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I T I N E R A R Y

Bedouin Castle: Hotel, Safari, Nile Tours © 2013

EGYPT  AS  YOU'VE  NEVER  SEEN  IT

              13 December to 23 December 2015





 

SITES INCLUDED:
CAIRO/GIZA: Dashur, Saqqara and Giza pyramids, Sphinx, Egyptian Museum, Khan el-Khalili,
ASWAN: Nobles’ tombs, Elephantine Island temples, Nubian village, Philae temple complex, Kirshner’s Island & Botanical Gardens,

               Nubian/Egyptian museum, Nubian Village, Kelebsha complex (Lake Nasser).
NILE CRUISE:  Kom Ombu: Haoeris/Sobek temple; Edfu: Horus temple; Esna Locks (2 full days sailing), Sufi/Belly Dance party. 
LUXOR:East Bank, West Bank
              EAST BANK: Karnak, Luxor temple, Oriental Bazaar,
              WEST BANK: Valley of the Queens, Hatshepsut’s temple, Deir el-Medina, Donkeys over the ridge between Deir el-Medina to

              the  Valley of the Kings (Spectacular view), and three tombs at the Valley of the Kings. Belly Dancing lessons with live musicians

              during a fabulous Farewell party.
DENDARA: Temple of Hatho

 SPECIAL INCLUSIONS that are not normally in other tours:
 * Small boats through the
Aswan cataracts,

 * Kelebsha temple complex (by boat on Lake Nasser): Combination Nubian and ancient Egyptian art and architecture.

 * Winter Solstice sunrise at Karnak,
 *
Outdoor museum at Karnak (Amarna, Sekhmet, Chapelle Rouge).
 *
Deir el-Medina (colorful and exquisite tombs of the artisans who decorated the Valley of the Kings’ tombs),
 *
Valley of the Queens (Nefertari’s tomb is an option)

 * Belly dancing lessons from a top dance artist.
 *
A donkey ride from Deir el-Medina to the Valley of the Kings.  This route takes about an hour but the views are spectacular as we

   ride on top of the ridge separating Deir el-Bahri (to the east) and the Valley of the Kings (to the west).  We stop on top of the ridge

   between the two to have lunch and enjoy the view.  Part of this route was taken by the ancient workers of Deir el-Medina when going to

   work in the royal tombs at the Valley of the Kings.
 * On Winter Solstice we take the ancient route beginning at Karnak, across the Nile, to the West bank Mortuary temples that the ancients

   used during the important “Beautiful Feast of the Valley” festival when the living threw a week-long annual party for the dead.
 * We spend
two days (not the usual one day) in Luxor’s West Bank.  On one day we will see all of the tombs/temples belonging to

   female pharaohs and queens – and the next day we visit tombs and temples belonging to the male pharaohs and their highly skilled

   workmen who built these fabulous resting places.
 *
A special e-handbook will be provided for our guests that outlines: the sites we visit, temple plans, descriptions of ancient Egypt’s

   gods and goddesses, descriptions of the various Afterlife Books, a mini-hieroglyphic dictionary, New Kingdom royal family tree, and a

   page of words and phrases (Arabic/English) that are helpful for tourists.
 * Everything listed on the itinerary AND your guide is a
university-educated ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman

   archaeologist/archaeo-astronomer who has lived in Egypt for the past 11 years and worked on excavations or surveys at most of the s

   sites we will visit.

 NOT INCLUDED: Personal items, trip insurance, alcohol/beer, international plane tickets to/from Cairo, Egyptian Tourist Visas ($15 at the

                              Cairo airport), taxi fares for private use.
 NOTE: We reserve the right to change the itinerary if there are security concerns. If this happens we will do our best to include all of the

             sites.  If certain sites are no-go’s due to security reasons, we will include other sites not listed on this itinerary to make up the

             difference in scheduling.
 

