Posts Tagged With: Aswan

Hooked on the Nile

For the adventurer with a taste for the serene, Lake Nasser fishing safaris are a bright spot in a sea of temples and ruins.

Have you ever considered spending the night on Lake Nasser in a fishing boat? Some travellers come to Egypt to do just that. No luxury hotels or air-conditioned buses here, just the symphony of nature and the unassuming splash of the lake’s abundant game.

It seems that not all tourists come to Egypt to do the culture thing; some come just to enjoy nature — and they are prepared to rough it. While the devotion of those who delight in casting a line — often without success for hours on end — is something non-enthusiasts can never share, these are adventure travellers, and the lake is the limit of their holiday terrain.

No matter if the day’s results are nothing more than a tale about the one that got away. This is a hobby, or even a passion, and having sampled the pristine beauty of Lake Nasser and its desert terrain, enthusiasts come again and again. Still predominantly a trip for die-hard anglers, tour operators are keeping their eyes on the trend with hopes that fishing safaris will flourish like other specialty tours, including desert safaris and deep-sea diving.

Photo: The African Angler

Photo: The African Angler

Although fishing trips are not offered by most travel agencies, African Angler, an Australian company, is sampling the potential. It could take off as a tourist draw; it may generate limited interest. Either way, the trips have introduced a fresh alternative for travellers to Egypt who have either traipsed the Luxor colonnades enough or for whom a civilisation dead for thousands of years doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

“I have been working in tourism in Egypt for a long time and I have always been interested in the potential of Lake Nasser,” said Tim Baily of African Angler. “When I first started looking into the possibility of launching an attraction to anglers, I learned that the lake was under military control.”

African Angler approached the governor and military officials in Aswan and was granted special permission to organise big game fresh-water fishing safaris. Like a desert or mountain-climbing safari, it’s not a trip you can go alone. Other than permission, you need transportation, provisions, professional guides, fishing and supply boats as well as sleeping bags and tents.

“We are not near a hospital, we cannot call an ambulance, so we have to take care to stay in contact with one another. In case of emergency, we have radios and can communicate with the police in Aswan, or get the military if help is needed,” Baily said.

Stretching between Aswan and northern Sudan, with some areas over 12 kilometres in width, Lake Nasser is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. A controversial outcome of the construction of the High Dam in the 1960s, the lake now nurtures a vibrant aquatic life, including Nile perch, tiger fish and vundu catfish, making it a splendid venue for fresh-water fishing.

“Most anglers who visit the lake for the first time will find themselves hauling in the biggest fresh-water fish of their lives,” said Baily.

Big catches have made a name for the lake as having a lot of potential, explains Baily. Two world records have been set at Lake Nasser, including a Nile perch weighing 213 pounds (about 97kg). When Larry Dahlberg, a famous American fisherman, went on a fishing safari with African Angler, he made a film about fishing on Lake Nasser. The safaris have also been featured on BBC2 and Thai television.

Lake fly caught record 67lbs- Jonathan BoultonPhoto: The African Angler

Lake fly caught record 67lbs- Jonathan Boulton
Photo: The African Angler

Another big catchPhoto: The African Angler

Another big catch
Photo: The African Angler

Photo: The African Angler

Photo: The African Angler

For those interested in the details, a safari trip usually includes one supply boat and two specially equipped fishing boats that accommodate six to eight anglers. The supply boat carries all the required equipment, provisions, fuel and shore staff. With its own built-in kitchen, dining facilities and large ice boxes, the boat enables the group to set up comfortable camps on shore, close to the best fishing areas, even when the shore-line is rocky or inhospitable. “In effect, it is a moving camp,” Baily notes.

Boat safari camp, mother ship and live aboard boats.Photo: African Angler

Boat safari camp, mother ship and live aboard boats.
Photo: African Angler

As for the two fishing boats, they serve as a mobile home and fishing platform. Each can accommodate from two to four persons and they have been designed “for tough work in remote areas.” Meals are prepared by the Nubian safari staff who, according to Baily, “have the ability to cook food in the middle of nowhere. They even bake fresh bread every morning.”

