Cairo & The Eternal Nile River   Leave a comment

Cairo & The Eternal Nile River

Jim, Marilyn & Eric

March 30 – April 13, 2010



At Christmas Eric indicated he would like to visit Egypt, and of course Jim & I were ready to pack our bags and go also.  We went on our twenty-third trip with Overseas Adventure Travel.  It was a great trip with a very welled planned and executed itinerary.


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These are the thirteen happy travelers in our group and on the right is Raafat, a certified Egyptologist, who was our excellent tour leader.

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Save Money: If you decide you’d like to go on this or any Grand Circle Travel or Overseas Adventure Travel trip, and you are a first time traveler with them, they will give you $100 off any trip if you mention the name of my travel blog and my customer #561413. New travelers instantly receive $100 off the cost of the trip, and I will receive $100 when you depart on your trip.

We arrived in Cairo on a direct flight from JFK and then the next afternoon we flew south to Luxor.  We spent three nights in Luxor, three nights cruising the Nile River, three nights in Aswan, then flew back to Cairo and spent our final three nights there.


View Valley of the Queens

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut near Luxor Egypt:  One of the most beautiful of the royal mortuary temples, built for the first known female monarch.  It was built in the 15th century B.C. (about 3,500 years ago) and was discovered only in the mid-19th century.  It is found in a steep half-circle of cliffs on the west bank of the Nile river and guarding the entrance to the great Valley of the Kings.



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Valley of the Kings: There are 64 tombs of     Pharaohs chiseled deep into the sides of cliffs.   Despite hidden locations every chamber but three has been raided over the years.  However the structures themselves remain, with the corridors and burial chambers adorned with artistic accounts of the journey through the underworld, and ritual paintings to assist the pharaohs in the afterlife.  One of the several tombs we visited was Ramses VI and the picture on the right is the corridor leading to the tomb.  He ruled Egypt from 1145-1137 B.C.  Just think, this artwork is over 3,150 years old! (These photos are both copied because we weren’t allowed to take pictures.)



Colossi of Memnon:  For the past 3360 years (since 1350 BC) these massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III have stood in the Theban necropolis, across the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor. They are 64 ft. tall and their eyes are cast in the direction of the Nile.


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We rode through the market area of Luxor on horse-drawn carriages.  That was a good way to experience the atmosphere and not be hassled by every Egyptian man trying to sell us something……that is except for the guy with the chicken.

View Luxor Temple

View Luxor

Luxor Temple at Night:  It was built from 1550-1069 B.C. and consists of several structures, halls, and courtyards.  Just a century ago, when it was rediscovered and the ruble cleared away, the interiors were found to be nearly perfectly preserved.  The Temple of Luxor faces Karnak Temple with the remains of an avenue of Sphinxes pointing to the processional way.  The Egyptians are presently excavated the processional way and will eventually have a pedestrian walk way from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple just as it was in the days of old.

View Luxor

Temple of Karnak: This is the biggest temple complex in the world as well as a place of pilgrimage for nearly 4,000 years.  Karnak was built by a succession of rulers starting about 2,000 B.C.  The statue of Colossus of Ramses II stands in front of the entrance to the Great Hypostyle Hall which has 134 gigantic columns that used to support a roof.  We saw the tallest obelisk in Egypt, cut from a single piece of pink granite and raised by Queen Hatshepsut in honor of Amun.  It still stands almost 100 feet high.  The temple lay buried under sand for more than 1,000 years before excavation work began in the mid-19th century.



View Luxor Market

Fun experience shopping in the local market place:  We had two groups of six and Raafat gave us a recipe, some Egyptian Kuna and told us it should be enough to buy the ingredients for an okra dish.  It was an interesting experience dealing with the Egyptian men.  They started with a ridiculously high price and……you get the idea.  In these pictures I am negotiating a price for tomatoes and at the same time I put a nice tomato into my sack, he puts in two half rotten ones, then I remove the rotten ones and the game goes on and on.  Finally we agreed on a price and as I started to give him the money, he then suddenly decided that he wanted a higher price.  I dropped the sack down and told him he cheats and I didn’t want any tomatoes at all and we all stomped away.  Eric said the guys across the aisle where all laughing and pointing at him.  What fun!!


View cruising

Cruisin’ Down the River: The Nile is 4,132 miles in length making it the longest river in the world.  Because of the Nile, Egypt became one of the great cradles of world civilization beginning approximately 5,000 B.C.  It was so interesting seeing the sights and sounds of Egypt as we cruised down the Nile for four days.

View boat shopping

Shopping from the Ship:  While we waited at the lock near Esna we had a unique shopping opportunity.  The men paddled up to our ship and would throw merchandise up to the deck of the ship, where we could examine it and either keep it or throw it back.  Of course a huge negotiation took place and if you decided to purchase you’d put your money inside a plastic bag along with something of weight and throw it back to the little boat.  It was a fun time.


