TRAVEL | Abu Simbel, Egypt

Why go now: Enjoy a private audience with Ramses II

Tourism to Egypt is rebounding from its steep decline in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring Revolution. However, the feeling of having a destination to yourself still can be found at Abu Simbel, deep in the south of Egypt near its border with Sudan. Originally cut into a rock cliff by the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II (ca. 1303 – ca. 1213 b.c.), the temples at Abu Simbel are at once archaeological treasures and marvels of modern engineering. Buried by sand for millennia, the towering landmarks were unearthed by archaeologists in 1813 and saved from the rising waters of Lake Nassar – the gigantic reservoir created by the damming of the mighty Nile at Aswan – by a monumental five – year relocation effort launched by the Egyptian government and UNESCO in 1960. Wander from one dimly lit chamber to another through the 98-foot-tall Great Temple, guarded by four gigantic figures of Ramses II. Stand awestruck in front of images of the pharaoh and Nefertari , his beloved queen, engraved on the walls more than 3,000 years ago. Take your time: Chances are few people will be jostling for your view.

When to go: February – March.

How to go: A good way to experience Abu  Simbel is as part of a Nile cruise. Outfitters cruising the river include National Geographic Expeditions, Oberoi, and Abercrombie & Kent.

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