Cruising the Nile: Aswan and caravan to Abu Simbel

Trip Start Dec 22, 2009
Trip End Jun 22, 2010

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Where I stayed
Nile Ruby

Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Friday, February 19, 2010

Cruising  the Nile

After arriving at the Aswan train station I noticed it was "Hot! … damn Hot!" The temperature had risen at least 10 degrees C. (18 - 20 degrees) .  Once we made our way to the platform a younger smiling Egyptian was standing at the station with a sign that read "Lara Kalman"  Definitely closer than before! So  we hoped into the car with Ali and made our way to the Nile Ruby cruise ship.

The Ruby was definitely more than we expected. The lobby had marble, lacquered furnishings and had been remodeled  in the last year or so. To our satisfaction our room was really large and clean with a nice bathroom and views of the Nile.


After settling into our accommodation , we were called downstairs to meet with our guide Manny who would be showing us around Aswan. As before, Manny greeted us with a large crocodile smile and mildly limp shake as he welcomed us to Egypt. A couple of minutes later, we found ourselves at a ancient granite pit where the Egyptians had set out to construct the largest known obelisk of ancient times. Unfortunately cracks prevented its completion and it remained half completed. Pretty cool, but not jaw dropping.

Next it was off to the island temple of Philae. So far to date the only temple that I had seen was a fairly small structure near the Giza pyramids that was neat, but didn't impress me much. Once the car stopped we headed to the river bank and flagged down a motor boat for a ride out to the island in the middle of the Nile. Laura and I descended into the boat and were immediately captivated by the serenity of the river and the amazing natural rock formations. Arriving to Philae by boat was nothing short of amazing. Call it the river, the position of the sun or just the magnificence of an Island temple in the middle of the desert, but Philae delivered. Check out some of the video for some footage on the approach… simply magnificent!! Manny spent some time going over the historical significance of the structure and gave us some time to explore on our own. The memory was sublime and surreal at the same time.   

Back on the boat we were happy to find a well decked out buffet and some nice people that we would be sitting next to for the remainder of the trip: Lenka and her fiancÚ Torsten. Everybody was really kind and interesting. After dinner Laura and I worked out a little at the small flat bench they had next to the pool on the deck. No rest when you are traveling with the workout Nazi.

Abu Simbel

Waking up at 2:30 a.m. to leave at 3:00 sucks. Unfortunately that is what is necessary when you have to join a large military escorted caravan through the desert to make it to a Temple by sunrise.   Abu Simbel was more than remote, it was a freaking mission!!!! Especially since whatever I ate at the buffet the previous night was pissed off and wanted to go home. Honestly, it was one of the most excruciating drives I have ever taken in my entire life! After a grueling 3 1/2 hours through the desert, we made it to our destination… Ramses II's colossal temple on the bank of the Nile. There were two temples, one to Ramses' favorite wife Nefartari  or the "favorite one"  (not to be confused with the infamous Nefertiti).  The temple was a complete miracle! It was carved deep into a mountain side and was perfectly positioned so that the sun would radiate through the inner sanctum on the birth date of the great Pharaoh. Another amazing fact was that with the rise in the Nile (due to the high Dam) the temple had to be moved to a higher location to avoid total submersion. With the efforts of the UNESCO foundation and special funding from the US government (actually some decent foreign policy here!) the temple was completely disassembled and reassembled in its current location. This effort was nothing short of its original design and creation and was almost…almost perfect! (I mention almost, because they missed Ramses' birthday by one day!) 

The sheer magnitude of the giant statues of Ramses seated at the entrance of the temple is astonishing. Once inside, you are witness to arguably the best preserved hieroglyphs in all of Egypt. Unfortunately since arriving at this remote destination requires the caravan you are rushed and don't get more than an hour to truly enjoy the structure. Nothing short of 3 hours really does the place justice! Next to the temple of Ramses is the temple of Nefartari. Though not as colossal, the second temple does not disappoint! There are magnificent statues at the entrance and the carvings inside are equally impressive.   After a quick run through the temples we dashed back to the bus (they will actually leave without you!) and  we were back on our 3 hour journey back to the cruise in Aswan.  Time flew by as we shared travel stories with an interesting Australian engineer living in Canada who loved to travel and played Australian footie in his free time!
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Laura S. on

I love all your Egypt pics... how wonderful! Wish I was there...

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