The trip to Abu Simbel departs Aswan at 3:30 AM, and you can only reach it by plane or in a police convoy.
The police convoy leaves at 4 AM and if you are not a part of it, you won't be allowed on the highway.
This was my first time being a significant distance away from the Nile. The 4 hour journey looks something like this.
(yes, all 4 hours of it)
You arrive at the temple complex from the rear, and begin wondering whether the early hours and long trip was worth it.
Ramses II cut the temple of Abu Simbel cut out of the sandstone cliffs in Nubia, at the very southern edge of Egypt.
As you round the corner, the four 65 foot tall statues of the Pharaoh quickly change your mind .
When the High Dam was being constructed in the early 1960s, it was actually moved to higher ground so it wouldn't become a part of Lake Nasser.
One of the statues toppled over in antiquity, and was left in this state when moved to the new location.
The thrones are covered with scenes of the pharoah dominating his prisoners of war/slaves.
These carvings depict Nubian prisoners.
You need to pass by the Guardian to get inside the temple. the key to the gates is actually in the form of an ankh.
He ensures no one uses flash photography.
Inside you are greeted by rows of statues all depicting the Pharoah.
I guess they are there in case you missed the 4 outside and weren't sure whose temple this was.
The Royal feet.
The walls are all painted or carved. Even the ceiling is covered with a vulture motif.
Ramses II making an offering to Ptah.
Ramses II making an offering to Horus-Ra.
Ramses II making an offering to Thoth.
Ramses II making an offering to Knum.
Ramses II making an offering to Amun. (what a pious guy)
Some of the chambers have a long stream of hieroglyphs on the ceiling.
Admiring Min, the Egyptian Fertility god.
The center piece of the temple. Folllowing a long hallway you come to the statues of Ptah, Amon-Ra, Ramses, and Ra-Harakhte.
Amon-Ra, Ramses, and Ra-Harakhte are perfectly illuminated on Feb 11 and Oct 11 as the sun rises over lake Nasser .
(Now that the temple has moved location, this takes place one day later)
Ptah is never fully illuminated.
The classic propaganda pose of the pharaoh slaying his enemies appears in many places.
The other temple on the site is the slightly smaller temple dedicated to his Wife Nefertari and the goddess Hathor.
The statues are considerably smaller than the Pharaoh's statues next door. (33 feet)
All of the pillars within the temple have carvings of Hathor on one side...
...and paintings of the rest of the Egyptian pantheon on the remaining sides. This is Sekhmet.
Ra. I haven't been able to identify the god on the left.
I think this is Knum, and Ptah can be seen on the right.
The Pharaoh's cartouche.
A flock of Nile geese.
Another 4 hours of this scenery and I was back in Aswan. If you look closely at the horizon you can see the mirage of water .