Splendors Of Egypt
Read Bill's article entitled Egypt, Paris, and Me here.
December 4 - 16, 2019
A 13-day journey along the Nile from Cairo to Aswan
|Day 1 - Arrive in Cairo||Upon your arrival in Cairo, you are met and taken to your hotel along the Nile to rest before the adventure ahead. Four Seasons First Residence|
|Day 2 - Pharaonic Cairo||The Pyramids of Giza need little introduction. These vast burial grounds are the basis of comprehending Egypt’s exceptional civilization. Most travelers begin with the oldest and largest of the great tombs, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, completed 4,500 years ago, as well as the ineffable Sphinx. Four Seasons First Residence|
|Day 3 - Historic Cairo||Redolent of the novels of Nobel Prize-winner Naghuib Mahfouz, historic and Islamic Cairo is best discovered on foot, starting and ending at its medieval portals. Along the way, visit mosques, medieval homes, shops, and artisan workshops. Get a feel for Cairo’s Byzantine past and its varied styles of Islamic architecture that developed under almost 900 years of Arab, Mamluk, and Ottoman rule.
Four Seasons First Residence
|Day 4 - Fly to Luxor; Embark on Dahabeya Cruise||Luxor is ancient Thebes, a 19th-century winter resort of European nobility and necropolis of the greatest Egyptian rulers. Front and center is the magnificent Nile-side Luxor Temple, built by Amenhopis III over an older temple. Later kings and pharaohs, including Ramses II, Tutankhanem, and Alexander the Great, all added to it. Of this, Winston Churchill, who was passing by in 1898, wrote, “it requires no effort of imagination to roof the temple and fill its great hall with the awestruck worshipers.” The temple has remained in a good condition, especially the pylon reliefs, because it was hidden by sand until 1885. Dahabeya Amirat|
|Day 5 - Valley of the Kings & Queens; Cruise to Esna||In his history of the Napoleonic invasion, Denon wrote that when the French soldiers first beheld the Valley of the Kings and Queens, they threw down their arms and stood in silent admiration. Guarded by the Colossi of Memnon, the valley is host to the enormous Temple of Hatshepsut, the Tomb of Ramses VI, and, of course, the tomb of Tutankhamen. Dahabeya Amirat|
|Day 6 - Cruise to Edfu||Rudyard Kipling, who sailed the Nile in 1913, wrote, “Going up the Nile is like running the gauntlet before Eternity. Till one has seen it one does not realize the amazing thinness of that little damp trickle of life that steals along undefeated through the jaws of established death. A rifle-shot would cover the widest limits of cultivation, a bow-shot the narrower.” Traditional wooden feluccas sail across the river and fellaheen, or farmers, till the fields while children wave from the riverbank. Dahabeya Amirat|
|Day 7 - Edfu; Cruise to Aswan||Edfu's Temple of Horus was completed by Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XIII, around 55 BCE. The detailed inscriptions provide insight into the language, myths, and traditions of the Greco-Roman period in Egypt. It remains one of the best-preserved temples in the entire country.
|Day 8 - Excursion to Kom Ombo||Strategically located midway between the Red Sea and the gold mines of the Eastern Desert, Kom Ombo was an important stop on the caravan route from Nubia. Crocodiles basked on its sunny riverbanks, a good reason for the temple here to be dedicated to the crocodile-headed river god, Sobek.
The Temple of Sobek and Haroeris is unusual in that it is dedicated to two gods, and thus its features and details are doubled. Haroeris (Horus the Elder) was worshipped on the left side, while Sobek was worshipped on the right. The temple’s friezes are exceptionally fine: keep an eye out for mummified crocodiles in the small Chapel of Hathor. Dahabeya Amirat
|Day 9 - Disembark in Aswan & Explore||Aswan was a favorite resort of the 48th Aga Khan, and his mausoleum, built by his widow the Begum Aga Khan in 1957, lies atop a hill on the opposite side of the river. South of Aswan lie the flooded lands of Nubia, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The proximity of Africa “proper” is apparent in the tall Nubians of this Upper Nile town.
The famed temple complex of Philae was originally located near the Nile's First Cataract. Reached from the Nile through a double colonnade, its oldest temple was built for Isis during the reign of Nectanebo I (380 - 362 BCE). Most of the other ruins date from the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Due to rising waters at the turn of the 20th century, the temple complex was subject to intermittent flooding, but even then it drew visitors, who rowed around its columns peering down through the Nile to the drowned ruins below. When the Aswan High Dam threatened to swallow Philae completely, UNESCO stepped in with an eight-year rescue project, reconstructing it stone by stone on a nearby island, faithfully landscaping the island to look just like the original. Philae is pretty, exquisite even, its shores lapped by glittering waters. Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan
|Day 10 - Aswan & Surroundings||A busy tourist and trade hub, Aswan began as a market and garrison town with a strategic location on the east bank of the Nile. It also gained acclaim for its quarries, which provided the celebrated stone used in many of Egypt's impressive monuments, including the pyramids. Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan|
|Day 11 - Fly to Abu Simbel; Fly to Cairo||Originally carved out of an immense rock face on the Nile's west bank between 1290 and 1224 BCE, the Great Temple of the Pharaoh Ramses II at Abu Simbel was hidden underneath sand until its excavation at the turn of the 20th century. Abu Simbel, too, was threatened with destruction by the Aswan High Dam and rising Lake Nasser until UNESCO launched a worldwide appeal to help fund a massive four-year rescue operation. At a cost of $40 million, the temples were cut into 2,000 huge blocks of 10 - 40 tons each and were reconstructed 700 yards away from their original location. As the waters swallowed the sacred site where the temples had stood for 3,000 years, their new, higher home was carefully landscaped to recreate the old site. It was a stunning achievement.
Birds and wind moving over the lake are usually the only sounds that can be heard as the Great Temple's four colossal statues of Ramses II at different ages gaze calmly over the lake. Inside, the delicately colored friezes depict the pharaoh's glorious achievements in battle and contrast thrillingly with the grace and beauty of his adored Nefertari, who is pictured with her hand tenderly held up toward his shoulder in a gesture of praise, honor, and blessing. So fine and delicate is the carving that the queen's transparent, filmy gown partly reveals her graceful form.
Nearby is the Temple of Hathor. Fronted by four statues of Ramses and two of Nefertari, the scenes inside continue the themes of glory and love. Four Seasons First Residence
|Day 12 - Cairo||The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is a repository of countless treasures that bring alive the Pharaonic period, including the fabulous riches of Tutankhamen, known as the Boy King. Since Tutankhamen is now understood to have been a minor king, to see the incredible artifacts from his tomb sparks the imagination. What wonders must have once lain in the tombs of the greatest kings and queens? Four Seasons First Residence|
|Day 13 - Depart Cairo||This morning you are met and taken to the airport for your international flight home.|