Abu Simbel

I’d like to make one quick statement.  I’m so glad we got in and out of Egypt when we did.   I can understand the hostility towards the government however.  We noticed that there was some unhappiness amongst the Egyptian people, and saw first hand a group of store owners getting thrown out of their stores by the police and forced to shut down their business because the government wanted the land.  But did I think this revolution would occur a mere couple weeks after leaving?  No way.

Moving along now, one of the most popular excursions from Aswan is a trip to Abu Simbel to see the two temples.  In order to get to Abu Simbel, it takes a 6 hour bus ride or a quick 45 minute flight from Aswan.  We took the 5 A.M. flight to get there because the views of the two temples is ten times more spectacular if you can catch it with rising sun shining on them.  I’d like to also take a moment to recognize the travelers who were killed in the bus crash on their way to Abu Simbel.  The accident occurred the day before we went and needless to say it shocked all of us on the boat.

Like I said, our flight was ungodly early, but from everything we heard, this was a place we HAD to see.  Most of the people at the Aswan airport that morning looked like they just rolled out of bed and were heading to Abu Simbel as well.  Once we landed, after a little bit of confusion trying to figure out which bus to get on (TIP: If you visit Abu Simbel via EgyptAir – EgyptAir has a free shuttle that goes back and forth from the airport to the temples) we arrived at our destination.

The gate to the temples was about 400 meters away from the sight so we weren’t able to see anything from the start.  We followed the crowed down a path which led around a large cliff along the beach.  Still not able to see anything, we walked down the path towards the beach on the right edge of the cliff.  It wasn’t until we looped around and looked over our left shoulders that we saw:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So needless to say, it’s quite a shock to see that all of a sudden.  I was awe-struck at how well preserved the carvings were, and how massive the figures were that were embedded in the cliff.   Once again, we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the temples (although once inside I did see a few folks taking a few quick snapshots.  I wish I had done the same, but I decided not to risk getting arrested).  However, I will say about the interior that the paintings inside were the most interesting and exciting of all that we’d seen in Egypt.  Most of the illustrations depicted the King Ramesses II conquering his enemies in battle to in order to intimidate the Nubian neighbors.  I could certainly see how anyone walking into the temples and seeing this would be immediately humbled.

Here’s another tip if you’ve taken the flight to Abu Simbel.  Take your time.  Seriously.  You’ve probably booked a flight that only gives you about an hour to see the temples (you’ll want two hours).  You’ll feel like you need to race back to the shuttle.  You’ll get anxious as you see the time ticking past the usual 30 minutes before the flight leaves boarding time.  You’ll get on the plane.  And then you’ll realize, the plane won’t leave until everyone gets on board.  So you’ll sit for another hour on the plane while the rest of the passengers slowly stroll on after taking in the Abu Simbel temples at a leisurely pace.  So do yourself a favor and enjoy the temples, the plane won’t leave without you.  And you never know when you’ll be back.


It’s hard for me to get over the fact that I’m sitting back in my apartment after the whirlwind that’s been the past couple of weeks over in Egypt (Update: actually I’m in a hotel room in San Diego now).  One blog post wouldn’t nearly do the trip justice, so I’ll be posting several over the course of the next few days.  I’d also like to give a shout out to the other travelers from around the world that we met who made the trip that much more memorable.

Egypt was everything I expected and much more.  My trip consisted of seven days on a Nile cruise and three days in the city of Cairo.  My family flew out of JFK airport in New York on New Year’s Eve direct to Cairo on Egypt Air.  I’ll be honest, I have no idea why I didn’t expect much from Egypt Air, but I was happily surprised to find that it was one of the nicest airlines I’ve ever flown.  The seats were comfortable, spacious, and had the biggest TV screens on the backs of the headrests that I’ve seen on any airline.  Seriously, the screen had to have been a foot by a foot (bigger than my laptop screen).  And the media offerings were extensive.  The food was excellent (the dinner consisted of chicken, farfalle, grilled veggies, chocolate cake, and salad.  The breakfast offering was scrambled eggs, sausage, tomatoes, fruit salad, a large croissant, and tater tots.  The tater tots were crunchy too) and the staff treated us like kings (or pharaohs I guess would be more appropriate).

Once we landed in Cairo, we took a quick flight to Luxor and met up with our guide Remon or Re, who took us to our boat.  Now when I heard we were doing a river cruise, I pictured that we’d be the only ones on the water.  I was sorely mistaken.  Our boat, The Crocodillo, was one of about 400 river boats that travel up and down the Nile.  I don’t know why I should have expected otherwise on one of the world’s oldest water ways.

All the boats dock along side one another in a way that requires you to walk through several boats to get to yours.  It sounds confusing, and believe me, after traveling for an entire day it was in person as well.  Each boat has double doors on it’s lower deck that goes into each boat’s lobby area.  So in order to get to the Crocodillo, we walked through like 4 or 5 lobbies (and I was thoroughly confused as to what was going on, thinking that the boat had like 4 lobbies on it).

Once we got checked in, our room was small for three people.  But from what we’ve heard about the other rooms, it was the largest on the boat so we were able to make due.  We weren’t going to be spending much time in it anyways because the boat had a great top deck for sunbathing, swimming, and lounging around.  They had a afternoon tea on deck every day and provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the dining room on the lowest deck.

So while our boat was old (I’m going to nerd out here for a moment and make a Battlestar Galactica reference.  Our boat had a sister ship that most of the passengers on our boat also had originally tried to get on called the “Carnival”.  Essentially the Carnival was the Pegasus and ours was Galactica), our boat had character and a really fun group of passengers that made the next few days very enjoyable.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.