Whenever you have to go through the desert, it's to be done in convoys. You are not allowed to do it on your own. The security risc is to high. The best arrangements are made by Egyptian travel agents. They provide busses to take part in the convoy. The police does also. In front and in between as well as in the rear of the convoy. The fair is even sheaper then a local taxi or even a rented car.
Egyptian authorities are very eager to prevent terrorist attacks. Police is everywhere, waring Kalashnikov automatic rifles. They are not freightning for the tourists, rather friendly really.
Flights to Abu Simbel are a bit tricky and require a little patience. They can be purchased online via the Egyptair website but, because travel agents bulk-buy the seats in advance, (the remaining) seats aren't listed until 3 weeks prior to any particular date. If you need to buy your flights earlier than this, check with a local travel agent. Flights usually connect through Aswan. There are direct flights from Cairo but they are few and far between.
Lastly, when purchasing any internal flight on the Egyptair website, be sure to put Egypt as your home country to get the cheapest rates.
Trips here can be arranged quite inexpensively through any hotel in Aswan. The budget hotels eg. The Keylany do a half day group trip which includes Abu Simbel, The Unfinished Obelisk, High Dam and Philae Temple for around $US20 p/p. The hotels usually band together so you will most likely be part of a group of 10 or 12 since the mini bus usually makes a few stops for passengers before it sets off for the convoy. There is no guide.
Cars and tourist buses must join the military convoy in Aswan. There is one at 4am and one at 11am, Most people take the earlier one, so they're back in Aswan by 1pm. The drive is approximately 3 1/2 hours each way.
The temples can be reached by joining the convoy, by cruise boat or by air.
I took an early morning bus tour to Abu Simbel from Aswan. The price was very reasonable. All the busses leave at the same time but we had a mini bus and it was like a race to get there first. It was not too crowded when we got there but got crowded over time. I would be nice to spend a little more time there but a few hours were ok.
I definitely would go again and recommend going to everyone.
You can combine this trip with a stop at the High Dam in Aswan, The unfinished Obelisk and the Phiae's Temple of Isis. See my soon to be entered tips in Aswan about these places.
You can also do Abu Simbel alone.
Please rate this and my other tips if you find them interesting, useful, or like the photos. Thanks.
Abu Simbel is best reached by plane from Aswan, on a smooth 40 minute flight on Egyptair. The flights are fairly inexpensive, but in high season, they get booked up rather quickly. Reserving in advance is a must. There are two morning flights from Aswan to Abu Simbel, and two returning in the late morning. 1.5 hours in Abu Simbel is usually sufficient to see the sites. Alternatively, one could reach Abu Simbel by car (in a convoy) which takes about 3.5 hours or so from Aswan. Convoys typically leave before dawn and, while worth it, I was told could be quite exhausting!
By air from Cairo or Aswan (about 2 flights daily of less than 3 hours each)
By air from Aswan (2-4 flights a day of 45 minutes flight)
By road from aswan : Limosine, Convoy, or Mini bus for Small groups
A daily local bus twice a day, very cheap but ... just a public one...
By cruise: 3 cruises are serving presently Lake Nasser attractions.
By rail : None
Most of tours going to Abu Simbel make people get up at 3am to go either to the airport and have a 30m flight or by bus (aprox. 5 hours) to get to the monument.
Then you have to walk in plain desert...
The best way is to go on a Lake Nasser cruise and come from Aswan by plane. Then you have the possibility of going to the site during sunset and watch the sound and light show (I didn't) and in the next day you can see it from the river, on the boat, which is really nice.
I did it on MS Nubian Sea:
There are 2 ways to get there. The first is by bus or taxi, the second is by airplane. Either way you take, you have to get up early. And boy, do i mean early!! Because it's a 3,5 hour drive and that means that you can set your alarmclock at at least 4am (if your lucky) You have about two houres there and then you have to get back. Usely you can arange this trip with your hotelmanager. Every day busses and taxi's drive up there, so it's not a problem. You go to the front desk and say you would like to go to Abu Simbel. It's not cheap (not very expensive too), but it's worth the money. If you book this trip with just 2 persons, there is a great chance, almost not advoidable that you have to share your bus or taxi with other people.
If you go by plane, it's a 1 hour flight, but you also have to be there 1 hour in advange, so this won't save time. It's only more expensive, but maybe a little more comfortable.
While sitting in the car/bus/taxi it's fun the watch or count the roadsigns on the only road that leads to Abu Simbel. Well, it's not like you got anything else to do during that time, are you?? ;)
We had to get up very early and to leave the ship at Aswan at 3:30 am in order to join the convoy at 3:45 am.