Safari crew camp; guides – party time.Photo: African Angler

Safari crew camp; guides – party time.
Photo: African Angler

The fishing boats are no luxury cruise vessel, but each has comfortable and functional on-board facilities, with two bunks enclosed by strong canvas tenting at night. In place of organised entertainment in the evenings, the only diversion is feeding left-overs from dinner to the animals that live around the lake.

One of the issues that concerns Baily is the conservation of the lake and the need to keep the water clear and unpolluted, not just to protect the different species of fish, but because the region is rich in flora and fauna. More than 100 species of birds have been recorded in the area, as well as crocodiles, Dorcas gazelles, jackals and desert foxes. Laws prohibiting hunting on the lake have never been seriously enforced. “I am extremely upset that hunting is allowed at the lake,” Baily says. “Hunting is destroying wildlife.”

Baily explained that African Angler has adopted a firm policy. “We look after the lake,” he said. “We never kill all fish we catch. We keep one or two for our meals, but release all other catches alive … for future visitors.”

Pelicans settling in for the night, isolate islands are used to escape predators.Photo: The African Angler

Pelicans settling in for the night, isolate islands are used to escape predators.
Photo: The African Angler

A typical day on Lake Nasser involves getting up at first light for a couple of hours of shore-fishing, followed by breakfast, explains Baily. The boats then set off for a day of trolling and shore-fishing.

“When we venture far from camp, a picnic is taken and the boats often meet up for lunch to exchange success stories. We then fish again until the sun sets,” says Baily. “At night, sitting in the desert camp beneath a canopy of stars, one hears the sounds of frogs and crickets, the call of an owl, howling jackals, night birds and the tantalising sound of a splash made by big fish feeding near the camp.”

Plovers competing for territory with a young crocodile.Photo: The African Angler

Plovers competing for territory with a young crocodile.
Photo: The African Angler

So, how successful are fishing safaris? Baily, who brings roughly 500 anglers from different parts of the world annually, believes that Lake Nasser has excellent potential. “Once anglers discover a good place to fish, they come back again and again,” Baily says, explaining that 47 per cent of his business is repeated business. But he concedes that there are a number of obstacles.

“Months of tiresome delay, red tape and bureaucracy are needed to get through five governmental departments for various permits,” he groans. “It’s all very time-consuming … and costly.”

For more information about African Angler, please visit their website, http://www.african-angler.co.uk/

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Categories: Egypt, Environement, Uncategorized, Upper Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Journeys in silence

A group of deaf tourists from Germany might not have been able to hear about the wonders of Egypt, but with a little indulgence, a tour guide helped them out.

During the day, tour guide Ziad Anwar faced the sun. In closed areas and at night, he lit his mouth with a torch.

The tourists asked him to shave off his moustache. They would then be able to read his lips with ease. He did.

This was Anwar’s first such experience. “Dealing with any handicapped tourist is difficult,” he says. “It requires a lot of preparation and a special way of dealing.”

Twenty-five deaf German tourists spent two weeks travelling through Cairo, Giza, Luxor, Aswan and Sinai and Ziad Anwar was their guide.  Organized by a German association for the deaf, the group was made up of people who had once been able to hear.

Knowing that he wouldn’t be easily understood, Anwar printed a booklet describing the monuments and places they would visit, and distributed it on the first day of their trip. “I also had to talk slowly in German, clearly and in simple language,” he says.

But he wasn’t on his own. The group’s tour leader from Germany assisted Anwar in his task, translating his words into sign language, and some of the tourists wore hearing aids.

In the mornings, Anwar and the tour leader would go door-to-door, with the help of master keys, “because they could not hear the wake-up call,” he says.

Crowds also presented a problem. Once, some of the tourists got dispersed; “They couldn’t hear me so I ran after them and tapped them on their shoulders,” he recalls, and he directed them to the rest of the group.

During the group’s climb up Mount Sinai, Anwar hired someone to walk at the front while he remained behind, making sure the group stuck together.

These are among the preparations made by Anwar who had once before hosted a group of blind tourists. They, in turn, had taught him about the importance of using vivid, detailed, verbal descriptions of each site. “Patience is the keyword when dealing with handicapped people,” he stresses.

