- Monday 30th November 2020 - To Aswan
We fly from London Heathrow via Cairo to Aswan, where we take a private transfer to check in at the Mövenpick Hotel, on the truly historic island of Elephantine, for three nights stay on room-and-breakfast basis.
- Tuesday 1st Dec - The Island of Isis
First this morning, we visit the quarry which supplied all the granite for the temple gateways of Ancient Egypt and the colossal statues of the pharaohs, and marvel there at the massive ‘Unfinished Obelisk’. Next, we board a launch to the Island of Philae for a guided tour of the Temple of Isis, where we explore the elegant colonnade and well preserved sanctuary, the Kiosk of Trajan, Hadrian’s Gate, the Temple of Hathor, and more – including dramatic graffiti that talk about the twilight of Ancient Egypt and its rediscovery in modern times. We can also take refreshments at the café before our launch makes a trip to the Temple’s original site, where the remains of the coffer dam bear witness to the UNESCO Rescue Mission half a century ago. Later today, after free time at the Hotel, we take a trip to the Nubia Museum to learn about the entwined histories of Egypt and Nubia as revealed in archaeological finds from the local area and elsewhere. In the evening, Bill will give us an informal talk about the tombs of the Governors of Elephantine.
- Wednesday 2nd Dec - The Edge of Egypt
Today we begin by taking a launch across the Nile to Qubbet el Hawa, to visit the celebrated tombs of the Old and Middle Kingdom Governors of Elephantine, including the extraordinarily beautiful tomb of Sarenput II. Afterwards we continue along the desert path to St Simeon’s Monastery, dating from the seventh century. Our launch then makes the picturesque cruise to Sehel Island, whose rocks are covered with the inscriptions of Egyptian kings and officials crossing the border into Nubia for reasons of both war and peace. Here we can also view the famously enigmatic ‘Famine Stela’. After a good rest and lunch at the Hotel, we set off for the picturesque ruins of Abu (‘Ivory Town’), the sprawling archaeological site at the southern end of Elephantine itself. Here we take a guided tour through the most ancient temples of Khnum and Satis, the shrine of the sainted governor Heqaib, and many other monuments covering the whole span of Ancient Egyptian history, from earliest times to the Roman Empire. Later, Bill will give us an informal talk about the ancient invasions of Nubia.
- Thursday 3rd Dec - The Temples on the Lake
This morning we leave Elephantine behind to begin our journey south into Ancient Nubia and the town of Abu Simbel itself – synonymous with the iconic temples of Ramesses II. Our first visit, however, is to the Wadi el-Sebua (‘Valley of the Lions’) where we explore another Ramesside temple and nearby the Temple of Dakka and the Roman-era Temple of Maharraqa. After a picnic lunch, we carry on to New Amada, set in a most beautiful stretch of Lake Nasser, where we enter the New Kingdom temple of the sun-god Ra-Horakhty to view some of the finest reliefs in any of the Nubian temples. From there we travel on to the Temple of Derr, also built by Ramesses II, and finally the lovely tomb of Pennut, a high official in the reign of Ramesses VI. By late afternoon we reach the EsKaleh, our comfortable Nubian-style ecolodge, and check in for a stay of two nights with full board.
Day 5 and 6
- Friday 4th and Saturday 5th Dec - Abu Simbel from all Angles
Our ecolodge sits on a creek just a couple of miles from the Temple of Ramesses II and the Temple of Queen Nefertari at Abu Simbel, which we will visit on three separate occasions during the two days. One of the visits is by night to see the world-famous Son et Lumière (sound-and-light show), and we have plenty of time besides to wander through the Temples by day and take photos. We also have use of a local houseboat to take in spectacular views of the Temples while out on the Lake itself. Dinner is included on both nights at the lodge, so we can eat together at the restaurant. On Saturday afternoon, we take the chance to visit the Temple of Kalabsha while we are on the road back to Aswan. On arrival there, we check back into the Mövenpick Hotel for one more night on room-and-breakfast basis.
- Sunday 6th Dec - The Highway to Luxor
Making an early start, we leave Elephantine Island for the last time and drive to Luxor. We have a picnic lunch on our journey today, and en route we also stop at Kom Ombo, wonderfully situated on a picturesque bend in the River Nile. We have a guided tour of the romantic ruins of the Temple of Harwer and Sobek. On arrival in Luxor we check in to the Garden Pavilion Wing of the historic Old Winter Palace for one night on room-and-breakfast basis.What remains of our final day is at leisure, perhaps for a visit to the celebrated Luxor Museum or the astonishing ruins of Luxor Temple next door – or perhaps just some pool time.
- Monday 7th December 2020
We take a private transfer to Luxor International Airport for a direct flight to London Heathrow, scheduled to arrive in the UK in the early afternoon.
Dr Bill Manley is a best-selling author, an Egyptologist and a Coptic scholar. He is currently working with the Wadi C2 Archaeological Project, based in Luxor, while his own specialist research encompasses a wide range of challenging Ancient Egyptian and Coptic texts. His most recent book, Egyptian Art (2017), was part of Thames & Hudson’s prestigious ‘World of Art Series’, while his next book, due in 2021, is about ancient philosophy. In addition, Bill has taught Egyptology at the University of Glasgow for more than twenty years.
B = Breakfast BL = Breakfast and Lunch BD = Breakfast and Dinner BLD = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner