Near the end of our trip to Egypt, we did a day trip to Abu Simbel from Aswan. We had been taking a Nile Cruise from Luxor and the cruise ended at Aswan, as the dam prevents boats from continuing further south. Instead, we were driven located 3.5 hours to the south close to the border with Sudan.
It was an early morning, as we had to begin the trip at 4:30 a.m. in order to get to Abu Simbel around 8:00 a.m., shortly after the site opened and before the crowds came. The driver had been arranged by the same company that arranged our cruise, and he arrived our boat promptly at 4:30 to take us there along with our guide. We drove away from Aswan in the dark along a very quiet highway to begin the journey.
With the sun now up and the drive about half way done, we stopped at a roadside gas station in the middle of the desert.
At the gas station/rest stop, Kim found a new friend who wanted her breakfast sandwich so she gave it to him
Then it was back on the road again. There was very few signs of like along the way. One notable cluster of buildings was a town that was being built right in the middle of all that sand. According to the guide, it was going to be used for workers and their families while they were doing construction projects in the region.
Eventually we made it to Abu Simbel before most of the tour the buses had arrived. Even without them there were already some tourists around, but it wasn’t crowded.
There is an interesting history behind Abu Simbel. The location where it is now was not the original location. The temple was actually moved because the Nile river level was rising from the construction of the Aswan Dam. From 1964-1968 work was done to move it 200 metres back from the river in an impressive feat of engineering.
The main temple is dedicated to Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great because of all of his achievements. He was considered to be the greatest pharaoh of the New Kingdom period, and evidence of his reign is everywhere in Egypt. During out two weeks in the country we saw many representations of Ramses from tombs and temples to monuments. He certainly lived up to his nickname.
The smaller temple next to the main one was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and to Ramses’ wife Nefertari, one of the favourite wives of Ramses.
By lunchtime we were finished and were driven back across the desert to Aswan, where we stayed on the boat for one more evening before heading back to Cairo. It was a long trip out of the way but well worth it to see yet one more achievement of that Egyptian pharaoh known as Ramses the Great.