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Pyramids on Giza Plateau The Pyramids on Giza Plateau

Wednesday 11 March 2009

We arrive at the airport in Cairo according to our individual flight schedules from the US and are met by our in-country tour representative. Transfer to our hotel (5 stars Hotel Mena House Oberoi) where we have a room with a view of the pyramids.

Time to rest and then meet with our group in the evening for a welcome cocktail. We'll have a chance to introduce ourselves and share our visual journals that we plan to work on during the journey.

Pyramids The Step Pyramid of King Djoser in Sakkara

Thursday 12 March 2009

We have breakfast, and then our met by our private tour guide.  We start the day by visiting Memphis, about 12 miles south of Cairo.  Memphis was the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, and the center of power for over 3000 years.  It is known for the Sphinx of Memphis and the colossal statue of Ramses II.  Then we're off to Sakarra (Sakkara) with its Step Pyramid, the oldest known of Egypt's 97 pyramids. 

Our tour continues with a visit to the Pyramids and the Sphinx.  The three main Pyramids at Giza were built in the 4th Dynasty, about 4600 BC,.  Lunch is included during this daylong fully-escorted tour, and travel is on air-conditioned bus.  Back to the hotel for overnight, dinner is on our own.

King Tutankhamun King Tutankhamun at Cairo Museum

Friday 13 March 2009

After breakfast, we start our tour by visiting the Egyptian Museum, home of many exceptional artifacts and, of course, Tutankhamun. 

It's an old-fashioned museum in some ways, a wonderful crowded jumble of statues and artifacts and mummies and more, with lots of treasures vying for your attention. 

Perfect for visual journalists, a tremendous amount of visual stimulation, and we are surrounded by mysterious hieroglyphs and drawings and paintings and enigmatic figures.   

The Citadel The Citadel of Sala el Din

We also visit the Citadel of Salah el Din, a medieval fortress built on a hill overlooking Cairo, and with a great view of the city. 

It was fortified by Salah ad-Din (known as Saladin to Westerners) to defend the city from Crusaders.  Also there is a visit to  the Mohamed Alie Alabaster Mosque,  based on a plan similar to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and one of the grandest and most visible of monuments in Cairo.  Its minarets are over 250 feet high, with the highest dome being 160 feet high and a diameter of 65 feet.

Spices in the Bazaar Spices in the Bazaar

Time for a stop at the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, one of the most interesting bazaars, not only in Egypt, but perhaps the whole Middle East.  This bazaar was founded in the 14th century and is famous for is unusual souvenirs and handmade crafts.  A place to try our hand at bargaining, and enjoy its cafes, restaurants, and shops.

Back to our hotel in the evening, enjoying the view of the pyramids, and a chance to get together and compare notes, observations, and our visual travelogues documenting our travels in Cairo and its environs. 

We've become quite comfortable in our base camp, but we make our final preparations for our dahabeah cruise up the Nile River.  Tomorrow the true expedition begins!

Temple of Luxor The Temple of Luxor

Saturday 14 March 2009

After breakfast, we will transfer to Cairo airport where we have an early flight to Luxor.  On arrival, we will be met by our dahabeah representative, and embark on board the Dahabiyya S/S Hadeel.  We'll settle in our cabins and meet our private Egyptologist, and get ready for explorations.

Later today we visit the East Bank of the Nile, including Karnak and Luxor.  Lunch, and dinner are on board the Hadeel in Luxor, and we remain there overnight.

Valley of the Kings Valley of the Kings

Sunday 15 March 2009

Our first full day on board the Hadeel!  We awaken in Luxor, and have breakfast on board.

Today we visit the West side of the river.  Our tour today begins with the Valley of Kings.  This was the royal burial ground for pharaohs such as Tutankhamun, Seti I, and Ramses II, as well as queens, high priests and others from the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties.  We visit the temple of Queen Hapshepsut, one of the few female pharaohs of Egypt.  We also see the great Colossi of Memnon, 60 feet each in height, guarding the entrance to a long-vanished temple.  They are thought to represent Pharaoh Amenhotep III, whose temple was destroyed by Nile floods.  Lunch is included during our touring, and we return back to our cruise for dinner and overnight on board Dahabiyya S/S Hadeel.

Sailing on the Hadeel The Dahabeah S/S Hadeel

Monday 16 March 2009

After breakfast we set out on our early morning sail southward, passing through the locks at Esna and toward Edfu.   All day sailing Luxor to Esna.

This is a day to enjoy sailing on our special dahabeah, progressing up the Nile and watching the changing scenery on the riverbanks and the busy traffic on the river itself.

We will have some visual journalling sessions, but also free time to just relax on board, perhaps getting some sun on the sun deck or enjoying the onboard jacuzzi. 

Statue of Horus at Edfu Statue of Horus at Edfu

Tuesday 17 March 2009

After breakfast we continue sailing to El-Kab, one Egypt's oldest settlements and which was known in ancient times of Nekheb.  Monuments have been found here from all periods of Egyptian history. Together with Hierakonpolis, on the Nile's opposite shore, they formed the capital city of Upper Egypt. 

Afterwards, we continue to Edfu, where we visit the Temple of Horus, constructed in the 3rd century BC and the largest temple in Egypt after Karnak. 

We spend overnight at Fawaza Island.

Hadeel at Mooring Hadeel at Mooring Along the Nile

Wednesday 18 March 2009

After breakfast, we sail to Gebel El Silsila, where the Nile narrows and where the stones for the temples in Egypt were quarried, and where there are still the remains of temples carved into the cliffs. 

In the afternoon, we continue our sail southwards and spend overnight on an island just before Kom Ombo.

Temple at Kom Ombo Temple at Kom Ombo

Thursday 19 March 2009

We start our day with a visit to the Kom Ombo temple, situated directly on the river bank.  It is dedicated to both the crocodile god Sobek as well as Haroreris.  In ancient times, sacred crocodiles basked in the sun on the river bank near here.   Afterwards we continue our leisurely sail southwards towards Aswan, the final stop on our Nile sailing.

Philae Temple at Aswan Philae Temple at Aswan

Friday 20 March 2009

After breakfast on board Hadeel, we visit the famous Philae temple during the day, dedicated to the goddess Isis, and rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser when the Aswan dam was constructed. 

Our afternoon is at leisure, with options to visit the Nubian Museum in Aswan or visit its lively souq. 

Abu Simbel Abu Simbel

Saturday 21 March 2009

After breakfast, we disembark from SS Hadeel and transfer to Aswan airport where we have an early flight to Abu Simbel. 

After our visit, we then fly to Cairo, where we are met on arrival and transferred to the Sonesta Cairo Hotel for our final evening in Egypt.  One last time to get together and share our journals and talk about our experiences.

Sunday 22 March 2009

After breakfast, we check out from our hotel and transfer to Cairo international airport for final departure as per our individual flight arrangements.  We are forever changed by this journey deep into the heart of Egypt and deep into our own ancient souls.

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