Egypt is the most extraordinary country on earth. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew it as a land with sites of “unspeakable greatness”. The Great Pyramids are well-known today, and there are a host of other fascinating sights, both ancient and modern. Egypt offers experiences that will leave you in awe of our past.The temples at Karnak and Luxor will take your breath away, and the amazing Valley of the Kings and the Egyptian Museum will take you back in time to bring the reign of the Pharaohs to life. Modern Egypt, with its bazaars and vibrant huge cities will amaze you. Comfortable overnight train journeys and travel by private coach allow you to observe and absorb the slow rhythm of rural life in the Nile Valley. Australia’s own connection with Egypt reaches out to us as the place where our young men sailed for Gallipoli, and through the battles of World War 2 in the Western deserts, where Australians lay at rest in the cemetery at El Alamein.
This expedition involves trekking through undulating country, often untracked, for up to 6-10 hours a day at a steady pace. To undertake this level of activity you will need a good level of trekking fitness and be sure-footed. Some days involve walking over rugged terrain, including boulders, scree and heavily vegetated ground. As a minimum, we recommend 45 minutes of aerobic type exercise, three to five times a week for three months leading up to your trek.
THIS IS JUST A SAMPLE - IT CAN BE TAILORED TO YOUR SCHOOL'S REQUIREMENTS
If you are arriving on the group flight, you will be met and transferred to the group hotel for overnight accommodation. A group briefing will be held in the afternoon. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Before appreciating the best preserved pyramids at Giza, this morning we visit the Step Pyramid at Saqqara which shows the style of construction used to build them. The Step Pyramid was built by the Pharaoh’s chief architect, Imhotep, in 27BC and was at that time the largest stone construction ever built. Following our visit to Saqqara, we travel to the nearby old capital of Memphis. Little remains of the once grand and thriving metropolis, except a small museum and garden. We spend time visiting the gardens where statues of Ramses II can be viewed. The Great Pyramids of Egypt set on a plateau in the Arabian Desert, are one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the reason for which becomes evident as we first set our eyes on these awesome monuments. We spend the morning exploring the main sites. We will enter the Kings Chamber and marvel at the sophisticated construction of this ancient site. We include a visit to the Solar Barque Museum, where the remains of a wooden boat, perhaps used in the funeral procession for a Pharaoh, can be seen. Time is spent appreciating the majestic Sphinx and wondering at the mystery that surrounds this enormous structure.
Cairo is a city of more than 18 million people – a bustling, dusty and boisterous metropolis with an abundance of character and history. Our time here is limited although we have included the highlights and focused our itinerary on the archaeological importance of the city and its surrounds. This morning we have a city tour including visits to the Coptic Quarter, the Citadel and the Alabaster Mosque. A full afternoon is spent at the Egyptian Museum, providing you with an excellent insight into Egyptian history from the Old Kingdom right through to the Roman Empire. The highlight of the museum is the Tutankhamen exhibit which houses the treasure from the tomb discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. Although he was an insignificant Pharaoh, Tutankhamen’s tomb contained a stunning array of gold, including pure gold sandals. It is astounding to imagine what treasures a significant Pharaoh may have taken into their next life, had their tombs not been ransacked. We return to the hotel in the late afternoon for a rest before dinner.
From Cairo we travel west to the Suez Canal which marks the divide between Africa and the Sinai. We stop briefly at the town of Suez to view the large ships making use of this historic canal, before continuing on to the Sinai. Our journey will take most of the day and we expect to arrive at our hotel near St Catherine’s Monastery by mid afternoon. The rest of the day is at leisure for personal exploration. Our hotel is set at Wadi Raha (literally means valley of the rest). The Israelites camped here waiting for Moses whilst he remained on top of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God.
The Sinai is a land of mystical contrasts. From small Bedouin shelters nestled in the barren mountains, to the Red Sea diving resorts dotted along the southern coast lines, this dry desert is also home to the biblical Mt Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments. It is a very beautiful landscape, and the best way to appreciate it is by trekking into its’ mountainous core. This morning we commence our trek with a series of stunning day walks into the mountains of Sinai. Whilst the trek is graded moderate there are some steep sections with scrambling and some long days. For this part of the trip, we are guided along our route by local Bedouin tribesmen, and whilst the Bedouins are not professional guides, they are the most culturally appropriate people to escort us on our trek. Today we start the trek with a foray into the Talla Valley passing by Insela Mountain. In the beautiful Talla Valley we’ll have our picnic lunch. After lunch we continue walking in the spectacular Itlah Canyon with some steep slopes and scrambling sections. After a great day trekking, we return back to our Bedouin House for dinner and overnight.
We trek into the high ranges of Sinai in the St Catherine protectorate. Our first section today will be over Abu Gifa pass. Reaching the top of this pass we catch a view of the Bedouin village directly below. We continue into Wadi Zawateen where lots of olive trees can be seen. All the gardens and orchards are owned by the natives of the region who are more affiliated with the Romanians of Europe. Our Bedouin escorts are among these natives known as Gabalia. As locals of the St. Catherine region they are originally the defendants and servants of St. Catherine Monastery. We stop for a picnic lunch and afterwards, there is an opportunity to trek to the ruins of Aabas Basha Palace which dates back to the beginning of last century. There is an awesome view from atop the Aabas Basha Mountain which is over 2000m. We descend back to our Bedouin house near the village of St Catherine. Whilst dinner is prepared we have a good opportunity to look back upon our days activities and highlights.
