THE LAND OF KUSH

Day 1 – Saturday 5th January 2013 
This morning we board our Turkish Airlines International flight from London Heathrow to Khartoum, via a refuelling stop in Istanbul, arriving in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Day 2 – Khartoum
On arrival we transfer to Khartoum's Grand Holiday Villa Hotel, a classic Victorian building on the banks of the Blue Nile for breakfast and one night's stay. After a morning to relax, we then make the short drive to the Sudan National Museum, housing everything from Neolithic remains, through the great periods of Kushite history, to the amazing Christian paintings from the cathedral at Faras. The garden contains a number of structures salvaged after the building of the Aswan High Dam, including the temples from the fortresses of Buhen, Semna and Kumma, just south of Abu Simbel. We will also visit the Blue Nile Sailing Club to see the old gunboat, ‘Malik’, the last survivor of Kitchener's expedition against the Mahdi. (B)

Day 3 – The Road to Meroë
Today we board our four-wheel drive vehicles and begin our journey to Meroë; visiting two wonderful archaeological sites en route. Both contain a series of important structures: the superbly preserved Lion Temple at Naga, and the vast enclosure at Musawwarat, with its intriguing representations of elephants in two and three dimensions. We will have a picnic lunch in the area before continuing to the Meroë Safari Camp where we will stay for two nights. The spacious twin-bedded tents are tastefully furnished, equipped with electricity and set up on permanent concrete bases, each with its own dedicated bathroom hut a few metres away, with shower, wash-basin and toilet. Each tent has a veranda with comfortable chairs allowing guests to relax while enjoying the stunning views of the pyramids of Meroë, only 3.5 kilometres away. There is a permanent restaurant block that we use at mealtimes. (BLD)

Day 4 –  The Royal Necropolis and City of Meroë
Having watched the sun rise on the pyramids set on hills covered by yellow sand dunes, we make the short drive to see them close up. Although their burial chambers are inaccessible, we will enter a number of the pyramids' mortuary chapels, with their fascinating combination of Egyptian and local motifs. After lunch we move closer to the river bank, to explore the ruins of the Royal City of Meroë, including the temple of Amun and the so-called 'Royal Bath'. On our way back to camp, we visit the Sun Temple and the Western Necropolis, containing the tombs of members of the royal family and nobility. Exciting to know that much of the area we cover is still to be excavated. (BLD)

Day 5 –The Road to Gebel Barkal
This morning we leave Meroë and drive to the Sudan's 'railway town' of Atbara, where we visit the Railway Museum. We then head into the surprisingly verdant Bayuda Desert with its volcanic black basalt mountains. We drive towards the town of Karima and the heart-land of the Kushite State, Gebel Barkal, picnicking en route. Re-joining the Nile valley, we visit the pyramid-field of Nuri, dominated by the tomb of the greatest of the Kushite kings, Taharqa. We check in to the Nubian Rest House at Karima for three nights. This charming property built in local-style at the foot of the Gebel has large domed, en suite rooms facing on to a lush garden. (BLD)

Day 6 – The Holy Mountain of Amun
At dawn, there will be an opportunity to climb Gebel Barkal to view the sunrise and experience the amazing view from the top: to the pyramid of Taharqa in the distance and down to the temples standing at the foot of the mountain. The temple of Amun (B500) was founded by Thutmose III, who made Barkal - ancient Napata - the capital of the viceroy who ruled Kush for the pharaoh until the beginning of the Third Intermediate Period, and extended by later New Kingdom monarchs and their Kushite successors. After breakfast, we will drive the short distance from the Rest House to the Gebel Barkal site museum, where we will begin the morning's tour. We then pass on along the front of the Gebel to visit the series of temples there, finishing with Taharqa's temple (B300), cut into the foot of the mountain itself. We then visit the two small groups of pyramids just to the west, before returning to the Rest House for lunch. In the afternoon we drive to the necropolis of el Kurru, with tumuli perhaps going back to the New Kingdom, and the pyramid-tombs of most of the kings of the 25th Dynasty, who ruled both Kush and Egypt. We enter the decorated burial chambers of king Tanutamun - last king of Egypt and Kush - and queen Qalhata, a wife of Taharqa. (BLD)

Day 7 – Kerma
Today we make a day trip northward to the site of Kerma, the capital of the first known Kushite state. Kerma culture, which flourished during Egypt’s Second Intermediate Period, allied with the Hyksos, launched at least one invasion of Upper Egypt, recounted in a recently discovered text at el Kab. The site is dominated by two great brick buildings known as the East and West Defufas, and also includes a number of huge tumluli in which the Kerman kings were buried with sacrificed retainers and statuary looted from Egypt. There is also a new museum at the site, with the fruits of decades of excavation by the Swiss archaeologist Charles Bonnet. If there is time, we will return via the site of Kawa, with temples of Tutankhamun and Taharqa that are, however, now largely buried under wind-blown sand. (BLD)

Day 8 – Omdurman and Khartoum
Today we make the journey back to Khartoum. After a final picnic lunch under an acacia tree in the desert we reach Omdurman with its colourful and lively market. Situated on the western bank of the river Nile this was the ancient capital of Sudan and location of the tomb of Mahdi. Late afternoon we arrive in Khartoum and check in to the Grand Hotel where we will have rooms until it is time to head to the airport. (BL)

Day 9 – Sunday 13th January 2013
We leave the hotel and transfer to Khartoum airport for the early flight back to London, via Istanbul arriving later that morning. 

Expert: Dr Aidan Dodson has been leading tours to the Nile Valley for over twenty years and particularly with AWT. He teaches Egyptology at Bristol University and is Chairman of the Trustees of the Egypt Exploration Society, as well as being the author of some fifteen books and over 200 articles

(B) = Breakfast (BL) = Breakfast and Lunch (BLD) = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner

 

THE LAND OF KUSH

DEPARTURE DATE  Saturday 5th January 2013

TOUR CODE AWKU050113

 

BASIC HOLIDAY PRICE: £3,510

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: £386

 

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