October 2002 Trip
Day 12
Egypt Tour Day 7
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2002

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Todays agenda consisted of a very early departure from the ship (6:00 a.m.) for a trip to Aswan airport for the 35-40 minute flight to Abu Simbel (300 K south of Aswan and about 35 K from the Sudanese border). There are no pictures of airports or airplanes in Egypt because every airport we visited (including Cairo) was also a military base and they aren't very happy if you take pictures of them. So the flight, with more than 200 people on an Airbus A300-600 airplane, took off around 7:30 and arrived at Abu Simbel airport shortly after 8:00. One thing about the flight is that it was totally unreserved seating so you sat where there was a seat. We then boarded an Egyptair bus and 10 minutes later arrived at the 2 temples that make up Abu Simbel. More about the temples in the pictures below.

After about 2 hours here we reversed the process and returned to Aswan getting back around 11:15. I remember thinking that this was the first time that I've been on an air trip like this returning back to where I started from by noon of the same day I left. We then visited the High Dam and after that returned to the ship for lunch (which usually was at 1:00 or 1:30 p.m.). The rest of the day was "at leisure".

In the evening, 9 or 10ish, there was a belly dancer performing. I think I must have fallen asleep because I completely missed this. I heard later that it was quite good.


First is the Rock-cut temple of Ramses II (also known as the  "Great Temple").

The facade of the Great Temple. It is 31 meters high.

Me in front of the facade.

Straight on view of the 4 statues of a seated Ramses II.

This is just inside the entrance.

In this slightly modified image we see some of the wall
engravings. The wall paintings celebrate the military glory
of Ramses II.
I don't know what's going on here but it doesn't look to good
for the person in the middle,

This apparently documents some parts of the battle of
Kadesh.

Some additional images from the Great Temple.

More images.

This looks like a boat being carried by a bunch of men.

Ramses II, and I believe Nefetari, and a third unknown
to me (at least) person holding court.
This room 4 x 7 meters is the most sacred and secret place in
the temple. It is located 65 meters from the entrance. The 4
people seated here are Ptah, a deified Ramses II, Amon Ra
and Harmakhis. The temple is positioned in such a way that
on the 2 equinoxes the sun shines in and hits the 3 on the right
with light, much as is happening here. (2 days after the 21st of
October, the fall equinox.) What's important here is that Ptah,
who is the god of darkness, is never hit by the sunlight.


Rock Cut temple of Hathor dedicated to Nefartari, Ramses IInd's Queen. This is also known as the "Small Temple".
This temple is located just to the right of the "Great Temple" in a second hill.

The facade of the Small Temple. This is the first time that a
consort of a sovereign had been shown on a facade with a
statue the same size as her husbands beside it.

The view inside the entrance.

This is the secret room in the small temple. It does
not have the same characteristics as far as the sun goes
as the Great Temple.

Nefartari?

Additional views of the inside of the "Small Temple"

The orchid is important in Egyptian history.

More depictions of life in those times.

A wider view of the picture above.

The fact that the temples of Abu Simbel exist at all is a testament to 20th century human engineering and technology. These temples were originally positioned right where Lake Nasser was to be when the High Dam was completed. These temples, considered much to valuable to lose, were moved from the spot that you see in the picture below to the spot where they are now directly behind where I am standing. Great care was taken to reposition the temples correctly. To get the hills necessary new ones were built and the temples reconstructed inside these man made hills.

Where it was, before it was moved, as it is now.


After returning to Aswan our last stop was the High Dam. It was built in the 1960's by the Russians after some big rift developed between the Egyptians and the U.S..  

The west end of the dam.

The river below the dam.

The eastern 2/3rds of the dam showing the power
plant portion. All the power generated here goes
to Cairo 1000K to the north.
The power plant intake portion of the dam on the
Lake Nasser side.

The western side of Lake Nasser. Even though you
cannot see it here there is a moved temple just
about right in the middle of this picture.
A diagram of how the dam works. There are some
interesting facts and figures on the far end that I'll
include below.

Here are some facts and figures about the High Dam:

One additional statistic: Lake Nasser holds 157 billion cubic meters of water and is the 2nd biggest man made lake in the world. For anyone who wants to know the biggest is called Kariba on the Zambesi River.


Tomorrow a falucca ride and Kom Obo.


On to Day 13.

Created December 6th & 7th, 2002.
Final Edit December 20th, 2002.