If you’ve been following my blog post journey through Egypt, you’ll know that I’ve been all over the place! I started my coverage with a two part series looking at Cairo, primarily on the Great Pyramids and Saqqara. This followed with a four part series documenting my days and nights cruising down the Nile. And now, here we are at our final destination: Abu Simbel.
Early in the morning we said goodbye to our cruise ship and hopped onto the bus. This was nothing unusual because this is pretty much what we did everyday, but this time we really did the leave the boat behind. We set course for a three hour drive into the desert. Abu Simbel is a small, quiet town but contains some jaw-dropping sites. We arrived to the hotel just in time for some rest and some lunch. Our tour guide told us that the service is mediocre at best, but the resort is so beautiful that you can’t help but ignore the imperfections. We stayed at Seti Hotel Abu Simbel, which is the only resort in the area. It’s not a problem though, because the hotel is wonderful. Look at this view!
Why anyone would travel on a bus for three hours may escape reason, but Abu Simbel features two amazing temples built into the mountain. Now, what is truly incredible is that this is not the original location of these two magnificent temples. If you read my post on the Temple of Isis, then this will seem familiar. The temples at Abu Simbel were also at risk because of the impending flooding caused by the Aswan Dam. UNESCO stepped in to save the temples and funded their relocation. Can you imagine removing these temples from within a mountain and moving them to another?
Great Temple of Ramses II
Has anyone ever noticed that whenever a big blockbuster film comes out, at least one critic will call it a tour de force? I honestly tire from the phrase easily because it is so overused. However, the Great Temple of Ramses II is truly a tour de force. There are four colossal statues of the Pharaoh, undoubtedly to show strength. This Temple is considered one of the most beautiful temples in all of Egypt and it is easy to see why. The Temple is actually dedicated to numerous figures, including the gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah. It is also dedicated to the deified version of Ramses II, showing the impression that Pharaohs were not only rulers but also gods.
The inside of the temple is just as grand. One of the most interesting things to see is the various storerooms. The ceilings are relatively low and there are carvings along the walls depicting agricultural items like wheat and papyrus.
Temple of Hathor
The Great Temple is the larger of the two temples at Abu Simbel. This other temple is appropriately known as the Small Temple and is dedicated to both the goddess Hathor and Ramesses II’s chief consort, Nefertari. This one is striking because if you look carefully, you’ll notice that Nefertari is the same height as the Pharoah, so this shows how important she was to him. She clearly had a high status and with that, a lot of power.
Sound & Light Show
As the sun started to set, the tour group gathered in the seating area in front of the temples. To come was a wonderful way to wrap up our Egyptian adventure.
A sound and light show is performed nightly at Abu Simbel, as long as there are enough visitors. We were given headphones, allowing for multiple translations. All of a sudden the lights went out and the show began. While I honestly do not remember any of the script, I do remember the laser lights projecting on the temples.
The next morning was a long day for all of us. We left our hotel and got back on the bus to drive three hours back to Aswan. From Aswan we flew to Cairo, and landed ourselves at another luxurious hotel. It is at this moment that I realised how exhausted I felt. The constant traveling and exploring really weighs you down, but at the same it was a good kind of exhaustion. I’m not sure I’ll be back in Egypt anytime soon, but this trip had a profound impact on me which has forever changed my perspective. Thank you, Egypt!
And so ends my trip to Egypt! Want to read more? Make sure you check all my past posts on the Gift of the Nile.