Anwar was not entirely savvy with the group of deaf tourists, however, and had some myths of his own to break. On the group’s Luxor-Aswan cruise, he thought they wouldn’t enjoy the galabiya party because they wouldn’t be able to hear the music. But they danced from the beginning to end, moving to the vibrations their bodies felt as loudspeakers blared the music.

Travellers enjoying a camel ride at Giza Plateau (by Festival Tours)

Travellers enjoying a camel ride at Giza Plateau (by Festival Tours)

And then there were some misunderstandings that were just laughed off: When the group stood at the gates of Medinet Habu on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor, Anwar said the word “Habu.” Someone responded, “Oh, we’ll have some,” referring rather to “hamburgers.”

But he does feel that he’s developed a certain knack with tourists who require a different type of tour and has noticed some surprising differences. On the normal tour, he says, the bus is always quiet and the guide does the talking. In the case of the deaf group, he says, “The guide doesn’t talk at all and the tourists chat with one another (by moving their lips and uttering sounds in the process). They speak in very loud voices and the bus starts to resemble a marketplace.”

Tourism for the disabled is not yet developed in Egypt but Anwar feels that it has a great potential. He suggests that specially trained tour guides, documentary films, photos, video tapes and other aides be made available to tour guides like himself.

Now, if there are any disabled people in groups, he feels “an affinity towards them” and tries to make their trip even more enjoyable than might be expected.

Categories: Cairo, Egypt, Giza, Sina, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tour and cure

Egypt may be famous worldwide for its ancient monuments, but it also has much to offer the traveller in search of natural healing.

The last years have seen a huge growth in health spas in Egypt’s major cities. But while these spas often make use of natural healing processes, there are also certain places which have been specially blessed with natural healing resources that have been known for many centuries — features such as exceptional dry weather, the special composition of the sea water, black sand and hot water springs. Moreover, a number of studies have been conducted by the Egyptian National Research Centre, which prove that a trip to places such as Safaga on the Red Sea, Aswan in Upper Egypt, Ras Sudr in South Sinai and Siwa Oasis to the west, can cure certain ailments, such as rheumatism, rheumatoid joint pains, psoriasis and other skin diseases.

Below, we list some of the most famous sites in Egypt which can help you put illness behind you and face life with renewed energy and vigour.

Helwan

The town of Helwan is located 30kms from Cairo on the east bank of the Nile, and lies around 40 metres above sea level. The climate is dry, with humidity not exceeding 58 per cent. Moreover, the town has several incomparable mineral and sulphurous springs which are known for their medicinal properties, and which led to the founding of a health centre for natural healing, where sulphurous water is used to cure rheumatism and rheumatic pains.

The history of the medicinal use of the Helwan springs dates back to 1899. The health centre, which has been designed in the Islamic architectural style, was restored in 1955. There are 38 treatment rooms, relaxation areas and chalets for the accommodation of patients, all surrounded by beautiful lush gardens. The staff include a number of doctors specialising in rheumatism and natural healing. All patients are given a thorough check up before being assigned a personalised healing programme. Complaints which can be treated include joint inflammation, chronic rheumatoid pain, nerve inflammation, gout, respiratory tract infections and skin diseases.

GETTING THERE: Helwan health centre is easily accessible by public transport, including taxi and underground railway. Road access from central Cairo is via the Corniche Road.

Siwa

Siwa Oasis is located 300kms to the west of Marsa Matrouh. Of all Egypt’s natural healing centres, this is doubtless the most attractive to the tourist, with its moderate climate, unpolluted air and clear blue sky.

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Natural pools in Siwa

There are a number of healing centres in Siwa Oasis, of which the most important is Al-Dakrour Mountain, in the south. The mountain is famous of relieving rheumatism, joint pains and general weakness. Several aged sheikhs are responsible for treating patients suffering from these ailments by burying their bodies in sand. The cure takes place during the summer at specific times of the day: immersion can last from quarter to half an hour, daily for two weeks.

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A mixture of greenery and desert

Siwa also has hot springs which have been proven effective for the treatment of psoriasis, rheumatism and diseases related to the digestive system.

