An Amazing Sensation in Aswan, Egypt

Everything was quiet. It was early morning and the streets of Aswan were empty. Two feluccas were sailing on the Nile, which at that point offered a picturesque site.  We left the city and entered into the desert to reach the airport.

"We will fly!" I said with joy.

It was the first time I got on board a Piper airplane with two seats. Was it safe? I looked around me worried, but it was too late.  I looked at my travelling companion who was speaking with a Nubian dressed in a pink gallebaya, then he opened the door and sat next to me. When the Piper taxied to the runway, I was seized with a panic attack. I began to sweat of anxiety. Meanwhile, the small plane had started running and was trembling all over.

"This is crazy!" I said to myself closing my eyes. I was afraid that something would explode right under my seat as I was feeling the small  plane moving faster and faster ... until, oops! it began to rise in the sky. Its weight disappeared along with the noise.

Feluccas on the Nile, Aswan, Egypt

Feluccas on the Nile, Aswan, Egypt

I opened my eyes and the beating of my heart began to calm down. I tilted my head and saw the most majestic sight of my life. The Nile, like a snake, furrowed the ground and extended on to Lower Egypt. The banks seemed like a green belt, in incredibly vivid colours, which stretched as far as the eye could see. Meanwhile, the desert under the first rays of the sun, became a pale pink colour. The feluccas with their triangular white sails sailed on the river, and it was a real pleasure to admire them from high above together with the Elephantine island, the exotic Kitchener gardens and the mines from which the ancient Egyptians mined the red granite.

The plane did a slight turn and headed to south.

“It's magnificent," I said at the height of happiness.

The Temple of Philae in Lower Egypt

The Temple of Philae in Lower Egypt

And here!  was a tiny cloud that we passed sideways. Below us stretched Nubia with its dry, red earth, while the Nile, as a long line, flowed into the depths of Sudan.


We flew lower to observe better the pharaonic temples that stood solitary on the banks of the river, its faithful companions from time immemorial. Then we gained altitude to see from above the villages made of straw and mud, the only ones left when, due to the construction of the Aswan Dam, the waters covered up part of Nubia creating Lake Nasser.  Further down is the temple of Philae, transferred in the neighbouring island with the help of UNESCO, after remaining for years half sunk in the water. This is the most elegant temple of the ancient world, dedicated to Isis, where Cleopatra came  often to worship because the goddess was her patroness.

The sensation felt by the spectacle of the desert from above had no equal.

The book EGYPT A journey to the Nile is published in Greek.

Abu Simbel in Nubia, Egypt

Abu Simbel in Nubia, Egypt

Barbara Athanassiadis