Past Tours

"Cheops Solar Boat"

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Past Tours

Vietnam and Cambodia 2011
Kenya and Tanzania 2010
Egypt and Jordan 2010
UK and Northern France 2010
Turkey and Greece 2010
Italy and Sicily 2010
Egypt 09
Canada 09
Egypt 08
Italy 08
Vietnam 08
Egypt 07

Egypt - So much more than pyramids...

Each time I return to Egypt my Arabic has improved a little and each time I am delighted at the response I get from the locals when I speak to them in their native tongue. I make an effort to learn at least some of the local language in most of the countries I visit and this is always met with a very positive response from the local people. I had a particularly delightful experience at the Cairo Museum where I got the royal treatment from the restroom attendant all because I spoke to her in Arabic. She was so excited she was blowing me kisses, pushed the blockade away from the disabled toilets pushing 2 ladies out of the way who were trying to jump the queue, wiped the toilet down for me and smiled me all the way into the little room. All this just for speaking Arabic to her. She was still smiling and blowing me kisses as I walked out the door!

We arrived in Egypt during the holy month of Ramadan and everywhere traditional colourful Fanoos lanterns adorn homes and shop fronts. During Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and intimate relations with their spouse during daylight hours. After sunset and before sunrise, they may eat and drink as they please and once the sun goes down, people can be seen sharing food with family and friends as they break the fast. The vibe is friendly and everywhere is busy.

We had a wonderful guide in Cairo, a young lady by the name of Maywa who took the time to explain to us what is expected of her as a young Muslim woman, giving us a better understanding of her culture. She took us to some places of interest that were not on our itinerary such as one street in Old Cairo that has in it the Oldest Mosque, the Oldest Christian Church and the Oldest Jewish Synagogue and always explained things to us in a way that made the stories she told come alive. A very passionate young lady who is studying a PHD in Archeology so an excellent guide to have in this amazing country.

In Cairo we visited the Alabaster Mosque at the Citadel of Mohammed Ali Pasher, The Cairo Museum, Old Cairo, Memphis, Saqqara and of course The Giza Plateau where the Great Pyramids and the Great Sphinx are located. In the museum, our guide took us to each of the masterpieces and explained the history of each piece. All of the ladies went in to the Mummy room where such famous pharaohs as King Ramses II, Amenhotep I and Seti I, lie in their glass coffins before moving on to be amazed by the treasures of King Tutankhamen. I am awestruck each time I visit the collection and marvel at the beautiful jewellery and intricate workmanship of so many thousands of years ago. And the gold!! A drive through Old Cairo gives us some insight into the lives of the Egyptian people as they go about their daily routines.

At Saqqara we visited the oldest pyramid in all of Egypt, the Step Pyramid of King Djoser (also spelt Zozer) built during the 3rd Dynasty around 2800BC.

At Saqqara we had the chance to go down inside one of the pyramids. It was more like a pile of rubble but a pyramid all the same. The tunnel down inside was very narrow and you had to bend down for quite a while before being able to stand but once you are inside there is a 65 ton sarcophagus inside as well as beautiful pyramid text.

Saqqara Camel Ride

Also at Saqqara you can ride on a camel and get some great photos but be sure to agree on the price before you get on and don’t be fooled by the “free to ride” lure as it might be free to ride but it sure isn’t free to get off!! At the pyramids we visited the display of the Solar Boat of Cheops, an original boat that was found in 1954 in kit form next to the Great Pyramid and measures 150ft in length. A scale model was found with the kit to show how it was to be assembled in the next life.

Saqqara Camel Ride

From Cairo we drove along the desert road to Alexandria and to our hotel Sheraton Montazah where we overlooked the Mediterranean Sea. Alexandria, The Pearl of the Mediterranean, is a bustling city of mixed cultures that is more Mediterranean than it is Middle Eastern. It was founded by Alexander the Great in 331BC and was the setting for the stormy relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony. It also once was the location for Pharos, the legendary lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Saqqara Camel Ride

Nowadays it is a thriving, busy city that is the second largest city in Egypt. In Alexandria we visited the new modern library that was opened in 2002. After losing its libraries in antiquity, the new library has state of the art fire protection to prevent it ever happening again. We visited the Roman Ruins, the Catacombs, The Museum and Montazah Gardens before travelling back to Cairo.

Roman Theatre

After an early morning start we arrived in Luxor by plane to join our cruiser Ti-Yi for a 4 night Nile Cruise. Soon after we arrived we headed out to the Valley of the Kings where our entry ticket included 3 tombs, Ramses I, III and IV all of which are beautifully decorated with hieroglyphs and pyramid text telling us stories of life and death in ancient times. Cameras are no longer allowed inside so my photos which I took in 1998 inside the tombs are now even more precious than ever to me.

