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Aswan & Abu Simbel

Dates: Jan 1-3, 2020


Route: Aswan- Flew from Cairo, Abu Simbel- Flew from Aswan.

We got to Aswan in the early afternoon and after the usual haggle for taxi, got to our hotel room around 4pm. The sun was beginning its slow descent as we walked down to the riverfront and hired a felucca for a sunset cruise. The felucca is a traditional wooden boat that uses the wind and current to navigate in a zig-zag pattern. We spent about 1.5hrs watching the sun slowly set over the Philae temple. This is a beautiful way to watch the sunset and highly recommend it. We went to Abu Simbel the next morning and that is detailed below. In Aswan, we spent the afternoon exploring the Temple of Isis which is a beautiful site that is reached via motorboat from the Marina. Nicknamed the Temple of Love, this was the last one built and used for the ancient Egyptian religion and is quite well preserved. We liked it so much we ended up going back again the next morning before the tourist hordes arrived.

(Click on gallery images below for details)

The final place of interest in Aswan that we saw was the Nubian Village which is perhaps the most different thing we saw in Egypt. This is because the Nubians are ethnically different and a combination of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Most of the Nubians here were relocated to these villages as the High Dam drowned their former homes. This was one of the most colorful places with their shops filled with many spices, clothes, art and dinnerware. We went into a small tea shop for mint tea with the friendly owners.

We only drove by the High Dam as it was not of much interest to us. The spice shops in the main market are quite nice but too crowded with extremely pushy salesmen. 3 days, including a day for Abu Simbel, is more than enough.


(Click on gallery images below for details)

For Abu Simbel, we chose to fly vs taking the 3hr driving caravan that left at 5am. Our flight was 45 min late in leaving which meant we only had 2hrs to see all of Abu Sibmel. A government bus took us on the 10 min drive to reach the site from the airport. From there, it’s about a 10 min walk to reach the main entrance. No matter how many pictures you may have seen or videos watched, there is nothing that will prepare you for the magnificence of the statues at the main temple. Fun fact: Abu Simbel is not the name of the actual temple but rather the name of the boy who took the first western archaeologists to the site. The main temple is a testament to the massive ego of Ramses II, perhaps the most important and influential kings of ancient Egypt. He built Abu Simbel, a temple to himself and his favorite wife Nefertari, at Egypt’s southern most border. The intent was that any traveler or potential enemy going north on the Nile would get the message loud and clear; you are entering the realm of Ramses II, tremble in fear. The temple was relocated in 1968 due to the building of the High Dam which would have flooded the entire temple complex. The move was an amazing feat of engineering and collaboration of many nations and is detailed here. The temple chambers are similar to most others in Egypt though the carvings are well preserved. There is also a smaller temple to Nefertari that is worth a visit. Overall, 2hrs is the bare minimum needed to really experience the complex.


(Click on gallery images below for details)

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