About 100 km before the Nile splits into the branches of the Delta, some of the river’s waters are diverted westwards towards a basin, via a break in the western mountains of the Nile Valley. The waters collected at the basins deepest point creating a lake called Moeris in ancient times, Lake Qarun today. The Lake and the fertile land around are together known as the Faiyum Oasis. This great oasis was settled throughout ancient times but was the focus of particularly intense activity in the Middle Kingdom and Ptolemaic Periods. In the 12th Dynasty the course connecting the river and the oasis was deliberately widened creating a canal now called the Bahr Yusuf (the ‘Canal of Joseph’). The pharaohs of this period created a new capital city somewhere in the region, and some built their tombs – vast mud-brick pyramids – along the route of the canal at sites including Lahun and Hawara. The pharaohs of the Ptolemaic Period took steps to develop the region to increase agricultural production giving rise to substantial settlements and temple buildings including those at Dimé (Soknopaiou Nesos) and Medinet Madi.
- Friday 13th September 2024
We take our direct flight from London Heathrow to Cairo and on arrival we transfer to The Meridien Hotel close to the airport. We check in for one night on room and breakfast basis.
- Saturday 14th September - Lahun and Hawara
After breakfast we board our coach and head to Lahun. Here we can enter the mud-brick pyramid of Senusret II recently restored and open to the public. Next, to the pyramid of Amenemhet III at Hawara. It was here that Flinders Petrie unearthed the famous Roman Period portrait mummies and excavated the ‘Labyrinth’ as described by Herodotus. We travel with lunch boxes today and late this afternoon we check in to our luxury boutique hotel, The Lazib Inn Resort and Spa. This lovely Faiyum style hotel set on a lush, green hillside, is surrounded by pristine gardens. We stay at the Inn for four nights on half board basis. (BLD)
- Sunday 15th September - Dimeh of the Lions
This morning we will meet our driving team in their four-wheel drive vehicles as we will be exploring some remote sites over the next three days. Today we travel through the Gebel Qatrani Formation with plenty of time to view the desert scenery as we head to Qasr el-Sagha. This incomplete temple said to date from the Middle Kingdom is built of huge blocks of sandstone and seems hidden in the desert. We continue to Dimeh, believed to be founded by Ptolemy II, at a time when the city would have been closer to the lake shore. Our drivers will prepare a picnic lunch for us today. (BLD)
- Monday 16th September - Valley of the Whales
Today we drive to Wadi el Hitan, the Valley of the Whales. Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005 we can follow the trails around this fascinating paleontological site dating back some forty million years. Another protected area awaits, Wadi el-Rayan, where we will see two artificial irrigation lakes and a small waterfall. Again, our driving team will prepare a picnic lunch in a quiet area. (BLD)
- Tuesday 17th September - Madi’s City and Colossi
Our day begins as we head south to the ruined city of Medinet Madi where we find a stone temple built by Amenemhat III and IV in the Twelfth Dynasty with some Ptolemaic additions. We explore the ruined town and marvel at the views across the Faiyum basin. Next, to Umm el-Baragat also known as Tebtunis also founded in the Twelfth Dynasty. This rich town was a huge regional centre during Ptolemaic times and is famous for the many Demotic and Greek Papyri found in the area. On to Biahmu, and the pedestals of two colossal statues erected by Amenemhat III. Only the pedestals remain, recorded by Herodotus, and Flinders Petrie surveyed the site in the late 1880’s. Finally, to Karanis to view the extensive ruins of another ancient city. We will have a picnic lunch while on our travels today and on arrival back at our hotel we say goodbye to our driving team. (BLD)
- Wednesday 18th September - Meidum
After Breakfast we set off for Cairo, but we make an exciting stop en-route. A chance to enter the Pyramid of Sneferu at Meidum. Time also for the adventurous to venture into the burial chamber of Mastaba 17 nearby. On arrival in Cairo, we check in to the Steigenberger Hotel at Giza for two nights on room and breakfast basis. (BL)
- Thursday 19th September -The Grand Egyptian Museum
Today we make the short journey to GEM for free time to explore this vast new Museum. Lunch under own arrangements at the Museum. A grand finale to this exciting new tour. (B)
- Friday 20th September - Home
This morning we take our private transfer from the hotel to Cairo Airport for our homebound flight. (B)
Egyptologist, Chris Naunton has appeared in numerous television documentaries, most notably as the presenter of ‘ Flinders Petrie: The Man who Discovered Egypt’ (BBC4) and ‘Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy’ (Ch 4) and Egypt’s Lost Pyramid (Ch 4). He was CEO of the EES from 2012 -16 and President of the International Association of Egyptologists from 2015-19. He is now Director of the Robert Anderson Trust. His books; ‘Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt’, and ‘Egyptologists’ Notebooks’ are now on sale.
B = Breakfast BL = Breakfast and Lunch BD = Breakfast and Dinner BLD = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner