A welcome return to Cairo for our AWT Pyramid Explorer group. Based at the luxury Mena House Hotel our guests were treated to spectacular site visits and special permits from the Ministry of Antiquities to visit areas closed to the general public.
Our leader for the tour was Colin Reader, whose background in geology and engineering made him the perfect expert to study the various pyramid fields we visited. The tour was accompanied throughout by Top Guide, Medhat Saad.
Our tour began with a delightful trip to the Egyptian Museum made all the more special now that you can take photographs. After our extensive guided tour with Medhat, there was plenty of free time to take those long awaited, special pictures.
Next day we boarded our four wheel drive vehicles and headed straight to Abu Roash where we had a special permit to view the Fourth Dynasty pyramid of Djedefre, son of Khufu. The Inspector of the region welcomed us and guided us over the site.
After tea and coffee, made by our drivers, we headed off to South Saqqara and another special, a meeting with Philippe Collombert of the French Archaeological Mission at Saqqara.
Philippe kindly showed us round the site and gave us all the latest news of the team’s work.
Last stop before a relaxing lunch, was Mastabat Faroun. Then to Abu Sir and the pyramid of Sahure.
A day in Cairo followed as we visited the Museum of Geology, the Nileometre on Roda Island and the Mosques of Sultan Hassan and the Khedive Ismael.
At Meidum, Colin talked about his theories on the building of the pyramid before we all made our way inside to the vaulted chamber.
Some passengers braved the entry into Mastaba 17. A chance to view the sarcophagus and the crushed ‘Robbers’ Mallet.
We also had permission from the local Inspector to visit the outlying mastaba’s of Nefermaat and Rahotep and his wife Nofret, to view the niche façade walls.
After a fortifying lunch, we headed to Dahshur, for yet another AWT special permit entry to the rarely opened Bent Pyramid. Due to lack of a generator at the site, the visit was done by torch light, but this did not deter our hardy passengers. After a steep descent in to the pyramid it was a challenging climb to continue. The corbelled ceiling and original timbers were wonderful to see. Excitement was high and after crawling along dusty corridors and climbing ladders and passageways, we found the Main Chamber.
Back outside on the desert floor, our Inspector took us on a walk to the Valley Temple excavated by Ahmed Fakhry in the 1950’s, where we had wonderful views of the Black Pyramid.
North Saqqara, another full day where we first entered the newly opened Pyramid of Unas.
We then visited the New Kingdom tombs of Maya, Horemheb, Meryneith and Pay and Raia. On to the tomb of Idut before continuing to Ptah Hotep. We included a ticket for the Serapeum, another masterpiece of engineering, both ancient and modern.
More tombs including Mereruka, Nefer Shem Ptah, Ankh Ma Hor and Kagemni, followed by Teti’s pyramid, now sadly missing some of the pyramid texts stolen in recent years. This bought home to us the need for all the recent security presence now at sites.
Our final stop was at two New Kingdom Tombs, first Nemtymes and then to Maya the wet nurse of Tutankhamun. These two tombs were both extraordinary and firsts for all of us on the tour.
Our day at North Saqqara was a real treat and extremely busy, with many new sites for most people. Colin explained his theories and pointed out many of the intriguing and often unexplained features of this fascinating site.
Colin gave a talk about the site and then we made our way down to the Valley Temple.
Colin talked about erosion due to weathering and the possible age of this famous icon of the Pyramid Age.
We then walked up the causeway, resting for a while en route. The weather was extremely hot, and feeling weary after our walk, we were glad to be back at the air conditioned bus.
Some passengers braved entry to the Menkaure Pyramid but after a quick stop at the viewing point for the panoramic shot, we were all pleased to be returning to our comfortable hotel.