Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Journey to Abu Simbel


Abu Simbel

We stumbled into the foyer at 4am and collected our breakfast boxes which were wrapped up like Christmas presents (unfortunately their contents didn’t match their appearance – last night’s left over stale bread rolls, even more stale croissants, inedible over-preserved vegies, fake jam, unripe banana and a cold boiled egg….). We forced some of the more bearable parts of breakfast down during the 3.5 hour bus trip to Abu Simbel, hoping the long side-trip was worth it. 

It was well worth it, in fact.  The place was amazing, again hard to believe that the entire site had been relocated just like Philae Temple as a consequence of building the new dam.  The hieroglyphics, statues and sheer enormity of the place was impressive and we easily passed 2.5 hours exploring it and examining the walls up close.  Something interesting, and at the same time irritating, was the graffiti on some of the statues – which dated back to the early 1900’s with the names of previous uncaring travellers.

Abu Simbel
By 10.30am we were back on the bus and joined the convoy back to Aswan (all buses heading south from Aswan have to part of a convoy at the moment due to safety reasons).  It took longer to get back and we didn’t arrive at our hotel till 2:15pm meaning we had 15 minutes to shower and pack our bags before heading to the felucca where we would have lunch, albeit a very late one!  

We would be spending the night on the felucca with our fellow Aussie (as we mentioned earlier – slightly deranged) and a mother and daughter from South Africa who were hilarious and whose company was quite enjoyable.  The rest of the group had another night aboard their luxury cruise ship and they were quite chuffed that they would have access to shower / toilet / bar / comfy bed while we slept on our small boat.  Again we were left wondering if we’d made the right decision with our choice of tour…

Our felucca at sunset
Our lunch aboard the felucca (which turned out to be much more comfortable than we thought it would be) was delicious fresh falafels and flat bread and after our bellies were finally full we sailed around the Nile, passing by Elephant Island and watching the general river activity.  Later on in the evening our guide pulled out some “special tobacco” which the other Aussie and SA daughter enjoyed, and in turn they provided much entertainment for the rest of us sober onlookers for most of the evening with their even more deranged antics. 

After a nice dinner and a few rounds of UNO, again enhanced and more entertaining  for the two girls, it was bed as we had another early start in the morning.  The gentle rocking of the boat and warmth of the extra blankets and totally full bellies meant we all slept surprisingly well.  We had also actually ‘parked’ the felucca on the shore where just 200m up the bank we had access to toilets and running water, so in the end we thought we’d made the right decision as it was a great experience sailing around the Nile and sleeping on a felucca compared to being on a cruise ship that was essentially just a floating hotel (and a lot more expensive!)

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