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The God Thoth (Djheuti) in Baboon form, Amenhotep III, Ashmunein

The Pyramid at Meidum

Pillared Hall, Medinet Habu Temple, Ramesses III, West Bank of Luxor

"Egyptologists' Tour with Amarna"
December 28, 2008 - January 11, 2009

Well suited to those with a long-term interest in Ancient Egypt
or those desiring a more thorough, in-depth tour.

Includes Tel el-Amarna, Beni Hasan, Ashmunein, Meidum Pyramid, Abydos, Dendera, Dashur pyramids, 
Abu Sir - Sahure and Niuserre Sun Temples, Cairo, Giza, Luxor and more.

SLIDE SHOW - photos of the sites on this tour by Judy Lovell, traveler in January 2007
ULTIMATE EGYPT: A website chronicling this tour in January 2008
Created by one of our travelers, Philip Brautigam of THOTFORM, Compelling Multimedia

Day-by-Day Itinerary

"Egyptologists' Tour with Amarna"

Sunday, December 28, 2008 - Sunday, January 11, 2009 
Leave Sat, Dec 27, 2008 from the USA

Includes: Two 5-star hotels, one 4-star hotel (Middle Egypt's best hotel), 2 large meals per day, bottled water at all times, sightseeing with entrance fees as described below.  Additional fees may be required for activities listed as Optional. 
Complete list of what is included.

Egypt Tour

Sat, Dec 28,

For those beginning their tour in New York, USA, your plane leaves NY City, at 6:30 PM, Saturday, February 28, 2009.  You fly direct non-stop from New York city to Cairo, Egypt.  Arrival in Cairo the next day at noon.  Other departure cities in the USA are available as add-on's.  Contact Us for pricing.

Those arriving from places other than New York should plan to arrive in Cairo on Saturday, February 28th.  We will arrange to have someone greet you at the airport and bring you to our hotel in Giza. 

Day 1
Dec 29, 2008

Mohammed Ali Mosque, Citadel, Cairo

For those arriving from New York, you arrive about midday in Cairo (7 hours ahead of New York time, 2 hours ahead of Greenwich).  Those who have arrived on Saturday will depart from our hotel at 10:30 AM to begin our tour together.

Cairo is the biggest center of culture and learning in the Middle East, and one of the largest, most crowded cities in the entire world.  After leaving the airport we begin with a panoramic view of the whole city from the Citadel.  Here we also visit one of the most beautiful mosques in the city, the famous Mohammed Ali Mosque, also called the "Alabaster Mosque".  

Our 5-star hotel is right near the pyramids. Welcome to Egypt! 

Overnight: 5-star hotel near the pyramids.  Intercontinental Pyramids Park Resort or similar.

Day 2

Step Pyramid, Saqqara

Wooden statue of Rashepses, Imhotep Museum, Saqqara

Sufi Dance, young boy, Cairo
Sufi Dance 

We begin our tour with 3 days of sites from Ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom (2,575-2,150 B.C.).  Leaving Giza we drive southward through fertile farmlands to the Saqqara complex where we see the Step Pyramid, the early versions of the Book of the Dead  (Teti Pyramid) and some tombs with scenes of the daily life in the Old Kingdom.  

There have also been some recent discoveries at Saqqara which our friend Ashraf Mohie el-Din (part of the excavation team) will be telling us about.  Having the whole day will give us time to look at all that is going on here.

Also here at Saqqara we have the pleasure of seeing the newly opened Imhotep Museum.  A beautifully laid out modern museum, there are a number of wooden statues from the Old Kingdom that are particularly memorable.  All the items on exhibit were found here at Saqqara and have not been on public display before.

Optionals: Sufi Dance Show and traditional music.  Gold Shop  (jewelry) - one of Egypt's specialties.  Get a cartouche with your name in hieroglyphs.  

Overnight: 5-star hotel near the pyramids.  Intercontinental Pyramids Park Resort or similar.

Day 3

Khafre (2nd) Pyramid, Giza

The Great Sphinx, Giza

Ramp inside Menkaure (3rd) Pyramid, Giza
Solar Boat found beside Khufu Pyramid, Giza
Solar Boat

Today we spend a full day on the Giza Plateau.   We visit and go inside whichever pyramids are open.  Of the three pyramids, two will be open and one closed for renovations - dates are not announced in advance. 

