Touring round Abu Simbel which is located beside the River Nile in Southern Egypt.
Ways of getting there - Flying to Abu Simbel, by cruise boat or on a day trip from Aswan.
There are flights each day from Aswan to Abu Simbel and back
but it's certainly not cheap. Add the time and more cost getting to and from the two airports perhaps flying is
not too good a choice generally speaking although flying time itself is only 35 minutes or so. There are few direct flights from Cairo and as far as we know none from Luxor - most flights from those locations require a change of plane and quite
a long wait at Aswan.
Abu Simbel by car or coach.
This is a popular way to make the 560km round trip and certainly much less expensive than flying particularly if there are 2 or more of you travelling. If hiring a car and driver you really do need to look around for a decent price.
When we were looking around for this we were quoted a top rate of LE950 and a bottom rate of LE500 which is quite a difference - and this was for the same type of car. There are several ticket/travel
agents dotted halfway along El Corniche in Aswan particularly near the railway station. The trip to Abu Simbel is usually carried out in a convoy presumably
because of the proximately to the Sudan which is only 40kms from the site. These police controlled convoys at the time of visit leave Aswan twice a day - early in the morning at around 04AM and again at around 10:30AM.
You can also get to Abu Simbel from Aswan and back by having a relaxing cruise along The River Nile on a hotel cruise boat if you have lots of days to spare. Prices and any opening times mentioned on this topic relate to
a little while ago therefore are for guidance - without doubt such entrance fees etc will have only increased. Opening times for the temples are 06:00-18:00 in the Summer and it shuts earlier at 17:00 in the winter although the authorities are flexible if tourists flights are delayed.
Abu Simbel is where two 13th century BC Egyptian Temples dedicated to Rameses II and to his wife Nefertari have been re-located. The Temples are located in
Nubia which was the land between Aswan and Northern Sudan - the Nubians used to travel to Egypt for work and to trade and also built their houses along the
banks of the River Nile. These houses were constructed from sun-baked bricks made of clay and straw and then individually painted and decorated often in a
multitude of different colours - similar Nubian houses can still be seen around Aswan City at Elephantine Island and at Sehel Island.
The Two Temples.
Alongside the River Nile's bank south of Aswan there were once many temples amongst which were the Temple of Rameses II and the Temple of Queen Nefertari located at Abu Simbel. The Temple of Rameses II is the largest and most impressive of the temples in the area and was carved into
massive rocks as opposed to normal free standing temples. Because of this there was a huge problem in working out how to move it all when the Aswan High Dam was
built and increasing water levels on Lake Nasser threatened to flood it.
The site these days is sat around 60 metres higher than the original location.
At the entrance to the Temple of Rameses II are four enormous statues of a fairly young Rameses II.The central hall has 8 more statues of the King, 4 on either side and stood between huge pillars - on the walls there are numerous carvings. The Sanctuary is cut into the artificial mountain to a depth of 55 metres and contains seated statues of 4 gods - Ptah of Memphis, Arun-Ra of
Thebes, Rameses II (who saw himself as a God) and Ra Harakhte.
Situated next to the King's Temple is Queen Nefertari's smaller Temple which is dedicated to the sun goddess Hathor.
The entrance has huge statues of Rameses II and large statues of Nefertari (with small statues of her children beside her). Inside there are drawings of Nefertari on the walls and the pillars have excellent carvings showing Hathor's face.
Is it worth going to Abu Simbel?.
This probably seems like a peculiar thing to ponder for such an important ancient site but the nearest place to get there from is
Aswan and certainly flying is very expensive. By convoy is cheaper but the trip means a 3 hour quite high speed drive each way and you are travelling through
very featureless desert (although the sunset and sunrise in the desert are beautiful for a few minutes). You hardly go through any towns or villages and
anyway the convoy is not allowed to stop. The statues and Temples at Abu Simbel are pretty impressive to say the least as are the reliefs - however if you have
already been to Luxor and especially Karnak then perhaps not quite so. With all the will in the world looking round the two temples probably takes about 30
or 40 minutes - they are quite small. The site itself looks completely artificial
- it is of course but very obviously so unlike for instance the relocated site at Philae which does look
natural somehow, Abu Simbel's temples seem to have been simply "plonked" there. There is a very wide dusty area in front of the temples which stretches over to the edge
of Lake Nasser. This area could well have benefited from some water feature landscaping etc. to bring the Temples to life in a nice setting. Overall Abu
Simbel was "on the list of places to visit" and we have done so but considering the time used up and considerable expense we did not consider it a particularly worthwhile trip in the end.
Probably this would be better visited and looked at via a boat cruise along Lake Nasser - the temples when lit up at night look fantastic if seen from
onboard a Nile cruise boat.
- These are some of our items about Egypt which may be of interest:
- Aswan Touring and Holiday Guide and Photos
- Visiting The southern Nile City of Aswan in Egypt - travelling to Aswan, hotels, restaurants, markets, things to do.
- Cairo Holiday, Sightseeing and Photos Guide
- About visiting Cairo, the airport, taxis, getting around, sightseeing, staying alive on the roads, eating in Cairo.
- Luxor Egypt Holiday and Sightseeing Guide and Photos
- Luxor is the starting point to see some of the world's most amazing archaeological sites and lots to see.
- Egypt touring and travel guides and Photos Our Home Page - shows all of our topics about Egypt.
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