THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN LAKE NASSER
If you are searching for information about places to visit in Lake Nasser, then you really don’t need to look any further because you will almost certainly find all the information you are looking for right here on this page.
In this post, we will be looking at, and discussing only the very best places to visit in Lake Nasser, but before we do, let’s take a look at the history of Lake Nasser itself.
BEFORE AND AFTER THE ARRIVAL OF THE ASWAN HIGH DAM
After much deliberation, construction of the Aswan High Dam got underway on the 9th of January, 1960, and it was complete roughly 10 years later, on the 21st of July, 1970. While the advantages of building this vast dam far outweighed any disadvantages, that’s not to say it didn’t result in any unfortunate consequences. Among the negative consequences that would come, was the inevitable loss of many ancient Egyptian sites. Upon completion of the dam, a massive manmade lake would form, one which would cover a vast area on numerous ancient monuments stood. This expansive area would become what is today known as Lake Nasser.
It would be six years before the mighty Nile River filled the Aswan High Dam to its full capacity, creating a lake which is 550 kilometers long at its longest point, and 35 kilometers wide at its widest point, covering a total area of around 5,250 square kilometers.
When the Aswan High Dam is at maximum capacity, Lake Nasser is 180 meters deep at its deepest point, and below its murky surface, lay so many monuments and relics on an ancient civilization.
When the plans for building the dam were approved, more than 100,000 local inhabitants had to be evacuated, and numerous rescue operations soon got underway in order to try and save the best ancient sites by moving them to higher ground. This was a phenomenal international effort, and because of it, we are now fortunate enough to have some truly wonderful places to visit in Lake Nasser.
LAKE NASSER ATTRACTIONS – THE BEST OF THE BEST
The expanse of land which now lies far beneath the surface of Lake Nasser was home to countless ancient sites, and it would have taken an eternity to try a rescue all of them. There simply wasn’t enough time or resources for such an undertaking, the focus had to be on trying to rescue the very best sites. Amongst those which were rescued from the rising waters of the lake, were monuments such as the Abu Simbel temples; the Temple of Philae; the Temple of Beit el-Wali; the Temple of Derr; the Temple of Dakka; the Temple of Kalabsha; the Temple of Amada, and Wadi el-Seboua.
Since only the very best ancient sites could be rescued, these are of course also the very best places to visit in Lake Nasser. However, it is worth noting that the above mentioned monuments are not the only monuments that were saved from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, but they are among the most popular places to visit in Lake Nasser.
WHAT IT TAKES TO RELOCATE AN ANCIENT EGYPTIAN MONUMENT
The about of manpower and resources required for moving and entire ancient complex from one location to another obviously depends on numerous factors. Don’t forget, the Abu Simbel Temples had to be completely dismantled and then reassemble at the new location on higher ground. Of all the places to visit in Lake Nasser, the Abu Simbel Temples are generally seen as being the number one attraction in the area, so let’s take a look at what it took to move the gigantic rock-cut marvels that were built during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II to serve as lasting monuments of himself and his beloved wife, Queen Nefertiti.
In order to move these temples to higher ground, an artificial dam first had to be created in order to protect them for the Nile. The monuments where then cut up into 1,035 individual pieces, with each piece weighing in the region of 20 to 30 tons.
Using a combination of powerful cranes, jacks and winches, everything had to be dragged to the top of the hill, a distance of 64 meters, before being painstaking reassembled so that both temples would be precisely the same as they originally were.
For four long years, more than 800 workers, and more than 100 specialist technicians labored under the desert sun to complete one of the world’s biggest archeological rescue projects, a project which cost around $36 million at the time.
Anyone who visits these majestic monuments would be forgiven for thinking they have always stood on their current location overlooking Lake Nasser. Today, the Abu Simbel Temples are the second-most recognizable Ancient Egyptian site after the Giza Pyramids in Cairo, and they quite rightly deserve to be at the very top of your list of places to visit in Lake Nasser.
LAKE NASSER CRUISES – YOUR GATEWAY TO THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN LAKE NASSER
While most of the places to visit in Lake Nasser can be accessed by road, very few tourists or locals choose this method. Instead, they tend to opt for Lake Nasser cruises or Nile River cruises. However, Nile cruises are not the most convenient or the most comfortable option because they typically run from Aswan to Luxor or from Luxor to Aswan. As a result of this, places to visit in Lake Nasser don’t feature in regular Nile River cruises.
Of course, if you book a Nile cruise package through us, we can easily customize your tour itinerary so that it includes one or more excursions from Aswan to some of the top places to visit in Lake Nasser.
