Thursday, 24 June 2010

Another 3am start??

One of the major reasons to head down to Aswan (apart from the beautiful Nile and glimpses of Nubian culture) is that it serves as a convenient jumping off point for Abu Simbel. Unable to spend more than one day there, we opted somewhat reluctantly for the early morning convoy, the only way of getting down unless you can stay overnight or manage to get a seat on the overcrowded and often booked out local bus.

Our reluctance to join the convoy? Not the 3am start actually (although that isn't exactly fun!). No, it's more the seeming pointlessness of the whole thing. After waiting over an hour at the bus meet point, we headed off, only to find that almost immediately the convoy breaks apart, and our bus continued pretty much on its own...

We arrived at Abu Simbel shortly after sunrise, and headed straight for the temples. Occasionally I have found that visiting famous sites can result in an anti-climax, but these did not fail to deliver. The scale is incredible, the interiors well-preserved and beautiful. Unfortunately, there are so many people that it is hard to get a true sense of the place, but it doesn't detract from the overall effect. Lake Nasser itself is equally awesome, with the vast still waters stretching out.

After checking out the area, we hopped back on the convoy and drove to Philae temple, our next main stop (we also saw the dam, but unless you are very very keen on such constructions, it wasn't especially thrilling...). Without the reputation of other archaeological sites along the Nile, Philae is quiet, situated on a small island but definitely not to be missed - a beautiful temple, incredibly well preserved and atmospheric.

After that it was back to Aswan, and a final stunning Nile sunset, a wander through town (and a great market) the following day before hitting a final museum (the Nubian museum - another gem!) then heading back to Cairo.

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