GETTING THERE: By bus, change at Marsa Matrouh for Siwa. There are also trains from Cairo to Alexandria or Marsa Matrouh, where cars can be hired to complete your journey. For more information, contact (+202) 257 53555. If you wish to fly, EgyptAir operates regular flights during the summer season from Cairo to Marsa Matrouh, where you can continue your journey by bus or car. For more information, visit http://www.egyptair.com

Aswan

Aswan is situated on the eastern bank of the Nile, about 899kms south of Cairo. It is probably the most famous winter resort in the world, with its year-round dry weather and clear sky which ensures a high proportion of ultra violet rays in the light. This weather is particularly suitable for patients suffering from kidney and respiratory problems, as well as for people with rheumatism.

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The Nile in Aswan

There are two centres in Aswan that specialise in treatments using black sand and water, on Elephantine Island and Isis Island. At the Elephantine centre, treatment by burial in sand takes place between March and October, when the sun rays are strong. The Isis Island centre has been the subject of studies by the Egyptian National Research Centre. These investigations showed the condition of rheumatics are greatly improved when they undergo daily immersion in the mud of the island for three consecutive weeks, and are also exposed to the ultra violet rays reflected from the mountains surrounding the Island and from the water of the Nile.

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Abu Simbel Temples in Aswan

GETTING THERE: Aswan is easily accessible by train, including wagons-lits air-conditioned express trains. For more information, call (+202) 349 3365. There are also air- conditioned buses which run from Cairo to Aswan, and flight that go daily to Aswan. For more information, visit http://www.egyptair.com.

Safaga

Located to the south of Hurghada on the Red Sea, Safaga is the number one destination in Egypt for the treatment of psoriasis. The sea water here is very salty, containing 35 per cent more salt than other seas: treatment with this water can produce a big improvement in the circulatory system, thus increasing the flow of blood to their limbs and skin. The water has been shown to provide significant alleviation for sufferers from psoriasis, and the high density of ultraviolet rays in the area also help cure a number of other skin diseases.

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Embraced by the mountains and the sea

The sands of Safaga are also exceptional. Laboratory analyses have shown that 40 per cent of Safaga sand is made up of three radiant components in low-intensity non-toxic doses, namely, uranium, thorium, and potassium. This explains the power of the sand to cure rheumatoid patients and those who suffer from various joint ailments.

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Healing powers of sea water and black sand in Safaga  Photo: Mohamed Waseem

GETTING THERE: Safaga is easily accessible by car or by bus. SuperJet buses from Cairo run as far as Hurghada, from where a taxi or limousine will take you on to Safaga in only 20 minutes. For more information, contact (+202) 575 6333. EgyptAir has two flights a day from Cairo to Hurghada at 8.30am and 8pm. For more information, visit http://www.egyptair.com

Ras Sudr

The Ras Sudr area of southern Sinai on the Gulf of Suez boasts two sites which are very popular with patients, namely, Pharaoh’s Bath and Moses’s Bath (Oyoun Mossa).

Pharaoh’s Bath is located 250kms from Cairo. It consists of a group of natural hot springs whose temperature is 27 degrees. The water flows directly from the mountain into a 100- metre-long natural lake right beside the sea shore. A small cave has been carved out of the mountainside above for use as a natural sauna. It has been scientifically proven that the water from this spring can help alleviate a number of diseases, including rheumatism, rheumatoid pains, kidney diseases, lung inflammation and several skin diseases.

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Ras Sudr: A destination for natural healing and water sports

Moses’s Bath is a wonderful oasis surrounded by lush vegetation with a natural hot spring at its centre. The water here has the ability to heal skin diseases and wounds, especially those of diabetics. It can also be of more general use to relieve stress and help people to relax.

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GETTING THERE: Ras Sudr is only two-and-half-hour drive from Cairo, and thus makes an easy day trip by car. The East Delta Company also runs air-conditioned buses to Ras Sudr. For more information, visit http://www.bus.com.eg/EBus/OnlineServicesEn/Home/Index.aspx.

Categories: Body and Soul, Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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