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One of the best things to do in Aswan is take a boat ride to the colorful Nubian Village. The Nubian people are indigenous to the region that is now northern Sudan and Southern Egypt and speak their own languages. They’re known for having a darker complexion than the rest of Egyptians and often have piercing blue/green eyes.
Nubian Villages are painted in a kaleidoscope of colors and each color has its own meaning – blue for ocean, yellow for desert etc.
When I asked my tour guide why they’re so colorful, he said “the Nubians just LOVE colors!”
In this guide I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting the village!
Visiting the Nubian Village
There are a few Nubian villages but the main one that tourists visit is a 45-minute boat ride downstream from Aswan on the west bank of the Nile.
Many Aswan tours often include a visit to the Nubian Village and a boat trip to Philae Temple. I’d suggest spending half a day exploring Philae and half a day at the Nubian village in the afternoon. If you visit in the afternoon you’ll get to see the magical sunset on the way back to Aswan.
Getting to the Nubian Village
From Aswan, the best way to get to the Nubian Village is by boat. If you’ve booked an organized tour of Egypt they’ll probably include this in your itinerary or offer it as an optional extra. If not, you can also book a tour online with GetYourGuide. You could book this boat trip to the Nubian village or this tour to Philae Temple and the Nubian Village.
If you choose not to book a tour, you could also hire a boat from Aswan to take you there, or you could choose to stay at the Nubian village and take a taxi there directly from the airport.
If you walk along the corniche in Aswan, locals will often approach you offering boat rides to the Nubian Village. They often stand outside the hotels and close to the McDonalds.
You’ll need to negotiate on the price, so remember to haggle and walk away if necessary. The boat ride should cost about 400 Egyptian pounds (roughly $20) per person round-trip but don’t be surprised if they try to charge you more.
How Long to Spend at the Nubian Village
Most tours last 2-3 hours, although you could negotiate with your boat driver if you want to stay longer. I’d suggest spending about 3 hours there so you can enjoy a nice lunch.
Discovering the Nubian Village
The boat ride across the Nile is beautiful and eventually you’ll spot the artsy-looking Nubian Village in the distance. As you get closer, you’ll notice the colorful murals and brightly painted doorways.
When you arrive at the Nubian Village you’ll have the chance to go inside a real Nubian home to see how the Nubians live.
When I was there we got to go inside the Rabih family home, where we were welcomed with hibiscus, water and snacks. Inside the home they kept caged baby crocodiles, which are supposed to bring them good luck.They offered to let us have our photo taken with a crocodile but since I’m against keeping animals captive like that I politely declined.
The ladies inside offered henna tattoos and there was a man outside selling colorful spices. Don’t feel like you have to purchase anything, but if you want to buy something to support their business, make sure you bring some cash.
The Nubian Village is a peaceful and relaxing place, and the best thing to do is just wander around. You’ll see camels dressed in vibrant garb and colorful murals painted on the walls. If you like taking photos for Instagram, you’ll find plenty of opportunities here!
Where to Eat in the Nubian Village
The Nubians serve very delicious and fresh food and are known for their hospitality. There are only a handful of places to eat in the Nubian Village but you can try Kato Dool, Kendaka Restaurant and Nunakato Restaurant and Cafe.
Where to Stay in the Nubian Village
I stayed in the center of Aswan because there’s a lot more going on there. However, if you want to spend a night in the Nubian Village, then these are the two hotels I’d recommend:
Kato Dool is one of the most popular hotels in the Nubian Village. The hotel offers 18 air-conditioned rooms, 12 of which have views of the Nile. An open buffet is served every morning and there’s an outdoor restaurant located directly on the Nile where you can enjoy delicious food, drinks and shisha. On the menu you’ll find dishes such as stuffed pigeon, Nubian chicken tajine and grilled fish.
Kendaka Nubian House
Kendaka Nubian House boasts a bar and terrace and offers free Wi-Fi as well as 24 hour reception. Rooms have colorful bedding, air conditioning and terraces with views over the Nile. As a guest of the hotel you’ll also be able to enjoy a free breakfast and a paid shuttle service to and from the airport.
A Final Word
The Nubian Village was one of the highlights of my trip to Aswan so I’d definitely put it on the top of your to-do list. I would also definitely recommend visiting Philae Temple and doing a day trip to Abu Simbel while you’re there.
Aswan offers a slower, much more relaxed pace than Cairo and turned out to be one of my favorite places in Egypt. Give yourself about 2 days there to see all the major sights.