The pyramids are usually the first thing that comes to mind when picturing Egypt. Stunning as they are, right in the midst of heaving Cairo and teeming with touts the magic can be a little lost by the time you even make it through the gates.

Abu Simbel on the other hand, rising from the banks of the vast Lake Nasser (formed by the creation of the Aswan Dam), retains that sense of seeing something unseen. Of course it still receives its fair share of tourists but the small groups here are a world away from the crowds of Cairo. Most tourists reach here by traversing 280 kilometres of open desert from the city of Aswan.

Just forty kilometres from the Sudanese border, Abu Simbel was built in the 13th century BC by Ramses II. Though dedicated to the gods Amun-Ra, Ra-Horakhte and Ptah, Ramses II adorned the entrance to the temple with four twenty-metre statues of himself – testimony to the somewhat large ego he reputedly possessed!

 

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel

The second statue was damaged during an earthquake

The second statue was damaged during an earthquake

The temple has been received visitors from far and wide since its rediscovery in 1813

The temple has been received visitors from far and wide since its rediscovery in 1813

Overlooking Lake Nasser

Overlooking Lake Nasser

Egypt

The double Atef crown of Upper and Lower Egypt is worn by all four Ramses II statues

The double Atef crown of Upper and Lower Egypt is worn by all four Ramses II stat

Egypt Author Bio: Natalie Clince is an experienced journalist, broadcaster and traveller. She’s currently writing for Dr Thom Ireland – the online doctor that can prescribe medication for travellers.