Nubia is a region along the Nile river located in what is today northern Sudan and southern Egypt. It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2000 BC.    Nubians also have an early archeological history and at some point in ancient times largely assimilated with Egyptians.  Many of the artifacts in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are Nubian.  They have two languages, one of which was used as a secret code by Egyptians during the 1973 Egypt-Israeli war.   Some Nubians are still gathered in villages along the Nile in upper Egypt, after a forced migration due to the building of the Aswan dam.   Tonite we were headed for a village on the west bank of  the Nile.

Nubian music, as we were about to discover, has been preserved and is very popular throughout Egypt and around the world and had an influence on the blues.

We were met at our hotel by a motorboat to take us to the village.  Some of us climbed to the roof for the best views.


The graceful faluccas with their elegant sails trailed us along the Nile.


We looked on enviously as one particular party boat throbbed with Nubian music.  We had no idea that the musicians had been arranged by our local guide to come and entertain us at dinner and were giving an impromptu concert on the boat.

Along the way, we saw a botanical garden, Aga Khan III’s mausoleum, and a bird sanctuary:


I had to remind myself where I was while floating past gorgeous scenery – and a camel thruway – in the glowing light of the fading Egyptian sun:


We pulled up to the Nubian village, climbed ashore and noticed a ’60’s vibe.  We passed some colourful houses and the local school.

We wandered thru an exotic scene:  the market, with camels ambling  by just as if they belonged there.

We headed “in” for our al fresco delicious tagine dinner next to the Nile.

And then came the music.

Playing, left to right, the Oud, Drabukkeh and Tar

I would defy you not to move when you hear this music.   One of us had had actual belly dancing lessons, the rest of us just followed the lead of the locals.  I danced my tush off, badly, but taking a selfie was not top of mind.


Later,  we visited a Nubian home.  Four couples shared the home.

Nubian women wear beautiful patterns on their hands, like black versions of the brown hennas that celebrate women’s hands in India.  Of course several of us jumped in offering our hands..  Each one was done in a few minutes, each one different.  Our awesome men waited patiently, sipping Karkady tea..

We learned that some Nubians practice black magic, and most Nubians believe the crocodile is a god (and Egyptians have Sobek the crocodile god) so it is meaningful to care for a crocodile, possibly in your own dining room.  Some of us held a tiny. baby crocodile, with tiny, baby crocodile teeth.  This is the adult:

If you would love to hear some upbeat traditional Nubian music, enjoy:




2 thoughts on “Nubia

  1. Awesome pictures Jan. Very exotic! This part of your trip looks fascinating. Loved the music clip.

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