In the Solar Boat Museum we see a boat that is almost 5,000 years old and was found 50 years ago, here beside the pyramid.  

We will also see the Great Sphinx & Valley Temple.  There are legends of the Sphinx speaking.  Does the Sphinx have a message for you?  The Valley Temple has huge granite blocks that fit tightly together, even today.  How did they do it?

Camel rides for the adventurous.  

We are applying for two special government issued permits that will grant us a private entrance to the Great Pyramid (for just our group and with all 3 chambers open to us) and a visit inside the Great Sphinx enclosure.  We have every reason to believe that we will receive this permission, as we have on our previous tours.  However, we cannot guarantee this because government policies can change unexpectedly.

Sound & Light Show at the Giza pyramids. Cost: $25.

Overnight: 5-star hotel near the pyramids.  Intercontinental Pyramids Park Resort or similar.

Day 4
Dec 31, 2008
Wooden Ka Statue, Cairo Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Cairo Egyptian Museum

Khan El Khalili Bazaar, Cairo
Khan el Khalili Bazaar

We start a bit later this morning so that you have time to enjoy the hotel - maybe a swim in the pool or time to write some postcards?  Then we are off to a full day at the Cairo Egyptian Museum.  Your guides point out the most famous pieces and then there is free time to look at whatever interests you the most.  The treasures of King Tut, the Mummy Room, Middle Kingdom papyruses, statues from all time periods.  Those who want to be there the minute the museum opens in the morning can leave early and meet the rest of the group when we arrive late morning.

On the way home we will stop for shopping at the famous Khan el Khalili bazaar.  The narrow cobble stone alleys, the profusion of colorful goods, the medieval architecture, the outdoor cafes and shisha bars... You can shop with Ruth or sit and watch it all with Ehab.  It's your choice.

When we return to our hotel there will be a New Years Feast - a grand buffet and entertainment - at our hotel. Tomorrow begins a new year, 2009.

Overnight: 5-star hotel near the pyramids.  Intercontinental Pyramids Park Resort or similar.

Day 5
Jan 1, 2009
Central Alabaster Altar, Niuserre Sun Temple, Abu Gurab
Abu Sir 
Sun Temples

Local Farmer, Saqqara
Local Farmers

Alabaster Sphinx, Memphis

This morning is the first of 2009, and we begin the year with a special visit for only our small group to a site not open to the general public - the Niuserre Sun Temple at Abu Gurab and the Sahure Sun Temple and pyramids at Abu Sir. Again, we will be applying for special permits that will allow us entrance to these sites.  At the Nuiserre Sun Temple the central alabaster altar represents the sun surrounded with "hotep" blessings in the four directions.  

Here in the Saqqara area are some friends of Ruth that have a guesthouse in the Black Land, the farming area.  Hopefully they will be home and able to welcome us for lunch.  It's also a chance to see some the nearby farmers and their animals up close.  The farmers love getting the photos of themselves that Ruth brings to them each time. One well-known Egyptologist said, "If you want to learn about Ancient Egypt, study the traditions of the local farmers."  They may well be the closest link we have to the ways of the ancients.  See Blue Lotus of Saqqara Guesthouse.

In the afternoon we see what remains of the ancient city of Memphis, the "City of the White Wall," capitol of Egypt during the Old Kingdom.  Most notable here is the large statue of Ramesses and an alabaster sphinx.

Time to pack up for the trip through Middle Egypt tomorrow.  We will do some shopping at a modern grocery store for snacks and travel food for our trip.  No more stores like that in Middle or Upper Egypt.

Carpet Shop.  Papyrus Institute.  Grocery Store.

Overnight: 5-star hotel near the pyramids.  Intercontinental Pyramids Park Resort or similar.

Day 6
Bent Pyramid, Dashur

Red Pyramid, Dashur
Dashur Pyramids - Red, Bent & Black

Pyramid at Meidum
Pyramid at Meidum

We leave early this morning and travel south via our own private A/C coach to Middle Egypt.  At this time only about 15 people a week visit the sites in Middle Egypt (not like the thousands that visit Giza each day), so this is quite an opportunity.  

