Denise and Tim were taking the 4:30 am convoy to Abu Simbel, so we’d said our farewells the night before; nice travelling companions. We had opted for the 11:00 am convoy so made our way rather more leisurely. We went in a Kia SUV, driver but no guide. At the rendezvous point a soldier ran a mirror on wheels under the car (to check for explosives?) and the car’s license plate was recorded, although we weren’t asked for our passports. There were 6 vehicles in the convoy (all foreigners need to drive in the convoy, unless they fly to Abu Simbel). Several police/army checks, or slow-downs before we left Aswan, then some road works then open road. There was a surprising amount of “local” traffic. It’s 280 km to Abu Simbel and it took under 3 hours.
We were dropped off at our hotel first: a small venture by the Nubian singer-owner to encourage local culture and enterprise. His house has 5 guest rooms, all built in the local style (dome roofs and arched passageways, roof terrace). His land goes from the road to the edge of Lake Nasser and they grow their own produce. We rested and had lunch (Nile perch and chicken plus various side dishes). Our driver was waiting for us at 3:30 to take in the Temples when it was a bit cooler. 15 minute drive to the ticket office, then another 20 minute walk around the complex hill (all created on top of the original location) and there they were: the massive 4 statues of Ramses II and his temple to Ra (Sun Temple), with the smaller temple he built to his “beloved wife” Nefatari and the goddess Hathor. Ramses’s temple is remarkable in its state of preservation and all the side chambers which we hadn’t seen before, but, Egyptologists that we are, we all agreed that the actual carvings were a lot cruder than others we’d seen! The scenes are dominated by Ramses smiting his foes!
Next door the scenes are gentler but no less moving. Strictly speaking there is no photography inside but photos were taken; baksheesh was exchanged!
The booth selling Sound and Light tickets opened at 6 pm and the show was at 7 pm, so there wasn’t time to go back to the hotel. We enjoyed the visitors’ centre information about saving and moving the temples and then went back to the temples. Due to the large number of French tourists (in a boat up from Aswan, which must be a lovely way to go) we had a headset for the English version, which was read by English actors and was perfect, if over-the-top!). In 35 minutes it told the story both of saving the temples and their building by Ramses – lots of dramatic music and lights – a good show! We were told it was the best of all the ones that are offered at every destination. Anna’s headset didn’t work immediately and in compensation she was given a disk of what we were told were pictures of the temple, but sadly just turned out to be a promo disk of all the Sound and Light shows!
Back to the hotel for a lovely tagine dinner…and so to bed.
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