We had a 3am
start to drive ~400km south, nearly to the Sudanese border, to visit Abu Simbel. The tomb was amazing, carved into the
mountain side with a 33m high entrance way, with two seated gods, each 20m
tall, on either side of the doorway. The large tomb was devoted to Ramesses II
as Pharoah and God, made ~1280 BCE. The tomb is aligned for the sunrise, on two
days a year (20th February and 20th October) to strike
through the entrance and crown Ramesses II seated in the holiest site at the
back of the temple. There is also a smaller tomb, dedicated to Ramesses'
favourite wife, Nefertari (out of his 40-odd wives) as an avatar of Hathor.
It is amazing that the entire complex was relocated up the mountain side during
the flooding of Lake
Nasser, and delightful
that thousands of engineers spent millions of dollars to preserve such a
wonderful piece of human heritage.
After falafels for lunch we went on a camel safari (dromedary) across the
desert to an old Islamic monastery mudvillage. My camel was called Fire, and
even broke out into a trot for me. Then a boat trip and a stroll through a
botanical gardens. A most enjoyable time.