One of our intrepid travellers, Huey, travelled on the 'Best of Egypt' 14 day accommodated trip which started on the 5th December 2010 in Cairo, and wrote us a daily diary! Here is the third part of her series of diary entries....
Day 4 - Abu Simbel & Aswan At 3am, we joined the first police convoy & begun our 258km journey to Abu Simbel to see one of the most astounding temples ever. Upon arrival, the footpath curves its way around a large mount, making the first glimpse of Great Temple of Ramses II a breathtaking one. With 4 massive statues of Ramses II, it is built by him to honor him & another 3 Gods.
Also a temple who was rescued from rising waters due to construction of Aswan dams, UNESCO relocated stone-by-stone of this amazing temple where massive statues & its carvings all remaining intact. The sheer scale of Abu Simbel is testament to how ancient Egyptians revered their Pharaohs & Gods. Next to it is the temple dedicated to Ramses II's favorite wife - the Queen Nefertari. Its smaller size is no compromise on its grandeur inside, with amazing preservation of colours from 3,400 years ago on its carvings. Dedicated mainly to the Goddess of Hathor (the Goddess of Music & Art), it depicts few of her transfiguration as bovine & as lady.
The temple is filled with beautiful intricate carvings of Nefertari & Ramses II, offerings made to Gods shows the immense respect the ancient rulers had for their Gods & Goddesses. Upon return to Aswan, it's a much welcomed day off to catch up on sleep & also to wander Aswan's less chaotic souqs for some shopping.
Day 5 - Aswan & Felucca
We awoke early to yet another interesting experience - camel ride in the Sahara desert! Led by the local Nubians, we embarked on camel back to experience the vastness that is the Sahara desert. Even in the crisp cold winter morning, we quickly heated up when the sun rays beat down on us, making us wonder how remarkable the Nubians are in being able to thrive despite such harsh environments. After the camel ride, it's back to hotel to pack up & get ready for 2 days of peaceful sailing down the Nile on a traditional felucca!
We arrived at the port & boarded our felucca. With the Nile waters glittering in the sunlight, we just lazed around reading, playing games & just doing nothing. The crew onboard the feluccas were very seasoned sailors (and cooks!), where we were spoilt with basic but very tasty traditional meals of bread, stew, salads & fruits. Some can indulge in quick (and cold!) dips in the Nile, while the rest stretches their legs on sandbanks wherever needed for toilet breaks (yes, there are no restrooms so it's being one with nature, literally)
The felucca anchors on sandbanks right before sundown as sailing is not allowed after dark, where everyone dines & enjoy some song & dance around bonfires, games of cards or just snuggling up in sleeping bags before sleeping under the stars. To find our more about overland trips in Egypt and the Middle East contact the OverlandingAfrica.com team or post your comments below.