LAND OF THE RED CROWN

Day 1 – Saturday 3rd November 2012

Fly London to Cairo and on arrival we transfer to the Movenpick Hotel at Giza for three nights on a room and breakfast basis.

Day 2 – Old Cairo

This morning we head into Old Cairo. We start with a visit to the vast Ibn Tulun Mosque, a rare survivor from the classical Islamic period of the ninth and tenth centuries. A short distance from the mosque we move on to the Gayer-Anderson House, a mansion house museum of Oriental and Islamic style furnishings collected in the 1930’s and 1940’s by a retired British Major, Gayer-Anderson. We have lunch at the Citadel Restaurant overlooking Al Azhar Park and then we continue our exploration of Old Cairo at the great Citadel of Saladin and the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. We also visit the colourful Tentmakers’ Bazaar and the city gates of Bab Zuweila, once the city’s main southern gate. (BL)

Day 3 –The Great Pyramids

To the Giza Plateau for a visit to the Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure as well as an in-depth look at the satellite pyramids, boat pits, the mortuary temple of Khafre and the mighty Sphinx. Time is allowed for those who wish, to enter the Solar Boat Museum to view the boat of Khufu, or perhaps enter a pyramid. We return to the hotel for some free time over the lunch period before travelling in to the city for a guided tour of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Plenty of time to search out many artefacts from areas we will visit over the next few days, as well as the most famous collections such as Tutankhamun, the Tanis Treasures and the Amarna collection. There is an optional ticket available in the museum for those who wish to enter the Mummy Room. (B)

Day 4 – Remote Pyramids

After breakfast we board our four wheel drive vehicles and set off for the more remote pyramid fi elds. We journey south to Meidum with its spectacular pyramid and fascinating ‘Mastaba 17’. The adventurous can enter the pyramid itself to explore the burial chamber and then enter the mastaba tomb via the ancient robbers’ tunnel. Our next stop will be at the eroded pyramid of Senusret I I at Lahun. We have a picnic lunch before continuing to Hawara. At Hawara we find the mud brick pyramid of Amenemhat I I I and the site of the fabled Labyrinth. Dylan has studied this site extensively and will talk us through the history of the area. This was the excavation area where Petrie discovered the famous Faiyum Portraits. This evening we check in for two nights at the Auberge Hotel in a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Qarun. (BLD)

Day 5 – Faiyum

Today we concentrate on some interesting local sites starting at Qasr Qarun, a temple dedicated to the Faiyum god Sobek, built during the Ptolemaic Period. The ruins of the ancient town known as Dionysias, and the fortress, are thought to have been abandoned in antiquity. On to Medinet Maadi with its isolated temple built in the 12th Dynasty, were we see an avenue of sphinxes and lions and many fi ne reliefs. We have a picnic lunch before entering Faiyum City itself. We spend the afternoon exploring some of the famous landmarks in the area. The wooden water wheels for irrigating the fi elds, the stelea of Senusret I, more often referred to as an obelisk, and the ruined giant statue bases at Biahmu. (BLD)

Day 6 –Temples and Cities

Our day begins at Qasr al-Sagha, an incomplete temple dating from the Middle Kingdom. We explore the fortress and the extensive remains of the nearby village. Then to Dimai, believed to be founded by Ptolemy I I, when the city would have been closer to the shore of the lake and served as a port. Next, to one of the largest Greco-Roman cities in the Faiyum, that of Karanis. Here we see temples dedicated to the crocodile god, granaries, a Roman bath and the homes of the residents of this community. We then have a picnic lunch out in the desert before our journey back to Cairo. On arrival, we check in to the fi rst-class Movenpick Hotel at Giza for three nights on room and breakfast basis. (BL)

Day 7– The Serapeum

First today we visit the Imhotep Museum before exploring the Step Pyramid Enclosure. Here we fi nd not only the oldest stone building in the world, the Pyramid of Djoser, but also, later Old Kingdom pyramids with Pyramid Texts and mastaba tombs of the highest standard. A highlight will be entry to the newly opened New Kingdom tombs including that of the General Horemheb. We also have a special permit to enter the Serapeum, the galleries of the tombs of the ‘Apis Bulls’. We take a leisurely lunch at the Sakkara Palm Club before continuing our day of adventure. We head to one of the most impressive of all pyramid fi elds, that of Dahshur, where we fi nd the Red and Bent Pyramids of Snofru. Time to enter the Red Pyramid for those who wish, before we make the short journey across the sands to the intriguing Bent Pyramid. With its collapsed lower corners and much of its limestone casing still in place, we are able to closely study the building techniques of the era. (BL)

Day 8 – Delta

We set out for the Eastern Delta and the ancient city of the cats at Bubastis. Dating from the Old and New Kingdoms, the city was known as ‘House of Bastet’ and the cemeteries and vaulted catacombs were found to be full of feline mummies. Next, to the most impressive archaeological site in the Delta, the massive site of Tanis, known as Zoan in the Bible. We will walk around the ruined Ramesside Temple of Amun with its shattered fragments of fallen colossal statues scattered over the desert sands. A chance to see the tombs of Osorkon I I and Psusennes I I whose treasures we will have seen in the Cairo Museum. We have a packed lunch today provided by the Movenpick before returning to our hotel. (BL)

Day 9 – Sunday 11th November 2012

We take our private transfer to the airport for our direct EgyptAir fl ight to London. (B)

Expert: Dylan Bickerstaffe, is well known for his publications, lectures, and TV work on the royal mummies and cache tombs. He has also made a special study of the Egyptian Labyrinth at Hawara. Clues to this enigmatic site, will be revealed in the Faiyum, Sakkara, and other sites on this tour.

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