 

DAY 1 (13 Dec Sunday): Upon your arrival in Cairo, you will be met at the airport by

our representative after collecting your bags.  He will then take you to your hotel in

Giza, the Barcelo, where you can relax, have dinner at one of its many restaurants, or

swim in their pool with a view of the Giza pyramids.  B (Breakfast) included.
Barcelo Pyramids hotel website:http://www.barcelo.com/barcelohotels/es_

es/hoteles/egipto/el-cairo/hotel-barcelo-cairo-pyramids/descripcion-general.aspx

 

DAY 2 (14 Dec Monday): Today we visit one of the oldest necropolis in Egypt – Saqqara – where the first monolithic structure in the world was built, the Step pyramid of Djoser.  We will also go inside the pyramid of the 5th dynasty king Teti, as well as several Old Kingdom nobles’ tombs next to Teti’s pyramid.

       Then we travel south to Dashur, which features the first true Egyptian pyramid belonging to the pharaoh Snefru, Khufu’s father.  Also on the site is the famous Bent Pyramid as well as several Middle Kingdom mud brick pyramids. 

       Afterwards, we return to our Giza hotel, relax, and enjoy the pool or spa services as well as a buffet dinner. Breakfast (‘B”) and dinner (“D”) are included. 

OPTION: the Serapeum at Saqqara (all guests must participate).

 

DAY 3 (15 Dec Tues):  After breakfast we are off to the Giza Plateau to visit the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, where we can stand between its paws facing the stele made by Thutmose IV in the New Kingdom, commemorating his removal of the 1000 years of sand that collected around it.  We will also go inside of Khufu’s pyramid (the “Great Pyramid”).

        Afterwards, we visit a perfume shop that makes essences with flowers from the Siwa Oasis.  They also have unique packages for your seven body chakras.  In the afternoon we relax and take a swim at our hotel. 

       Later we visit the great Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square and then on to the fabulous Khan el-Khalili bazaar.  Dinner will be either at the hotel or at a suitable restaurant in the Khan el-Khalili.  B, D.

 

DAY 4 (16 Dec Weds); In the morning we fly to Aswan at 12pm.

       After collecting our bags we go by small boat to Kelebsha Island on Lake Nasser and view the four temples there amidst the fantastic backdrop of Lake Nasser.

       We continue on to our hotel, the Isis Pyramisa, which is located on its own island and has free boat taxi service to Aswan where you might want to have fun in the local bazaar, which features a mixture of African, Nubian and Egyptian items.  If not, spend the rest of the day relaxing, exploring our private island, or swimming in the hotel pools. B, D.

Website Isis Pyramisa hotel:

http://pyramisaegypt.com/pyramisa-isis-aswan-2/

 

DAY 5 (17 Dec Thus): At 10 am we board our small boat from our island hotel and cruise thru the cataracts of Aswan, which are filled with many beautiful plant species and exotic birds. 

       Then our boat takes us to the island of Elephantine where we check out the temples of Khnum and Satet.

       Afterwards we sail further north, stopping at Kirshner’s island which is a lush botanical garden filled with exotic plants from the the Far and Middle East, India, and Africa.  Here we enjoy our snakes and refreshments before moving further north by boat, to the Nobles’ tombs, which sit high on a cliff where you can get an extraordinary view of Aswan and the Nile. B,S,D.

 

DAY 6 (18 Dec Fri): In the morning we say good bye to our Island resort and move on to our 5-star cruise boat, the Royal Ruby.  Here we have an early lunch before taking our bus, and then boat, to the Philae complex (the cult center for Isis). 

       Afterwards we take our small boat to the Nubian Village and enjoy the culture and architecture.  B,L,D.

Royal Ruby Cruise ship website:

http://www.nilesun.com/nile-cruise/royal-ruby-nile-cruise.html

 

DAY 7 (19 Dec Sat): In the morning sail down the Nile (to the north) to the exquisite temple of Haoeris and Sobek at Kom Ombu.  Afterwards we visit their new museum full of large and small mummified crocodiles (Sobek was the crocodile god).

