Day 10: Early Start to the Amazing Abu Simbel


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Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Abu Simbel
April 16th 2013
Published: April 21st 2013
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The main Temple at Abu Simbel
Ring ring...that's our wake up call. 2.45am!! We somehow roll out of bed and try wake up with a quick shower. We gathered some pillows and staggered onto our bus to head into Aswan and joined the “Police Convoy”!! There we are met by heavily armed police officers and cars ready to transport us and the 25-odd buses and mini-buses 300km south to Abu Simbel. I'm thinking to myserlf, where the hell are we going that we need a police convoy! Approximately 70km north of the Sudan border...hmmm, that's probably why.



We started our convoy, and it was explained to us that the police were there to 'assist if a bus broke down en route' however the hidden message was that its safer travelling in a convoy with police there to deter any potential kidnapping attempt!

We passed numerous road blocks along the way guarded again by heavily armed police men, including machine gunners up in turrents...again, filling me with confidence that the territory we were venturing into was not exactly safe! The drive was relatively uneventful, thankfully the tactic of leaving SOOOO early in the morning worked as the terrorists were clearly still sleeping ;-).

We arrived at Abu Simbel around 8am and it was already blistering hot. Abu Simbel temple is amazing. Its a massive temple that was carved directly into a cliff face. On the front of the temple sits 4 massive (well, actually its only 3 now) statue carvings depicting the king at various stages of his life, as a young man to the left and into his 90's at the far right. The different facial features on the carvings were pretty cool indicating the king's aging effect. One of the carvings has unfortunately fallen off and his head now sits face-down in the sand at the front of the temple!

The temple itself is not in its original location. As part of the High Dam project, the original location has since been flooded by Lake Nassar. There was a massive project back in the 1970's to 'move' this mountain temple into its current location. How they did it was a miracle in itself. They had to build a manmade mountain and recarve it out before shifting the temple block by block to the new location. They decided against re-attaching the 2nd carving of the king (the one with his face in the sand) as when the original Abu Simbel temple was discovered, this carving had already fallen off.

We were given some time to wander around the temple, well, it was actually 2 temples, the main one built for King Ramsees with a smaller one built next to it for his queen. We weren't allowed to take photos within the temples however we purchased a series of photographs that showed the important scenes sculptered on the walls and columns. The insides of the temples were pretty impressive and it was cool to be able to understand some of the scenes that were explained to us by our guide Michael (like a scene with King Ramsees defeating his enemies). Also in the temple was 4 statues next to each other depicting 3 of the sun gods (Ra) and the god of the underworld. The temple was built in such a way that whenever sunlight shines inside the temple, it can only illuminate the 3 sun gods, leaving the god of the underworld in the shadows. We used the rest of our spare time to take some awesome photos including pretending to be the 'missing' King Ramsees and group jump shots with some fellow tour group members.

Our time at Abu Simbel came to an end and we ventured back to the bus for the long trip back by convoy to Aswan. We were lucky again that the terrorists were too busy having breakfast or something and made it back in one piece. The road by daylight is pretty boring. Just sand, sand and more sand (with the odd machine gun turran). I indicated to Rach what a mirage was, showing her out in the distance what looked like a lake. She replied, I don't understand, it just looks like a lake. We also passed the remains of a burnt out bus, wondering if this is what happens to those buses that lose the convoy. Luckily the driver kept up with the pack.

We arrived back at our cruise ship, had some lunch (we were absolutely starving as breakfast felt like ages ago!) and chilled out up on the top deck of the boat for a bit. We took a quick dip in the swimming pool and then lounged around as we cruised down the Nile.

We docked at a little town and visited the Kom Ombo temple.
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The 2 temples
The carvings and hyrogliphics were explained to us again (a lot of the stories have sorted of merged together now we have visited so many bloody temples!) however the best one was a carving indicating the Egyptain calendar. It was a carving that seperated the Egyptains 3 seasons, the flooding of the nile, the planting of the crops and the harvesting season. The ancient Egyptains had formulated a calendar that each season lasted 4 months, with 30 days in each. After a while, that discovered that their seasons were slightly out (as their year was based on a 360 day year) and added/subtracted days to accommodate until they finally come to a 365 day year. Anyway, the carving indicated each day of the year, including the first days of the month which required a special blessing to be given to the gods.

We wandered around the temple and captured the cool colours on the columns caused by the setting sun. Rach found an awesome possy to perform a handstand with the setting sun in the background. The result of which she has now used as her cover photo on Facebook!! We finished the temple visit with a wander through the Crocodile Museum. Apparently the priests used to keep live crocodiles in the temple as it was thought that the gods themselves came down to Earth in crocodile form...weird? Yep. When the crocodiles died, it was thought the spirit of the god passed to another crocodile however the priests would mummify the dead croc, and bury it in special tomb. The museum housed a heap of these mummified crocs, they were actually very well preserved however quite bizaare how they treated them like royalty.

We wearily made our way back to the boat, had some dinner and spent the night having a couple of beers and playing some games at the 'Egyptain night' on the boat. Everyone was pretty knackered from the early start and Rach and I soon made our way to bed.


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The 2nd temple and the newest kings and Queens
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Attempting to spell EXPAT
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Men with guns!
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Yet another road block
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A beautiful mirage captured on the ride back
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Burnt out bus stranded on the side of the desert road
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Yet another towel design from the guys on the boat
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Laxing out for the arvo on the boat as we cruised to Edfu


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