Aswan (1 of 2)
On the northern end of the First Cataract and marking the country's ancient southern frontier, Aswan has always been of great strategic importance. In ancient times it was a garrison town for the military campaigns against Nubia, its quarries provided the valuable granite used for so many sculptures and obelisks, and it was a prosperous marketplace at the crossroads of the ancient caravan routes.
Today, slower than most places in Egypt, laid-back and pleasant, it is the perfect place to linger for a few days, rest the eyes and the mind, and recover from the rigours of traveling along the Nile. The river is wide, languorous and stunningly beautiful here, flowing gently down from Lake Nasser, around dramatic black-granite boulders and palmstudded islands. Colourful Nubian villages run down to the water and stand out against the backdrop of the desert on the west bank.