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EGYPT | Sunday, 25 October 2009 | Views [408]

Day 1: Visit to Egyptian Museum, Al Azhar mosque and lively Bazaar. Today we visited the incredible Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, which contains relics dating back to 4000 BC, including the fantastic riches of Tutankhamun's tomb. Here is the unique opportunity to survey the many fabulous treasures of Egypt in. Following our visit to this amazing museum we experience modern day Cairo with a visit to Al Azhar mosque, Cairo’s oldest mosque and university, and the small alleyways and streets that make up Cairo’s popular bazaar. Al Azhar mosque – Dating back to AD970, Al Azhar mosque is still a busy and popular mosque today, frequently visited by locals and thus well worth a visit. This evening we take the overnight sleeper train to Luxor

Day 2: Karnak and Luxor temples We visited the Luxor Temple and the huge Karnak Temple Complex. Built over 1500 years, Karnak is a confusion of pylons, courtyards, halls and sanctuaries. Its Hypostyle hall has 134 columns 23 metres high and 15 metres in circumference!

Day 3:

Stepping in to the New Kingdom with visits to the Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut’s temple and Colossi of Memnon We arrived in Luxor in the early morning and crossed the Nile to the West

Bank. Here we went to see the Valley of the Kings, which contains the once hidden tombs of over 62 Pharaohs, including Tutankhamun, Seti I, Ramses III and IV. A discreet entrance in the hillside takes the visitor underground; a series of corridors and anti-chambers led us down to the burial chamber and sarcophagus. The walls are covered in brightly painted images and hieroglyphs - a map of the afterlife to ensure the king’s safe passage. We then drive to Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple at Dehr El Bahri. Cut from an east-facing cliff, the temple is famed for its carved reliefs and paintings, as well as its impressive proportions, best viewed from above. The halfday finished with a visit to the Colossi of Memnon and a view of the Ramesseum - a now fittingly dilapidated epitaph to Ramses II, who built

so much for his own glory.

Day 4: To Aswan; visit Kom Ombo and Edfu This morning we drive to Aswan. The journey by road takes around 4 hours however we will stop en route to visit two beautiful temples. With its imposing pylon, the temple at Edfu is dedicated to the god Horus. Although Nile earthquakes and invasions (Coptic Christians made parts of the temple in to a church), the temple at Kom Ombo still stands proud. It is dedicated to both the fertility god, Sobek, who is often shown in the form of a crocodile and the falcon god, Horus

Day 5: Time on a Felucca After breakfast we board our felucca and sail to Elephantine Island; the largest of the Islands surrounding Aswan. The island is very beautiful and even though many of the artefacts are in ruin there is plenty to see. Elephantine is Greek for elephant and it is believed that the island got its name from being a major ivory trading centre. There are also large boulders in the river near the island, which are said to resemble bathing elephants. We then visit the stunning Botanical Gardens on Kitchener’s Island full of exotic plants and trees from all over the world.

Day 6: Visit to Abu Simbel, 300 km. to the south through the Nubian Desert. Built by Ramses II the two temples are certainly some of the most spectacular in Egypt. Originally on the banks of the Nile, the temples were raised to a new site above the lake in the late 1960's, as the waters from the new

Lake Nasser rose behind the Aswan High Dam. The four great-seated statues of Ramses II now stare east towards the rising sun.

Day 7 The Pyramids at Giza We arrive in Cairo in the early morning and head to the impressive Pyramids at Giza, on the western outskirts of Cairo. Home to the Great Pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus and the timeless and enigmatic Sphinx, these great monuments to the afterlife defy the imagination. Only the throng of sightseers, Egyptian and foreign, milling around their huge foundations keep the viewer in the 21st century.

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