Not exactly bright-eyed and full of energy at 4am, I still managed to keep myself awake long enough to get on the plane from Cairo to Aswan. Even the airport coffee shops were not open yet as a 2am wake-up call, 1 hour drive to the airport, check-in and security check made me long for a nice airplane nap.
The flight from Cairo to Aswan was a little over an hour and I made the best use of my time in the air completely zonked. Obviously 6am is way to early to check into a hotel, so my group made the decision to head to Lake Nasser and have a boat ride out to Philae Temple.
Just getting on the boat was an experience with vendors and hawkers vying for attention for cotton clothing, stone figures, and jewelry. I didn’t buy anything but it wasn’t because of the sellers lack of trying.
Lake Nasser is a man-made lake, formed by the Aswan dam on the Nile River. And Philae Temple was actually underwater for much of the year between the building of the Aswan low dam in the early 1900s until the 1960s when higher walls and more reservoirs built to protect Philae.
The people who live and work in this area are Nubian. Nubian people are found in both Sudan and Egypt and speak Nubian language. Later in Aswan we had the opportunity to go to a Nubian village and have a delicious dinner with a Nubian family.
Since we had such an early start to the day, Philae was not crowded at all. When we left, boatloads of tourists were arriving. Getting up at 2am had its advantages this day!
Just for some scale, I’m the tiny dot in black in front of the doorway at the side entrance to the main temple, the Temple of Isis. This is a massive place.
Philae Temple itself is dedicated to Isis, the most popular goddess in Ancient Egypt. Horus (her son) and Osiris (Isis’ husband) always make an appearance on temple walls in the carved-in stories.
Outside the main temple is Kiosk of Trajan, which was left unfinished.
It was such a beautiful morning when I was in Philae. I couldn’t have asked for better weather. And in an effort to keep enjoying it, we all sat down in the little coffee shop overlooking the water.
I had the biggest coffee they had on the menu. Give me all the caffeine! But these views made the early morning worth it! If you have some time in Aswan, make sure you make it to Philae Temple, especially early morning on a sunny day.
Reader Question: What is the earliest flight you’ve ever taken? This 4am one was the winner for me! Although I have taken a 1:30am flight but I considered that late night since I didn’t bother going to bed.