WONDERS OF EGYPT
|Wonders of Egypt is a 9 day tour of the majors sites in Egypt. I also had an extra day in Cairo at the start to get over any jetlag.|
EGYPT - TRAVEL LOG
|I landed in Cairo after a long flight on the 3rd November. The airports in Egypt land you on the tarmac where you are ferried to the terminal by buses. The terminal itself was a tad chaotic, but I knew I needed an entry Visa and saw a bank booth with an A4 printout stuck to the window which included the words "Foreign exchange" and "Visa". Others got in the wrong queues failed to see the sign on the booth etc. After collecting my bags and proceeded outside to be met by the Insight agents (Spring Tours). The airport transfers are a must!
I was taken to the Marriott hotel where on booking in I was staggered to recognise Dr Kent Weeks the famous archaeologist who rediscovered KV5 and uncovered its secret of some 150 rooms (by far the largest tomb in the Valley of the Kings).
|This day was an extra day I booked in case I suffered from jetlag. I had been taking some jetlag tablets and despite my long flight and no sleep on route, that night I had had a good rest and was ready to get going.
That morning I set off for the Egyptian Museum. The tour papers recommended organising a taxi through the hotel, so thats what I did. They had their own limo service which was not much dearer, so I opted for that at 55LE to the museum (non-aircon taxis are around 35LE according to the guide books). When I got there the driver offered to collect me for 85LE to which I said "no, why would I pay more to return than getting there?". The driver said it was just 30LE more than I had already paid. Oh I said thinking 85LE for the round trip.. a deal was struck. On returning to the Hotel the driver then demanded 85LE saying that he took me, then had to come and get me and then returned so three trips. I argued, but this was a practiced scam and at $33 I let it pass with the obligatory earful of abuse.
The rest of the day I explored the hotel, shops and places to eat.
|The tour officially started with us assembling for a debrief before paying for any optional excursions, being issued our head sets and allocated a bus. Insights Wonders of Egypt was a module that was included in several other tours or available on its own.
We then set off. First stop is to the Citadel. Work on building the Citadel started at the time of the Crusades by Salah al-Din (Saladin). The citadel contains the Mosque of Muhammad Ali - built in defiance of their overlords the Ottoman empire.
Next stop on the tour was to the Egyptian Museum, to see the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in one place in the world. We covered in depth certain areas although I was glad I had gone the day before, as the place is too big to cover in just one visit.
That evening we set off to see the Sound and light show at the Giza Pyramids. At the security check the guard decided that my tripod was video equipment and confiscated it. Low light photography with a hand held camera was a hit and miss affair with many of my shots being blurry. The best of them can be seen on my Giza page.
|Early start with breakfast at 2am and bags to be out for collection by 2:15. We had a plane to catch to Luxor, where more sights await.
After we arrived we crossed a bridge over-which the avenue of the sphinxes were being excavated, then on to Karnak Temple, to see the largest Egyptian temple complex. Whilst in the hypostyle hall, there was a patch of hieroglyphs that I recognised from my night courses many years ago. During our free time one of the workers took me to the sanctuary of Thutmoses III where I took the pictures of the coloured reliefs.
We rested to avoid the midday heat and did much of our site seeing in the mornings and evenings. Later on we set off for Luxor Temple. The temple's axis leads toward Karnak temple which is unusual in itself (most point to the Nile), but the axis is broken heading in a different angle to the earlier part of the temple. As our time on site progressed, the sun set and we saw the temple illuminated. After the temple we visited a papyrus shop.
|This day was for the Western Theban treasures starting with The Valley of the Kings. No cameras were allowed in and we had to leave the bus and approach on a trolley bus. As a group we visited Ramesses III, Siptah and either Ramesses IX or Ramesses VI. I also paid extra to visit Tutankhamen's tomb. In all cases the wall paintings were stunning.
We then visited an Alabaster shop selling a large range of sculptures, jewellery and trinkets. A short drive away we came to Deir Al Bahari to visit the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut. The wall paintings were in amazing condition given the age.
On leaving Deir Al Bahari we passed the Ramesseum and other ruins on route to the Colossi of Memnon.
On our return we set sail up the Nile towards Esna. The ever relentless merchants were waiting in their boats and out to sell their galabeyas to us by throwing them up on the deck and then trying to negotiate a price or the galabeyas return.
|We awoke to be docked at the town of Edfu. This town had one big tourist draw card, the Temple of Edfu. Dedicated to the god Horus, the Temple of Edfu included the wall inscriptions detailing the cult of Osiris, where Horus sought revenge on Seth for killing Osiris. It was very crowded.
The boat continued on down the Nile towards Kom Ombo. This temple is located right on the Niles edge and has a temple complex dedicated to two deities, Horus and Sobek. It has two axis, two entrance ways and two sanctuaries. Night fell as we were there and the temple looked spectacular illuminated.
|Overnight the boat took us to Aswan. The day started with a visit to the unfinished Obelisk at the granite quarries.
We continued on to the Temple of Philae. This temple is located on an island and had to be relocated when the High Damn was built. Our tour director Abdu said that he had counted 11 different languages graphitied on the walls of the temple.
After visiting the temple we drove over the Aswan Damn and visited the High Damn and saw the friendship sculpture erected to commemorate the building of the High Damn. After which we visited a perfume essence shop and I took a longer than intended excursion to an ATM machine.
The afternoon included a felucca ride and an optional excursion to a Nubian village. The Feluccas were becalmed in the water and we never made it to the botanical gardens and were taken away on-board motor boats.
|Another 2am breakfast as we had an early flight to Abu Simbel. These two temples were spectacular (no cameras allowed inside the temples). We rushed past the stalls so to not be late for the bus, but instead the bus was late for us. Luckily it got us to the airport on time for our flight back to Aswan.
We flew from Aswan back to Cairo where I spent some time exploring before sleep caught up with me.
|A full day on the cards starting with Memphis, where we got to see a large colossus of Ramesses II laying on its back, two more were standing outside along with the Sphinx of Memphis.
We then continued on to Saqqara to see the Step Pyramid of Djoser (the oldest surviving man made stone structure and first pyramid). The site had many more tombs and pyramids with other pyramids on the horizon. We then visited a carpet weaving shop.
We had lunch before carrying on to Giza to see the great pyramid of Cheops (Khufu), Chephren (Khafre) and Menkaure (Mykerinus) as well as the Great Sphinx. Whilst there I managed to get a ride on a camel. We then visited a Egyptian cotton clothing shop.
Some people had opted for a dinner cruise excursion, so people disappeared in a hurry to get ready. I didn't get to say goodbye to the group, but did see some members who didn't continue on to the Jordon tour module.
|For the Wonders of Egypt the tour ended today with breakfast - while some went on to Alexandria and others headed off in the morning to Jordon to see Petra.|