Cairo to Aswan: The Long Cruise: Abu Simbel

For some unknown reason it’s the norm to leave Aswan by 4am to make the drive through the desert to Abu Simbel. We grabbed coffee and made sandwiches from the breakfast buffet to eat later. Setting off just after 4.30am we joined the stream of tour buses making the same journey. Stopping at police checkpoints along the way, one for over half an hour, slowed our progress.

The sky started to lighten as we made our way through the darkness,

giving a lovely display and eventually the sun rose in the distance. The daylight revealed the stark landscape, which was sparsely populated and barren mostly, until we neared Abu Simbel.

There were lots of strange rock formations which had us wondering how the landscape had formed. No one else seemed interested, many had brought pillows and pool towels to cover themselves with while they continued to sleep.

A brief stop at one of the road houses allowed for a stretch of legs and fresh air before continuing.

Arriving after most of the other buses, we met our guide and he raced us to the temple ‘ahead of the crowd’. The picture of the temple is very familiar, however when you see it, up close and personal, it’s jaw dropping and one of those ‘pinch me’ moments questioning yourself if you’re really there, at last!

Our guide basically said, there’s the temple, get in there before everyone else and I’ll see you in half an hour!

Not that we were sorry, we were just intrigued and wanted to look and drink in what we were seeing.

Along with loads of others all doing the same, with selfie sticks,

iPads and being shouted at not to use cameras without a ticket!

We managed to battle through though, losing each other in the process.

The wall scenes and statues are incredible, nothing can really prepare you for the immensity of them.

There are lots of side rooms of the main halls with scenes of offerings to the gods.

The main statues, on which the sun shines twice in the year, are a little disappointing as they are very worn, thinking about thousands of people all visiting at the same time on the same day to view the scene of the sun falling on them doesn’t bear thinking about to be honest!

Nefatari’s temple next door is smaller but fascinating.

Not as busy, not sure whether people thought that this was an afterthought or what! Love the gold ankh they use as the key to the doors.

Standing well back and taking in the view of the two temples together is mind blowing, and one of those ‘pinch me am I really here’ moments, well it certainly was for me as I have wanted to visit this place for over forty years and every attempt seems to have been hampered in one way or another!

Despite the heat there was a cool breeze in the shade and it was lovely just to sit and look at the temples until we had to leave.

After the four hour drive back we were ready for lunch and a rest before we headed to the perfume shop and then to the old souk. So much has changed in Aswan since my first visit, the souk was delightful.

A mix of everyday and souvenir shops,

spice shops

and dried dates

were everywhere.

We made more purchases of herbs and spices than we had intended but hey it’s not everyday you get such fresh spices and a lesson in how to use them.

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