Ancient Egypt & the Nile
March 26 - April 8, 2006
Grand Circle Tour
After a delightful stay in Jerusalem, on Sunday, March 26th we flew
to Cairo from Tel Aviv. Since the Arab countries do not recognize Israel,
our Boeing 737 airplane had no markings other than "Boeing 737-200"
painted on the side. We flew Sinai Airlines, a division of Egypt Air,
to Cairo for the main part of this trip. It was an uneventful flight!
On Sunday afternoon, we were bussed to the Cairo Marriott Hotel
where we were to stay for the next six days. It is a lovely hotel with
all the immensities one would want. Seven restaurants,
a health club and a casino. Originally conceived as a residence for visiting
royalty invited to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Suez Canal.
The Palace was completed in 1869 as a venue for many lavish events
during the reign of Khedive Ismail Pasha. In 1982, Marriott International
signed a contract to create the hotel as it is today.
This is a photo of the hotel pool and health club.
There were no activities planned for Sunday besides the
traditional welcoming reception at he hotel.
Monday, March 27 was the first full day for me in Cairo. We had a morning
briefing about the Cairo part of the trip. After lunch, we were bussed
to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. We had an hour long guided
tour of the museum and then fee time to tour the various exhibits.
I did get to visit the King Tutankhamen treasures. There were many
really interesting Egyptian historical exhibits on display in the
museum. There were many large stone statues on display were
throughout the building. Unfortunately the museum did not allow
the use of cameras when visiting the exhibits. So I do not have any
photos of my visit to King Tut and the other exhibits. I did buy the
postcards that the street vendors were selling outside the museum.
March 28 dawned overcast and hazy. We were off to visit the
Giza Plateau, the home of the signature attraction of Cairo area,
the Great Pyramids. The Greeks proclaimed to be among the
Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It was just a short bus
ride to the area of the pyramids.
As soon as we left the bus we were set upon by all sort of local
characters who ply their skills at extracting dollars from the tourists.
Check out the sneakers for foot wear. This photo cost me a buck tip.
Even the police were on camels. The police presents was everywhere in
Cairo and at the pyramid area. We were escorted around the city
by police cars and had a armed plainclothes officer
on the bus whenever we were touring.
The pyramid of Khaefra (Khephren) with its revetment stones
still attached near the top. The marble along the sides of the pyramids
were stolen over the years for other building projects.
Notice all the tour busses.
Pyramid Khaefra with the smaller pyramid Menkaure in the left background.
The Great pyramid of Khufu (Kheops). The small building in the
front of the pyramid is a new museum housing the Royal boat of King Khufu.
The boat was found in a pit on the south side of his pyramid.
The boat has been reassembled and place in this museum
near the spot of its discover.
This sign says "no climbing" but everyone did!
Pyramids in the background.
After visiting the pyramids it was around the corner to visit the Sphinx.
The Sphinx is truly an inspiring sight. Even it the did knock his nose off.
After our morning visit to the pyramids it was time for lunch at a
nearby hotel before our afternoon tour to Sakkara.
Sakkara is an immense field of tombs, the resting place of kings,
noblemen, lesser Egyptians and mummified animals.
The building at the left is one of the 15 entrances to the mortuary
precinct of King Djoser. On the right is the step pyramid of King Djoser.
Its six steps were originally covered with smooth and polished white
limestone from the quarries of Tura near Cairo. The limestone
pieces were stolen later for other building projects.
The entrance hall to the complex of Djoser.
Another view of the Step Pyramid!
Buildings located in the area in front of the Step Pyramid. They were originally tombs.
Ancient statues found near the Step Pyramid.
On our way back to our hotel we had a brief stop at a carpet school.
The premise was that the carpet business was training
school age students to weave carpets.
The students worked at the carpet school 3 days a week and
were very agile and fast at their weaving tasks. There was a carpet
showroom upstairs in the building where the carpets were sold.
In general it appeared that the carpets were not a bargain as they
were drastically over priced.
This evening I returned to the Sphinx area of Giza for a sight and sound show.
It was narrated color show using lights in the pyramids and the
Sphinx to illustrate the history of ancient Egypt.
On March 29th I took an optional day long trip to Alexandra.
