A big group of us heading down in the comfort of our luxury coaches from Aswan to Abu Simbel for the much-anticipated Abu Simbel Sun Festival. With chronological precision to rival the builders of the temple themselves, we arrived before dawn and waited patiently for the Egyptian sun to rise and the phenomena to take place. It was amazing! As the sun lifted from the horizon a single shaft of light penetrated through the temple door. Like a laser it beamed 30 metres inside the temple and lit up the gods of the living world (Amun-Re, Re-Herakhte and Ramses himself), whilst the statute of Ptah – the god of the underground and darkness – remained in the shadows. It was absolutely brilliant.
Our guides Amro, Saleeb and Walid had everything under control. Tickets were arranged in advance, allowing us to avoid the queue. With hordes of people waiting to see the show, we were hopeful that the temple gate keepers would start letting people in a little bit early. Luckily, we were able to enter at the exact moment when the three gods shone.
After the event we had plenty of free time to roam the site and explore the Temple of Hathor. We watched the festival dancers and drummer, perfectly accompanied by the stunning backdrop of Lake Nasser. We were also able to go back inside Ramses Temple as all of those who came to Abu Simbel by plane had to leave for their return flight. By this point we had the entire site to ourselves.
The trip was brilliantly organised and we felt very well looked after and very chuffed with what we had witnessed that morning. We all had a little nap on the coach journey back, checked into the Isis Island Hotel and spent the afternoon relaxing by the swimming pool before taking an hour’s felucca sailing at sunset.
By Simone Wilkins