Abu Simbel Temple and Nubian Village
Shortly before midnight Marek, a fellow traveller from Canada, and I took a minibus from Aswan to Abu Simbel. The distance is approx. 280 km with an expected travel time of three hours. The reason why we started travelling in the middle of the night is a solar phenomenon which only happens twice a year on February 20th and October 22nd. On these two days the rising sun shines directly though the temples entrance and puts light on three of the four sculptures in the very back of the temple. One of the sculptures is of Ramses II, the other two relate to sun gods. It’s said that the two days of the solar phenomenon relate to the birthday of Ramses II and his coronation day. The forth sculpture relates to the god of the underworld and therefore remains in the dark forever.
The minibus drove us to a point in the city were we had to wait until 1am because due to security reasons all vehicles needed to drive in a convoy. The drive was quite bumpy so I didn’t catch much sleep. We arrived at 4:45am and the area around the temple was quite crowded. People were lining-up in front of the temple to view the sunrise and the special light on the three sculptures. The sun was rising as expected at 5:53am and from this point in time there was for 19 minutes light on the three sculptures. It was very well organized that as many people as possible could quickly walk by the sculptures and everybody was very calm and concentrated without any signs of panic. It was forbidden to take pictures inside the temple and the military was closely watching that nobody is taking pictures. On the other hand there were many soldiers standing in front of the sculptures and taking pictures for themselves…
I was very much impressed by the temple since compared to other ancient sights it’s very much intact. The temples location is also not its original one. Due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam the complete temple was moved away from the water.
We were back at the hotel at 11am and I took some time to work again on the setup of my notebook. At 2pm we left for the visit of a Nubian village. We went there by boot and on the way some of us took a refreshing bath in the Lake Nasser. After walking around for a while we had dinner in one of the Nubian houses and two of my female fellow travellers got a Henna tattoo on their hands.
In the evening we went out for a few drinks in a restaurant next to the lake. These were the last alcoholic drinks which we might have for the next weeks since alcohol is strictly forbidden in Sudan. I had some Egyptian wine which was surprisingly good and did not cause any headache the next day.