At a little before 9 am, we boarded this train for a two and half hour ride to Alexandra.
It was a neat ride and the scenery along the route was very interesting.
Arriving in Alexandra. This city is the second-largest in Egypt and
one of the of the most important strongholds of the Roman empire .
Our first tour stop in the city was at Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
It is a beautiful new library built in downtown Alexandra.
It is very state of the art with technology used throughout the building.
We also stood in this courtyard space to view the solar eclipses
that occurred at around 1 pm this day. It was wonderful to view this solar event first hand.
This is a view of the study area of the library. The building has 6 levels.
A view of the reflecting pool outside of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Our next stop was at the Alexandra National Museum.
No photos allowed inside!
There were some interesting exhibits on the museum's three floors.
This was the hotel where we had a superb lunch before going to our next stop.
I am in the gardens at Montazah. Because it was early spring the
flowers were not out in great numbers.
The castle in the background was the summer of King Farok of Egypt.
Next stop was at a beach on the Mediterranean Sea near the
gardens we walked through.
The water was on the cool side but it was a beautiful sunny day.
Our last stop in Alexandra, was at Qait Bay Fort for a photo opt.
The fort is on the site of the fallen Alexandra Lighthouse.
The place was crawling with street venders. They had everything to
sell from copies of Egyptian artifacts to cheap Rolex watches.
Thus our day ended. We had a several hour ride
ahead of us on a tour bus. It was a great day!
Thursday morning found our tour taking us on a trip around Cairo.
The tour was called "Spiritual Cairo" and started with a visit to the Citadel.
Pictures above is a view of the large walls that surrounded the citadel.
The Mohamed Ali Mosque is located in the middle of the Citadel.
It is a structure like the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
Standing in the courtyard of the Mosque.
The entrance to the Mosque. I had to remove my shoes before entering.
Inside the Mohamed Ali Mosque.
The ornate staircase inside the Mosque.
Stranding in front of the Mohamed Ali Mosque.
A view of a building in the Coptic Quarter in the oldest part of the city.
We did a walking tour of the quarter visiting several churches in the quarter.
Workman repairing a building on the edge of the Coptic Quarter.
The had no power tools just hammers and chisels.
Our last stop of the morning was the Khan El Khalili Bazaar.
It quite the place! Many, many shops selling all type of merchandise.
Bartering was the name of the game here.
We finished the tour with lunch at a floating ship local restaurant on the Nile River
Then it was back to the hotel to pack for our early morning departure to Luxor.
Upon arriving in Luxor we were bussed to Luxor Temple for a walking tour.
We could not board the River Anuket until around noon time.
I am standing at the entrance to the Temple.
The twin statues are of Ramesses II, the sole remaining obelisk
is of Ramesses II dominate the entrance to the temple.
The Court of Amenhotep III with its double rows of columns.
A few of many very large statues found in the temple.
Checking out the one of the many drawings found on the walls of the Temple.
Some of the many columns found in the sanctuary of Amenophis III.
A row of human-headed sphinxes in the facade of the Luxor Temple.
The human-headed sphinxes were very beautiful to observe.
After our tour of the Luxor Temple we were transferred to our river cruise.
The gang plank of the M/S Anuket. Once checked in, we had lunch
and the balance of the afternoon was spent unpacking and exploring the ship.
My first sunset on the Nile River. It was a beautiful sight!
Our first full day on the Nile River was started with an early
start tour of the Valley of the Kings.
One of the many tomb entrances found in the valley.
The mountains that surround the valley are very rugged.
The area receives very little rain annually.
Natives busy screening dirt that has been excavated from a tomb entrance.
Entering the Tomb of Tuthmosis IV. It was an interesting tomb.
Getting to the burial chamber required going down
several sets of stairs and ramps.
Standing outside one of the tombs. All required climbing down stairs and ramps.
Some tombs were very deep in the ground.
There were many beautiful places to have your picture
taken in the Valley of the Kings!
Next stop of the morning tour was at the Valley of the Queens.
We visited a couple of tombs located there. They were not as difficult to
enter as some from the Valley of Kings. Queen Nefertari was
the principal wife of Ramses II, with whom she had achieved
almost equal status by the end of his reign.
Our tour group hiking to one of the tombs.
