Aswan, Abu Simbel, Philae Temple & cruising the Nile – Day 04 Travel Talk Egypt & Jordan Discovered Tour


Egypt / Travel Talk Tours Egypt & Jordan Discovered / Travel Talk Tours Jewels of the Nile
Aswan & Nile Cruse Highlights & Recap

Day four of the Travel Talk Tours Egypt & Jordan Discovered Tour begins from the city of Aswan after a long day yesterday of exploring all the sites in Luxor. Today, as the journey continues the group will visit some pretty amazing sites and in the afternoon the group will then depart on board our Nile Cruiser for two nights of sailing along the River Nile to Luxor. Now in the tour’s fourth day the groups have travelled from the capital Cairo and experienced The Great Pyramids of Giza, then yesterday was spent in Luxor with the impressive Valley of the Kings being the highlight along with the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

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RECAP: Luxor & the Valley of the Kings to Aswan – Day 03 Travel Talk Egypt & Jordan Discovered Tour

Highlights along the trip today include visiting some more world renowned temples of ancient Egypt as well as one of the biggest modern engineering feats in Egypt, the relocation of Abu Simbel for the High Dam construction. The day comes to a close after visiting the Philae Temple and then by mid afternoon when we board our five star Nile Cruiser where the group will spend the next two nights.

Sites & activities include…

  • Abu Simbel Temple
  • Philae Temple
  • Nile Cruse departure

Day 04: Aswan & departing on the Nile Cruise – 29 November, 2016

It’s a very bright and early morning today waking up on board our Nile Cruiser, however we are not the only group up and about as it seems most people on board are making this early trek also. Departing the ship at 4:00am we are given a breakfast box to take with us and our driver is waiting for us with our mini bus out the front of the dock with our Felucca group members already on board who stayed the Helnan Aswan Hotel last night.

Our journey this morning is the optional extra activity to travel two and a half hours by road south to what will be the amazing Abu Simbel temples. During our roughly 280km journey down south to see the Abu Simbel Temple we all take advantage of continuing our sleep on the bus where possible and are greeted by a lovely sunrise whilst driving down.


The cost of going down to the Abu Simbel Temple is GBP 60.00 (AUD $105.00) and is payable at the beginning of the trip in Cairo. You can also pay this using card rather than cash in Cairo and it will be converted and charged in US Dollars. The cost covers mostly the transportation costs as entry to the temples is only EGP 100.00 (AUD $8.00) so the rest of the AUD $97.00 (rough figures) covers the enormous travel distance to and from Abu Simbel.

Upon arriving at the temples our guide Shady goes off to buy our tickets and we are escorted through the security checkpoint and then enter the grounds. Once you enter you are at the back of the temples so in front of you is the view of the man made mounds of dirt the temples are built into. We then walk around to the front where we get our first glimpse of the temples with Shady guiding us over to a seating area where we sit and are explained the story, history and engineering feats of the entire temple complex.

Background Story: Abu Simbel Temple

Abu Simbel consists of two temples built by Pharaoh Ramesses II who ruled ancient Egypt from 1279 BC. The entrance of the main temple is guarded by four statues of Ramesses II. The temples remained hidden until they were rediscovered in 1813.

In the 1960s a great engineering feat was undertaken when after of thousands of years occupying their original site, the two temples were removed and then reconstructed to the present day site, inside an artificial mountain. This was done with the construction of the Aswan High Dam which would have seen the temple complex flooded.

The temples and the surrounding area became listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979 after some 50 counties lead by UNESCO and the Egyptian Government led a campaign to raise funds for the move of the temples to higher ground from the rising waters.

VIDEO: Abu Simbel Temples with Travel Talk Tours


One of the funny moments of the trip occurred whilst sitting here, as our rather small group had prime position in these seats being the first ones here, another group, a much larger Topdeck group (rival company of Travel Talk) comes over and sits right in front of us with their guide explaining the history behind Abu Simbel. Being so close the Topdeck guide was drowning out our guide Shady and we couldn’t hear anymore so we all had to get up and move to the back. Fair to say Shady was giving the Topdeck guide the death stare and a small reminder in tour guide etiquette as we all walked past when we were finished.