Abu Simbel is about 280 km south of Aswan and just 40 km away from the Egyptian-Sudan border. The bus drivers were driving at least with 100km/h and slowed down only when we passed by some military check-stops. I really couldn't get used to seeing so many uniforms wearing Kalashnikov...
On the way to Abu Simbel I did not see another vehicle not part of the convoy. And I really enjoyed the sunrise while my travel companions were sleeping.
Of course, travelling in a convoy has some disadvantages beside in our case the getting up so early. We were about 30 buses and we arrived at Abu Simbel at around the same time. So, it was very crowded and impossible to take pictures or to observe the temples in peace. Not to mention that the time is limited and that we had to leave Abu Simbel just after an hour and a half stay there.
Most people stay in Aswan, and then take a van or bus to Abu Simbel. Prepare to leave before daybreak in winter. The hotel desk will make arrangements, so there's no need to book in advance. We took a van, which was quick and adequate for the purpose. On the way back, the van made a stop at Lake Nasser. Because of security problems in southern Egypt, the vehicles are sometimes cued up outside Aswan. It's a strange affair. Buses, taxis, vans, and trucks all parked with motors running, waiting for the signal to proceed. Once the signal is given, the vehicles are in a virtual race for Abu Simbel. Trucks are left behind, as taxis, huge tourist buses, and mid-sized vans jockey for position, hoping to reach the temple parking lot before the others. The desert drops into sand on either side of the ribbon highway though, so nobody can afford to be too wreckless.
The practical information about the visit of Abu Simbel is that travellers can only reach this place, which is about 280km from Aswan by the convoy. The minibus picked up travellers around 3:30 am and then stopped at a point near the police station whereby all other big and small buses would queue up for the convoy service. The convoy leaves at about 4:20am and the one way journey was about 3 hours. See another pic that I took when we were waiting for the convoy.
When I was there, the convoy accompanied about 50+ big coaches and minibuses. It was quite amazing in terms of the journey when every bus was speeding at about 100km/hour, overtaking one another, in order to reach there first. I sometimes wonder the purpose of this kind of convey as the police car was only in the first and the last. Who cares what happended in the middle of the road. All travllers would stay there for about 2 hours before the whole troop of buses heading back to Aswan.
I stayed in Queen Hotel in Aswan and the hotel arranged a minbus with tourists from other hotels to go together. I paid 60 EGP for the minibus transportation only and it also includes the visit of High Dam (entrance fee: 8 EGP),The Temple of Philae (Entrance fee: 30 EGP + the ferry ride ?? EGP to the islan where the temple is situate), and Unfinished Obelisk (Entrance fee: 20 EGP). The trip ended at about 3:30pm.
For those who only want to visit Abu Simbel only (i.e. what they called short tour), the transportation costs is 50 EGP.
All prices May 2006.
We took a bus from Aswan to Abu Simbel with our tour... We had to join the bus convoy so we woke up around 3 am...I don't think the buses actually do 'convoy' there because we didn't see another bus at all after the first half hour or so of driving...
It takes about 3 hours to drive from Aswan to Abu Simbel and there isn't a lot to see along the way but it is nice to see some of the 'real' Egypt. Our driver was crazy...we were going at least 160 kms per hour and he was overtaking on corners and everything but we survived...that just seems to be the way of driving in Egypt. ;)
You can fly to Abu Simbel from Aswan or you can take a public bus from the bus station. But a convenient, and not too expensive way is to take a tour and go with the convoy at 4 o’clock in the morning (at least it left so early in the morning in July when I went). I paid 55 pounds for the tour (only transport) to Abu Simbel, the High Dam, Philae and the Unfinished Obelisk. In the minibus we were two people who paid 55 pounds, two other who paid 70 pounds and a Japanese woman who paid 110 pounds for the same trip. At the tourist office they had told me the price should be 45 pounds, but when they said 55 pounds at my hotel I thought it was okay.
The minibus picked up passengers at their hotel (me at 3.30 am) and then went with the convoy. It took three hours to go to Abu Simbel. We reached Abu Simbel around 7 am and got two hours to see the site before the convoy was leaving again.
We can also reach Abu Simbel Temples by taking the cruise ship, which departs from Aswan or Luxor. If you like the feeling of reaching one of the wonders of the world, as done maybe a century ago then you should consider this option.
Nevertheless the ship will be too slow unless you also like to lounge around the pool as depicted in the photo.
At the moment of writing, we can only take the convoy to reach this place ! For security reasons, the Egyptian goverment insists that on us.
In my case, I came here from Aswan; Had to wake up about 2.30 am & the convoy would start at 3.30 am, better check with your hotel for the times.
So, it's a 3 hours journey to Abu Simbel & we can sleep on our vehicles (if we are not driving that is...); As for me, only the sunset on the horizon tickled me fancy as we were reaching the site.