Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


October 26, 2014

Exploring the Abu Simbel Temples in Egypt

Twice a year something spectacular happens at the Abu Simbel Temples in Egypt; the King Ramses Sun Festival to celebrate Ramses II ascension to the throne and his birthday.  This week while in Egypt I was lucky enough to see this phenomenon take place and rediscover one of my favourite temples in Egypt.  So let’s go exploring the Abu Simbel Temples!


As we were staying in Aswan we had to catch the convey to Abu Simbel and as we had to get there before sunrise we had a much earlier convey leaving at midnight.  Bless the gentleman than had organised our private transfer to the temples as he told me that he had informed the driver not to go above 120km due to my current condition i.e. he thought I was pregnant (I need to do more exercise obviously!).  So armed with the softest pillows from our hotel we jumped into our mini van and had forty winks on the way down.

Part of our private tour included our own tour guide whom was exceptional and got us through the crowds really quickly.  Mustafa had a fantastic sense of humour as well and tried to stop all the pushing in from other foreign tourists while refreshing my knowledge of the temples at Abu Simbel.

While waiting we had a great chat with Mustafa about the state of Egypt since the riots, selfies and tourism.  So when in Rome, we put out selfie skills to the test with Mustafa and another tour guide from Cairo (as you do at 5am in the morning, apologies for the blurry photo!)


This was my second visit to the Abu Simbel temples so seeing them in darkness made them more mystical than in the daylight (the photos aren’t doing them justice but under a dark blanket with thousands of tiny stars above they are just breathtaking)


Finally the sun began to rise over Lake Nasser, a spectular sight and one I will never forget.


Then we were slowly allowed into the Ramses II Temple to see the sun stream into the temple highlighting three of the four gods – the fourth god, Ptah the god of darkness is never illuminated.  (I was lucky to go in afterwards and was allowed to take some photos even though photos aren’t allowed!)


Pretty good looking for a 3200+ year old, don’t you think!


Now Ramses II obviously loved a bit of variety in his life and had many wives, he made his favourite wife Nefertari her own temple but he loved himself quite a lot and added himself to the temple, talk about being an overbearing husband!


If in Egypt then I highly recommend losing a few hours sleep and visiting the temples at Abu Simbel as they are awesome!  You can read more on the history of the Abu Simbel Temples by reading the UNESCO website.

Travel Tips for visiting Abu Simbel

  • You can now stay in Abu Simbel, there are 2 four star hotels close the temples meaning that you can watch the sound and light show in the evening (one of the best in Egypt I’ve been told) and not have to do the morning convey from Aswan to visit the site.
  • If you plan to stay in Aswan and travel down then you will go by convoy in the middle of the night (normally around 3am to get to temples around 7am) however if going for the Sun Festival the convoy leaves at midnight to get to Abu Simbel for 4am.
  • Hire a guide to get the most of your visit but the guides aren’t allowed inside the temples apart from on the days of the Sun Festival.
  • The sun festival happens twice a year on February 22nd and October 22nd (originally it was held on February 21st and October 21st but is now a day later as there was a slight adjustment to the position when the temples were moved)
  • Our guide suggested to avoid the February date as it’s the Egyptian school holidays and super busy so if possible try and visit the Sun Festival in October.
  • Shoe wise wear whatever you don’t mind getting filled with sand, I went for my trusty pair of converse.

What’s your favourite ancient site in Egypt?


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About Kelly Michelle

Hi, my name is Kelly. I'm a New Zealander travelling the world in style, discovering that the world is a piece of gluten free cake! xx
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11 Responses to Exploring the Abu Simbel Temples in Egypt

  1. I would love to go to Egypt one day – sites like these always look so amazing (that it might sound crazy) but I think I need to see them in person to prove to myself they are real! Looks like it is a fantastic trip.
    Jess (Jess-On-Thames) recently posted…Re: One year in: LondonMy Profile

  2. Wow such beautiful temples and just look at that sunrise – I’m sure that was well worth the early start! I’d love to visit Egypt and see the temples, ruins and pyramids as well as the coastal areas. Looks stunning.x
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted…Made to measure clothes, Hanging Lanterns & Unspoilt Beaches in Hoi An, VietnamMy Profile

    • You should go Shikha, and sooner rather than later as things are starting to pick up but there still are really good deals in luxury hotels in Egypt at the moment. The temples are incredible and the pyramids just blow my mind every time I see them xx

  3. Jess says:

    I loved Abu Simbel too… how I wish we’d have been there for a sunset though, those photos are magnificent!
    Jess recently posted…Cook this: Oktoberfest PretzelsMy Profile

  4. Meg says:

    How special Kel. I can only imagine how raw and pure that experience must have been, how lucky xx

  5. danniellek says:

    This is like my dream trip! I wouldn’t mind losing sleep for gorgeous sunrise and temple views.
    danniellek recently posted…Life LatelyMy Profile

  6. Pingback: The Buzz Around the Web #10Budget and the Bees

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