Antiquities of Egypt: Cairo, Luxor & Aswan

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Day 1

Upon arrival to Cairo International Airport you will be met and assisted through immigration formalities, baggage collection and to the exit.  Here you will be met by an Alluring Africa representative, and transferred to Marriott Mena House Hotel where you will stay for three nights. 

 

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Day 2

You will be collected from your hotel by a an Egyptologist guide for a Private Full Day sightseeing tour, including The Pyramids, Memphis, Sakkara and the Step Pyramid of Zoser.

The only present-day survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, they are among the world’s greatest tourist attractions and never lose their ability to inspire and overwhelm visitors. You will be inspired by these fabulous monuments, as you explore the mysteries of its ancient past.

Travel to Memphis, one the glorious Old Kingdom capital of Egypt, which has almost completely vanished. It is believed that the city wasp founded around 3100 BC, probably by King Menés, when Upper and Lower Egypt were first united. It had many splendid palaces and gardens, and was one of the most renowned and populous cities of the ancient world. Like most Egyptians cities with any degrees of importance, Memphis also had it own deity, the all-powerful creator-god Ptah, who formed the world with words from his tongue and heart. Even as late as the 5th century BC, long after Thebes had taken over as capital of Egypt, Memphis was described by the Greek historian Herodotus as a ‘prosperous city and cosmopolitan center’. Its enduring importance, even then, was reflected in the size of its cemetery of the west bank of the Nile, an area replete with royal pyramids, private tombs and sacred animal necropolises. This city of the dead, centered at Saqqara, covers 30 km along the edge of the desert, Dahshur to Giza.

When Memphis was the capital of Egypt, during the Old Kingdom period, Saqqara was its necropolis. Deceased Pharaohs, family members and sacred animals ère ceremoniously transported from Memphis to be permanently enshrined in one of the myriad temples, pyramids and tombs at Saqqara. In the 3000 years between the foundation of Memphis and the end of the Greek rule under the Ptolemies, the necropolis grew till it covered a

seven kilometer stretch of the Western Desert. The Step Pyramid, possibly Egypt’s first and the oldest stone structure of its size in the world, was just one of the many funerary monuments and temples built in the area. In terms of the value of what has been and has yet to be uncovered, there are few archaeological sites in the world that compare with Saqqara; yet apart from the Step Pyramid, the necropolis was virtually ignored by archaeologists until mid-19th century, Wen Auguste Mariette found the Serapeum. Even the massive mortuary complex surrounding Zoser’s Step Pyramid wasn’t discovered and reclaimed from the sand until 1924, and it still being restored.

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Day 3

You will be collected from your hotel by an Egyptologist guide and taken on a Private Full Day Tour to explore old Cairo with its architectural beauties and old glory.

The Egyptian Museum is the most important depository of Egyptian antiquities anywhere in the world. It features artifacts from the Pharaonic and Graeco-Roman periods, including the celebrated mummies of ancient Egypt and Tut Ankh Amun treasures.

Head to the Citadel – a complex of three mosques and four museums. Salah al Din began building the Citadel in 1176 to fortify the city against the Crusaders, and over the centuries it has been modified and enlarged with the palaces and buildings of subsequent rulers and governments.  Mohammed Ali, one of the last rulers to reside in the Citadel, leveled most of the buildings of the Mameluke period to build his own mosque and palace. And it was in a narrow rock-hewn passage near one of the Citadel’s front gates that he sealed his control over Egypt with the massacre of the Mamelukes.

Also, known as the Alabaster Mosque, the Mohammed Ali Mosque and mausoleum was built by Mohammed Ali between 1830 and 1848. His gilt tomb is on the right as you enter. Although the interior is vast, it is badly decorated. The gingerbread clock in the central court has never worked; it was given to Mohammed Ali by King Louis-Philippe of France in return for a Pharaonic obelisk from Luxor that still stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The most spectacular features of the mosque are outside – its huge dome and half-domes and tall, slim minarets are very impressing.

Proceed to the fascinating Khan El-Khalili Bazaar – reputed to be the largest bazaar in the Middle East. Originally founded as a watering stop for caravanserai in the 14th century, the bazaar has now grown to vast proportions. As you wander through the labyrinth of narrow streets you will find workshops and stalls selling all manner of things from woodwork, glassware and leather goods to perfumes, fabrics and Pharaonic curiosities.