One of the native guard's at the Valley of the Queens tombs.
Our last stop of the morning was at a the Colossi of Memnon
where new excavation site near this Valley of the Queens
site have made recent discoveries were yielding many old treasures.
These two statues were discovered and reassembled after their discovery.
They originally fronted the mortuary temple of Amenophis III.
We returned to the ship for lunch and began to sail to Quena.
It was a five hour plus trip and we were able to stay
on deck to enjoy the Nile scenery.
A goat herder and his flock as we sailed up river.
A group of women doing their wash in the river.
Sunset over the Nile River at Qena.
Our day started by disembarking at Qena for an excursion to Dendera.
I am standing in at the riverfront park at Qena.
This town has spend time and money to create an attractive
river front location for cruise ships to dock.
Dendera is situated on the west bank of the Nile, south of Abydos, in Upper Egypt.
The site has a long history of occupation ever since the earliest dynasties.
This is the Temple of Hathor, Goddess of music and love.
It stands guard over the entrance temple grounds.
It is the best preserved and best known temple in Egypt.
The present temple building was begun before the reign of Ptolemy VIII.
A section of the brick wall that surrounded Dendera.
I am standing in the front courtyard where the statue of
God Bess, the God of Entertainment is displayed.
Some of the ancient drawings found on the walls of the various
buildings standing at Dendera. There were many such
drawings throughout the temple buildings.
One of the three temples that have survived over the years.
One of the ancient buildings at Dendera.
After our two hour stay at Dendera we returned to the Anuket in time for lunch.
Throughout the trip we were escorted by armed police and military guards.
They accompanied our tour bus in Cairo and Alexandra.
Many times they stopped traffic so we could keep moving to our next stop.
It was like being in a presidential caravan. Each time we
traveled by bus we had an armed plain clothed police on the bus.
These armed guards were on the Anuket while we sailed to Gena and back.
The were packing some serious armor. They sat on the rear of the upper
deck the whole time we cruised. They kept asking us to take their picture
and then wanted a tip for posing for the photo.
The balance of the afternoon we spent sailing back to Luxor.
It was a longer trip because we were sailing against the Nile River current.
Above is a river ferry carrying tractors and wagons loaded with sugar cane.
They are headed for a sugar refining mill across the river.
Cattle grazing at the river edge.
Another day ends for the river cruise!
Monday, April dawned clear with the promise of a hot sunny day.
The entrance to the Temple of Amon-Re at Karnak.
The Temple of Karnak was known as Ipet-isut (Most select of places)
and was dedicated to the Theben triad of Amen, Mut and Khonsu.
The temple complex consists of three main temples,
smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples.
Ram-headed sphinxes deposited in the first court of the temple.
Standing in front of the ram-headed sphinxes.
Note the statue small statues under the chin of the statues.
More ran-headed sphinxes in the inner court.
One of the two standing obelisks, framed in a temple portal.
A museum worker excavating in a shaft in a part of the temple.
He is screening dirt he is digging from the inside of this shaft.
Statues found on the temple grounds. There were
numerous statues place throughout the temple complex.
After our visit to the Temple of Karnak we sailed up river to Esna.
This is one of the barge/boat set ups we passed as we sailed along.
Fishermen on the river. The young boy in the back of the boat
is driving the fish into the circular net they have placed in the water.
The slapping action drives the fish into the net.
A sugar cane boat that will deliver the cane to the sugar mill nearby.
We passed another river cruise boat heading for Luxor.
As we waited to enter a river lock at Esna we were treated to a visit by local salesmen.
They were trying to sell a wide variety of items from their row boats.
A beautiful sunset over the Nile River ended another day of touring and sailing.
Tuesday, April 4th arrived with a beautiful sunrise in the east.
The Nile was alive with boat traffic!
We arrived at Edfu at 9 am. There were several cruise
ships already docked at the river landing. Edfu was the
Greek city of Apollinopolis Magna and is a religious and commercial center.
There were many natives selling all types of Egyptian items along the waterfront.
We had a short bus ride to the Temple of the Falcon God Horus.
I was greeted to the temple by this statue of the Sphinx.
The temple is considered by most to be the best preserved cult temple in Egypt.
The entrance to the Temple. Note the carvings found on the walls.
