Archive for Lake Nasser
Port Ghalib is just ten minutes away from Marsa Alam airport and it is a holiday resort with massive aspirations. Proudly located on the Red Sea in Southern Egypt, the blueprint is build a world class incorporated resort community. The centre piece of Port Ghalib will be the marina that’ll be capable of handling more than 1,000 boats.
It is also well known to scuba divers who fly here to catch their liveaboards that leave from Port Ghalib and Emperor Divers function from the Marina Lodge at one of the very best hotel/diving setups you can hope to find anywhere on the planet. The unspoilt reefs provide some fantastic scuba diving along the coast with the famous Elphinestone Reef towards the south being a very popular diving destination.
Port Ghalib is also making its mark within the entertainment world. In 2009, Beyonce performed here as part of her “I am…” tour. It had been the first time the super star had performed in The Red Sea or the Middle East and her appearance was very successful. Appealing to world megastars like Beyonce underlines the aspirations of Port Ghalib to make their name identified around the planet. Yet, it’s not likely that personalities such as Beyonce are going to be at Port Ghalib each week although there are still other things for people to do if they prefer a bit of adventure to soaking in the sun’s rays.
Mentioned previously, Port Ghalib is a departure point for the majority of of the southern Red Sea liveaboard cruise trips. Day boats also work from Port Ghalib with Emperor Divers who are based in the Marina Lodge hotel. There are quite a few great dive sites up and down the coastline from Marsa Alam and in contrast to the more popular resorts of Hurghada and Sharm, there are hardly any dive boats in the area which means normally your group may be the only ones at the dive site. Abu Dabab is a well-liked shore dive destination at the Sol Y Mar hotel to the south. People come in to watch the turtles feeding on the sea grass and if they are lucky, the resident Dugong may also turn up. Abu Dabab is rather shallow consequently snorkellers can also come along too.
For non-divers, an array of water sports can be found or you are able to merely spend the days sun bathing. Excursions are also available to Luxor, Cairo, the historical town of Quseir or even a camel trading market.
320km south of Aswan is one of the most famous ancient sites in Egypt, the Temple of Abu Simbel. It was built by Ramses II in the 13th Century BC. Carved out of a single piece of rock, the facade of the Large Temple with two statues on either side of the central entrance is instantly recognizable but had it not been for an amazing feat of engineering, the Temple of Abu Simbel would have been lost under the waters of Lake Nasser.
When the Aswan High Dam was built across the River Nile, it created Lake Nasser. For centuries, the Temple of Abu Simbel had stood at the banks of the Nile but the rising water would swallow it up. In 1959, a campaign was launched to save many of the ancient temples from Lake Nasser. UNESCO also set up a commission to study the problem of relocating the Temple of Abu Simbel. However, the problem was not a simple one due to the fact the temple had been carved out of a single piece of rock measuring 65m long and 38m wide.
In the end, a solution proposed by Sweden was chosen. The plan involved removing the overhanging rocky mass, cutting the temples in to pieces and moving them to a new location 65m high and 200m further back from the rising waters of the River Nile.
Before the temples were cut, 17,000 holes were drilled into the stone and a resin was injected to strengthen the structure. In addition to the 33 tonnes of resin, iron braces were also found to be required to prevent the ancient temple from crumbling. The race was on as the waters of the Nile were rising more rapidly than anticipated as Lake Nasser started to take shape.
The Temple of Abu Simbel was cut into 1,036 blocks with an average weight of 30 tonnes along with another 1,110 pieces from the surrounding rock. The first block was moved on 21st May 1965 and this was the start of what is considered by many to be the greatest feat of archaeological engineering. The relocation was completed just in time as by the end of 1965, the rising waters of Lake Nasser were slowly starting to fill the caverns where Abu Simbel once stood.
The relocation of the Temple of Abu Simbel was complete right down to the “miracle of the sun”. When Ramses II had finished the temple, twice a year in the early morning, a beam of sunlight would penetrate between the entrance and the shrine bathing Amon-Ra and Ramses II in light. A few moments later, the ray would move on and fall on Harmakis. Around 20 minutes later, the light disappears and what makes it more amazing is that the light never falls on Ptah — the God of Darkness.
Thanks to the relocation of the Temple of Abu Simbel and other ancient sites, visitors to Lake Nasser -can still enjoy these fascinating places.
For years, River Nile cruises have attracted visitors wanted to see some of ancient Egypts finest treasures but in more recent times, an alternative cruise destination in Egypt is on offer. Lake Nasser was created between 1958 and 1970 when the Aswan High Dam was built across the River Nile as a hydro-electric project. The lake is more than 300km long and is 35km wide at it’s widest point. The rising waters of Lake Nasser also meant that a number of ancient temples had to be relocated as well as some villagers whose former homes were swallowed up.
Lake Nasser has turned into a real attraction for anglers with some excellent fishing for those in search of Perch, Catfish and Tiger Fish. These fish were all originally found in the River Nile before the Aswan High Dam was built and once Lake Nasser was formed, these species thrived on their new environment. The Perch fishing in Lake Nasser is considered to be the best in the world.
As an inland cruise destination, Lake Nasser is coming into it’s own. The format is similar to Nile cruises with cruises starting at Aswan and sailing the length of Lake Nasser south to Abu Simbel. There are various stops on the way for passenger to explore some of the lesser known ancient Egyptian sites but are nonetheless impressive.
Lake Nasser cruises last either 4 or 7 nights. Both cruises start at Aswan and head south for Abu Simbel at the far end of the lake. As the cruise heads south, it stops off at various points of interest including the temples at Kalabsha, Wadi El Seboua, Amada and of course, Abu Simbel. After 4 days, your cruise ship arrives at Abu Simbel at the far end of Lake Nasser and from there passengers can disembark and take the 3 hour road journey back to Aswan. Alternatively, the longer cruise returns passengers to Aswan by sailing back north back up Lake Nasser, this time without stopping on the way.
Its not just the ancient Egyptian sites that are impressive, the scenery around Lake Nasser is spectacular. The desert landscapes transform from rugged hills to flat, sandy beaches. A few local bedouin and fisherman live near the lake and can occasionally be seen. There is also a variety of birdlife living near the lake including ducks, geese, pelicans, heron as well as various birds of prey. Reptiles such as monitor lizards and crocodiles can also be seen as well as desert animals such as gazelle, jackals and foxes.
Although the popularity of cruising the River Nile is as strong as ever, Lake Nasser offers tourists an alternative cruise exploring ancient Egypt’s past in a spectacular setting.