If there is going to be an 8th Wonder of the World, the temples of Abu Simbel should be it. There are several must see historical sites in Egypt and Abu Simbel ranks high up in the list. Let me share with you my experience in this spectacular Lomo location.
The historical site of Abu Simbel refers to two temples carved out of the mountain: The Great Temple of Ramses II and The Temple of Hathor and Nefertari. The temples were commissioned by Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th century BC. For thousands of years, the temples were forgotten and buried in sand until 1813 when Swiss explorer Jean-Louis Burckhardt stumbled upon them.
Abu Simbel is located at southern Egypt about 250km outside Aswan. The temples were relocated in the 1960s under threat of flooding from the River Nile due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam. During the relocation, the temples were cut into blocks, moved up the mountain and were reassembled. Looking at the huge statues, one can imagine the gigantic engineering effort involved.
The day trip to Abu Simbel started at 3am. Still half awake, every guest was given a breakfast pack and herded to the waiting coach. From the hotel, the driver drove to another meet up location for the minibuses and coaches. We were told that for the safety of tourists, all journeys to Abu Simbel must be accompanied by armed convoys. After a quick breakfast in the coach, I slept through the 3-hr journey waking up once to watch the sun rise in the desert. A faster way to reach Abu Simbel is by flight but be prepared to book the tickets early.
Before visiting Abu Simbel, I read reviews and seen images of the temples on the Internet. However nothing beats being there yourself. The statues are visible from afar and admiring the temples up close is just amazing. To think that these temples were carved out of the mountains thousands of years ago gives a very surreal feeling. The Great Temple with four seated colossal statues of Ramses II is simply magnificent.
The Temple dedicated to the Goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari is smaller but just as impressive.
To protect the monuments and artifacts in the temple, photography is not allowed inside the temple. This is probably a good move as thousands of tourists visit the temples daily and given the limited space inside, photography would probably cause major obstruction.
For those interested to know how the name Abu Simbel came about, it’s actually named after a young local boy who helped Burckhardt find the temples : )