Upper Nile, Aswan and Abu Simbel

Aswan Dam and Aswan High Dam

The last two historical places to visit were in the region of the Aswan Dam.  The Aswan Dam was built by the British in 1902 and was raised twice between 1907–1912 and 1929–1933 as it did not initially reduce flooding as intended.

Following the Egytian Revolution of 1952, Nasser planned to build a higher dam, however after the Suez War broke out USA and UK withdrew offers for help, and the dam was funded by USSR in return of revenues from the Suez Canal.

Both dams were massive projects in their day.  Tragically they have stopped the flow of flood waters down the Nile which provided nutrients for farming and kept the delta clean.  That’s progress!

Abu Simbel

We flew to Abu Simbel to see the relocated Ramses II and Nefertari temples.

Ramses’ temple is a massive monument to one of the most remarkable pharaohs of Ancient Egypt and his queen – his favourite wife.  Everything about the temples is colossal, from the 20 metre statues of the pharaoh which were carved into the rock to the huge pillars inside the temple.

Nefertari’s temple is smaller with statues a mere 10 metres high.  It is none the less, magnificent.

The temples were originally sculptured into a rock face, and moving them meant creating a new “rock”.  I discovered a path leading to the top of Nefertari’s temple to get a magnificent view of the Ramses facade, before I was caught “climbing dangerously”!.

And as an aside – Abu Simbel was named after the young lad who led intrepid travellers to re-discover the temples.


The top of the navigable Nile is Aswan, and here we stopped and explored the area.  We sailed a Faluka and rode on a tourist boat. We laughed at the young kids who rowed a boat, using a couple of planks of wood as oars, grabbed our boat and sang for our money.

Bruce and I also opted to visit a Nubian Village – by camel.  That truely has to be the most uncomfortable ride of my life, trundling along on a hard seat with a bit of broken wood keeping me from toppling off the poor creature’s back.

The last temple complex to visit was the Philae temple, also relocated when the Aswan Dam partly flooded it.  A beautiful double colonnade leads to the temple. The highlight of our tour was seeing the temple of Isis, much to the delight of our guide Isis.

It was here that we left our tour guide Isis and travelled by bus back to Luxor – a three hour journey stretched to five hours because of all the humps placed on the road by local villagers to slow the traffic.  Nonetheless, the drive through the food bowl of Egypt was an event not to be missed.