Our guide Shady was great like this and really went out of his way to make sure our experience on this tour wasn’t ruined or disrupted in any way along the journey. He even apologised to me at one point because we were entering a temple and security wanted to search my bag, which wasn’t his fault or totally unnecessary for him to apologise about but he truly went above and beyond.

After Shady finished explaining to us the unique features of Abu Simbel (and being overshadowed by the Topdeck group) we were free to explore the temples on our own. Guides are not allowed to guide around the temples so this is why we were given the full explanation beforehand.

One of the amazing facts apart from how the temples were moved to higher ground for the construction of the High Dam, is that the main temple ‘The Great Temple’ was originally designed in such a way that on October 22 and February 22, and only on these two days, that the sun would shine through the entrance of the temple and illuminate the statue of  Pharaoh Ramesses II. These two dates are believed to be his birthday and coronation date respectfully. However when the temple was moved and even with the advances in technology at the time the temple alignment couldn’t be achieved to replicate this event, so now this occurs yearly on October 21 and February 21.

Most of us then decided to go and look at the smaller temple first as less people were here, the temple of Hathor & Nefertari. It is also known as the Small Temple, which is located next to the Great Temple and is dedicated to the goddess Hathor and the favourite consort of Ramesses II, Nefertari.

From here we went to look at the most recognisable temple of Abu Simbel, the Great Temple. The temple is mainly dedicated to the gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty and Ptah, but also dedicated to Ramesses II himself and is considered to be one of the grandest temples you’ll find in all of Egypt. Looking around inside you can experience the sheer enormity of the temple and the many small rooms that grace the side of the main chamber.

As you look up close to the temple you can also notice signs of where the walls and statues were cut up for the transportation of the temple to higher ground. Unfortunately no photos are allowed to be taken inside, even though many people flouted this rule. The funny thing to watch out for is when these people are caught and what their story is to try and get out of admitting they actually took a photo.

When everyone was finished looking around the group made its way back to the bus where we met at the agreed time so we could make the long journey back to Aswan. Along the way back looking outside the bus windows into the vast desert you can see a mirage. In the distance it looks like a large body of water is out there, however it is just the heat haze on the horizon.

Once we arrive back in Aswan we head to our next destination which is the Philae Temple located on an island in the middle of the dam. The temple was originally located at another location, however like the Abu Simbel temples that were relocated, the Philae Temple was also relocated when the Aswan Lower Dam was created in 1902 to save it from the flood waters that have since engulfed the original site.

Background Story: Philae Temple

The Philae Temple in Aswan is dedicated to the goddess Isis and was completely submerged under water with the construction of the first Aswan Dam in 1906. It wasn’t until the completion of the High Dam that an effort was made to save the Philae Temple. In the 1970s’ a dam wall was built around Philae Island and the water pumped out, the temple was pulled down stone by stone and relocated to where it stands today on a new island called Egilica Island (also spelt Agilika or Agilqiyya).

The temple is built in the style chosen during the period of the New Kingdom and looks similar to other temples around Egypt such as Edfu Temple, Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple. Philae Temple and the island are UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites and have been since the temple was relocated to its present location.

Cost of entry to the Philae Temple is EGP 60.00 (AUD $5.00) payable to your guide. Once we enter the main gate you walk down to a dock where you will catch one of the many boats waiting to take you across the dam to the island where the temple is located.

Once we disembark the boat we are taken to a corner of the temple where our guide Shady explains some of the history and features of the temple. We are then guided around the temple which has a little bit of an eerie feeling about it as we were the only people on the island at the time.

VIDEO: Exploring the Philae Temple with Travel Talk Tours


We were given plenty of free time to walk around the temple and to check it out closer on our own. Once we had finished we jumped back on board the boat and headed back to the mainland. We were running a bit late for our Nile Cruise departure so we were in a bit of a rush back onto the bus and were dropped off at the cruise. As soon as we jumped on board, we were the last to arrive and they were waiting for us, the ship took off and our Nile Cruise adventure was underway.

As the ship started its journey down the river most people made their way to the top deck of the ship to watch the world sail past. On board the ship the staff will attend to anything you need and on the upper deck you can order drinks to be charged back to your room. At the end of the cruise in Luxor you’ll be able to fix up your bill.