We begin with a visit to the pyramids at Dashur.  No huge crowds of tourists and souvenir sellers here.  We spend time inside the Red Pyramid (nearly as large as Giza's Great Pyramid) and then have the opportunity for an unforgettable walk across the open desert to the Bent Pyramid.  The Bent pyramid is the only pyramid to retain most of its original casing stones.  

The Black Pyramid (Middle Kingdom mud brick) can also be seen from here. 

More photos of Dashur.

Traveling further south, our next stop is the Pyramid at Meidum.   As we get our first look at it from a distance, this pyramid is strangely beautiful, even though it is not in good condition.  Inside, we can touch some of the wooden timbers used in its construction more than 4,000 years ago!  This is also the area where the famous statues (on display in the Cairo museum) of Rahotep and his wife were found, as well as the famous "Geese of Meidum".

We continue on through the rural areas of Egypt to the town of Menya where we will be staying for the next three nights.  Very few foreigners ever get to see these areas. 

Overnight in the town of Menya - Nefertiti Hotel, 4 star.

Day 7
Noble's Tomb, Tel el-Amarna
Tel el-Amarna

This morning we visit the site of Tel el-Amarna, a city built by Akhenaten and Nefertiti during the New Kingdom.  We visit some nobles tombs with wall reliefs unequalled anywhere else in Egypt.  The pictures appear alive and even as though they are moving.  

We also visit the Northern Palace, one of the Boundary Stele (a marker of the city limits), the Southern Palace and the tomb built for Akhenaten.  

More photos of Tel el Amarna.

Overnight in the town of Menya - Nefertiti Hotel, 4 star.

Day 8
View of the Nile Valley from the Beni Hassan Tombs
Beni Hasan 

Outside portico of the Speos Artemidos, Beni Hassan
Speos Artemidos

The God Thoth (Djeuti) as a Baboon, Ashmunein

Boundary Stele for Tel el-Amarna, Tuna el Gebel
Tuna el-Gebel

Today we visit a number of different sites in the surrounding area.  We begin with the tombs at Beni Hasan, a Middle Kingdom (2040 - 1640 BC) site.  The nobles' tombs portray scenes from the daily life, and are well preserved, full of color and quite fascinating.  Acrobatics, dancing, and military sports are emphasized.  But there are also scenes of making flour, baking bread, weaving cloth, and even a husband and wife on their wedding night!  There are many animals portrayed - both those that were domesticated and those that were hunted.  There are also a few "mystic" beasts to speculate about, a unicorn... or what do you think?

It is near Beni Hasan that we find another interesting site, the "Speos Artemidos," a rock cut temple for Pakhet, an aspect of the lioness goddess Sekhmet.  It is here that the female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, made her declaration denouncing the Hyksos and telling of her mission to resuscitate the temples of Egypt.  

In the afternoon we visit el-Ashmunein (Arabic), Hermopolis (Greek), Khmunu (Ancient Egyptian) or the "City of the Eight".  It was the main cult center of Thoth (Djhueti, Tehuti), god of wisdom and writing, patron of scribes. 

We also visit Tuna el-Gebel which was the neocropolis of Khmunu.   Here we see the catacombs, a Late Period temple and one of the boundary stelae of Tel el-Amarna.  All in all, a very exciting day. 

Overnight in the town of Menya - Nefertiti Hotel.

Day 9
 Seti I Temple, Abydos

Ramesses 2 Temple, Abydos
Ramesses II Temple

Today we leave Minya and travel still further south to visit Abydos, the place of pilgrimage in Ancient Egypt.  We will arrive midday as the convoy of buses with tourists coming from Luxor is leaving.  Temple of Seti I (with the renowned Osireion).  The temple is all ours for the whole afternoon.  Many feel that the reliefs of this temple are the highest art found in Ancient Egypt.  It is truly unforgettable.

We also may be able to explore the rarely visited Ramesses II Temple, located a short distance from the Seti I Temple.  This is a fairly small temple with some vibrantly colored wall reliefs.

Afterwards we continue to Luxor, passing through Nag Hammadi where the writings were found that are now called the Nag Hammadi Library.  Discovered in 1945, these ancient codices (dating from 390 AD) contained the Gospels of Thomas, Mary and others. 