Today is a long day where we climb St. Catherine Mountain. As the highest peak in Egypt she reaches over 2600 m above see level, From our lodgings we start early and follow trails via the El Arbaeen Valley. We continue through wadi, valleys and across dramatic terrain to the base of Mount St Catherine and start our ascent to the top of Egypt. Climbing to the top is optional, and for those not wanting to climb they can relax at the base and await the return of the rest of the group. From the summit we retrace our steps back to our Bedouin House and well earned dinner. Whilst today is the most challenging day, it is also one of the most rewarding.
Today is a shorter day where we scramble up the Moserdy Valley. Whilst not as long as yesterday, the trails are sometimes steep and demanding. From Moserdy, we descend to Motahar Valley for lunch before continuing via Wadi Shag and Wadi Toboog and returning to the Bedouin House.
We rise early to climb the magnificent peak of Mount Sinai. We ascend via the camel path or the "Steps of Repentence" to Eliaja’s Plateau. The final 750 steps have been carved from the mountain rocks tend to get crowded with eager travellers and pilgrims on their way to the summit. We arrive at the summit at 2285m above sea level, in time for a spectacular sunrise over the mountains of south Sinai. There is time for a warming drink before day break and to take in the spectacular view of the sun coming over the hills of Sinai. Our descent is either by the camel path or down the "Steps of Repentance". We have breakfast before visiting the monastery of St. Catherine. This 6th century Monastery is situated at the foot of Mount Sinai and houses one of the most important icon collections on earth. In addition to the biblical sites of the Burning Bush and Moses Well, we visit the stunning basilica. Our tour concludes with a visit to the charnel house or the Ossuary where relics of monks and hermits are on display. After the monastery, we enjoy lunch in a nearby restaurant with a chance to freshen up before our three hour drive to Sharm El Sheikh. On arrival we check-in, and enjoy a shower before dinner.
At 8.00am we catch a local speedboat to the town of Hurghada. (In case of bad weather or boat schedule changes that are out of our control, the alternative is to drive to Hurghada). The rest of the day is at leisure. There are numerous activities available to you including scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, swimming or just relaxing on the beach.
Today is yours at leisure. Your guide will be able to advise on the many activities that are available in and around Hurghada. You may wish to take a day trip to one of the surrounding islands. Otherwise you can explore the many boutiques or visit the Roman Mons Porphyrites (Mountain of Porphyry) remains at the nearby Gebel Abu Dukhan. Day-trips or safaris to explore the Red Sea Mountains are also available. Otherwise spend the day relaxing in the hotel or on the beach.
Our drive to Luxor will take approximately four hours. The city is located on the banks of the Nile, and is built on the site of the former capital of Egypt, Thebes which dates back 4000 years. In the centre of the town is the Luxor Temple and to the north Karnak and the Temple of Amun. This afternoon we visit these impressive temples which are well preserved and contain numerous columns, obelisks and in the temple of Karnak, an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes. The imprint of the various Pharaohs, including Tuthmosis III, Hatshepsut, Tutankhamun and Ramses II is evident. During our visit we will be in the company of a local expert. Our accommodation is on the Nile cruise boat which will be our base for the next 4 nights.
Today we cross over to the west bank of the Nile visiting the Valley of the Kings, the necropolis for the ancient city of Thebes. The rock hewn tombs are found in an arid valley and from the exterior it is hard to imagine the riches which once lay within. Ironically the most recent discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922 by Howard Carter, the contents of which are now in the Cairo Museum, is the least decorated. The tombs of Ramses I, III, IV, IX, Seti II and Tuthmosis III and IV are all richly decorated with paintings of goddesses and the stories from the Book of Day and Night. We will have the opportunity to visit a few of these tombs according to which are open to the public. The tombs are reached through a series of ornately painted underground corridors and anti chambers until it opens out to the burial chamber where the sarcophagus is found. There will also be time to visit the Temple of Hatshepsut, the first woman to reign as a king. In paintings and relief’s she was depicted as a man. Late in the afternoon we return to our comfortable cruise vessel.
The next two days spent sailing on the Nile allows us to relax and take in the view, experiencing first hand rural life on this life-giving river. Our relaxation time is interspersed with visits to the temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo. The temple of Horus at Edfu, is one of the largest and best preserved in Egypt.
The morning is for relaxation, a time to dwell on the amazing sights we have visited so far and to catch up on your journal. In the early afternoon we arrive in the bustling town of Aswan. Set primarily on the East Bank of the Nile, it is the most southern city in Egypt and is said to be the gateway to Africa. Ancient trade routes once crossed over in this town and the Sharia as-Souq today retains all of the activity and colour of the great trading days. We visit the High Dam, which at the time it was completed (1902) was the largest of its kind in the world. This afternoon we will visit the unfinished Obelisk and the Botanical Gardens. We return to our boat in the evening for dinner and overnight accommodation.
The Great Temple of Ramses II was carved from a mountain between 1290 and 1224 BC and was dedicated to the gods Ra-Harakhty, Amun and Ptah. Threatened by the rising waters of Lake Nasser, UNESCO organised a rescue of the temple in the 1960’s. The rescue involved carving the temple into more than 2000 blocks weighing up to 40 tonnes each and transferring them 210 metres away to a man made mountain, and reconstructing the temple façade which stands 30 metres high and 35 metres wide. From the outside it is hard to imagine that the temple is not original, and only by entering the mountain constructed in steel and concrete, is it possible to appreciate the enormous feat achieved by the archaeological teams. This morning you have the option to visit this awesome temple, which involves a flight landing near the temple. Following a tour around the temple, we return to Aswan. Late in the afternoon we will board the train for the overnight journey back to Cairo. Please note that no meals are included on board so you may wish to purchase food before joining the train. *NB: for those not taking the Abu Simbel option, you will disembark the boat in the morning and have the rest of the day at leisure before boarding the train.
Trip concludes on arrival into Cairo, we will transfer you to the airport for your flight home
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