After dinner the ship docked, stopping outside the Temple of Kom Ombo. Although it is on our itinerary to go and see this temple, this information is out of date and there was no intention to visit. There is however enough time to go and visit if you wish to do so, you’ll just have to navigate the very pushing shop owners that flank the banks of the river waiting for the cruise ships to stop by.

Tonight the ship was hosting a Galabia Party for everyone to get dressed up and have a bit of fun in the lounge bar. However because the usual shop on board the ship was closed that sold galabias, whilst docked at Kom Ombo some of the group decided to buy something from the shops outside. Just a word of warning these people selling stuff out here will not take no for an answer and even standing in the same spot for 30 minutes the same people will constantly come back and try and sell you stuff as much as you tell them you’re not interested.

Once everyone from the ship was back on board and we departed, it was quite funny to watch all the shops close in an instant so we must have been the last ship for the day coming past. It was then time for the party, the only thing was as we later found out that no one else was really informed of this on the ship and Shady was the one organising it all. Within our small group only a couple of people dressed up (personally I didn’t want to spend money on something I’ll never wear again) and then Shady then became MC Shady for the night.

He was really trying his hardest to get everyone to participate in games, the only thing is that no one wanted to participate so as the collective ‘Shady Habibis’ we were forced to get up and participate in the games. That didn’t really work and we were the ones looking like fools whilst everyone laughed at us, in the end some of the American passengers came up and participated while everyone else slowly retired for the evening.

Today was an amazing day exploring some of the unique sites of ancient Egypt. Tomorrow as the Travel Talk Tours Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruse Tour continues, the trip slows down as the world travels by the window of our Nile Cruiser. First thing in the morning we will visit another temple, Edfu Temple which is an amazing site that we travel to in horse and carriage from the cruise ship.

About this tour

Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruse
During this two week adventure with Travel Talk Tours our journey starts off in the capital of Egypt, Cairo before making our way south, down along the River Nile. Travelling by road to Luxor and Aswan, and checking out many of the famous monuments and temples along the way, we also have the choice of participating in some exciting optional extra activities. From Aswan at the bottom of Egypt and close to the Sudanese border, we jump on board a boat and spend three nights sailing along the Nile back to Luxor, checking out Edfu Temple and get a brief glance at Kom Ombo Temple along the way.

We end up back in Cairo to explore the capital in greater depth with a city tour before we start heading east towards Jordan. Before hitting the border we arrive in Dahab for two nights of relaxation by the sea and then travel by road from Egypt into Jordan via a 30 minute crossing through Israel. We spend our first night in a new country out in the desert park of Wadi Rum before heading to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra, a real highlight. We’ll go for a swim in the Dead Sea on our way to the capital of Jordan, Amman where our tour will come to an end. Before bidding farewell to our fellow travel companions we’ll spend two nights exploring this exciting capital.

This tour of Egypt and Jordan can be taken in three different forms, however a number of people on this journey travelled on nine day Egypt tours that started in Cairo and ended when we returned to Cairo. Other travellers with the group also did fifteen day tours that followed the same path to Dahab and spent just short of a week there before returning to Cairo…

GUIDE BOOKS

A guide book isn’t cheating! Before you leave on your next adventure ensure you plan to get the most out of your trip and check out the range of guide books from Lonely Planet. The comprehensive guide books on Egypt & Jordan from Lonely Planet will give you an insight on what to expect on your Travel Talk Tours journey of these two amazing countries.

ACCOMMODATION ON THIS TOUR

Booking your accommodation has never been easier with our preferred hotel partner Agoda.

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TOUR REVIEWS

loneXplorer travelled as a guest of Travel Talk Tours on the Egypt & Jordan Discovered by Nile Cruse tour. The cost of the 15 day tour was covered by Travel Talk Tours however all reviews and opinions on loneXplorer remain those of the author and have not been influenced by the tour operator, accommodation provider or anyone else. For more information on all the reviews you see on loneXplorer and the links provided to advertisers please click here.


Just your average guy doing his 9 - 5 job as a Senior Payroll Officer by day, writing about his travel adventures and hopefully giving you inspiration and ideas for your next travel adventure here at loneXplorer...

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