View ironing

Foot Ironing: Oh dear don’t try this at home!  The young man heated the iron in the hot box located on the left.  Then he got a mouth full of water and blew it across the fabric, then he started ironing with his foot.




View Temple of Horus

Temple of Horus: This temple which was buried under sand and silt for nearly 2,000 years, is the best preserved temple in Egypt and the 2nd largest after Karnak.  It is almost entirely intact, with its decorated hieroglyphs and bas-reliefs.  Ancient Egyptians believed that the temple was inhabited by the falcon-headed god, Horus.  The temple is almost 2,250 years old.


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After dinner and a party on the ship we walked into town and went to this “smoke & tea.”  Most were all dressed up in galabiyas that a lot of us had purchased in the boat-side shopping. The guys enjoyed the tobacco hookahs (water pipes.) Please note the word tobacco….it’s nothing illegal!




Kom Ombo Temple:  Was built around 350 B.C. and was dedicated to two gods and is totally symmetrical.  Jim’s favorite thing was the Nile-o-meter.  It is a deep shaft and measures the depth of the Nile river.  It was the way for the ancients to determine the level of the Nile.

View Island

Felucca ride to Kitchener’s Island.




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Abu Simbel: We drove south from Aswan for 3 hours through the desert to the fantastic Abu Simbel.  It were hewn out of a solid cliff in the 13th century B.C. (about 3,300 years ago.)  We explored Abu Simbel, the massive temple honoring Pharaoh Ramses II and the smaller Temple of Hathor, honoring Nefertari, his queen.  The Temple Facade was buried in sand for centuries and was discovered in 1813.  In the 1960’s, with the construction of the Aswan High Dam, it appeared that the temples of Abu Simbel were doomed to vanish beneath the rising waters of Lake Nasser.  The decision was made to save them.  First, movable dam walls were built around the temples to shelter them from floodwater during the rescue project.  Then the facades were covered with sand to add a layer of protection to the sandstone.  The entire complex was cut into 1,036 blocks, weighing eleven tons each.  Block by block, over a period of three years, the structure were moved to higher ground by 25,000 workers.  The Temples and the stories were amazing!



View Philae

Philae Temple:  Was originally built in 250 B.C., but the old Dam at Aswan caused the Temple to be submerged six months out of every year.  With the building of the High Dam is was going to be buried underwater forever.  To save it, the entire temple was moved piece by piece (40,000 individual blocks and pieces) to another island and put back together like a jigsaw puzzle.  This was done between 1972 and 1980.   Trajan’s Kiosk is majestic with 14 stone pillars leading to the Temple of Isis featuring courtyards flanked by granite lions and walls covered with depictions of ancient gods and goddesses.



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Camel ride anyone?  I thought it was fun…these two declared it to be their last!

View St. Simeon


Monastery of St. Simeon: Our camel ride through the desert took us to this monastery located across the river from Aswan.  It was built in the 6th century and it housed 300 monks and could receive 100 pilgrims at a time.  It is one of the best preserved early Christian sites in Egypt.  It was interesting touring the ruins and Jim even got some good pictures of bats (top right picture.)


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Modes of Transportation



The Great Pyramid of Cheops: Nearly 5,000 years ago, Giza became the royal burial ground for Memphis, capital of Egypt.  In less than 100 years, the ancient Egyptians built the three pyramid complexes to serve as the tombs for their dead.  It stands some 450 feet tall.  the actually walk up and touch something that is that old is enough to take your breath away.


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Solar Boat: Is the ancient boat that is believed to have carried the pharaoh’s mummy across the Nile to Memphis millennia ago.  The boat was then buried at the foot of the pyramid to provide transport for the king in the next world.  In 1954, was the discovery of the world’s oldest planked vessel, buried in a pit at the foot of the Great Pyramid.  It’s near perfect preservation allowed conservators, over the next 14 years, to reconstruct the 144 foot long craft.



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Pyramid of Khafre: Is just 10 ft. shorter than the Great Pyramid but it appears larger since it is built on higher ground and the top remains intact.  This is all that remains of the outer casement stone that originally covered all three pyramids.




The Sphinx: Standing guard at the approach to the Pyramid of Khafre, the Sphinx is the earliest known monumental sculpture of ancient Egypt.   Archaeologists date it to around 2500 B.C.  It stands 66 ft. high with an elongated body of a lion, outstretched paws and a royal headdress framing a fleshy face, possibly that of the king himself.  It was carved almost entirely from one piece of limestone.




Step Pyramid of Djoser at Sakkara: This is the first and oldest known of Egypt’s 97 pyramids.  It is the oldest complete hewn-stoned building complex known in history and was built about 2,630 B.C. (4,640 years ago.)

It was a grand adventure, with grand memories……Dad, Mom and Eric!


Posted April 29, 2010 by marilynfarmer in Travel

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