A Journal, with Pictures

Egypt Revealed

by on Jan.22, 2019, under Happenings

We traveled to Eygpt as part of a trip sponsored by the YPO group and organized by Wendy Pangburn principle of Pangburn International (PI). The people on the trip and the PI team were absolutely great, with outstanding guides (Egyptologist), lecturers and information resources. This was not just a fabulous sightseeing experience it was an in-depth educational opportunity. We arrived a day early, and checked into the famous Mena House Hotel. The next day (normal arrival day) we had a bonus excursion to the village of Saqqara. There we saw the oldest stone structures in Egypt, the Step Pyramids 2700 BC, the tomb of Pharaoh Zoser, the Saqqara temple complex and a local rug weaving school. That evening at the opening reception and dinner the keynote speaker was Dr. Zahi Hawass, former Egyptian minister of Antiquities and world-renowned archaeologist.

January 6, 2019

January 7, 2019

The next day we visited the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and got a preview tour of the new Grand Egyptian Museum. We started at the largest pyramid the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu built between 2560 and 2580 BC. It is 481 feet high and the base is 756 feet square. It is constructed of 2.3 million blocks of limestone and granite. There are three other smaller pyramids in the complex, tombs of son and grandson of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure as well as pharaoh’s wives.

We then visited the Khufu ship which is an intact full-size vessel (143 feet long 19.6 feet wide) from ancient Egypt that was sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid. The ship now is preserved in the Giza Solar boat museum.

Next Stop the Sphinx

The new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) under construction will be 5,000,2000 square feet, housing 125,000 artifacts. We did a preview tour of the construction and some of the exhibits under development.

Finally we toured the current Egyptian Museum

The first day ended with dinner Nile riverside with Professor Salima Ikram and students from American University in Cairo. Quite a first day.

January 8, 2019

We checked out of our hotel and go by bus through the chaotic Cairo traffic to the airport. On our way, we pass by miles of blighted buildings, evidence of a weak economy and/or failed government programs. We boarded our chartered Jet for the short flight to Luxor (Thebes in ancient times) on the Nile. We boarded our home for the next few days, the Sanctuary Nile Adventurer. After lunch, we explored the Temple complex of Karnak. The complex covers over 200 acres and was in constant expansion and use for over 2000 years. It is considered one of the most sacred sites in Egypt. We visited the main restored area, that is connected by the avenue of the Sphinx. Other parts of the avenue are being excavated that connects to a secondary complex that we visited as the sun sets. The complex is across the Nile from the Tombs of the Valleys of the Kings and Queens.

January 9, 2019

We crossed the Nile in local boats for our visit to the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. Specifically, we will visit King Tuts and Rameses VI Tomb as well as Queen Nefertari’s Tomb. We passed by Queen Nefertari’s Temple and the Colossi of Memnon. Whereas the Pharaohs in the north built pyramids to house their tombs in the south, they dug the burial chambers into the sandstone mountains. There are 62 tombs identified in the Valley of the Kings, numbered in the sequence of discovery. For more information about the Tombs go to http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/ The most famous is number 62 King Tuts, which contained a trove of artifacts, primarily because it was overlooked by tomb robbers. King Tut was historically a minor king since he lived only to age 19. In the afternoon we cruised south on the Nile to the next stop which is the city of Esna.

January 10, 2019

On our cruise to Esna, we got a good view of the Nile river valley, two things that strike you is how narrow the fertile area is adjacent the river and that every village has a mosque with a minaret usually broadcasting. In Esna, we focused on the Greco-Roman Temple of Khnum. The Temple was completed around 250 AD and features 24 beautifully decorated pillars and the walls covered with reliefs. On the western exterior façade, we saw reliefs showing the god Horus (god of Victory) as well as Khnum (god of creation). The surrounding site is being dug out and there are markets catering to tourists around the excavated temple site.

In the evening its dress like an Egyptian night, and after cocktails and dinner our boat crew introduces us to Egyptian dancing. FUN!!

January 11, 2019

Overnight we cruised to the city of Kom Ombo and in the morning visited the Temple with the same name. This Temple is for the worship of two gods, Sobek: the crocodile god, and Horus the falcon god. This is a classic temple design of the Greco Roman period but made up of two parallel temples. The design starts with huge entrance structures, opening into pillared courtyards, leading to the ceremonial chamber at the back of the complex.

We then had lunch as we sail to Aswan our last stop. After lunch, we go by bus to the Philae Temple, which was rescued from underwater. After a cofferdam was built it was dismantled (40,000 pieces) and moved then reassembled on nearby Agilkia island. We then experienced a sail on the traditional Egyptian sailing boat called a felucca. After the sail we had tea at the famous Cataract Hotel at sunset before returning to the Nile Adventurer. That evening we heard from Ambassador Karim Haggag regarding Egypt’s perspective of the U.S.

January 12, 2019

We left our floating hotel and boarded our chartered Jet to Abu Simbel, the site of the Abu Simbel Temples. The Temples were built by Ramses II one of the longest reining Pharaohs in 13 century BC. The walls depict the pharaoh in his various exploits and next door is the temple dedicated to his favorite wife, Nefertari. The temples were originally carved out of the mountainside. The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, to an artificial mountain high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir to save it from submersion in Lake Nasser, once the dam was complete.

We re-boarded our jet and flew to Cairo for our last night in Egypt. On the way in from the airport we had a special treat, a private tour of Abdeen Palace. The palace was built in 1863 by order of King Ismail. It was the scene of the bloodless Coup staged by the military that ousted the last Egyptian king Farouq I in 1952. The refurbished 500 room palace has been visited by heads of state and is not open to the public. Our group was the first, non-government group to receive a tour.

After the tour, we had our last dinner in Egypt at the U.S. Embassy. The next day some returned home or continued elsewhere on their own and we join the part of the group that continues on to Jordan.

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