Hi all! My name is Nastasiia and I am from the beautiful country of Ukraine. Thanks for stopping by my guide on the incredible Abu Simbel of Egypt.
I have visited over 70 countries and countless cities. My passion for travel started when I was a student. Although I didn’t have a lot of money, I was always trying to find cheap ways of traveling across Europe and even finding ways to study abroad. I believe that if a person is truly passionate about travelling then they will find their own unique way to travel.
In my case, it was by working in the cabin crew for one of the world’s biggest airlines. I moved to the UAE (Dubai) in 2016 to work in the cabin crew. A day in Dubai is far from typical. It’s a cosmopolitan city, a melting pot of nationalities and offers an array of different activities such as water sports, gym sessions or even yoga at the top of the world’s tallest building.
In 2020, I moved to Abu Dhabi after I got married as my husband was working there. Abu Dhabi is still new to me and I am trying to explore its hidden gems. Due to COVID-19, I am currently looking for new opportunities and have begun focusing on my social media to share my travel experiences with others. You can find me on @nastasiiasomerville.
An Incredible Week in Egypt
Getting the chance to see the incredible Abu Simbel temples was one of the highlights of my trip to Egypt in November, 2020 when I visited the country for one week with my husband. I had always wanted to visit Egypt since childhood. Its ancient culture, pyramids and temples fascinated me.
We went on a five day cruise up the Nile River starting from Luxor and finishing in Aswan. As the roads and infrastructure is not that developed, I would recommend going on a cruise to see these parts of the country. You will not only save yourself time and hassle, but it’s also an amazing experience to sail along the Nile and see locals living on the banks.
Our journey started by visiting Karnak, Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut. The next few days we visited Edfu, Kom Ombo and Philae Temple. Finally on our last day, the pièce de résistance: Abu Simbel.
My Experience at Abu Simbel
We travelled to Egypt during COVID-19 which was both a blessing and a curse. One of the benefits was that we had Abu Simbel all to ourselves. The moment we walked through the gateway of the main temple, we were both utterly blown away by its magnificence. As we were alone, we felt like we were in an Indiana Jones movie with overtones from The Mummy.
Fascinating Ancient and Modern History of Abu Simbel
Aside from its beauty, we were also impressed by its most recent history. Due to the construction of various dams upstream, the area where Abu Simbel was originally located was flooded. In anticipation of this, a team of archaeologists cut the temple out from the cliff walls and moved it piece by piece further up the mountain so it would rest above the new water level.
Both the modern history and ancient history of the temples are just as fascinating as each other. Originally, the temples of Abu Simbel were built during the reign of Ramses II. Abu Simbel is a site with two temples both built by Ramses II – one for himself and one for his favourite wife Nefertari.
A fun fact about Abu Simbel is that it was aligned so that on February 22 and October 22 of every year the sun shines light directly into the temple. The former date (February 22) coincided with Ramses II’s birthday.
Taking a Tour to Abu Simbel
Due to the remote location of Abu Simbel (and the constant police checkpoints with its proximity to the Sudan border), I would recommend taking a tour or at least utilising a local driver who will take you there.
Inside of the temples, tour guides are not allowed due to the volume of tourists. As such we had a driver/guide who explained to us the history of the temples on the way to Abu Simbel as the drive was three hours.
Need to Know Before you Go
Abu Simbel is remote. A guide or driver is your best option. Also, make sure you have your passport with you as you cross multiple police checkpoints. Luckily for us it was empty but it would be ideal to go there as early as possible to avoid the crowds and to take photos. On your trip be sure to also visit Karnak City in Luxor, Temple of Edfu and Philae Temple!