A Travellerspoint blog

Walk like an Egyptian

Hurghada to Aswan

sunny 30 °C



We flew into Hurghada because it was so much cheaper and as I was still getting over my cold we spent a day taking it easy before looking to head off for our adventure. It proved harder than we thought, with tourists getting a bit of the raw end of the deal with any government run service in Egypt. They won't let you book a seat in advance so you are basically hoping that the bus or train won't be too full. Good luck! We finally figured out that the coach services would allow booking in advance and after 5 frustrating hours we grabbed the other 9 tourists in our boat and finally got a bus out!


We arrived at Luxor too late to get to Aswan that night (particularly because we hadn't booked anywhere) so we spent the night in a cheap hotel near the train station. We tried to get tickets at the train station for the morning train but after waiting for a ridiculously long time for the short queue were once again told we had to buy them on the train. I had flashes of another horror day trying to negotiate our way to Aswan but this time it proved to be straightforward and we hopped the train to Aswan at 9am and were able to keep our seats all the way.
Finding accommodation in Aswan proved trickier than expected as it was Egyptian school holidays and Aswan was a popular destination. We went to over 10 hotels all which said they were full and ultimately paid much more than we wanted for what we discovered later (talking to some poor Americans in the same boat we were) was the last room in the hotel. It was a horrible hotel (Nubian Oases), the sink was broken and the toilet didn't flush, but at least we had a bed. We set about trying to organise getting to Abu Simbel the next day, which proved impossible as all the seats on the convoy (yes, you could only go with the police convoy) were taken for the next day. We did have the great fortune to meat Abdullah, however. Abdullah was the captain of a Felucca called Nubian Moon. Even though we had made no promises to sail with him he organised to get us on the convoy for the day after for a better price than anyone else had found and organised a similarly cheaply priced tour for us to go to Philae Island and the temple of Isis the next day. .
Philae was beautiful and our first proper site after 4 days already in Egypt. We stopped first at the High Dam which seemed very popular with the locals but wasn't all that exciting really. If we'd realised before arriving we were expected to pay for the pleasure of looking out over the water we wouldn't have bothered.
Philae was great though. The temple was moved by UNESCO back in the 60s when they first built the dam and flooded the area that is now Lake Nasser and covering the original island of the temple. We had to negotiate to get a boat across and as usual the guy was trying to rip us off. We teamed up with two Brazilians and two Egyptians who were about the only others not on an organised tour and got it down to a reasonable price.
The temple was beautiful. It's incredible to think that it was built and carved so long ago. The hieroglyphs and reliefs were so clear. Inside the temple there were carvings everywhere. It really was amazing. This was also our first experience of our celebrity in Egypt. It seems middle class Egyptians, particularly girls, but whole families too, love having their picture taken with foreigners. At different points we had a little queue waiting their turn to get in a photo with us.
The trip to Abu Simbel was not much fun, but the temple was amazing. Again it had had to be moved when they flooded Lake Nasser, so unfortunately the setting was not quite as beautiful as described in ancient texts. The temple itself though as awe inspiring, which I believe was their point when building it, so a job well done. The four huge seated pharoahs were just amazing. Inside many of the reliefs were still painted and the main entrance was lined with massive statues of their own.
There was a huge battle scene depicted on one wall and you could almost read the story it was so cleverly done. There really are no words to describe the majesty and beauty of these sites and our photos just don't cut it. There was another smaller temple to Hathor there too which was incredibly beautiful in its own right. We avoided the big tour groups and did that first, so we had the whole temple to ourselves. It was amazing.
We chilled out that afternoon, too tired to do much else and relaxed before setting out on our Felucca the next day.

Posted by Addy21 03:23 Archived in Egypt Tagged aswan abu_simbel

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