Stage 8: Idfu to Aswan
We start by crossing the Nile just as the sun is rising, in a very chilly morning. What a great river; it really is something to be cycling over/along this historic watercourse. The route out of Idfu along the West Bank is a little messy, but not particularly complicated. Then we’re on a two-way tarmac for remainder of the day, more or less paralleling the Nile, although occasional rough patches do occur. Traffic is fairly light. A few incidents from kids or young men, but nothing leads to a rider going down, fortunately.
Today is a short day, relatively; we’re at the lunch truck by about 10:00. Give ourselves 30-40 minutes to re-fuel and we’re off again, helped by a noticeable tailwind. The late morning into noon warms, and I’m able to pull off a layer or two. For a bit, we‘d been swept westward away from the main Nile upward into the adjoining dunes. Lunchtime break affords some good views of the scope of this valley, with sharp contrasts from dunes on either side to the green and water right below.
From my recent reading, the Eonile (only some 5 million years ago) was the first of the north-south drainages to cut through eastern Egypt, eventually incising a 2500 m deep canyon running at least 700 km from Cairo to Aswan, and possibly further to the second cataract. This would make that canyon longer and deeper than the present-day Grand Canyon in the Colorado River. Only a broad shallow valley remains.
We make it into ‘Adam’s Camp’ in the early afternoon; we’re still on the West Bank, across and a little downriver from Aswan itself. Plenty of time to set up tents, grab a warm to cold shower (depending on one’s timing!) before 14 of of us get a combi ride into Aswan central for a look-around. I elect a short walk to the railway station to check that out; station itself not really interesting, but I do get out on the platform to receive an introduction to Egyptian Railways in general and Engine 2492 specifically from a gentleman who turns out to be the driver for the 3:00 train to Luxor. He gives me an extra blast of his whistle as they pull away.
Back to camp in time for the daily riders’ meeting followed by a really good chicken curry for dinner. Traditional coffee follows as does a very warming fire. The next two days will be long, so an early turn-in.