If the Abu Simbel temples are the only Lake Nasser attractions you want to see, then it is also possible book Abu Simbel to Luxor Nile cruises and/or Luxor to Abu Simbel cruises, but apart from the Abu Simbel Temples, they don’t include any other places to visit in Lake Nasser.
In short, the best way to visit and explore the gems of this vast lake is by means of a Lake Nasser cruise, and if you want to make the experience even more magical than ever, they you should seriously consider opting for a Dahabiya Lake Nasser cruise. Dahabiyas are traditional river yachts which are instantly recognizable by their two sails, one aft and one near the bow. Because of their small size they generally only have a handful of cabins, which gives any cruise on Lake Nasser a far more personal feel.
MORE GREAT PLACES TO VISIT IN LAKE NASSER
Temple of Amada – As mentioned previously, there are many other great places to visit in Lake Nasser rather than only Abu Simbel, and the Temple of Amada is just one such example. Admittedly, it is a very small temple compared to the likes of Abu Simbel, but it still has a lot going for it. For example, it was the very first temple ever constructed in the region which was once called Nubia. Construction began during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III but was only completed during the reign of his son, Pharaoh Amenhotep II who also set about enlarging it decorating it more than his father had. Apart from its relatively simplistic design and its fascinating history, it is also a wonderful site to visit if you are the sort of person who doesn’t like large crowds. The only people you are likely to see here are passengers from a Lake Nasser cruise, or the occasional traveler visiting as part of an excursion from Aswan.
Temple of Dakka – The Temple of Dakka is also a wonderful site, and also one of the less touristy places to visit in Lake Nasser. Aesthetically, there is nothing spectacular about this site, but it still fascinating nonetheless and also thought provoking. It even has scholars and archeologists at odds with each other. Some believe it was built at 220 BC, while others believe it is older. Some scholars believe that it was built by a Nubian King, while others believe it was probably built by both a Nubian king and an Egyptian Pharaoh.
Temple of Derr – The Temple of Derr is one of the more prominent places to visit in Lake Nasser, hence the reason why you will find it mentioned in many Lake Nasser cruise itineraries. This is yet one more complex which Pharaoh Ramesses II had constructed during his long reign. Also known as Ramesses the Great, he had more temples and other monuments built than any other Pharaoh, and the Temple of Derr is adds even more to his already impressive legacy.
Temple of Kalabsha – As with the other places to visit in Lakes which have already been mentioned in the post, you can get more detailed information about the Temple of Kalabsha by clicking on the relevant link, and it really is worth checking out because this remarkable complex is generally considered to be the second most significant monument of those which were rescued from the waters of Lake Nasser. Not only is it a huge complex, by its many reliefs and wall paintings are amongst the best you are likely to come across. Despite looking so much like a typical Egyptian temple, and despite being decorated in much the same way, Kalabsha Temple was actually built during the Roman era.
The Tomb of Penout – This is what many would call one of the rarest ancient attractions in Egypt, given that it is the last remaining tomb of its kind, and this alone makes it one of the must-see places to visit in Lake Nasser. Like the other sites mentioned on the page, the Tomb of Penout also had to be rescued from the rising Lake Nasser when the High Dam was built. Today the tomb is located in close proximity to the Temple of Amada, so if you visit the temple, you should definitely also visit this unique tomb which is just a short walk away. Originally, this was one of roughly 500 other such tombs that were all located near to each other in an area which now lies beneath the water. Many have described the original site as being similar to the Valley of King, but instead of being tombs for royalty, they were tombs for civil servants. Since not all of the tombs could be rescued, only this one was because it was considered to both the best and the most significant.
Don’t forget, there are also many other wonderful places to visit in Lake Nasser, including the Temple of Beit el-Wali; Wadi el-Seboua; the Temple of Maharraqua; the Kiosk of Kertassi, and the remains of the Citadel of Kasr Ibrim which is the only remaining survivor in lower Nubia.
The Citadel of Kasr Ibrim can only be seen from the water during a Lake Nasser cruise because the tiny island on which it stands is off limits to everyone other than archeologists who have obtained special clearance to visit the island, which coincidentally is the top of what was once the highest hill in the vicinity prior to the flooding of Lake Nasser.
No matter how you look at it, there are so many wonderful places to visit in Lake Nasser, and it is a real shame that so many tourists never get to see these hidden treasures left behind by an ancient civilization and then later rescued by their modern-day decedents. At NileCruiseHolidays.com, we would really love to show you this often overlooked part of Egypt’s incredible past.