What seemed almost mad for a holiday had its reason and at three in the morning on our fifth day we were startled from our slumber into a state of half awake, but still relatively asleep I think. We met up with the rest of our group in the lounge for some coffee, there were some brief nods of recognition, but beyond that conversation was a little flat!
The guides filed us down to the lobby, through the adjoining boats onto the dock and up into our coach. In all honesty I don’t remember much of that, but remember travelling through Aswan in the dark to a coach park. Which is where things got a little different from what I had imagined for this trip!
The coach park itself was a secure area controlled by the Military and Police, this alone highlighted to me those guards which had been there all week. They are there for the protection of tourists, but up until now I had disregarded their presence as a novelty. Now as we sat on the coach, with other coaches joining us ready for the trip across the desert I realised that we might be in a little more danger than I had imagined.
As we prepared to leave the coach park with Police / Military vehicles accompanying us as an escort, some coaches also had armed guards board them for further protection. In fact these guards wore suits, but under their jackets were machine guns. Oddly a frightening yet acceptable reality for where we were.
The situation itself left me feeling a little naive about the world I think. Possibly taking my own day to day safety and situation for granted. I also felt a little bad that we as visitors could visit Egypt and it would seem our safety was heavily invested into.
The convoy made its way through the empty streets of Aswan and headed for the desert. Before I knew it we had passed through several check points and were traveling across open desert.
At around half six we saw the sun rise across the vast empty desert, which was quite a sight to be honest. Then a few hours after we had left Aswan we arrived at Abu Simbel.
Abu Simbel is actually two temples, one dedicated to Ramses II and a second to his queen Nefertari and Hathor. They date back to the 19th Dynasty and are around three thousand years old, in case you were wondering. Originally located overlooking the Nile, when Lake Nasser was created they had to be moved to prevent flooding. A move which was no simple piece of engineering!
The operation to move the temples began in 1964 and concluded in 1968, remarkably dismantling the two temples and reconstructing them further back and on higher ground.
As ever with temples of this age video and photography inside was prohibited, so nothing from inside I’m afraid. However, I can say that both temples are amazing to walk around and if you have the chance to visit them don’t turn it down. Its a bit of a trek, but amazing to think of the work which must have gone into create such an amazing construction.
In fact those ancient Egyptians were so clever that in the Ramses II Temple (I think) there are three statues, one of which is a God of the underworld or death. On a certain day of the year two statues are illuminated by the sun as it rises, but the underworld one remains in the dark. Just another example of their clever abilities I think.
After wandering around the temples for a while we headed back to the coach and not long after we headed back towards Aswan across the desert.
We arrived back at the boat for lunch and not long after it set sail and began to head back down river. We chilled out in the lounge and on deck in the afternoon, then after dinner headed to the lounge for a Treasure Hunt. This was essentially just a bit of fun, but still quite funny at times.
We headed to bed after what was a very long day, but enjoyable never the less.