Just imagine cruising through Lake Nasser, only to look up and discover Abu Simbel as Ramesses II intended: by seeing the immense Abu Simbel Temples. Those who aren’t taking endless photos while approaching these rock structures will find it hard to tear their eyes away. These were built during the reign of King Ramesses II during 1200 B.C and boast an interesting recent history as well. Thanks to the enormous efforts of UNESCO in 1964, the two structures were cut into various blocks and relocated away from Lake Nasser’s rising waters.
Abu Simbel itself is a small village situated approximately 280 kilometres south of Aswan. Those looking forward to an adventure through the Nile River and Lake Nasser to Abu Simbel can join a tour offered by Movenpick Nile Cruises. A trip to this incredible village will give you a renewed appreciation for ancient history.
Cruise ships typically dock next to the Abu Simbel Temples. After disembarking, passengers can explore these temples to learn about their history and to take some fantastic photos of the exteriors.
As there are not many facilities located near the temples, it is best to freshen up before leaving the ship. There are some hotels and a number of cafés located within this small town.
How to Get Around
Abu Simbel is small enough to navigate on foot for most tourists. It is important to note that when travelling through this city and any other part of Egypt, visitors should stick to their tour group and planned itinerary.
Travel times from Abu Simbel Temples
Visitors generally stay close to the Abu Simbel Temples when disembarking from their cruise. There is plenty to see here, even into the night, when the temples come to life during the popular Sound and Light Show. Travel times to nearby facilities are listed below.
It is a 7 minute journey to Nefertari Abu Simbel Hotel
It is a 7 minute journey to Ramsis Restaurant.
Currency – Abu Simbel’s currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP). This currency is mainly comprised of paper notes, which include the denominations 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 pounds, and 5, 10, 25 and 50 piasters. Coins come in the denominations of 10, 25 and 50 piaster, and 1 pound.
Time Zone – Eastern European Time (EET) is observed by Abu Simbel, which puts the village 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Clocks stay the same throughout the entire year as Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
Weather – While exploring the Abu Simbel Temples and any other part of Egypt, be sure to wear sunscreen and lightweight clothing. It’s also recommended to carry bottled water as well. Egypt is known for its hot, dry summers and mild winters. July is the warmest month of the year, with temperatures averaging 34 degrees Celsius. January is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures dropping to around 16 degrees Celsius.
The Great Temple of Ramesses II – Standing 30 metres high and 35 metres wide is the Great Temple of Ramesses II. The exterior of the temple is characterised by seated colossal statues of Ramesses, who is adorned with double crowns and Nemes headdresses. He is flanked by smaller statues of his mother, Queen Tuya, his wife, Queen Nefertari, and his sons and daughters. Other statues around the temple include Ramesses’ defeated enemies, the Hittites, Libyans and Nubians, and various gods. The temple’s interior is covered with engravings of Ramesses and Nefertari worshipping gods, as well as of great Egyptian battles.
The Small Temple – Located close to the Great Temple is the Small Temple. This temple stands 12 metres tall and is 28 metres long. Similarly to the Great Temple, 6 colossal statues flank the entrance – 4 of these depict Ramesses, and 2 depict his queen, Nefertari. During these ancient years, it was typical for female statues to be much smaller in size compared to male statues. This is not the case for Nefertari, as her statues stand to Ramesses’ height. Scholars argue this is to celebrate her prestige. While inside the temple, visitors will be able to see engravings of Ramesses and Nefertari celebrating Egyptian gods.
Sound and Light Show – If you thought the Abu Simbel Temples couldn’t get any more enchanting, stick around for its popular Sound and Light Show. Lights illuminate certain areas of the temples’ facades, and projections are displayed to give visitors an idea of how they once looked. Earpieces available for tourists play music and narration to outline the history of these temples, including Ramesses’ rule and ancient Egypt’s major events. These shows are typically hosted 3 times a day, from 6 to 8 pm.