Egypt – Nubian Village and the Aswan Boat Adventure

– SEPTEMBER 01-02, 2015

We have arrived in Egypt!

Since we were in the Dead Sea the day earlier, it didn’t make any sense to take a taxi to Amman and pay for a hotel to only get 4 hours of sleep.  So we spent the day in the Dead Sea area until midnight, then took a taxi to the airport to check in early and wait for our flight.

Our flight departed from Amman, Jordan at 6:00am and arrived in Cairo, Egypt at 6:30am local time (the flight was 90 minutes, but the time difference gains us an hour back).  Upon arrival in Cairo, our airline informed us that the 12:00pm connecting flight to Aswan, Egypt had been cancelled.  They had automatically changed us to the 4:00pm flight, so our layover had went from 5 hours to 9 hours.  As such, I spoke with the airline (EgyptAir) about giving us a hotel room since any layover 8 hours or longer qualifies for a hotel voucher.

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The first shot of Egypt!

They granted us the hotel voucher so we could get some much needed sleep (it was a 10 minute bus ride to the airport hotel).  The airline also threw in a free breakfast buffet and a free lunch buffet.  Once we arrived at the hotel we ate a great breakfast that included international and Egyptian food options to try.  Then we retired to the room and had an exceptional six hour power nap.  We had just enough time to enjoy the lunch buffet spread and then take the shuttle bus back to the airport so we could make our way through security.

The new flight departed as per schedule and we landed in Aswan at 5:30pm.  Our hotel had their shuttle service pick us up at the airport and take us to their hotel in the Nubian village of Nagaa Suhayl Gharb (right beside Aswan). We took a picture from the rooftop terrace as the sun went down.

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Nagaa Suhayl Gharb (right beside Aswan) scenic picture

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Nagaa Suhayl Gharb (right beside Aswan) scenic picture

The hotel staff greeted us with a welcome drink, which was hibiscus juice and was delicious.

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The welcome drink at the Ekadolli Nubian Guest House in Nagaa Suhayl Gharb (right beside Aswan)

The manager told us about the issues with tourism in Egypt.  Since the social unrest resulting from the revolution of 2011, tourism in Egypt has fallen 95%.  The people here, unfortunately, are suffering and great deals can be had on accommodations, food, cruises and tours.

Within this Nubian village, you can stroll through their market street and see the beautiful Nubian homes and their beautiful & unique culture.

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Nubian homes

We organized a mini-boat tour to see four different sights in the Aswan local area.  The dock was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel, but they had us walk up a large flight of stairs, cross a very skinny mechanical bridge (it got down to less than 12 inches at one point), then walk down a steep flight of stairs to reach the boat.  Surely there had to be a safer way to access a boat.  We took our time to cross.

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We had to cross this bridge to reach the boat dock. Ridiculous!

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We had to cross this bridge to reach the boat dock. Ridiculous!

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Here is the steep staircase to get the final access to the boat.

Our boat captain was named Ahmed Hamdy.

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Captain Ahmed Hamdy

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Starting off the mini-boat tour

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The mini-boat tour sights

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The mini-boat tour sights (Nubian homes)

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The mini-boat tour sights (Nubian homes)

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The mini-boat tour sights

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The mini-boat tour sights (Nubian homes)

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The mini-boat tour sights (Nubian homes)

The first stop on our tour is Elephantine Island.  A Nubian village lives on the island, which otherwise doesn’t have anything to see.  The island was named as such due to the rocks on the shore that look like elephants drinking from the Nile River.  See the picture below for the rock in the center that looks like an elephant.

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Elephantine Island – the rock in the center of the pic resembles an elephant drinking from the Nile River.

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Elephantine Island – coming in to dock

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Elephantine Island – ancient carvings on the rocks

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Elephantine Island – ancient carvings on the rocks

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Elephantine Island – coming in to dock

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Elephantine Island – docked on the island

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Elephantine Island – starting the journey on the island.

