Nubian Village also known as Elephantine Island is one of the most colourful places you will ever visit!
Dipping into the Nile River, talking to amazing people, enjoying delicious food, exploring the fascinating history and witnessing the colourful haven of painted houses is seriously a delight that you don’t want to miss!
Located along River Nile between Aswan in Southern Egypt and bordered with the Northeast African country Sudan is unlike any other place you have ever visited before.
In this blog, get familiar with the Nubian people, how they live, what they wear, what they eat, etc.
Did You Know? In ancient times, Nubia or Kush (Cush) was completely in Egypt but due to modernization it has now become a part of both Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan.
When you are in Egypt then a visit to Nubian Village is a must. The beauty of the island, how the people talk, and their completely different style of living will change your perspective on life. The Nubian people are so welcoming and warm-hearted that their hospitality will urge you to visit the Nubian Village again.
HISTORY AND CULTURE
The Egyptian and the Nubian people have had a very interesting past. Firstly, Egyptians defeated Nubians many times but then finally in the 25th Dynasty, Nubians got a chance to defeat the Egyptians and everything became peaceful.
Also, the Egyptian Kings maintained a very close relationship with the Nubians as Nubia was the trade centre between Egypt and Sudan. Through this land Egyptians obtained their products like ivory, ebony, leopard skin and resins.
Fun Fact: Egyptians used to call the Nubian region “Ta-Seti”, meaning “The Land of the Bow” as the Nubians were archery experts.
In late twentieth century, Lake Nasser was created as a result of the construction of the High Dam in Aswan. It then, led to the movement of Nubians from the village. Now the centre portion of the Elephantine Island is occupied by the Nubians with ruins on one end and luxury resorts on the other.
The Nubian people are generally very kind people. They have converted their own homes into guesthouses for travellers to stay with them. Isn’t it amazing? You can actually live with one of these families and be a part of their day to day routine.
I clearly remember the time when I was warmly welcomed to one of the Nubian families. They asked me to have some of their amazing hibiscus tea and snacks. My friend and I were enjoying the scenic view from the house. It was wonderful! Amazing food and kind hearted people with amazing view is all that we need, didn’t we?
My craziest experience on this trip?
But one of the craziest experiences that happened throughout my visit was the Crocodiles. The Nubian people have kept crocodiles as pets? My friend went to the backyard of the house that we lived in and saw a huge cage with crocodile in it. After they are died, they are mummified and hanged outside their doors. These crocodiles also contribute as one of the major attractions on the island.
HOW DOES NUBIAN PEOPLE DRESS?
They dress differently compared to other parts of Egypt or in general. The Nubian men wear light linen-wrap that varies in length but the wealthier ones wear a lot more jewellery depending on their social status.
Unlike women, they wear long straight dress with one or two straps. And women of higher social status wear clothes that are mostly see-through. Both men and women didn’t often wear shoes except for special occasions.
I was so excited to wear their dress and it was so breezy, easy to wear and comfortable that I can wear it every day and guarantee that you will enjoy wearing it too!
FOOD AND DRINKS
Kabed, the dessert bread made from corn flour, yeast, and water and served with honey and milk is the traditional food of the Nubians. But most Nubians do not cook their traditional meals now. I mean why not? It sounds so delicious.
Hibiscus Tea is purely a delight and I am sure you have never tasted something like this before! I didn’t either but when I did, it was so delicious that shamelessly I asked them to make one more. My friend gave me a death look but the Nubian people were so cool about it.
My visit to the Nubian Market or Nubian Souk was such an experience!
The market was full of spices, clothing, songs CD’s, bakery, toy stores, traditional as was as modern jewellery stores and so on. The people in the market make your shopping experience really enjoyable.
The shopkeeper at the CD store sold us belly dancing tunes and music CD’s of old Egyptian music. My friend was so amazed with the music that he bought 15 CD’s. Can you believe? He was only on the CD store while my eyes were on the jewellery. I know girly stuff, right? But I enjoyed the Nubian market thoroughly.
Now when someone talks about marriages, the first thing that comes to my mind is Nubian girls.
Did You Know? Nubian bride’s body is fully covered (from head to toe, what!!!!!?, that is something I haven’t even heard before) with Henna and tattooed one night before their marriage.
Generally, they prefer cross-cousin marriage and intermarriage is still rare among Nubian people. They also exchange dowry as a sign of public declaration of marriage. By tradition, divorce is frowned upon and if so, the Nubian women are barely sufficient for remarriage.
Fact: Unlike any other culture, instead of women, Nubian men leave their homes and come to live with their wife.
Many European women who visited Nubian village have married Nubian men and stayed there forever. Now they look after the house and the crocodiles. I can say this through personal experience as I have personally interacted with these European women.
How Nubia contributes in Egypt’s economy?
Today, UNESCO has introduced the Nubian culture to the world and built a museum in Aswan. It showcases the Nubian architecture. Over 2,000 artefacts are displayed in the museum.
The first attempt to stone carvings and use of tools are exhibited in here. The common crafts like pottery, basket weaving and mats are also displayed. There is a glimpse on the relationship and trading between the early Egyptians and Nubians. The colourful folk heritage of the community also out stands the Nubian culture and persuades you to visit today!
How to Reach: Take a 30 mins motorboat ride from Aswan through Nile River and reach the Nubian or Elephantine Island.
What to Expect: Camel ride at Nubian beach, crocodiles at the backyard of the house, amazing Nubian hospitality.
Weather: The weather is generally hot and dry. So, your travel clothing should be light and comfortable.
What to carry: Sun block, a hat, bring two pair of shoes one for tour walking and one for casual wear, if you are a shopping junkie then carry a duffle bag.
Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP)