Day 12 (10/17/2011)   Abu Simbel and Nile cruise boarding


Excursión a Abu Simbel

   First day of our Nile cruise, but before we should wake up at 3 AM for joining the convoy leaving to Abu Simbel at 4 AM. A bus ride of three hours will take us to visit the two temples of the complex for two hours and then, another three hours to come back to Aswan. I guess this last trip we will have eyes opened.

   As you can see on map, Abu Simbel is close to Sudan border and that’s the reason this is the only trip which still needs a military convoy for safety in Egypt.

   Scheduled time for Aswan arrival is around noon, the right time for check in the boat and lunch there. At that same afternoon we will visit High Dam and Philae temple.

   Expected expenses for this day are 70 pounds for Abu Simbel trip and 70 more as entrance fee.


   The earlier getting up of our lives: at 3:15 AM we’re in hotel’s living room ready to go. Each of us has gotten a box with the breakfast and they’ll keep our baggage. We still wait 20 minutes more until driver appears to get into the van, where already are six or seven more persons. We chose our seats without knowing still more stops and people to come. Finally the van gets full with only one free seat: the one on my side. It’s not by sheer chance, though, but because this place is above a wheel which makes the space there is not valid for humans.

   Then it stops for a long while, opened doors, and I go out for a cigarette. We’re in a piece of open ground full of buses of all sizes. Just in the one in front of ours I meet the Belgic couple who bought the sleeping train tickets at the same time then us, and chat a little bit with them while military men are looking for bombs under the vehicles with this mirror-with-stick tool which will have a more technical name for sure. We go into our buses when looking this is about to start the trip, but it looks wrong. We don’t leave until some minutes past 4:30 AM .
Minibus a Abu Simbel
   When lights from street disappear and our windows became a complete blacked screen, we feel a big raise in speed and that’s the moment for trying to sleep. It was better for me after breakfast, though.

   Sunlight makes me open the eyes and take the curtain off the window for looking at the landscape out there. It is bicolor: up blue, down yellow. All you can see everywhere is the flag of Ukraine (because it is half up blue and half down yellow. It’s embarrassing having to explain it :)).

   When, on this static landscape, start to appear some items like military men, a tank, a broken house… is sign we’re arriving to our destination. Some minutes later we’re getting off the van to go to the ticket office with a little stop at toilet. It’s logical to think we should find long queues on both places because all buses arrive at once, but the truth is we’re not as the first people from tours do is meet around their guide and listening to him, so we can do our way passing between these groups. The ticket is more expensive than expected: 100 pounds (the webs I read the price from shouldn’t be updated) and we get the ticket for entrance and two more little papers. They’re receipts from two taxes we’ve paid too: guide syndicate and tourism I-don’t-know-what.

   After a turnstile, we’re inside the complex, walking a path down, expectantly, between lake at right and an earth mound at left. Paying attention to this last side as we can see people in front of us is making photos to whatever is at right and we still cannot see. And then appears the famous Ramses II temple façade, with its four seated colossus, although one of them lost its torso centuries ago. Amazing!

Abu SimbelTemplo de Nefertari

   When we’re delighted enough of looking at the temple façade from the distance, we go closer and details reveal: inscriptions and hieroglyphics everywhere, little gods (compared with Ramses everything is small) here and there… Inside, this temple is beautiful too, but pictures are not allowed. There are some guards around preventing an image can be taken from here from a tourist. But, as there are a lot of chambers and corners, it’s not difficult to take a few of them if you’re looking after it. The rule is pretty absurd as you can make pictures or not by centimeters: one side of the entrance line you can, the other side you cannot. Picture at left is “legal”, and the one at right is not.

Abu SimbelAbu Simbel

   After visiting this temple, which is hard to leave from, we go to the small temple besides. The difference for calling it “small” is more inside than outside. It is Nefertari temple and there is the same politics than the previous one about pictures and videos. So we take a lot of photos with the six colossi in its façade and try to steal some picture inside.

   After these visits we take a look at Nasser Lake, which is looking majestic in front of the temples, although we haven’t paid attention to it until now because of the building’s eclipse. The path makes us pass under the earth mounds in our way to the exit .

Templo de NefertariAbu Simbel

   Out we buy some overpriced ice creams and eat them in a crowded bar terrace. The heat is stifling now. The ice creams must have their own history for coming to such isolated place like this and seems to be frozen and defrosted more than once in their way.

   As we left the van just right there I thought we would be in there in just one minute, but we don’t. The access to parking area has changed, the one in the morning must be closed or hidden, and all people must go through an endless street full of souvenirs stores which delay us until being the last ones in our vehicle. Driver gave us two hours to come back: from 7 to 9, but we’ve been 10 minutes late.

Espejismos   We do the return trip awaken, for a change, and my mother chats with an Argentinian woman who has found a way of living in an eternal travel. I look the desert through the window absorbed by the mirages and trying to get a good picture of them. Actually, they’re not so strange: the air is transparent as well as the water, if we see water masses blue because the sky is reflecting over its surface, we can understand that, on specific circumstances, air can do it too. That’s the way we can see lakes at horizon, in the middle of the sand, as if the sky was crossing the line to invade the ocher-colored mass.

   When we arrive to Aswan I check phone’s clock as I’m concerned about our timing since this moment. It’s 12:15 and the time we will be able to start our tasks for today will depend on the order we’re delivered to our hotels. Those tasks are: localize our boat, check in, lunching and visiting, with guide now, the High Dam and Philae temple. The visit to the dam is expendable but Philae temple is not. Overall now the van is on a bridge and we can see a lake full of small boats and the tiny temple silhouette over a further island.

   We strike lucky and are delivered the first. One foot in hotel and I’m calling to cruise agency, they tell me we must wait there to be picked up. It is around 13:00.

   And we wait for almost one hour. A few minutes before 14:00, a young man appears asking for us. He helps us to take our baggage in a spacious van and introduce himself as our guide, Ayman, and proposes, speaking a perfect Spanish, going for the visits now as we don’t have so much time: felucca ride, unfinished obelisk and Philae temple. My parents and wife are shocked about missing the lunch, but I can see a door: I comment we already did a felucca ride yesterday and prefer to lunch and visiting Philae temple calmly. Ayman calls to the boat and agrees with great reluctance and shocked about us doing thing by our own. I haven’t expected the felucca ride was included instead of High Dam as the planning from website was different, but I guess it is because the boat upgrade. I do no more investigations as it has solved today’s journey.

   Boat is really cool, but I never would find it by my own. The Corniche is very long and boats are double, triple or quadruple-moored. We enjoy the lunch buffet we’ve been so close to miss and leave to the visits in the same van brought us to here. The visit to unfinished obelisk is really quick and we’re completely alone. The only thing to see in that quarry is that stone cutting which they say it is an obelisk but it looks to me just exactly as… well, I can’t believe it is just me as I haven’t read about it to anybody, but where the guide explains an obelisk is a way of putting high the sacred figure of the pyramid, I can see they were sculpting here a big penis to Osiris. Look the picture!

Barco Nile StyleObelisco inacabado

   Big pressure from the vendors when leaving, they’re trying to sell in desperation as there is nobody here. We go on with our trip to quay, full of stores, where we take a small boat to save the short distance to the island. Actually, there is not a single temple in there but one big one and some smaller ones. All of them have been moved from their original site nearby to this island to be saved from the waters. They’re very well preserved and we enjoy a lot this visit disappearing into them, with plenty of engraved walls. We’ve been completely alone here too and dusk is accompanying when leaving.

Templo de PhilaeTemplo de Philae

Templo de PhilaeTemplo de Philae

   Once at boat, I feel really relieved for saving so good the difficulty of this journey.

   A well-deserved rest is waiting for us in our cabins, but before, we make our investigation of the ship interior, make our buffet dinner and watch and participate to the Nubian dances spectacle. I think this boat is basically full of German people.
 Camarote en Nile Style
Danzas nubias en crucero