Aswan Botanical Gardens
In 1899 Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC a senior British Army officer and colonial administrator, was gifted with an island that lay immediately to the west of Elephantine Island, and so he decided to make it the headquarters of his campaigns in the Sudan. Not only that, but he started to transform it, with help from the Ministry of Irrigation, into a 2,460 foot (750 metres) long botanical garden, first of all by acquiring many different types of local fauna, and then by importing some from other countries in Africa, from India, and from further afield as well; including some very rare specimens. The garden was laid out with walkways that offered superb views of this paradise of exotic plants and trees. Later on, after Lord Kitchener had left, the island’s control was given to the Ministry of Irrigation and was used, as a research station, for examining things like various foods and cash crops. A biological research station still sits there today, on the southern tip of the island, but it is closed to visitors.
The island goes by many names today: Kitchener’s Island; Plantation Island; and Aswan Botanical Gardens being just three, but its correct name is Elnabatat’s Island (Geziret an-Nabatat or "Island of Plants"). It is easily reachable by felucca, motorboat, or the local ferry, and is an excellent location for relaxation, with an almost endless array of seasonal flowers, a plethora of various palm trees, and in excess of 400 different species of exotic and subtropical vegetation. Many species of birds are also attracted by the various fauna, with their vivid plumage being seen in the branches of the trees in which they have made home. It is the perfect destination for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and are looking for the idyllic spot for a picnic.