"Just home from Egypt with Ted! Absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend the trip. Would do it again with Ted, in a heartbeat." Eve, Oct 2023​

Booking for the GnT Egypt Experience November 2024 tour is open – limited places

Includes a day at the Grand Egyptian Museum

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel

At last, Internet access and a chance to catch up. I cannot believe that it is only just a week and a half since I arrived here. It seems that we have done so much. Where to start?
Day two: met the rest of the tour group at the Oasis Hotel in Giza, near the Pyramids for a rundown on what we could expect in the days ahead. A mixed bunch from the UK, South Africa, Australia, UAE, New Zealand and Malaysia.
Day three: we set off for Saqqara and the Step Pyramid, one of the earliest structures from the Old Kingdom. The journey was long and again the traffic and absolute disregard for any kind of road rules has to be seen to be believed.
We passed through many villages, with their obligatory mosques dominating the skyline. Small scale agriculture keeps most of them going and we were often forced to stop as a small group of cattle were herded across the road in front of us. The canals that run parralel with the roads are filled with rubbish and, indeed, are known locally as “trash canals”. Eventually we arrived at Saqqara.

The Step Pyramid dominates the landscape, with various other small pyramids in different stages of collapse dotted around. Built by the famous architect, and later god, Imhotep, this pyramid is that of King Djesr from the Old Kingdom and is actually huge once you get a bit closer. In front of it lies a big open courtyard with the remians of temple buildings to one side. From here you can see the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid. Also in the complex is the ruined pyramid of King Teti. This was my first opportunity to go down into the tomb of a King.

A steep passage leads to a dark low passage that you have to negotiate bent double until you emerge in the central chamber. To one side is another room containing the sarcophagus. This room’s walls were decorated with hieroglyphs of the Pyramid Texts, a series of spells designed to aid the dead King on his journey through the underworld. The ceiling was a dark blue with a pattern of golden stars. This was to be our first experience with a beligerent guard shouting “No Photo” and trying to grab people’s cameras. Quite a few of our group found all this quite frightening.
Left Saqqara under the impression we were finally going to Giza and the Pyramids, but I was wrong, we detoured via a perfume/essence factory for a free lunch of an Egyptian vegetarian dish Kushari which was pretty good. This was followed by a shameless hour or so of blatant selling.
Finally the Giza plateau and the Pyramids. Pictures can never prepare you for the shear size of the Great Pyramid, it is really really big. Amazing to be here at last after all these years of wishing.

I am returning to Giza later to go inside the Great Pyramid, despite our tour guide telling us that there is nothing to see as the walls are not decorated. Wa-el, our guide, is someone I would recommend to anyone, his knowledge and his command of facts and figures are hugely impressive. He has kept the whole trip entertaining with his little jokes and yelling at us in Arabic to “come along”. A good man.
The Pyramids was also our first experience of hardcore hawking as you could not move for somebody thrusting postcards, books, model pyramids etc etc at you. Prices in Dollars, British Pounds and Euros and then reluctantly Egyptian Pounds.I think we all found this quite difficult to deal with, especially the women in our group. The secret is to say nothing, not even “No”, just walk away.
Against my better judgement I decided to do a camel ride which was an alarming experience in itself.

The Sphinx and the Valley Temple, magnificent constructions and again it is impossible for pictures to really convey the size of these monuments and the vastness of the stones used to build them; cut, dressed and placed with no cement.
We left Giza with no idea of what lay ahead.

Back to the hotel to freshen up and grab some supper before getting the overnight train to Aswan.
Those of us who had elected to take the sitting train left the hotel at 21:30 to find out when we got to the railway station that the train was delayed. We finally boarded at 23:00. 17 hours later we pulled into Aswan. 17 hours on a train with flooded toliets that are blocked and only stale cheese rolls on offer left most of us feeling somewhat disgruntled. Cheered up a bit when we heard that those who had taken the sleeping train had broken down for 4 hours in the middle of the night. Because we were so late we weren’t able to check into to our cruise liner hotel but jumped aboard a bus for Philae Island and the Temple of Isis.

A beautiful temple dedicated to the goddess, built in the Ptolomeic era by the father of Cleopatra. This entire temple, like many others, was dismantled and moved when the High Dam was built.
In spite of the horrendous train journey I was up at 02:30 to go to Abu Simbel. We left Aswan, under armed police escort, in a convoy of coaches for the famous temple of Rameses the Great at Abu Simbel. A 3 hour bus ride through open desert but all worth it.

Abu Simbel is awe inspiring, the 4 statues of Rameses are huge. This temple and it’s adjoing temple to his wife Nefertari were both moved to avoid being flooded by the dam in the 1960s. I have to say that it was here that I began showing off a little. The main temple has a whole proclamation of how Great Rameses
was and I could read it, give or take a word or two and I could see the disbelief on the various members of the tour group who I read the hieroglyphs to. Even the tour guide was impressed.

Back to Aswan and day one of our river cruise.
I am going to stop here as I need to rest, was as sick as a dog yesterday, extensive vomiting and even more extensive diahorea added to a fever that finally broke at 05:30 this morning.

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