       After returning to our cruise boat we go north once again, stopping at Edfu to visit the temple of Horus, one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt. Tonight we sleep on our cruise boat while docked at Edfu. B,L,D.

 

DAY 8 (20 Dec Sun):  We enjoy another day of sailing down the Nile and experience going thru the Nile locks with the crazy vendors who throw their wares (usually galabiyas in plastic bags) up to you on our cruise ship. If you wish to purchase, agree on a price, put the money in the back (which also has a rock in it) and throw it back down to them.  It’s pretty hysterical. We continue sailing north until we come to our dock at Luxor in the afternoon. 

       Then we travel by bus to the Oriental bazaar in Luxor; afterwards we enjoy the beautiful Luxor temple at sunset.  We then return to our cruise ship and get ready for the big farewell party tonight with live music, Belly and Sufi dancing.  B,L,D.

    

DAY 9 (21 Dec Mon):  In the morning we leave the cruise boat and check into our hotel on the West Bank, the Gezira Gardens.  Then we start touring the West Bank to temples and tombs of female pharaohs, queens, and goddesses. 

        First stop will be the Valley of the Queens: these tombs have some exquisite and unusual scenes.  If all will agree to an option, we will next visit Nefertari’s tomb.

       Then we move on to Deir el-Bahri, the site of the outstanding Hatshepsut temple, build by the great female pharaoh, Hatshepsut. 

       Afterwards we take a drive north (while eating our lunches) to the beautiful temple of Hathor in Dendera.  The astronomical scenes in this temple are fabulous and well preserved.  A very good copy of the famous Dendera Zodiac is on the ceiling (the original is in the Louvre), and the Hathor-headed columns are in extremely good shape.  This is one of my favorite temples. 

       Afterwards, we return to our hotel, relax, swim, and eat in the Bedouin-style dining room.  B,L,D             OPTION: Nefertari’s tomb, must be agreed to by all guests. 

Gezira Gardens website:

http://www.el-gezira.com/E/garden.htm

 

DAY 10 (22 Dec Tue):  Winter Solstice.  We get up early today to watch the Winter Solstice sunrise thru the main portals of the Amun temple in the Karnak complex.  As this temple was aligned to Winter Solstice sunrise we will see the sun in the middle of the portals, especially at the eastern entrance. 

       Afterwards we explore Karnak and go thru its outdoor museum which features Sekhmet statues from the Mut Precinct, a huge wall scene in the Amarna style, and several smaller chapels, one made out of alabaster (fabulous) and the other belonging to Hatshepsut, “the Red Chapel” made out of red granite. 

       Then we follow the path the ancients took to celebrate the Feast of the Beautiful Valley.  We travel by private boat across the Nile from Karna, then by bus, past Seti’s mortuary temple, to Deir el-Bahri.  Then turning south along “Temple Row” where all the other mortuary temples are located where the living celebrated their annual feast with their royal ancestors.  

       We then stop at Deir el-Medina (the ancient Workmens’ Village) and explore some of the most vivid scenes inside the tombs of these great artisans. 

       Afterwards, our donkeys are waiting for us to take a ride to the Valley of the Kings, partway along the ancient path of the workmen of those royal tombs.  We enjoy our box lunch atop a high ridge looking down on Deir el-Bahri to the east, and the Valley of the King’s to the west.   

       We then descend down into the Valley of the Kings to visit three of the best tombs:  Siptah, Tawosret, and Rameses III.

       We return to our hotel and get ready for our final dinner together and enjoy learning how to belly dance at our farewell party with live music and one of the best instructors in Luxor. B,L,D.

 

DAY 11 (23 Dec Wed):  After check-out, we fly to Cairo so you can catch your international flights home.  Thanks and Bon Voyage. 

NOTE: If you wish to stay in Cairo for an extra day or two we would be happy to arrange a hotel and transportation to and from the Cairo airport.  

