Egypt trip, January 10th-22nd, 2005.
This was a Friendly Planet tour, led by Dr. Steven Derfler. It was a special group of 17 UW students and 9 of us 'non-traditional' students. This particular tour was also unusual in that the cost was virtually all inclusive. All meals, gratuities and at least 30 site admission fees were included. We saw virtually all the sites in my Egypt guide book, except for Alexandria.
This was a wonderful trip, and remains my all-time best trip. The Egyptian people were warm and friendly. The weather was pleasant. Our tour group was just great. Lectures on cruise days were interesting and informative. Food was plentiful, but I did finish off all of my emergency food supplies. It was important to use sun screen and stay hydrated. I know how to order red wine in 2 more languages.
We had a lot of security. There was usually a policeman on our tour bus. In Cairo, our bus was usually escorted by a police car. Our cruise boat had 2 armed soldiers. In the Valley of the Kings area, our bus travelled in an Army convoy.
Camera management was interesting. Video cameras must be declared on entry and a permit obtained. Some sites allow no flash. Some sites allow no cameras at all. Some sites allow video but not a still camera. Some sites allow still cameras but not video. At some sites you can buy a ticket for your video camera. Some other tourists were taking pictures with phones everywhere, regardless of restrictions.
While pictures are nice, you have to see the Pyramids, Sphinx, and the statues at Abu Simbel to grasp the size.
Modes of transportation used:
1. Jet planes
4. Horse carriages
5. Nile cruise boats (our home for 7 days)
6. Nile motor boats
7. Nile sail boat
10. Airport trams, Frankfort and Chicago
Traffic is very heavy in Cairo. Horn use is an important part of any mode of transportation in Egypt. I think the only ride I had without a horn was the camel. Even the horse carriage had a squeeze horn. It is very exciting to be racing up river, passing and honking 4 cruise boats abreast.
NOTE: Even though places like Egypt sound fun and exotic, most of my friends and relatives would have been extremely uncomfortable there. It is necessary to be concerned about immunizations, insect repellent, food and water safety, pick-pockets, and terrorism. Sometimes it is very hot, though January was pleasant. On April 7th, 2005, a terrorist killed 3 tourists in the Al-Azhar bazaar in Old Cairo, where I sat drinking Turkish coffee. On April 30th, members of the same group injured 7 people near the Cairo Museum, which we also visited. If any of this bothers you, it might be better for you to do less exotic travel.
Pictures are at the bottom of the page.
Itinerary: Refer to map below.
Jan 10, Monday, Depart Minneapolis to Cairo, via Chicago and Frankfort.
Jan 11, Tuesday, Arrive Cairo, Check into Sheraton Cairo. Dinner buffet in Hotel.
Jan 12, Wednesday, Cairo: Citadel and Mohammud Ali Mosque, Mosques of Sultan Hassan, Mosque of Al Rifal, Christian and Jewish Quarters, lunch buffet on a river boat, Cairo Museum, including King Tut exhibit, Mummy room, Dinner on the Nile Pharaoh Cruise boat.
Jan 13, Thursday, Cairo: Pyramids at Giza, Cheops Solar Boat Museum, the Great Sphinx, stuff at Memphis. Step Pyramid and tomb at Saqqara. Rug factory, Dinner and overnight accomodations on the train from Cairo to Aswan.
Jan 14, Friday, Aswan: After dropping luggage on our Nile riverboat, visit Aswan High Dam, Lotus Monument, Philae Island, quarry with unfinished obelisk, perfume factory, evening Sound and light show on Philae Island.
Jan 15, Saturday, Aswan: Fly south to Abu Simbel temples and return to Aswan. Riverboat departs at 2:30 pm down the Nile.
Jan 16, Sunday, Nile: Pass thru Turn Bridge and lock at Isna, Continue to Luxor.
Jan 17, Monday, Nile: Deir al-Madina, Valley of Queens, Valley of Kings, including 3 tombs and King Tut's tomb. Alabaster factory, Sound & light show at Karnak Temple.
Jan 18, Tuesday, Nile: Return to Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, papyrus factory. Rode bus in Army convoy back to meet boat at Isna lock.
Jan 19, Wednesday, Nile: Idfu Temple.
Jan 20, Thursday, Nile: Sailboat to Kitchener Island Botanical garden, Elephantine Island. Camel ride to San Simeon Monastery. Visit Nubian village.
Jan 21, Friday, Fly Aswan to Cairo. Visit Sadat Memorial, Manial Palace, Cairo Tower.
Jan 22, Saturday, Cairo: Rise at 1 am for return trip. Cairo-Frankfort-Chicago-Minneapolis.
We took an overnight train from Cairo to Aswan. Flew from Aswan to Abu Simbel, RT.
Cruised on the Nile from Aswan to Luxor, RT.
Flew from Aswan back to Cairo.
|Giza pyramid map.|
view from the top of Cairo Tower.
|The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) from about 2 miles. This was the tallest, man-made structure on Earth for 4,000 years.|
|Solar Boat in the Solar Boat Museum at Giza. Reassembled from a 4500 year old kit.|
|The Sphinx and the other 2 pyramids at Giza. We went inside the Pyramid of Khafre (the middle pyramid), shown behind the Sphinx. This pyramid still has a cap of face stone.|
|Step Pyramid at Saqqara. For scale, note the 2 people in the center right of the picture.|
|Quarry with unfinished obelisk due to fracture.|
|Looking up from eye level at the knee.
|Key to Abu Simbel temple in the shape of an ankh.|
|Two cruise boats going through the lock.|
|Another perfect sunset on the Nile.|
|Green where there's water.|
|Papyrus growing along the Nile.|
|New with the old. Note satellite dish, CocaCola, motorcycle, high voltage lines.|
|Entrance to King Tut's tomb. No photography allowed inside. We saw the contents at the Cairo Museum. The contents are going on tour in the US soon.|
A cartouche identifies the name of a pharaoh.
|Cabin steward art:
Swan, Double Swan
|Cabin steward art:
|Cabin steward art:
Watching TV. Note the remote.
We never watched TV on the river boat.
|The British Clock Tower in the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha, in the Citadel in Cairo.
The tour guide told us the clock doesn't work, and has never worked. Oh well, the British Clock in Buenos Aires, Argentina (last picture) doesn't work either. For some reason, Britain is having problems with declining exports.
Egypt Information Links
- The CIA World Fact Book - Egypt
- The Economist Country Briefings - Egypt
- CDC information on vaccinations or inoculations needed for entry.
- U.S. State Department Travel Warnings
- Al Ahram Weekly On-line
- Egyptian Gazette
- Tour Egypt Monthly - The Magazine of Egyptian Travel and Egypt History
Egypt Language Links
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Dale Stenseth. All rights reserved.
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