Splendors of the Nile
Marvel at the wonders of ancient Egypt as you travel through the cradle of human history and culture. Drive along the Nile valley through lush green farmland where women wash clothing at the river’s edge, and men work the fields with oxen and wooden plows, just as they did in Biblical times. Visit the Step Pyramid of Zoser, the earliest form of the pyramidal structure, at Sakkara; and at Giza, gaze upon the awe-inspiring mysterious Sphinx, the gigantic lion with a Pharaoh’s head that guards the three great pyramids. At Abu Simbel see Ramses II’s temples, carved directly into the face of a cliff. Four enormous statues of Ramses, each 65 feet high, guard the entrance.
In Luxor, begin your Nile cruise. Explore the immensely imposing Temples of Luxor and Karnak where for 2000 years successive kings added monuments and shrines. The Avenue of Ram-headed Sphinxes connects Karnak to the graceful Temple of Luxor, where the entrance is guarded by massive statues of Ramses II. Visit the Valley of the Kings, which serves as the burial grounds for some of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs, including Tutankhamen. Wander among the 134 columns of the great hypostyle hall – a forest of stone 70 feet high. At the Temple of Kom Ombo, peer into a chamber that still contains mummified crocodiles. View the Aswan High Dam, which provides Egypt’s electricity and has ended the disastrous Nile floods of times past. End in Cairo, a great and modern metropolis where two-wheeled donkey carts travel alongside luxury buses.
The sequence of touring and days may be altered to adjust to religious holidays, special closings of sites, air schedule changes, etc. Hotels listed subject to availability. Meal inclusions may vary by departure.
DAY 1 USA/FRANKFURT
Depart the USA on our transatlantic flight to Europe. (meals aloft)
DAY 2 FRANKFURT/CAIRO
Morning arrival in Frankfurt and connection with flight on to Cairo. Transfer to the Sonesta Heliopolis Hotel for dinner and overnight. (meals aloft, D)
DAY 3 MEMPHIS/SAKKARA/GIZA
This morning we drive south along the Nile through the lush green farmland of this rich river valley. Here, life has changed little from Biblical times. Women wash clothing at the river’s edge; men work the fields with oxen and wooden plows. Arriving in Memphis, the ancient capital of Lower Egypt, we visit the alabaster statue of Ramses II (probably the pharaoh of the Exodus). In Sakkara we visit the mastaba/tombs and the Step Pyramid of Zoser, the earliest form of the pyramidal structure, and prototype for the other pyramids that evolved. We also see the Tomb of Unas next to the Step Pyramid. In the afternoon we drive out to Giza, where the desert meets the Nile, and we are confronted with the towering mysterious Sphinx, the gigantic lion with a pharaoh’s head, carved out of living rock and guarding the three great pyramids of Giza! Ride a camel from the panoramic overlook down to the Sphinx and then enter one of the Giza pyramids. Four thousand years ago, Abraham also probably stood here pondering the mystery of the silent Sphinx and awestruck by the giant pyramids which were already objects of antiquity, 600 years old in his day! We also visit the Valley Temple, and then this evening we enjoy the Sound and Light performance at the pyramids. (B,D)
DAY 4 ABU SIMBEL/ASWAN
This morning we transfer to the airport for a domestic flight to Abu Simbel. This area is the site of Ramses II’s greatest temples and is carved directly into the face of a cliff. The scale here is colossal. Four enormous statues of Ramses, each 65 feet high, guard the entrance and vivid reliefs inside depict in detail his triumphs in battle. Visit the graceful nearby Temple of Hathor, built for Ramses’ favorite wife, Queen Nefertari. An international rescue effort saved Abu Simbel from the rising waters of the Nile. Later we transfer back to the airport and fly to Aswan, where we check in at the Basma Hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
DAY 5 ASWAN/KOM OMBO/EDFU
After breakfast we have an early morning transfer to the pier where we board our Presidential Nile Cruise ship. We will spend three nights on board in air conditioned comfort, enjoying fine food, excellent service and all the special amenities of our luxurious vessel. Today we see the Aswan High Dam, which provides Egypt’s electricity and has ended the disastrous Nile floods of times past. We continue to the quarries where pink-colored granite was mined; the unfinished obelisk shows how excavation took place. We then travel by boat to the exquisite Temple of Philae, which was the center of worship of the goddess Isis. In the afternoon, we visit the Temple of Kom Ombo, which sits on a small hill overlooking the Nile. It is unique in being dedicated to two gods, the hawk-headed Haroeris and the crocodile-headed Sobek. Peer into a chamber that still contains mummified crocodiles! Sail on to Edfu for overnight. (B,L,D)
DAY 6 EDFU/ESNA/LUXOR
After breakfast on board ship we go to Edfu and visit the Temple of Horus, the falcon god, described as the best preserved monument of the ancient world. Because the roof is intact, the play of light and shadow is much as it must have been in Ptolemaic times. In the courtyard is the famous granite statue of Horus as a falcon; reliefs on an outside wall show the defeat of Horus’ uncle, Seth. We continue our cruise, arriving in Luxor in the evening. (B,L,D)
DAY 7 LUXOR/KARNAK
In Luxor are some of the greatest marvels to be found anywhere in the world. We begin early for a tour of the West Bank. We stop to view the Colossus of Memnon, two huge statues which stood outside a now-destroyed temple. We continue through a forbidding desert landscape to the Valley of the Kings, which for four centuries served as the burial ground of some of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs. We enter the tomb of Tutankhamun; the stunning ceiling of the tomb of Ramses VI, showing the passage of the sun through the sky; and the exquisite tomb of Seti I, where many painted reliefs have retained vivid colors. We visit the Valley of the Queens and then visit the Tombs of the Nobles, whose scenes of idyllic Egyptian country life include hunting, harvesting and craftsmen at work. The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut lies in a dramatic setting beneath sandstone cliffs; amusing reliefs show the expedition to the Land of Punt, where the local queen rides a donkey and where Hatshepsut acquires incense trees, cattle and wild animals. Karnak’s scale is immense; for 2000 years, successive kings added monuments and shrines. We wander among the 134 columns of the great hypostyle hall – a forest of stone, 70 feet high. The towering Obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut is made of one huge block of granite. The waters of the Sacred Lake act as a reflecting pool for many of the statues and buildings. The Avenue of Ram-headed Sphinxes connects Karnak to the graceful Temple of Luxor, where the entrance is guarded by massive statues of Ramses II. This evening we enjoy a walk through the Temple of Karnak during an unforgettable Sound and Light presentation. (B,L,D)
DAY 8 LUXOR/CAIRO
We disembark this morning and fly back to Cairo. In this great metropolis of modern buildings, wide boulevards, flowering gardens and stately mosques we are struck with the contrast of old and new! High-rise hotels line the Nile River while the white-sailed feluccas (ancient native boats) ply the waters. As our luxury bus passes along modern streets, heavily laden two-wheeled donkey carts and bicycles weave in and out of the traffic. We visit the fabled Egyptian Museum, bulging with the jeweled treasures and golden artifacts of ancient Egypt. A highlight will be a visit to the mummies room which contains the mummies of the most famous pharaohs, including Ramses II. We visit the Citadel, Cairo’s fortress built in 1183, the Alabaster and Sultan Hassan Mosques, and the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. Dinner and overnight at the Sonesta Cairo Hotel, located on the Nile. (B,D)
DAY 9 CAIRO/EUROPE/USA
Morning departure on our flight to Europe with connection to our flight back to the USA. (B, meals aloft)