 

 

ADDITIONAL OPTIONS:

#1  The Serapeum at Saqqara (all guests must participate). TIX LE100 (=~$16).

#2   Extra day (or two) in Cairo at the end of the tour.  This will give you a chance to

         visit the Citadel and Coptic Cairo, and any place you with to revisit.

#3   The tomb of Nefertari in Luxor

#4   White Desert safari between Farafra and Bahariya oases (see itinerary below).

 

 

WHITE CHRISTMAS IN THE WHITE DESERT

(Desert Safari: 23 Dec to 27 Dec)

 

DAY 11 (23 Dec Wed):  If you choose to stay then today we head west to Egypt’s great Western Desert and the Bahariya Oasis where we will relax, have dinner, and enjoy the magnificent views from your hotel over the palm groves and surrounded by towering sand cliffs. B,L,D.

Bedouin Castle Hotel website:

www.bedouincastle.com

 

DAY 12 (24 Dec Thurs): After breakfast your White Desert Safari begins. 

       Today’s stops will be at: Crystal Mountain (giant ancient geode full of quartz crystals), and then we go totally off road for the rest of the day. 

       From Crystal Mountain we head south thru the sand dunes, moon landscape, and unusual brilliant white chalk formations of Aqabat. 

       We end up in the White Desert where we watch the sunset while our crew sets up our Bedouin camp, complete with Bedouin wind breaks and tents, carpets, low tables and a fantastic barbeque dinner.  Enjoy Christmas Eve under the stars and nearly full moon in the tranquility and other-earthliness of the White Desert.  B,L,D.

NOTE:  Due to security reasons every once in a while the army forbids sleeping in the White Desert.  If this happens we can spend the day, return to a location closer to the Bahariya Oasis and sleep under the stars, or, stay overnight again at the Bedouin Castle.  We can revisit the areas we missed on the next day.

 

DAY 13 (25 Dec Fri):  Christmas Day comes with us surrounded by pure white rock inselbergs and ground chalk that resembles snow.  After breakfast our safari takes us through the 30+ ft tall inselbergs that resemble many different things: Chickens, Fists, Mushrooms, Sphinxes, Sitting Dogs, Horus Birds and so forth.

        We take time to go through the Flower Deserts where 40 million year old coral and sea shells still can be found from the pre-historic Tethys sea.  We stop at a couple of small oases for lunch and just to relax. 

        Later in the afternoon we return to the Bahariya Oasis via the Black Desert which was volcanic in pre-historic time. We overnight at the Bedouin Castle hotel in Bahariya.  B,L,D.

 

DAY 14 (26 Dec Sat):  After breakfast, we take a tour of the antiquities found in the Bahariya Oasis. 

       The Museum of the Golden Mummies will be our first stop; it holds 12 mummies from the famous tomb that originally had 17,000 golden mummies from the Graeco-Roman era. 

       Then we visit the tombs of Bennentiu and Zed ef Ankh Amun – two wealthy landowners from the 26th dynasty. 

       We finish this tour with a visit to the temple of Alexander the Great – the only temple in Egypt dedicated to him. 

       Lunch at the hotel, relax for an hour, take a local tour thru the Oasis’ natural sites.  Drive through the Palm Groves, some 4-wheel driving next to the Great Salt Lake, take a hike on top of Pyramid Mt where, nearby, the largest dinosaur skeleton in Africa – maybe the world – was discovered.  Then up to English Mountain where the Brits had a WWI lookout – it has spectacular views of the Oasis and desert. 

       Return to the Bedouin Castle where dinner awaits and later, a “Farewell” Bedouin party with live music awaits you in our Bedouin Tent.  Good time to practice some of the dance moves you learned in Luxor.  And maybe learn a few of the Oasis moves as well. B,L,D.

 

DAY 15 (27 Dec Mon):  Today we return to Cairo and drop you off at the airport. Arrival time: between noon and 6pm, depending on your departure times. Shokran and Arrivederci!

 

 

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