Our Luxor hotel is 5 star and located directly on the Nile. 
Overnight: Luxor 5-star Hotel -  Sofitel Karnak Resort  or similar.

Day 10
Goddess Hathor Column, Hathor Chapel, Deir El Bahari, West Bank of Luxor
Hatshepsut's Temple

Workers Village, Deir El Medina, West Bank of Luxor
Valley of Workers
Tombs of the Nobles
Our host in a village on the West Bank of Luxor

Ramesseum Temple, West Bank of Luxor

Here in Luxor, we begin with the West Bank, one of the most famous archeological sites in the world. 

The first site that we visit is also one of the earliest New Kingdom temples.  Called "The Most Splendid of All" by the ancient Egyptians, Queen Hatshepsut’s famous Deir El Bahari has inspired many, including the founders of modern architecture. One of the outstanding features is the picturesque Hathor columns in the Hathor Chapel on the second Level. We are also privileged to be admitted to the third level which was only recently opened to the public. 

More photos of Hatshepsut's Deir El Bahari Temple.

The first tombs we visit in Luxor are at Deir El Medina, the Valley of the Workmen.  This was called the "Valley of Truth" in Ancient Egypt and is where the workers and artists who built and decorated the tombs in the Valley of the Kings lived.  Their own tombs have colorful scenes from daily life in the New Kingdom.  There is also a chapel here with the famous Judgment scene. 

Next we have the pleasure of seeing the rarely visited tombs in the Tombs of the Nobles.  With their brightly colored daily-life scenes, we are given a view into the lives of the Ancient Egyptian nobility during the New Kingdom.

Just nearby are some villagers that are long-time friends of Ruth.  One of the highlights for many of our travelers is to meet some of the local people and see their lifestyle.  Hopefully we will be invited to their house for lunch.  The food is delicious!

A wonderful site that is rarely visited is the Ramesseum.  Our visit here will complete our day away from the crowds of tourists.  There is a splendid hypostyle hall, an astrological ceiling and some excellent wall reliefs in good condition.  This is also where we find the fallen statue that inspired a poem by Shelley.

Overnight: Luxor 5- star Hotel -  Sofitel Karnak Resort  or similar.

Day 11
Valley of the Kings, West Bank of Luxor

Astrological Ceiling of a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, West Bank of Luxor
Valley of the Kings

Seti 1 Temple, West Bank of Luxor
Seti I Temple
"Colossi of Memnon"
Valley of the Queens

Today we begin with what is probably the most famous archeological site in the world, the Valley of the Kings, where King Tut's tomb was found.  There are many tombs here, and excavations are still going on, as well as renovations to tombs that have been uncovered a long time. One never knows which tombs will be open that day, but there will be a variety to choose from.  

Recent highlights are the opening of the Ramesses I tomb and the reopening of the Ramesses VI tomb.  Both have been restored with modern techniques pioneered during the restoration of the tomb of Nefertari (Nefertari is no longer open to the public).  

Both Ramesses VI tomb and King Tut's tomb require additional tickets (optional: approx $15 USD).  

Next leaving the large crowds at the Valley of the Kings, we next see the rarely visited Seti I Temple which still contains some beautiful reliefs including some astrological imagery.   They have recently done some planting of trees along the colonnade and planted grass on the sides.  It is nice to see a temple with the impression of the rich gardens that would have surrounded it in antiquity. 

We also see what are now called the "Colossi of Memnon." They are actually colossi of Amenhotep III. The Greeks, however, believed they were statues of Memnon, the son of Eros.

The famous tomb in the Valley of the Queens, Nefertari's, is now closed, but there are some other ones that are open.  We will have a visit here to see the other ones of interest. 

Alabaster shop.

Overnight: Luxor 5- star Hotel -  Sofitel Karnak Resort  or similar.

Day 12
Astrological Ceiling, Hathor Temple, Dendera

Luxor Temple, Luxor

Luxor Temple by Night, Luxor
Luxor Temple

Today we begin by driving north of Luxor, following the Nile to Qena and then to the Temple of Hathor at Dendera.  This temple was built during the Ptolemaic (Greek) era on a much older site that had been a place of worshiping the Goddess Hathor in earlier times.  

