The Nubians call it 'The Nubian Sea' while the rest of
Once the High Dam was built, an amazing feat by Soviet engineers, the Nubian Desert began to slowly fill with Nile waters, an estimated time of six years, when the Egyptian government sent out a worldwide plea for help as the lake was forming faster than at first thought and it was evident that the Temple at Abu Simbel would be swallowed up by the rising waters. An international team of around three thousand construction engineers from all over the world under the backing from UNESCO laboured for almost five years to salvage these massive ancient temples and move them just sixty five metres up a cliff block by block and rebuild them aiming to make them appear as if they had never been disturbed.
Fortunately this grand scheme raised the issue of other Nubian monuments in the desert that would clearly have been hidden by the ever rising waters of the artificial lake and so many more temples were moved to higher ground including New Kalabshka, The Kiosk of Qertassi, The Temple of Amada and many others. This was a great sacrifice made by The Nubians, as by allowing Lake Nasser to drown there homes they were also in danger of losing their identity and their culture. They were all re-housed, mainly around the
We arrived at Aswan International airport in the late afternoon after a five and a half hour flight from London Gatwick and blinking in the heat and the sunshine boarded a coach for the half hour journey to embark on the 5***** MS Prince Abbas for our seven night trip 'Sailing Through The Desert' This title of this Jules Verne holiday captured our imagination as we marvelled at the thought that we would be sailing on Lake Nasser yet deep down under the calm waters were the remains of a Nubian culture even more ancient than that of the Egyptians. Deserts vary in formation and it was apparent almost at once that the
The gradual build up to the main event, our arrival at
There are only six boats cruising on
I could feel a cowardice moment coming on as I walked the gangplank because I am scared of the sea but I was shamed into silence when I discovered that one of my fellow travelers had two hip and two knee operations and was leaping the plank with fearless abandon, although I did wonder if this is how she had broken all these bones in the first place. Security in
Emotions were high on our third day of sailing as we expectantly waited for our dramatic arrival at
Our ship moored to the side of Abu Simbel and after an Egyptian barbeque lunch on deck with tahini, olives, good bread, kebabs, salads, fruit and exquisite pastries and desserts followed by Turkish coffee we were eager to disembark and explore the magic and the history of this imposing and remarkable ancient Nubian ruin. At this point I have to mention tourism, after all I am one but I never expected this. There is an airport at Abu Simbel and planes were arriving very frequently, full of visitors to Abu Simbel from various parts of Egypt including Aswan, Luxor and Cairo who would be staying overnight at one of Abu Simbel's two hotels. Even more frequently were coaches full of tourists from all over
We were a group of twenty three and our Egyptian guide Wallid was exceptional at keeping us all together and explaining the history of the statues, the battles, the warring and the stories relayed in the carved scenes, some of them like giant comic strips, in the many chambers, but concentration could be difficult as there were many other groups of so many nationalities being guided round and a confusion of languages that we were already looking forward to returning alone at a quieter time.
That same evening the group returned to the temple for a Sound and Light Show. We'd been to the Sound and Light Show at
At dawn the next morning Morty was up in a flash and off the boat racing his way to the temple to catch the sunrise taking some great photos. Even at that time of day he had to rush to beat the coach loads and avoid queuing at the admission and the inevitable security scan and search. Here's the romantic bit. Twice a year, on February 21st and October 21st the rays of the rising sun shine directly through the entrance doorway of the temple and illuminate the statues. Was the temple deliberately positioned for this to happen on these dates? Are these dates significant to Ramesees and maybe his birthday or the date of his accession? Or is this purely fanciful wishing?
After two nights moored at
A Few Egyptian Facts
It is suggested that the name
There is a baby born every thirty seconds in
It is reassuring to see the security effort being made in
On my first trip to Egypt in 1993 I was at
On our arrival at Aswan International airport on this holiday I needed the toilet and many years later nothing had changed-only this time it was a young man standing outside the Ladies cloakroom selling a wad of Bronco type paper for a pound. It was grand to be back and we will return yet again.
And we have just returned from another Egyptian trip. This time sailing from Luxor to Aswan and back again on The Nile on a paddle steamer once owned by King Farouk. It was equally magical. I bought more Egyptian/Nubian gold. I didn't pay for toilet paper.