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How to Visit a Traditional Nubian Village in Aswan, Egypt

How to Visit a Traditional Nubian Village in Aswan, Egypt

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Are you ready to be humbled by some of the friendliest people on earth? Read this guide on how to visit an authentic Nubian Village from Aswan, Egypt.

Far upstream on the Nile, in Upper Egypt lives one of the oldest civilizations, the Nubians. These friendly people have occupied the Western Banks of the River Nile near Aswan for as long as 8,000 years!

Visiting a colorful Nubian Village from Aswan is an authentic and rich travel experience that is guaranteed to leave you with invaluable memories and new lifelong friends.

About the Nubian People of Egypt

Most tourists come to the land of the Pharaohs to witness its amazing Egyptian landmarks and historical monuments.

While undoubtedly fascinating, to really experience Egypt I urge all travelers to also open their hearts to the amazing people and cultures of the land. To get to know the Nubians, here are a few quick notes summarizing their unfathomably ancient history.

Nubian villager in egypt

Nubia in Ancient Times

The historical homeland of the Nubians encompasses a southern region of the Nile River. This land stretches between the first cataract of the Nile and the points where the Blue and White Niles meet.

The people of ancient Nubia harbor one of the oldest cultures on the planet. In fact, their history precedes that of the dynastic Egyptians by millennia!

They are descendants of the Khartoum Mesolithic culture. In ancient times, this was a highly advanced civilization responsible for some of the oldest sophisticated pottery in the world. Historians also know them for building one of the world's first astronomical devices. They discovered this at the megaliths of Nabta Playa and it predates Stonehenge by almost 2,000 years!

Originally migrating from Northern Sudan around 6,000 BCE, the Nubian people settled in Southern Egypt as livestock herders. Initially nomadic, they moved their sheep, goat, and cattle across the lands North of Sudan.

Along the way, they settled into villages and began primitive farming. Due to this, historians call the Nubians the cradle of civilization and one of the forebearers of farming.

Nubian man in egypt

Living Alongside the Ancient Egyptians

The Ancient Egyptians as far back as 3300 BCE called Nubia Ta-Seti, or The Land of the Bow. This is because they regarded the Nubian warrior as an expert archer, developed after thousands of years of bowhunting.

Over the thousands of years of history that followed, relationships of peaceful cultural and trade relations existed alongside periods of war and conflict with the Ancient Egyptians. However, the two cultures and ethnic groups are very much intertwined. Over time, the dark skin Nubian bowmen assimilated into Egyptian culture, married Egyptian women, and even were even buried in Egyptian style.

Needless to say, the Nubian people played a vital role in the history of Ancient Egypt and for long periods ruled a prosperous and highly respected civilization

Nubian archers artefacts
Nubian Archers in the Egyptian Army - Cairo Museum

Nubia Today

In modern times, Nubia was divided between Egypt and Sudan after the establishment of the Republic of Egypt and the secession of the Republic of Sudan in Egypt.

Today, the Egyptian Government controls the historical homelands of the Nubian people. As a result, modern-day Nubians are considered Egyptian, are mostly Muslim, and speak the Arabic Language. However, they also still retain their own unique language and culture.

Unfortunately, Nubian villages have been forcibly relocated several times in the past few decades due to the expansion of Lake Nasser from the Aswan high dam and low dam projects.

Nubian villages are now mostly located on the west bank of the Nile near Aswan and on Elephantine Island. The city of Gharb Soheil is one of the most famous near the first cataract of Aswan.

Modern Nubian Egyptians in Aswan are mostly farmers and herders but also rely heavily on tourism. Visiting a Nubian Village in Egypt is a great way to direct your tourist dollars to communities that need it.

Tip: you can learn more about Nubian culture and history at the Nubian Museum in Aswan.

Boat rowing in aswan, egypt

How to Visit a Nubian Village in Aswan

During our three days in Aswan, I visited two different Nubian Villages. We also shared a campfire with some of the families far up on the Nile. This was organized as part of the 9-day essential Egypt trip with TravelTalk Tours.

TravelTalk works directly with several Nubian Villages on the Nile and employs dozens of local families to run their felucca sailing experiences (also a must!).

If you're still in the planning stage of your Egypt itinerary, I highly recommend checking out their tours. In my opinion, this is the best way to visit an authentic Nubian Village in Egypt!

While you can also book a day trip with a tour guide in Aswan, on a private day tour, or as part of a Nile Cruise, I recommend thoroughly checking reviews first.

I've been told many of these offerings feel a little inauthentic and it isn't exactly clear how much of your money is actually going to the Nubian people hosting you in their village.

Tourist with nubian villagers

The Boat Trip

Since most of the colorful villages are located on the west bank of the Nile River, you'll need to take a short boat ride to reach them. Depending on your trip, this will usually be in a small boat with an outboard engine or a modern motorboat.

These depart from a small port in Aswan but will also pick you up from your hotel if you're staying on the banks of the river.

