when night falls the hyenas circle your fire in search of food. Though you might sleep badly, your thoughts will be wondrous and excitement levels high.

10. Flying to space

Yip, the day has come that we can add space travel to our buckets lists thanks to Richard Branson’s newest business venture – Virgin Galactic (Read more: Virgin Galactic’s suborbital tourism flight). Set to be the world’s first commercial space carriers, the new space vehicles are being built to accommodate six guests on sub-orbital space flights, allowing an out-of-the-seat zero gravity experience and offering unbeatable views of our blue planet. Sound awesome? No doubt it is, for those who can afford it. The 2,5 hour flight will set you back a cool $200 000 (about R1,5 million), which includes astronaut training, ‘G-force’ acclimatisation and a joyride to 100kms above the earth’s surface. One might argue that such extravagance has no place on a layman’s bucket list but go back twenty years and a trip to Rwanda would have been equally laughable. A bucket list is a list of dreams and if you’re not going big, you might as well stay home.

Visit www.virgingalactic.com and start dreaming.

 Taken from: blog.getaway.co.za [ 11.09.2012] Post by Sarah Isaacs
Pictures taken from:  blog.getaway.co.za [ 11.09.2012] 
Kilimanjaro pictures by Ewan Opperman
Serengeti, Namibia & Egypt pictures by Juan Nel