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Day 4

You will be collected from you hotel by an Alluring Africa  representative and transferred to the airport for the scheduled flight to Luxor.  Upon arrival, after collecting your baggage, proceed to the exit.  Here you will be met by an Alluring Africa representative for your transfer to the Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor where you will stay for two nights. 

Visit the Luxor Temple, which was built by the two great pharaohs, Amenhotep III and Ramses II. After touring the temple, you will travel along an avenue of ram-headed Sphinxes, extending for about two miles, which link Luxor Temple with Karnak Temple, the center of worship in ancient Egypt. No site in the world makes a more overwhelming and lasting impression than this “Temple of all Temples.” 

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Day 5

After breakfast, cross the Nile from Luxor, where you will visit the Valley of the Kings which includes the tombs of the Thebian rulers. Next, tour the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, the only woman pharaoh to reign in ancient Egypt (in the new Kingdom). Her temple, with its impressive architecture, is traditionally associated with Hathor, the goddess of love and joy. It was formerly surrounded by tropical gardens with plants imported from Somali land. Later, tour the Valley of The Queens and the famous Colossi of Memnon, which once guarded the entrance to the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III. The temple was destroyed by an earthquake but the Colossi still remain. 

The afternoon is at leisure. 

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Day 6

After breakfast, depart for Aswan by road.  At Edfu visit the Horus Temple. Edfu lies 100 kilometers south of Luxor and is the site of one of the greatest and best preserved temples of ancient Egypt. The temple, completed during the Ptolemic age (305-30 B.C.), was dedicated to Horus and provides a wealth of information through its inscriptions, which describe the founding and construction methods of similar temples, as well as daily rituals and myths of ancient times.

Continue to Kom Ombo, which has, since earliest times, received visitors who have traveled through the Libyan and Arabian deserts from Sudan caravan routes. The town of Ombos gained administrative importance during the Ptolemic age as it protected the southern border of Egypt and in the Roman period was a military station.  After lunch on board, and afternoon tea, visit the temple shared by two gods: Sobek and Haeroris. The temple has a double sanctuary and is dedicated to two divinities: Haroeris (Horus the Elder) and Sobek (the Crocodile God).

Reach Aswan this afternoon, where you will stay at Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel for two nights. 

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Day 7

After breakfast, visit the high dam, the granite quarries and the temple of Philae.  

The old dam was built by Sir W. Wilcock on behalf of the British authorities in 1898. It was constructed from granite quarried in the Aswan area and the official opening took place in 1902. In the 1960’s, a new dam was built by the Egyptian government. On the island of Philae, now situated between the High Dam and the “old” dam, is the sacred complex of monuments built for the cult of Isis and Osiris. Philae was built under the Ptolemies and finished in Roman times.

This afternoon board a traditional Nile felucca and sail around Kitchener’s Island, home to one of the most spectacular botanical gardens in the world. Kitchener’s Island is considered Aswan’s second major island; it was given to Lord Kitchener as a gift in recognition of his efforts in the Sudan Campaign. Hear about the history of the island and how Kitchener transformed it into a small and exotic paradise that boasts lush vegetation.

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Day 8

After breakfast you will transfer to the Aswan Airport for the scheduled flight to Cairo.  Or you have an option to include an excursion by air to Abu Simbel (additional charge) before continuing to Cairo. 

Upon arrival in Abu Simbel, after collecting your baggage, proceed to the exit.  Here you will be met by an Alluring Africa representative and transferred to the famous temples of Ramses II and his favorite wife Nefertari.  On the short walk to the temple entrances, your guide will explain the history of the site, including details of the UNESCO-led relocation of the entire cliff face to higher ground, and how the temples were discovered by accident in 1813. Due to the large number of visitors to Abu Simbel, guides are not permitted inside, either the Great Temple of Ramses II, or the smaller Temple of Hathor. However, by using photos and illustrations, your guide will explain to you the structures and their interior artworks. You will then have free time to enter the temples and explore them at your leisure. As one of the few ancient Egyptian sites which largely escaped damage by past invaders, the interiors of Abu Simbel’s temples are astounding. The scale of the buildings and their detailed decoration leaves most visitors in awe. The temples’ attraction is further enhanced by their scenic location on the edge of Lake Nasser in the orange sands of the desert.

Upon arrival in Cairo, you will be met and transferred to Intercontinental City Stars where you will stay for one night.  The balance of the day is at leisure. 

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Day 9

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Cairo International Airport for your homebound flight.