Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day Three: Abu Simbel

After another long day of sight-seeing, we passed out as soon as we arrived in Aswan but woke up bright and early on Saturday for our biggest adventure yet: Abu Simbel. Abu Simbel is the name of a small town, only 40 km north of Sudan. It is famous for the Temple of Ramses II, a gigantic, magnificent temple on the side of a mountain. It's even more famous because the entire temple was deconstructed and rebuilt in the 60s so that it wouldn't be consumed by Lake Nasser which was artificially created by the High Dam.

To get there, you have two options. The first is what 99% of tourists do. Egyptian security is very worried about anything happening to tourists so they force everyone to go by escorted convoy to Abu Simbel. That means that practically everyone who wants to go see Abu Simbel has to go by a tour group and at the same time with the police. The convoy leaves very early--I think it's at 3 or 5 AM. It's about a four hour drive there. You get to spend 3 hours there and then come back by convoy, leaving by 11 AM or noon.

The other way to get there is to take the public bus. About three buses go there a day and only 4 tourists are officially allowed on each bus. We took our chances and took the bus because it left much later (8 AM) meaning that once we got there, all the other tourists would be gone. And it worked! Sorta. The bus was so crowded (mainly Egyptians, but there looked like there were at least 6 or 7 other tourists) and we had gotten there a few minutes before 8 so we were sitting on the floor for half the ride. Not comfortable. Or clean. Midway through, some people got off and my bones stopped hurting.

We arrived around noon and the Temple was practically empty. It was fantastic and beautiful and I'm so glad it worked out the way it did.


No photos allowed inside but you could take pictures from the entrance. Empty!

That's all me. You're welcome, world.

The lesser known Temple of Nefertari. We went inside...but only to make her feel better.

We caught a 3 PM bus back to Aswan, had a dinner, and walked through it's famous street market before calling it a night.

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