Every wall in the temple had carvings on it.
Standing beside the Horus Falcon.
Floral columns in hall of hypostyle dwarfed the visitors walking through.
The peristyle forecourt in the temple of Horus.
There were 32 columns set on the three sides of the forecourt.
One set of early of inscriptions found on the walls of the temple.
At noon, we returned to the Anuket for lunch and the
beginning of our afternoon sail to Kom Ombo. It would take the ship about 5 hours before we landed.
The river was very busy with many cruise ships traveling up and down the Nile.
We passed many interesting boats as we sailed to Kom Ombo.
This was a modern day paddle wheeler.
We arrived at Kom Ombo around 6 pm. We immediately disembarked
for a walking tour of the Kom Ombo which is the ancient site of
Ombos or City of Gold. Pictured above is the entrance to the
Temple of Kom Ombo. Our tour was during the
early evening when the temple was illuminated.
One of the columns from the court. Capitals and parts of the stem have been lost.
There were many famous relief's found in the temple.
The entrance to the temple well which was located by the side of the building.
The well also served as a Nilometer.
After our early evening tour of the temple, it was back to the
M/S Anuket for the Egyptian Dinner Buffet. A Galabeya Party
was scheduled after dinner in the lounge bar.
We were requested to dress in native style for the dinner.
I went all out as you can see. Pictured with me is
Mohamed Anwar my group's tour manager. It was a fun evening.
I am not sure that the Lincolnshire is ready for an Arabian dressed neighbor.
I awoke to our river cruiser sailing up river to Aswan.
There were lots of cruise ships sailing in both directions.
This one is passing our ship.
Felucca's were out in full force this sunny morning on the Nile River at Aswan.
Later in the afternoon, I went on a sail on a Felucca like these pictured.
At 9 am we were off on a bus trip to visit the High and Old Dams at Aswan.
This is a photo from the road at the top of the Old Dam.
The view of Lake Nasser from the top of the High Dam.
Our next stop on our morning tour was at the Temple of Philae.
To reach the temple site we had to take a 15 minute small boat ride.
This temple was nearly lost under water when the high
Aswan Dam was built in the 1960's. The temple was
rescued by a joint operation between the Egyptian
government and UNESCO. The temple was taken apart and reassembled
at it's present island location. This picture show the entrance
building to the Temple. This main the main temple being
dedicated to the Goddess Isis.
It was built by Pharaoh Ptolemy VI.
The imposing esplanade leading to the entrance of the temple (pylon).
The kiosk of Trajan at Philae.
Admiring a sphinx statue in the temple grounds.
After our tour of the Temple of Philae we returned to the ship for lunch.
At 3:30 pm we embarked on our Felucca sail on the Nile River.
It was very enjoyable and we were back on board in
time to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Nile River.
My last day at Aswan started early! I was awakened by a wake up call at 4 am.
Today's tour was to Abu Simbel and we had an early flight.
This is the Aswan airport. I was flying on Egypt Air to Abu Simbel.
It was a 45 minute flight.
The temple entrance is behind me. It is awesome to see the two rock
temples at Abu Simbel, they are mighty monuments
of the "Builder Pharaoh" Ramesses II. The main temple was first entered in 1817.
It is before 9 am and the temple site is already mob with visitors.
The sun was just right for taking photos.
This is known as the facade of the great temple of Ramesses II.
Nearby is the facade of the lesser temple of Abu Simbel, it is dedicated to
Nefertari and the goddess Hathor. Both temples were open to visitors.
It was difficult to see much as both had lines to enter and were very humid when you inside.
Both temples were saved from destruction by a world wide UNESCO
Nubian Rescue Campaign. When the construction of the
Aswan High Dam jeopardized the very existence of these and
other monuments in Nubia along the Nile River. Countries from around the world
responded to UNESCO's call for help. The rescue project started in 1960 and was concluded 1980.
The Great Temple of Ramesses II and the small Temple of Hathor and Nefertari
were totally dismantled and rebuilt with the same alignment on an artificial hill 65 meters above,
and 180 meters behind their original location. It was a terrific engineering accomplishment.
A last photo with the Small Temple of Hathor and Nefertari in the background.
This was a wonderful trip and I will long remember the sights of Egypt.