Valley of Kings

One of the highlights for all of us on this tour was the visit to the tomb of King Tutankhamen. You have been able to visit the tomb for years but only since November 2007 has the boy King’s mummy been on display to the public in a high-tech glass display case. Up until November it is estimated that only 60 people had seen the mummy first hand so we were very excited to be able to have this experience. Only a small number of people are allowed in the tomb at any given time so when we visited there was only 5 of us plus the guardian inside with thousands of years of history. The guardian took great delight in telling us the stories that are painted on the walls and was excited when I spoke to him in Arabic. At one stage he and I were looking over the glass into the face of the King and I commented to him that he must be very proud to be the guardian of Tutankhamen, at which stage he turned to face me, put his hand on his heart and nodded as both his and my eyes filled with tears. A very, very special moment in my life.

From the Valley of the Kings we travelled on to the Valley of the Queens and the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahri. This powerful lady was one of the few women to rule Egypt and during her reign proclaimed herself Pharaoh. She dressed in men’s attire and at times is depicted wearing a false beard. It was very, very hot in the Valley and in Luxor, with the temperature at times soaring above 450C. We passed the Colossi of Memnon, 2 statues weighing over a thousand tons each and the only remains of a mortuary temple built by Amenhotep III during the 18th Dynasty.

Karnak Temple

After a wonderful lunch on board the cruise boat we visited one of my favourite places in the world, the Temple of Karnak. The largest temple complex ever built by man, it covers 247 acres of land and is situated just north of Luxor. The vast complex was built and enlarged over a period of 1,300 years by many generations of ancient builders. My most favourite part of Karnak Temple is the Great Hypostyle Hall with its 134 huge columns that tower over you. The colours and artwork still visible on them give us a glimpse of how beautiful it must have looked in antiquity. This was a wow moment for the whole group as it is an imposing building and you cannot help but stand there with your mouth open in awe. In the evening we were treated to a Sound and Light show at Karnak Temple where we heard stories of days gone by.

What a treat was in store for us the next morning when 5 of us were up before dawn and did a hot air balloon ride over the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings. It was amazing gliding slowly and quietly above the Nile and watching the suns rays rise over the stark contrast of the barren desert and the fertile Nile. It is from the air that you can see the enormity of Egypt as the whole temple complex of Queen Hatshepsut comes into view you begin to see how big it really is.

We landed at the end in a village in the fields and the local children came out to watch with looks of amazement on their faces. One little boy overhead one of the girls talking about donkeys and the next minute he had run back to the stable and bought his donkey back for us to see. The photo of the little girl in the blue dress is one of my most favourite photos that I have taken to date. It was taken with a long lens across the balloon basket as we landed in her village and I can’t begin to imagine what is going through her mind. Is she happy, is she troubled? I will never know as we were only there briefly and yet her face has left an imprint in my mind and in my heart.

We sailed from Luxor beginning our journey along the Nile River to Aswan via Esna, Edfu and Kom Ombo. The Temple of Horus at Edfu is one of the most beautifully preserved temples in Egypt as it was completely covered in sand and took 40 years to uncover. There is still original colour inside and the carvings and hieroglyphs are beautiful. We enjoyed the Ti-Yi, our cruise boat for 4 nights. The food and service was great and the view from the sun deck breathtaking. As we cruised along this majestic river we saw fishermen and farmers going about their business and women and children going about their daily lives.

Life On The Nile

In Aswan we visited the High Dam, The Temple of Philae and sailed the Nile on a traditional felucca around Kitcheners Island. No trip to Egypt is complete without a visit to Abu Simbel. The Temple Complex of Ramses II is 280kms south east of Aswan near the Syrian border on the western bank of Lake Nasser. The 4 colossal statues of Ramses The Great stand 20m high on a façade that is over 30 metres wide. The complex was moved 60metres higher and 200m back from the river in the 1960’s at a cost of USD$40 million to protect it from the rising waters of the Nile when the High Dam was constructed.

After a well earned rest overnight in Aswan we headed off to Dubai via Cairo where we spent a few hours wandering Khan el Kahlili one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East.

In Dubai we rode on the Big Red Bus and visited some of the main attractions such as Emirates Mall where there is an indoor ski field inside. All the girls on this trip were truly amazed at the wonders of Egypt and it was my absolute pleasure to share it with them.

For details of our 2009 trip to Egypt and Dubai head to our Upcoming Tours page. We are taking bookings now and numbers will be limited.

Alabaster Sphinx

"Alabaster Sphinx - Saqqara"

Shopping in Khan El Kahlili

"Shopping in Khan El Kahlili"

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