As I mentioned earlier, we visited the villages as part of a felucca sailing journey down the Nile.

Nubian sailors on the river nile
The crew on our 2-day Felucca Sail with TravelTalk Tours

Visiting a Nubian VIllage in Egypt - What to Expect

No matter which Nubian Village you visit in Aswan, you'll likely experience the same friendly welcome typical of Nubian culture.

So, to help you understand what to expect, I'll give you a quick recap of my experience below.

Exploring the Colorful Nubian Houses

After crossing the Nile, we were led by a local tour guide through two beautiful villages. Here we wandered the streets and admired the unique architecture and colorful designs of their houses and buildings.

Nubian houses are often brightly colored in light blue, orange, yellow, and red tints. Their roofs are usually curved or dome-shaped, which is a practical design used to trap hot air in the blistering Sahara.

Nubian village buildings

These are mostly mudbrick buildings and are always adorned in bright colors with unique painting designs. I also noticed some had images of Horus and other deities painted on the outside walls.

Nubian village with emblem of horus

Outside of the buildings, you'll often find many palm trees and small crops. The dark green crop you'll likely see is alfalfa, which they grow to feed their livestock.

Colorful doorway of a modern nubian building
Local nubian children in egypt

Amazing Hospitality in Nubian Village Life

After a stroll through the village, we were invited in for a hibiscus or Morrocan mint tea by a local Nubian family.

Nubian man pouring hibiscus tea

Later, the owner was very eager to show us around her beautiful house, which consisted of a large, open courtyard complex. Around the courtyard, several single-door rooms were facing inwards. I was told that we'd find this design in almost every house in the village, as it provides a place where families can gather and share a meal.

Girls exploring the courtyard of a nubian house

At first, I felt a little uneasy walking through and peaking into her house, but the local kids soon grabbed us and took us for a tour, to the delight of the parents. It was humbling to see how open Nubian Village life is, and how excited they were to show us how they live.

Nubian boulding
Nubian woman
Ceramic pot in a nubian village of egypt

A Meal with the Nubians

One of the evenings while we were traveling with TravelTalk, we were invited to a meal at another traditional Nubian house. Our host served us traditional food which included a spiced chicken dish, rice, falafel, fresh salads, and homemade flatbread.

Before we knew it, it was as if the whole community had shown up. They began singing and dancing, and soon enough we were all in as well!

If you are invited to a Nubian Dinner, or if this is an option on one of the tours, I highly recommend it, it's easily one of the best things to do in Aswan!

Dancing in aswan village, egypt
Dancing around the fire

Can You Stay in a Nubian Village?

Yes, you can! There are loads of colorful guest houses and hotels right on the shores of the Nile's west bank! Below I've linked to a few well-rated Nubian accommodation options.

Outdoor pool and building at kato dool wellness resort

1. Kato Dool Resort

A colorful hotel right on the Nile that you'll likely have seen photos of on Instagram already!

Bedroom at nubian farm aswan

2. Nubian Farm

A traditional homestay where you can live in true local style at a family farm.

Where to Stay in Aswan

Prefer to visit the Nubian Villages on a day trip from Aswan? Here are the top-rated picks for accommodation on the east bank for every budget.

The most popular areas to stay in Aswan include the city center, where you'll find a mix of budget-friendly and upscale hotels, as well as plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops. Alternatively, Elephantine Island, accessible by boat offers one-of-a-kind views of the Nile River.

The new upscale resort area of New Aswan is also a great option for luxury hotels and spas.

Don't miss this comprehensive guide to the best hotels in Aswan, or take a peek at the three top picks for each budget below.

  • Sofitel Legend Old Cataract - Located in the Nubian Desert 1.3km from Aswan center the hotel offers excellent views and 5-star service. The rooms are beautifully designed and decorated and feature an indoor and outdoor pool, spa, and fitness facilities.
  • Tolip Aswan Hotel - A perfect choice for those not wanting to break the bank but still want to experience 5-star luxury overlooking the Nile River. Here, you'll get a buffet breakfast, pool-bar service, and beautifully decorated air-conditioned rooms.
  • The Mango Guest House - Located on a small island on the Nile River, this guest house is a short water taxi from Aswan's famous landmarks. It has everything you need at an affordable price and is only 5 minutes walk from the Nile.
Hotel in aswan on the nile river

Photos from the Nubian Village of Aswan

Garlic hanging to dry in egypt
Nubian man climbing a felucca mast
Sharing a meal on a felucca sailing boat
A motorbike with a trailer in egypt
Nubian man climbing the mast
Nubian man sitting on a donkey
Nubian street

More Egypt Travel Guides & Inspiration

I hope you've enjoyed this quick insight into visiting a traditional Nubian village in Aswan, Egypt!

If you found this guide useful, make sure to let me know! Otherwise, here are a few more useful Egypt travel guides I'm sure you'll love.

Nubian villagers rowing on the nile river near aswan, egypt
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.