ABYDOS TO ABU SIMBEL

Day 1– Monday 22nd October 2012

Fly London to Luxor with EgyptAir and on arrival we take our private transfer and check in to the first-class Old Winter Palace, Garden Pavilion Wing for five nights on room and breakfast basis.

Day 2 – Abydos and Dendera

Our tour begins as we head north to Abydos to explore one of the glories of Ancient Egypt, the Temple of Seti I. The raised relief decorations in this temple are among the best in Egypt. We study the mysterious Osireion, in the Ancient Egyptian mind a candidate for the birthplace of the world, and then cross the desert sands to enter the Temple of Ramesses I I. After our picnic lunch, provided by the Winter Palace, we leave Abydos and drive to Dendera, the Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor. Here at Dendera a unique scene shows the only representation in Egypt of Cleopatra VII with her son Caesearion. (BL)

Day 3 – Temple of Amun

An early start as we head to Karnak for sunrise, a perfect time for photography. We will have a guided tour of the Precinct of Amun, including some of the private monuments of this vast site studied by Campbell. A grand highlight will be a rare chance to enter the Temple of Khonsu recently cleaned and restored by ARCE. We also visit the open-air museum to see the lovely White Chapel, the Alabaster Chapel and the reconstructed Red Chapel of Hatshepsut. Some free time at the hotel before an afternoon visit to Luxor Museum to see some of the most stunning statues in Egypt, including that of Thuthmosis I I I. This will be followed by a visit the Abu el-Hagag Mosque atop Luxor Temple and then entry to the temple itself. (B)

Day 4 – West Bank I

We take our private launch across the river and head to the Valley of the Kings. Here we enter three tombs, our guide and Campbell will suggest the best choices on the day. From here, we ascend the mountain path for a walk over the mountain of Meretsegar, ‘She who loves silence’ for the most spectacular views of the whole of the West Bank. We descend via the Worker’s Village of Deir el Medina, home to the workmen and artisans who created the tombs in the Royal Valley. After a relaxing lunch at the Africa Restaurant we drive to the Ramesseum, the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses the Great, inspiration for Shelly’s poem ‘Ozymandias’. Our last visit of the day is to Medinet Habu, the vast memorial temple of Ramesses I I I. (BL)

Day 5 – West Bank II

Once again we cross the river but this time we head to Tombs of the Nobles, the Vizier Ramose with its wonderful reliefs and Userhat and Khaemhat. At Dra’ Abul Naga we enter the colourful tombs of Roy and Shuroy. Next, to Hatshepsut’s magnifi cent temple at Deir el Bahri, which we explore at length. We take lunch at the Africa Restaurant before making the short journey to the Temple of Seti I. We visit Carter House to see an exhibition of Carter and Carnarvon’s work in Egypt, and make a final stop at the Colossi of Memnon. (BL)

Day 6 – To Nubia

We head south to Nubia and the lovely city of Aswan. En-route we visit the fascinating site of el Kab with its 18th Dynasty tombs, temples and the inscriptions at ‘Vulture Rock’. Then to the Temple of Horus at Edfu, Egypt’s most complete and best preserved cult temple. After a picnic lunch provided by the Winter Palace, we continue to the temple of Haroeris and Sobek on the banks of the Nile at Kom Ombo. On arrival in Aswan, we check in to the Movenpick Hotel on the Island of Elephantine for two nights on room and breakfast basis. (BL)

Day 7 – Aswan

We begin our exploration of Aswan with a tour of ancient Yebu on Elephantine Island itself. We see the Temple of Khnum and many monuments dating from the Old Kingdom through to the Greco-Roman period. Next to Kubbet el Hawa, to enter the tombs of Old and Middle Kingdom Nobles. After a lunch break at our hotel we visit the Unfi nished Obelisk before heading to the Temple of Isis at Philae. Later we plan an evening visit to the Nubia Museum with its many locally discovered artefacts. (B)

Day 8 – Lake Nasser

Some free time this morning before we check out of our hotel and transfer to the fi rst-class Movenpick M/S Prince Abbas. This lovely cruiser has all the usual facilities including a large sun deck, plunge pool, whirlpool, and lounge bar for afternoon tea and cocktails. We have lunch on board and then an afternoon to enjoy the comforts of the boat. (BLD)

Day 9 – Cruising through the Desert!

Our first visit will be to the Ptolemaic temple at Kalabsha near the small Ramesses Temple of Beitel Wali and the Kiosk of Qertassi on the western shore of the lake. The temples were moved to their current position to save them from the rising waters of Lake Nasser after the building of the High Dam in the 1960’s. Our day continues as we enjoy the leisurely cruise towards Wadi el- Seboua, our overnight mooring. (BLD)

Day 10 – Island Temples

Our expedition today begins at Wadi el-Seboua itself, the Wadi of the Lions, with its impressive avenue of sphinxes, and the great temple of Nubian Horus, Amun and Ramesses the Great. Next the late period Temple of Dakka founded by the Meroitic King Arkamani, and added to by Ptolemy IV. We sail on to the New Kingdom temple at Amada with its fi ne relief carvings and the Ramesses I I rock-cut temple of Derr. Here we also fi nd the small rock-cut tomb of Pennut from the time of Ramesses V I. (BLD)

Day 11– Abu Simbel

We view the fragile site of Qasr Ibrim from our cruiser as we sail towards Abu Simbel, the greatest of all the abiding monuments of Ramesses the Great. This is undoubtedly the finest way to arrive at Abu Simbel. This afternoon we have a full visit to the temples at this spectacular site and in the evening return to watch the amazing sound and light show. (BLD)

Day 12 – Return to Aswan

After breakfast we disembark from the cruiser and take the drive back through the desert to Aswan. On arrival we return to the Movenpick Hotel for one night on room and breakfast basis. The rest of the day is at leisure. (BL)

Day 13 – The Cataracts

We take a launch to Sehel Island to look at the many rock inscriptions including the famous ‘Famine Stelae’. The view of the cataract region from the island is stunning. To end our stay in Aswan we will spend some time cruising around the many islands in the area looking at the local birdlife. Later we check out of our hotel and transfer to the airport for the flight to Cairo. We check in to the comfortable airport hotel, the Iberotel for one night. (B)

Day 14 – Sunday 4th November 2012

This morning we make the short journey to the airport for our direct EgyptAir flight from Cairo to London. (B)

Expert: Campbell Price specialises in Late Period culture, and the role of statues in Ancient Egyptian society including post-New Kingdom private monuments from Karnak. He is Honorary Fellow at the University of Liverpool, and the Director of the Sakkara Geophysical Survey Project and is the author of the Egyptian section of Exploring the Ancient World (AA Books), and several chapters in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Egyptology. 

(B) = Breakfast (BL) = Breakfast and Lunch (BLD) = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner