An Amazing Opportunity
The stars, the planets, and I think every celestial being were aligned. Along with these alignments, my lovely parents provided an opportunity for my husband and I to travel with them to the proud country of Egypt on a grand adventure. Our Viking Cruise on the mighty Nile included the following stops:
- Kom Ombo
- Wadi el Seboua (also Wadi es-Sebua)
- Kasr Ibrim (also Qasr Ibrim)
- Abu Simbel
My whole life I have had an undying love for Egypt. It is hard to express how exciting the trip was for all of us but I will do my best to explain our glorious experience here.
Majestic & Magnificent
These words describe almost everything we saw. Every temple, tomb, monument, pyramid, museum, statue, marketplace, neighborhood, mosque, and site.
- Day 1: After 3 long flights, we arrived in Cairo for a couple day stay at a hotel located on an island in the mighty Nile River.
- Day 2: We awakened to a beautiful view of the Cairo metropolis out our room window with the Pyramids at Giza shining on the outskirts of the city on the edge of the desert. We met with our marvelous egyptologist & the group leader for our trip, Ahmed, to start our day long adventure to see the Saqqara necropolis, with the Step Pyramid of Djoser, and the Giza Pyramids complex with the Great Sphinx. We were overjoyed to experience all of these things as well as an amazing camel ride in the desert with the Pyramids in the background!
- Day 3: We started our day at the immense & magical Egyptian Museum of Cairo. We viewed and learned about a long list of antiquities including the famous death mask of Tutankhamun. Next, we visited the Cairo Citadel & the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. We finished the day with a trip to the Khan el-Khalili bazaar and a special dinner together with our tour group.
- Day 4: After a quick flight, we arrived in Luxor and proceeded to the incomparable temples of Luxor and Karnak. Everywhere we looked were Egyptian hieroglyphs and immense peristyle halls with dozens of huge columns. Our first Nile cruise boat served as our hotel in Luxor.
- Day 5: Our second day in Luxor started with an amazing trip to the Valley of the Kings. We walked down into several tombs including King Tutankhamun’s and one of his successors, and the general of his army, Horemheb (whose tomb contained 150 steps down into the valley floor). Colorful hieroglyphs covered the walls and ceilings of the tombs. We next visited the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s longest reigning female pharoah, beneath the cliffs at Deir el-Bahari and the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu. In the afternoon, we departed from Luxor and set sail “up” the Nile for sites in the South of Egypt and Nubia.
- Day 6: Our boat arrived in the city of Edfu by morning and we set off to see the Temple of Edfu, dedicated to the important god Horus, in horse-drawn carriages. We set sail again for our next stop along the Nile, Kom Ombo, featuring a double temple site. We finished a day on the water with our arrival to the city of Aswan and after dinner, we attended a Nubian party featuring traditional music of the area.
- Day 7: We started our day visiting the Philae sanctuary, a site relocated from it’s original island before the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960’s. We then made our way to the wonderful International Museum of Nubia to view artifacts saved from temples, monuments, and sites before the construction of the dam. To finish the day, we took a trip on a felucca, a traditional wooden sailboat still used on the Nile.
- Day 8: We disembarked from our first boat and hopped on a quick flight down to see the glorious temples at Abu Simbel in the far south of Egypt. These huge temples include colossal statues of Ramses II and one of his queens, likely Nefertari. Next we boarded our second boat for our final three days of touring on the Nile on Lake Nasser. After a relaxing afternoon and evening aboard the ship, we returned to the Abu Simbel site to view a fascinating sound and lights show covering the history of the temples.
- Day 9: This day included a lot of travel on board our boat. We sailed past Kasr Ibrim (also Qasr Ibrim), the last Nubian monument in it’s original location on the banks of Lake Nasser on our way to Amada. Amada is the oldest of the Nubian temples on the lake and it includes a variety of historical paintings carved on its walls.
- Day 10: We started the day examining the wonderful temple complex of Wadi el Seboua (also Wadi es-Sebua). With it’s Valley of the Lions, a walkway of sphinx-like creatures, and two temples constructed by Amenhotep III and Ramses II, this complex was fascinating to explore. In the evening aboard our boat, we enjoyed a show including Nubian music, dance, and costumes.
- Day 11: We left our second and final boat to tour the Temple of Kalabsha, a large Nubian complex that was relocated near Aswan to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser. The original site was never finished but the complex now stands as the second largest temple in Nubia (after Abu Simbel). Our final official tour of the trip involved a quick afternoon visit to the Aswan High Dam. The dam did not appear high but instead was a massively wide structure with the Lake Nasser part of the Nile on one side and parts of the exposed first cataract of the Nile on the other. We next hopped on a plane to head back to Cairo. Our last day of exploring Egypt ended with a self guided tour of the large Stars Centre Mall (connected to our hotel) and a final dinner with our fellow Viking tourmates.
- Day 12: If it is possible to be both exhausted and exuberant at the same time, this is how I would describe our party of 4 as we left Egypt in the early morning of Day 12 to start our trip home to Minnesota.
An Awesome Adventure
We experienced nothing but kindness and caring from the people of this country and the entire Pathways of the Pharoahs Viking tour was exceptional. We had a marvelous guide throughout our adventure, Egyptologist, speaker, and author, Ahmed Abul Ella. Check out his latest book, By Way of Accident: The True Stories Behind the Discovery of Egypt’s Greatest Monuments.