Visit Abu Simbel In South Egypt
Egypt is not all about Pyramids and Mummies – in fact, the most beautiful temples are further southward along the Nile. The royal temples of Ramses II and Nefertari at Abu Simbel will definitely leave you spell bound. Are you ready to go back in time?
In this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan a visit to Abu Simbel, the most stunning temple in Egypt, including details on how to get to Abu Simbel, where to stay, how to visit Abu Simbel from Aswan on a shared tour with the Military convoy and most importantly, the history of Abu Simbel.
What is the story of Abu Simbel?
The land of Upper Egypt was identified as the higher ground from where the river Nile flowed. It was the home to some of Egypt’s greatest rulers who made Thebes (modern day Luxor) their base. They ruled farther down South into Nubia (today’s Sudan). Over the course of the millennium, many temples came up along the Nile river. And in the 13th century, this Temple of Ramesses II was built!
Ramesses II had a second temple built for his beloved wife Nefertari, right beside his own. Both temples were built as victory monuments, overlooking the Nile river. The temples were built in such a way that on two specific days in the year (October 22 and February 22) the sun shined right through into the Sanctum, illuminating the sculptures in the back.
Stunning fact: In the 1960s, the Aswan High Dam was built nearly 200 kms downstream leading to the formation of Lake Nasser. As the dam continued to fill, these Temples were threatened of being submerged in the backwaters. The Egyptian government and UNESCO successfully moved the temples, block by block, from their original location to a higher spot by 200 metres. Back in 1968, this cost a whopping USD 40 million!
How to visit Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is a little village in Nubia, the area of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. See this map marker for the location. Although the village of Abu Simbel is connected to other cities by the Airport, the number of flights are very few and very expensive. Also, hotels/BnBs are not very popular here, so it is best to avoid staying overnight.
The best way to visit Abu Simbel is to make a day trip from Aswan, the nearest city (280 kms) which has excellent connectivity with Cairo, Luxor, etc. by both flights and trains. You can choose to ride on a bus, minivan (shared) or taxi (private). You can also ask for group tours which are easily organised from Aswan – book with your hotel reception.
Full details of visiting Abu Simbel from Aswan
Duration: 10.5 hours
– Aswan to Abu Simbel: ~4 hours, starting at 4 am
– Exploring the Temples: 2 hours
– Abu Simbel to Aswan: ~4.5 hours, generally reach before 2:30 pm with stop in the Sahara Desert
The shared tours costs about EGP 250 (~USD 15 or INR 1,000) per person.
Tickets to Temples of Ramesses II and Nefertari
The tickets to enter the temple complex costs EGP 220 per person. If you intend to carry your camera, there’s no fee. But if you intend to photograph the inside of the temples, the camera ticket is EGP 300! Do not get the camera ticket unless you intend to take pictures of the insides of the incredibly crowded temples.
Tip: If you want to explore Abu Simbel without the crowd, try and find other travellers (total of 4 passengers) to share a private taxi with you. This way you can ask your driver to be ahead of the convoy and reach earlier, before all other tourist vehicles arrive.
Other things to keep in mind while visiting Abu Simbel
There are souvenir shops where you can buy some snacks, but no restaurants or cafes. Ask your hotel to pack a breakfast-box for you so that you can eat on the way in the bus or car.
If you opt for a shared bus/minivan tour, make sure you get back to your designated vehicle within the time stated by the tour conductor. Egyptian bus drivers are notorious for leaving without checking if all passengers have boarded.
You may get to see some interesting mirages on the Sahara Desert on the way back to Aswan, so keep an eye on the window.
If you have more questions about visiting Abu Simbel, don’t hesitate to ask your questions in the comments section below. If you want to explore Egypt with us, write to us and we’ll plan a fun-filled experience for you!
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Shishira & Navneeth