We were woken at 3am by a knock on our door. By 3:30 we were on a minibus to the convoy meeting point, and by 4:15 we were on the road to Abu Simbel.
When hearing the phrase “police convoy,” you probably picture a caravan of close-traveling, guarded-at-the-front-and-rear tour vehicles mixed with police cars. The reality of the Abu Simbel police convoy is that it’s a loose collection of buses and minibuses, with seemingly no police presence whatsoever, that depart the city of Aswan together but get so spread out on the 3.5hr drive that some arrive nearly an hour after others. Luckily we were some of the first.
It was a long ride out and a long ride back, weaving through police checkpoints and snails-pacing it over speed bumps in the highway, but for the equivalent of $12 for door-to-door service I really have no complaints.
Abu Simbel itself was quite impressive, though it’s not in its original location – a fact that’s quite distractingly evident when you’re there. The entire mountainside was cut into 20-30ton blocks some 40 years ago and trucked to a location 60m higher when the area in which Abu Simbel was originally located was set to be flooded by a dam project. As such, the monument shows evidence of the cuts, and the ‘mountain’ itself is really nothing more than a giant man-made hill along the water. That being said, the scale and skill evident in the structure is incredible, and I feel very lucky to have been able to see it.
We got back to the hostel after 10 hours of being awake and on the road and I immediately fell asleep. We had dinner at McDonald’s (I ordered spring rolls) and we’re now at an internet cafe. We hope to start our felucca journey tomorrow, but the lack of other tourists in the area has made finding enough people to fill a boat something of a challenge.