The famous circular zodiac was found in the ceiling of a chapel on the roof of the temple.  The ceilings and walls of the main hypostyle hall are full of astrological imagery.  We avoid the crowds by visiting the temple in the morning, instead of with the large convoy that visits in the afternoon.

Upon returning to Luxor, we have lunch and then spend the later afternoon and early evening at the Luxor Temple (when the lighting is optimal for seeing the wall reliefs).  When the sun sets, the temple is lit up giving the temple a special feeling.  It also gives us an opportunity for some dramatic photos.  Both gently beautiful and full of awesome grandness, this temple was the "Bride of Karnak" during the annual Apet festival.

Overnight: Luxor 5- star Hotel -  Sofitel Karnak Resort  or similar.

Day 13
Southern Gate, Karnak Temple, Luxor

The Goddess Sekhmet, Chapel of Ptah, Karnak, Luxor

Senwosret "White Chapel", Open Air Museum, Karnak
Open Air Museum

Cube Statue, Luxor Museum, Luxor
Luxor Museum

Optional early morning balloon ride over the West Bank of Luxor.  See the temples from a very different perspective! You decide about this option while you are in Egypt, a few days before arriving in Luxor.  Cost: about $140 USD.

The splendors of the Karnak Temple Complex fill most of our day today. Luxor was the center of government during the New Kingdom and each Pharaoh wanted to leave something impressive at Karnak. The largest temple complex in Egypt, we see multiple temples, obelisks, great gates and the famous hypostyle hall - unequalled to this day.  We also see the Sacred Lake, the Festival Hall and Botanical Garden of Tutmosis III (a precursor of Napoleon's later record of the fauna and flora found in Egypt).

Also at Karnak, we visit the fascinating Open Air Museum where we view the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut and Tutmosis III (Karnak's original Holy of Holies) and Senwosret's White Chapel with its finely-carved Middle Kingdom hieroglyphs.  These are in raised relief - some of the best to be found anywhere.  There is something new each time we visit, as reconstruction of new pieces is ongoing.

Bring extra film (or lots of memory) for Karnak.  

In the late afternoon (Karnak closes at 4 PM) we make a visit to the modern Luxor Museum. There is a special exhibit room for a cache of statues found in near-perfect condition. They were buried under a courtyard at the Luxor Temple and found only recently during renovations.  There is also a new wing, just opened recently, with an excellent mummy exhibit and a number of splendid artifacts.  Our friend, Rachid, has painstakingly put together a wall from Tel el-Amarna which is displayed here.

Sunrise Balloon Ride, cost: about $140 pp.  
Sound & Light Show at Karnak
in the evening.  Cost: $25 pp.

Overnight: Luxor 5- star Hotel -  Sofitel Karnak Resort  or similar.

Day 14
Medinet Habu Temple, West Bank of Luxor
Medinet Habu
Fellucca sailboat ride with Nubian boatmen
Felucca Ride

The Medinet Habu Temple is the second largest temple complex (after Karnak) in Egypt.   The last great temple built while Egypt was still ruling supreme, it is a fitting site for our last visit together.  It includes the remains of the palace and temple built by Ramesses III, as well as the earlier temple built by Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III (newly restored), and a Late Period chapel for the Priestesses of Amun.  

Afterwards we have a farewell meeting here in the heart of the ancient Black Land.  Time to reflect on our wonderful trip together before going our separate ways.

Optional Felucca Sailboat ride in the late afternoon with sunset for those who choose it.

Those following the tour schedule will return to Cairo by air this evening.  

You may want to add an extra night or two in Cairo to revisit the Cairo Egyptian Museum, now that you have seen each of the sites where the artifacts came from.   Other options are to begin a Nile Cruise or to go directly to Aswan and do a trip to Abu Simbel tomorrow.  See Extensions.  

Overnight: 5-star hotel near the Cairo airport. Novotel Cairo Airport, 4* or similar.

Day 15

January 11,

Tour is finished

Return flights home.  For those leaving for the USA, your flight leaves at 10 AM and arrives in New York at 3:15 PM - the same day but with an increase of 7 hours for the time difference between Cairo and New York.  For those traveling to the UK the time difference is 2 hours.  

See Extensions if you would like to add additional time in Egypt.

There may be changes to this itinerary due to circumstances beyond our control.

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