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Elephantine Island – goats are everywhere here

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Elephantine Island – no trash system results in garbage everywhere and the Nile polluted.

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Elephantine Island – harbour view

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Elephantine Island – village home

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Elephantine Island – village home

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Elephantine Island – a narrow walkway

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Elephantine Island – a narrow walkway

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Elephantine Island – Nubian homes

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Elephantine Island – Nubian homes

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Elephantine Island – village stove

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Elephantine Island – village graffiti

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Elephantine Island – a school

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Elephantine Island – Nubian homes

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Elephantine Island – this place is still lived in!

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Elephantine Island – Nubian village homes

We met the boat on the opposite side of the island, then boarded again to go to the next stop on our tour, Nobles Tombs & Tower of the Winds.  The Tomb of the Nobles contains a string of tombs from the Old and Middle Kingdoms built for the elite of Egypt.  The tombs are noteworthy for predating the rock royal tombs that came to dominate in the New Kingdom.

Decorations inside are not as rich as what can be seen in locations like some other tombs, but the tombs here are older.  These tomb decorations here deal more with everyday life, rather than the royal tombs of Luxor.

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The Tomb of Nobles – the approach via boat

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The Tomb of Nobles – our camel was named “Monica” had some attitude

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The Tomb of Nobles – our camel was named “Monica” had some attitude

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The Tomb of Nobles – our camel was named “Monica” had some attitude

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The Tomb of Nobles – our camel was named “Monica” had some attitude

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The Tomb of Nobles – our camel was named “Monica” had some attitude

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The Tomb of Nobles – the approach

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The Tomb of Nobles – the approach

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The Tomb of Nobles – our camel was named “Monica” had some attitude

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The Tomb of Nobles – our camel was named “Monica” had some attitude

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The Tomb of Nobles – our camel was named “Monica” had some attitude

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

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The Tomb of Nobles

We then got back onto the camel to take a ride to San Simeon Monastery.  This is an ancient & abandoned fortress monastery mostly built during the 7th century and located near Aswan.  The monastery was given the name St Simeon by archaeologists and travelers, but earlier Arabic and Coptic sources called it Anba Hatre.  Anba Hatre was a person who married at the age of eighteen.  Tradition states that just after his wedding he encountered a funeral procession which inspired him to preserve his chastity and later become a disciple of Saint Baiman.  After eight years of he then retired to the desert and applied himself to the study of life of Saint Antony.

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – these shacks are there for people in trouble to seek shelter and water in the desert.

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – this window is where the people received their offering from the priest

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – this window is where the people received their offering from the priest

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San Simeon Monastery – this window is where the people received their offering from the priest (our guide was quite funny)

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – this broken basin was the water for baptizing people. The pipe is original and ran the water to this basin.

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – these holes are linked together. People would tie their hair through the roof holes and then pray for days straight. If they fell asleep then they fell down on their hair to wake them up instantly. Ouch.

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – original colours on the ceiling

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – off this hallway are the monk’s sleeping quarters.

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – monk sleeping bed

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – washing basins

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – toilet

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San Simeon Monastery – bath

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San Simeon Monastery – toilet

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – grinding stone for flour

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – bread oven

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San Simeon Monastery – mini ovens

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery

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San Simeon Monastery – animal storage

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San Simeon Monastery – toilets

We then rode the mini-boat again to go to the Kitchener Island Botanical Gardens.  It got the name because in 1899 Lord Kitchener made the island his army headquarters during his military campaigns in the Sudan.  Soon after the Lord left the island it was given back to the ministry of irrigation and was then known as the kings island.  Ever since 1928 and the ministry of irrigation has transferred the island into natural part full of trees from the five continents.

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Kitchener Island Botanical Garden

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Kitchener Island Botanical Garden

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Kitchener Island Botanical Garden

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Kitchener Island Botanical Garden

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Kitchener Island Botanical Garden

Tomorrow we will visit Abu Simbel.

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For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.