Lake Nasser, Egypt

Lake Locations:

Egypt - Upper Egypt -

Also known as:  Aswah High Dam Reservoir

Lake Nasser, in Egypt’s Upper Region, is a modern technological marvel with ancient roots. In Egypt’s extremely arid climate, the Nile and its annual floods have provided fertile sediments since before the time of recorded history. Attempts to dam the Nile have been on-going since at least the year 1000 when Fatimid Caliph, Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah summoned Iraqi engineer Ibn al-Haytham to control the flooding of the Nile. When al-Haytham realized the impossibility of the task, he wisely feigned madness until the Caliph died. A dam was finally completed in 1902 by British engineers. The height of the dam was raised twice due to flooding and when the Nile again flooded in 1946, it was determined a new, larger dam was needed. Planning began in 1954 after the Egyptian Revolution and incited an international incident of major proportions; the new Egyptian leader, Nasser made a weapons agreement with the USSR over the United States. The dam was funded and completed with the help of Russian engineers and the USSR. The resulting 2,030 square mile lake extends into the Sudan where it is called Lake Nubia.

The flooding that was scheduled to occur after dam construction created major cultural and archaeological problems. It flooded much of lower Nubia and over 90,000 people were displaced. Archaeological sites such as the fort at Buhen were flooded by newly formed Lake Nasser. A massive international effort moved some famed ruins such as the Temple of Philae to higher ground. Loss of the yearly floods and fertile sediment deposited has lowered the fertility of the Nile Valley and reduced fisheries in the Mediterranean Ocean. Reduced river outflow allows salt water from the Mediterranean to encroach farther upstream, ruining existing fields. The majority of water flowing past the dam is now used for irrigation. The dam itself generates a large portion of Egypt’s electricity and has improved living standards for many of the smaller villages.

Lake Nasser has developed into an excellent sport fishery. Anglers travel from around the world to try their luck with the giant Nile perch that reach nearly 400 pounds. The aggressive tiger fish and vundu catfish are also favorites. The huge size of these game fish require special tackle and equipment. Most fishermen engage one of the local guides and cruise services to facilitate their once-in-a-lifetime fishing trip. As with most Egyptian cruises and tours, it is far cheaper to arrange these before arriving in the country.

Any travel in the Lake Nasser area requires travel by boat a matter of necessity: generally, foreigners are not allowed to travel in private vehicles or taxis on the road from Aswan to Abu Simbel and are instead required to stick with vans, buses and microbuses with police escorts. Most visitors take the tourist trains or a plane. Ferries take passengers and vehicles between Aswan in Egypt and Wadi Halfa, where the railway goes to Khartoum, capital of Sudan. Since it is prohibited to cross the Sudan-Egypt border on land, and no paved roads connect the two countries, the ferries are the only alternative to air travel. Despite travel difficulties, Egypt has managed to develop the Lake Nasser area as a tourism center. Vacation rentals in the form of hotels and some private villas are available. The city of Aswan a few miles downstream is usually the lodgings center for visitors to Lake Nasser. Many times, tours and cruises arrange lodgings as part of the tour. As many visitors fly into Cairo, most tourists visit the Valley of The Kings to explore the Sphinx and the major pyramids before heading to Lake Nasser.

Lake Nasser has many activities of interest to the visitor from afar. Of interest to the bird watcher, more than 100 species of birds have been recorded: wild ducks, pelicans, herons, egrets, Egyptian geese, and various species of hawks, falcons, kites and eagles will be among the birds seen along with yellow-billed stork, African wagtail, African skimmer and Kittliz’s plover. Many are amazed at the variety of wildlife that thrive in this arid land: In most areas there are crocodile and monitor lizards, along with desert fox, jackals, Dorcas gazelle, and various desert mammals. Tours can be found catering to all of these interests.

No trip to Lake Nasser would be complete with out a sail on the ancient traditional Nile sailboat, the felluca. These Nile sailboats have been in use for thousands of years and are common for both Nile river and Lake Nasser travel. Overnight cruises on a felluca are available but accommodations are somewhat primitive. Most visitors opt for day cruises instead. In some areas, fellucas are available for rent by the hour but the adventurous visitor should be aware that these boats sail differently than the usual sailboat. Sailing the Nile is facilitated by the prevailing winds that blow upstream and the current easing the trip downstream.

Side trips on Lake Nasser include both the relocated Temple of Philae and the stunning Temples of Abu Simbel, both which are only accessible by water. The Temple of Philae is considered one of the most picturesque in Egypt. The main temple at Abu Simbel has four gigantic statues of Ramses II at the entrance. The intricately decorated walls inside the temple depict the great victories of ancient Egypt’s greatest king. The smaller temple is dedicated to Ramses II favorite wife, Nefertiti and features two statues of the queen and four statues of Ramses.The preservation of such magnificent works of ancient art assures visitors that the expense and effort of moving them was well worth the price.

No visitor can leave the Lake Nasser area without visiting the town of Aswan. The local souks, or markets which sell produce, hand-crafted goods and general household needs are a must-see, as is the Corniche along the Nile. After experiencing the excellent weather and the friendly Egyptian people, it is easy to see why the Agha Kahn came here to live out his life. Agatha Christie penned her novel, “Death on The Nile” at the Old Cataract Hotel here. In fact, many visitors make Aswan their headquarters for their Lake Nasser visit as it is an old, old tourist area with many amenities for European visitors and plenty of historical charm.

A visit to Lake Nasser is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The beautiful lake is the perfect backdrop for the ancient temples and the varied exotic wildlife. Choose your destinations, cruises and vacation rentals today. Real estate may be available in some areas. You, like the Agha Kahn, may decide to spend the rest of your life here.

Things to do at Lake Nasser

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lake Nasser

  • Catfish
  • Perch
  • Tiger Fish

Lake Nasser Photo Gallery

Lake Nasser Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Minestry of Electricity and Energy

Surface Area: 1,482,632 acres

Shoreline Length: 5,592 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 601 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 560 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 642 feet

Average Depth: 83 feet

Maximum Depth: 590 feet

Water Volume: 50,264,218 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1970

Drainage Area: 1,100,005 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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