A road trip to Abu Simbel


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Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Abu Simbel
January 22nd 2013
Published: January 26th 2013
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So, we were up at 2.50am, had a quick shower and cleaned our teeth. Hussein rang us at 3.25am because we hadn't been down for tea or coffee and he was worried we were going to be late. I assured him that we were just about to head down.

Down at reception we collected our breakfast boxes and crossed the gangplank onto the dock. We didn't have to disembark through any other boats this morning which made it quick and easy. We drove into the part of Aswan where the convoy for Abu Simbel forms up. All of the vehicles going to Abu Simbel have to be security cleared and then the convoy is escorted to Abu Simbel.

I fell asleep soon after we left Aswan and woke up at about 6.15am. Good, I am sure I needed an extra two hours of sleep. Most of the road out to Abu Simbel is excellent, but there are a number of sections that are very rough. Still, it's not a bad drive through a very harsh desert landscape. When the sun rose Hussein had the driver slow down for a couple of shots through the bus window. No stopping allowed!

After about three hours on the road we arrived at Abu Simbel and it was worth the early start and the long drive because the two temples are absolutely awesome. During the 16th century BC these World Heritage Listed temples were carved out of the mountainside beside the Nile by the Pharaoh, Rameses II as a lasting monument to himself and his Queen, Nefetari. Rameses II had such an ego though that when he built the smaller temple for his wife he installed another four statues of himself on the facade, but only two statues of Nefetari!!

And that would be enough to make these temples incredible but then, in the 1960s, both temples were dismantled and relocated to save them from the rising waters of Lake Nasser. I knew that these temples were moved after the Aswan Dam was built, but I thought that it was only the facades that were relocated. I was completely blown away to discover that there are impressive and well-preserved temples behind the facades. They literally moved a mountain to save these ancient monuments. What an undertaking!!

After almost three hours at the temples where, once again, we were able to take some awesome photographs with no other pesky tourists in them, it was back onto the bus for our three hour drive back to Aswan. Still, on the good sections of road, I have been able to make some headway on the diary. There is going to be plenty to upload when we have internet access again.

We were ravenous by the time we arrived back at the boat for a late lunch. Thank goodness the dining room staff were still on duty and there was still food available from the buffet. It was probably because we were so hungry, but lunch today tasted like our best meal yet aboard the Royal Lotus. We were greeted in our cabin today by an elephant crafted from our pillows, some bed linen and a towel. The animals on our bed each day have been very entertaining.

After a short break on the sun deck we met Hussein in reception where he introduced us to the Bunnik's rep here in Aswan, Ahmed. Ahmed will be looking after our transfer to the Mövenpick Hotel in Aswan tomorrow and our transfer to the airport on Thursday morning.

We took a short walk along the dock to find a felucca for our sunset felucca cruise. There wasn't very much breeze so it was a very slow cruise on the Nile about the felucca. We cruised between Elephantine and Kitchener Islands (named after Lord Kitchener). The Aswan Botanical Gardens are planted on Kitchener Island. The gardens were originally planted with exotic species by Lord Kitchener and the number and variety of plants growing has been expanded since the grounds became the botanical gardens. With the breeze having dropped away to nothing, we were towed back around the end of Elephantine Island and then we drifted back to the dock. It was certainly a very peaceful and relaxing cruise.

Back on board it was welcome night again (cocktails in the lounge bar), but this time for the passengers who are cruising from Aswan to Luxor. There seem to be even fewer people aboard for the return journey but, hopefully, there are more passengers due to board after we leave in the morning.
Steps for the day: 23,469 (16.02 kms) That can't be right? I spent more than six hours in a minibus. I didn't think it was that bumpy!


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