Abu Simbel is a village that lies 280km south of Aswan and 40km north of the Sudanese border. There is very little in the village itself but what people come to see are the magnificent temples of Ramses 11.

Abu Simbel 1

Carved into the side of a hill are two huge temples, one for Ramses and one for his favourite wife Nefertari. In remarkable condition, the colossal statues once stood on the border of Nubia and let those entering the Kingdom of Egypt know that Ramses was a Pharaoh without equal. The temples became famous throughout the world when an international UNESCO operation was needed to save them from the rising water of Lake Nasser. The operation, which cost 40 million US dollars and took 6 years, was a monumental engineering feat. The temple complex was removed piece by piece and then restored in the new (higher ground) location.

Abu Simbel 2

These temples are absolutely incredible, offering the external carvings, and brightly coloured interiors with the original 2000 year old paint still looking fresh and bright in some parts. In the inner sanctum are four smaller statues, illuminated twice a year (22nd February & 22nd October) when the sun is in exactly the right place to pass through the front door and reach the back wall.

Abu Simbel 3

The view from this site is incredible, in the middle of the desert, and at the shores of Lake Nasser, which was created with the damming of the Nile River to create the Aswan Dam.

Abu Simbel 4

These temples are truly an awesome sight, and are without parallel in Egypt. Expect that you will have a short time on the site compared to other places because of transport arrangements, but an hour or so is enough to have a thorough look. If you like you can stay overnight as there are a few hotels but this is not really necessary.

Traveller's Tip

Although this will probably be the single most expensive monument you will visit, it is well worth the expense and the difficulty of getting there.

Getting There The best way to travel to Abu Simbel is on a tour arranged by hotels or tour operators in Aswan. Most of these fly from Aswan to Abu Simbel (ABS) in the early morning and return in the early afternoon. You can arrange these when you arrive in Aswan or before you get there.

A good website to find a reputable tour is the official website of the Ministry of Tourism of Egypt at http://www.touregypt.net/aetbi/members.htm which has a list of travel agents found on the internet. It is possible to go to Abu Simbel independently.

Flying is probably your best option and you can book an e-ticket online through Egypt Air on their website at http://www.egyptair.com which includes the coach to Abu Simbel. The cost of entry to the temples is 70LE.