Side Trips

Abu Simbel

Prepare to be blown away by the magnificence of these antiquities!  They are undisputedly one of the world’s most breathtaking monuments.

The relocation of the temples was a historic event in the 1960’s.  At that time, the temples were threatened by submersion in Lake Nasser when the High Dam was constructed. The Egyptian government with the support of UNESCO launched a world wide appeal to save these colossal landmarks.

They were successfully dismantled and relocated to a spot 60 meters above the cliff where they had been initially built. The more famous of the two temples is dedicated to Ramses II and the smaller one to his favourite wife Nefertari. They were both built by Ramses II in the 13th century BC.

The gigantic façade of Ramses II temple represents four colossal seated figures of Ramses. The façade is 119 feet wide, 100 feet high, and the statues are each 67 feet high. The façade door leads to the interior of the temple is a 185 feet long man-made rock cave that leads to a series of halls and rooms.

The best way to travel there is by air from Aswan airport if you are not doing a Lake Nassar cruise.  It is about a 40 minute flight to Abu Simbel airport which is near the lake side grounds.  Once there you take a shuttle for the 5 minute trip to the grounds.  A local Guide is allocated (only local Guides are permitted in Abu Simbel) and you explore the area and learn about the magnificent statues.

 

Abydos & Dendara 

Both Abydos and Dendara are located north of Luxor and can be visited together in a days excursion together or separately, if desired.  The better accommodations are located in Luxor so we do this from there and arrange an extra day to visit these towns, which are much less visited than most other sights in the region.

Perhaps the most notable sight today at Abydos is the memorial temple of Seti 1.  Abydos is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt the ancient city of Abydos was the site of many temples and became a large center and a royal necropolis where early Pharoahs were entombed.

Dendara is primarily known for its Greco Roman temple complex, it is especially notable as it is perhaps the best preserved temple in the whole of Egypt. The complex covers some 40,000 square metres too

 

Alexandria

Another Egyptian city with a long history is Alexandria.  Set on a Mediterranean bay, definitely closer to Europe, the influences of the Greeks and Romans is ever more apparent.

It is a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive from Cairo and so if you decide to do it in a day trip from Cairo, then an early start is vital as to see the main sights will fill a busy day.  Some can spend that time in the new Biblioteca alone, which is a library and cultural center today on the site of the ancient library.  If you wish to spend a night or two in Alexandria there are several good hotels that we offer and this will enable a more leisurely opportunity to see the many things in greater detail.  In addition there are several interesting Museums to visit too.

The city is set on a large bay and the buildings fronting the water must have been quite a sight when they they were in their full glory.  Now unfortunately, many are quite tough on the eyes.  Neverthless, a meal overlooking the bay at one of the nice restaurants, with The Citadel at one end is still quite an occasion to remember!

El Alamein Cemetery

Also on the north coast and 1 to 2 hrs west of Alexandria is the El Alamein Cemetery and the nearby Museum.  This location saw a pivotal battle in World War 2 and there is an opportunity to learn about this costly encounter.  If you do this then an overnight is needed.

Bahariya Oasis 

For an authentic Egyptian desert experience the Bahariya Oasis offers a combination of extraordinary scenery, agriculture dating back thousands of years, fascinating temples and the allure of the recent Golden Mummies     discoveries. Bahariya is the lowest point in Egypt and the nickname “Black Desert” comes from the black colored hills and outcroppings all throughout the area.

Bahariya, located to the south west of Cairo, is reached by road from Cairo, the 225 miles takes around 4 hrs or so. 

 

El Minya

Go off the beaten tourism track and spend two days in Egypt’s heartland, the green and fertile El Minya area…and visit two ‘Must See Sites’ for everyone with an intense interest of Egyptian history.

Visit what remains of what must have been a magnificent capitol, the city “Akhetaten” (the Horizon of the Aten), founded by the heretic pharaoh, Akhenaton, in the late 18th dynasty and possibly home to some 50,000 during his reign. Akhenaton, who with his celebrated queen, Nefertiti, instituted the worship of a single god as his new state religion…which was fated to be stamped out at the pharaoh’s death and Egypt’s traditional worship ushered back in.

In the same part of the country are the Tombs of Beni Hassan…incredibly painted with sumptuous colors and delicate artistic skill, these tombs of provincial governors from the 11th and 12th Dynasties are snapshots of daily life. Every activity was beautifully recorded on their walls…giving us such insight as to how life was really lived millennia ago.

Fayoum Oasis

Located south of Cairo it is an interesting day trip to this  less visited  city and canal region.  It has various and sights ancient and modern.

 

The Red Sea

After sightseeing perhaps you would like to relax on the beach?  Hurghada  and Sharm are 2 excellent resort areas with world class hotels and some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world.  We would be happy to add a few extra days to your trip.

 

The Sinai

Take the opportunity to add a few extra days to Egypt and visit the The Sinai.  The Peninsula is accessible by road from Cairo; you drive under the Suez Canal, then head south before turning inland to St Catherines or keep straight on to Sharm el Sheikh – around a 5-7 hour drive.  Or you can take one of the daily flights from Cairo to Sharm.

The hinterland of the Sinai offers stark, barren and hostile scenery.  Yet it is appealingly dramatic, with periodic oasis, wind carved rocks and mountains that buffer Africa and Asia and over the years, have made the area difficult for ancient peoples to cross and modern armies to control.

 

Mount Sinai & St Catherines Monastery

The reward of making the effort to go across The Sinai is a visit to St Catherines Monastery situatuated at the base of Mt Sinai itself.  The Monastery is a small complex rich in ancient treasures and you can see the Burning Bush, now carefully looked after.

For the more energetic a climb up Mt Sinai for sunrise is a must.  Of course its the location where Moses received the Ten Commandments and an experience we guarantee you will remember for ever.  Our Guides will ensure that nearly all in reasonable health will enjoy the walk, fortified by the various Tea Shacks and of course many stories, as you progress.  Its a nighttime climb and takes 3-4 hrs up and a bit less down hill!

And In Jordan..

Wadi Rum

T.E Lawrence once described the moon-like terrain of Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing and God-like.” This is by no means an overstatement. With its bright red rolling sand dunes, dramatic rock formations, canyons and natural rock bridges Wadi Rum is a place like no other. In the spring the hills begin to get green and full of magnificent wild flowers, such as red anemones and Jordan’s national flower the stunning Black Iris – look quickly though; flowers can bloom and fade almost overnight in this desert climate.

Wadi Rum is an ideal destination for those who want to get completely away from the noise and lights of modern living (there are even places here where cell phones, the weeds of Jordan’s landscape, fall silent). There is no pollution of city-lights to distract from the magnificent night sky of the desert. Most nights you’ll see several shooting stars. If you visit in early August during the annual Perseids meteor shower, it will look like a grand fireworks display.