PHARAOHS OF THE SUN

Day 1– Saturday 10th March 2012
Fly London to Cairo and on arrival transfer to the Iberotel Hotel close to the airport for one night on a room and breakfast basis.

Day 2 –  Aswan
After breakfast we take our flight to Aswan and on arrival we check in to the Movenpick Hotel on Elephantine Island for three nights on room and breakfast basis. This afternoon we see one of the hidden gems of Aswan, the relief of the sculptors Bek and Men standing before a statue of Amenhotep III. We also take to the river to look for the Akhatatus inscription and the short journey to Sehel Island where we find hundreds of inscriptions including the famous ‘Famine Stelae’. (B)

Day 3 – Sun Temple
This morning there is the chance to take the optional excursion by air to Abu Simbel, famously saved from the flooding of Lake Nasser by UNESCO in the 1960’s. This afternoon we all make the short boat journey to Kubbet el Hawa where we will enter the tombs of the Old and Middle Kingdom Nobles. Later we visit the Nubia Museum. (B)

Day 4 – Island of Isis
This morning to the Island of Aglika, to visit the Temple of Philae in its beautiful setting. Plenty of time to explore this most romantic of sites before a visit to the Unfinished Obelisk in its open air-museum. After some free time at the hotel we will go to the southern most part of Elephantine Island and walk through the ruins of ancient Yebu. This huge settlement has a timeline that leads from the Old Kingdom right through to the Greco-Roman period. (B)

Day 5 – Gebel Silsila
We take the road north to Luxor and stop at the East Bank of Gebel Silsila, the great sandstone quarry, to view the Akhenaten inscription. We continue to El Kab and enter rock cut tombs, the small temple of Amenhotep III and look at the ancient carvings on ‘Vulture Rock’. On arrival in Luxor we check  in to the Old Winter Palace, Garden Pavilion Wing for three nights on room and breakfast basis. (BL)

Day 6 – West Bank
A private launch takes us across the Nile for a visit to the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri.  We see the famous ‘Punt Reliefs’, the beautiful Hathor Chapel and the well-preserved solar shrine. Then to the Valley of the Kings, where we have entry to three tombs and the tomb of Ramesses VI. We have a rest and lunch at the Africa Restaurant before visiting some non royal tombs. First to Ramose, Vizier of Thebes whose tomb shows both classical and Amarna style reliefs, then to Userhat and Khaemhat. Next, to the legendary Ramesseum before a final stop at the Colossi of Memnon. (BL)

Day 7 – Temple of Amun
An early start for Karnak at sun rise when we will have most of the site to ourselves. We see all the major features but also look for the remnants of the Amarna Period. We return to the hotel for a late breakfast and some free time before an afternoon visit to Luxor Museum, where we find partial statues of Akhenaten and talatat blocks from his Aten temple at Karnak. Later we will enter the floodlit Luxor Temple. (B)

Day 8 – Dendera and Abydos
Today we drive to Sohag and the first stop will be the Ptolemaic Temple of Dendera where we will have a chance to see the newly cleaned ceilings and walls, free of soot for the first time in hundreds of years. Then to Abydos to view the beautiful reliefs and famous ‘King List’ carved on the walls of the Temple of Seti I. We visit the Osireion and the Ramesses II Temple. Our journey continues and we overnight on board the M/S Hotep – a floating hotel moored on the banks of the Nile in Sohag. (BLD)

Day 9 –  Akhmim and Meir
We take the short drive to Akhmim, ancient Ipu and the magnificent statue of Meritamun standing to a height of 35 feet.  We continue to the rock-hewn tombs at Meir, set in the cliff high above the valley floor, where we see some lovely scenes of daily life dating from both the Old and Middle Kingdoms. On arrival in Assyut we board the M/S Tut, another fine floating hotel, where we spend three nights on full board basis. (BLD)

Day 10 and Day 11 – El Amarna
Over the course of the two days we spend visiting Akhetaten, capital city of Akhenaten, we have an in depth guided tour with Barry who has worked this site for over 30 years. No one can possibly tell us more. We visit the tomb of Akhenaten in the Royal Wadi and explore nearby unfinished tombs, one of which may have been destined for Tutankhamun. We visit the Southern Tombs, including the tomb of Ay with the ‘Hymn to the Aten.’ Then to the Northern Tombs, before exploring the central city, palaces and Aten Temple. We also hope to walk to the Worker’s Village, the Cemetery site and Stone Village. Barry will of course give us all the news on recent work and future plans at the site. We will have a picnic lunch on both days before returning to our hotel in time for sundowners on the top deck. (BLD)

Day 12 – Cairo
After breakfast we journey north for Cairo and en-route we stop at Meidum with its spectacular pyramid and fascinating ‘Mastaba 17’. Those who wish can enter the pyramid itself or explore the mastaba tomb. On arrival in Cairo we check in to the first-class Movenpick Hotel at Giza for three nights on room and breakfast basis. (BL)

Day 13 – Giza
To the Giza Plateau for a visit to the Great Pyramids, the satellite pyramids, mortuary temples, causeways and the mighty Sphinx itself. This afternoon a guided tour of Cairo Museum focussing on solar imagery and of course the Amarna period, but with plenty of time to see all the major attractions. (B)

Day 14 – Sakkara
An exciting day as we board our four wheel drive vehicles and head to Abu Sir on the very edge of the desert, where we see the 5th Dynasty pyramids including that of Sahure, and also hope to visit Gurob. Next, we head to Sakkara, the Step Pyramid of Djoser and associated mastaba tombs, before a rest and lunch at the Sakkara Palm Club. This afternoon we are privileged to have a special permit from the SCA to visit Abu Roash and the pyramid of Djedefre. After a full exploration of the area we have time to relax and enjoy this stunning location. We have farewell drinks at the site as the sun goes down. (BL)

Day 15 – Saturday 24th March 2012
We take our private transfer to the airport for our direct EgyptAir flight to London. (B)


Expert: Barry Kemp is the director of the Amarna Project and the chairman of the Amarna Trust (University of Cambridge, UK). He has directed excavations and archaeological survey work at Amarna since 1977. Barry is author of numerous journals, texts and books including the widely renowned Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization, a must have for all Egyptology students.

 

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