Celebration…on the Nile
Our holiday in Egypt, our second, upon which we were accompanied by our entire family, with the exception of two students, was such an unbelievably enjoyable, carefree and interesting occasion that it hardly seems possible it could have been achieved.
The occasion was our 55th wedding anniversary. Cox & Kings perfectly coordinated a welcome in Cairo for eight travellers from three distant parts of the world, all with different flight schedules. Entry into Egypt was smooth. Our visas were collected then transported to the Four Seasons Hotel’s spacious accommodations with views of the pyramids at Giza and the River Nile.
The following morning, accompanied by our favourite Egyptologist, Sahar, we entered the Egyptian Museum. Our ages ranged from 13 years to 78 and it was for all an equally enthralling and intriguing experience. The museum could have taken days to absorb in detail but on to the Old Bazaar where we lunched in an traditional restaurant serving a pleasing, local menu. The afternoon was spent viewing, by special request, the Nileometer (an ancient structure for ingeniously measuring the levels of the river), the Coptic Hanging Church (so called because its nave is suspended above a passage leading into the old Roman fortress) and the synagogue in old Cairo. We then enjoyed a hands-on class, learning how to make papyrus with a chance to purchase the intricate final painted article.
Next day, after flying to Luxor to board our ship, the Royal Lily, we parted company. The younger family members were conducted around Karnak temple complex, astonishing in its enormity, then the city of Luxor while the two of us made a requested expedition to the temples at Dendera with an enjoyable and interesting private car journey through the Nile countryside.
Early morning over the River Nile, Luxor
The Royal Lily was a comfortable, superior experience: cabins with wall-to-wall windows, an excellent choice of cuisine, evening entertainment, a good shop and very friendly staff.
During our four-night cruise aboard the Royal Lily we explored the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and Collossi of Memnon before continuing to Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae, the unfinished Obelisk and the Aswan Dam, including a sailing trip aboard a traditional, wooden felucca.
Tomb entrance in the Valley of the Kings
During our journey, it was important for us to be given shopping time; it’s amazing what you can pick up of aesthetic value from local vendors, antique shops and makers of handicrafts, quite apart from the overwhelming amount of tourist souvenirs.
Thoth and wife Maat in an antique shop
Disembarking at Aswan, we were flown to Abu Simbel where we boarded the Omar El Khayam, a very splendid cruise ship on Lake Nasser with private balconies in each cabin. We toured the site of Abu Simbel in the afternoon. The temples of Ramses and Nefertari are truly wonders of the world and even more so after their Unesco relocation, saving them from flooding after construction of the Aswan Dam. The evening Son et Lumière show (Sound and Light show) highlighted the history and the almost insurmountable task of reconstruction.
Nefertari Temple at night, Abu Simbel
The Omar El Khayam boat, with inviting buffet, evening entertainment, a shop, fun restaurant and housekeeping staff, sailed around peaceful Lake Nasser with site visits to lesser known but interesting temples at Qasr Ibrim, Wadi El Sebua and Kalabsha on a three-night cruise. Upon return to our cabin each evening, the housekeeping staff indulged us with surprise towel sculptures including monkeys, a crocodile, an elephant, hilarious personal effigies, swans and hearts with floral décor.
Towel oragami lesson aboard the Omar El Khayam
With one whole day in Cairo before our departures we requested visits to the Bent Pyramid, which we entered, and the Red, Black and Stepped Pyramid at Saqqara, with mastabas (ancient Egyptian burial chambers) included. Before continuing to Giza, our grand finale, we enjoyed a delicious Egyptian lunch at a restaurant near Saqqara seeing local breads being made near the entrance.
Lady making pitta breads, Saqqara
Giza, with the Pyramids and Sphinx, was of course not to be missed. It is in fact in the process of being integrated into a national park which will include the new Grand Egyptian Museum, to be opened by 2020. We imagine that will entail a two-day visit in itself.
Camel rides at Giza
The supreme success of our tour in Egypt was, for us, how every special request was catered for by Cox & Kings and, for such a disparity in age and diversity of interests within our family group, never a boring moment was experienced by anyone. In addition the Egyptian staff in attendance at every location, on every occasion were more than competent, patient, entertaining, obliging and all too ready to indulge in rhetorical wit. It was unforgettable fun for a very special occasion in our lives.
Cox & Kings’ various cruise options along the Nile can be viewed here. Alternatively, if you are interested in a tailor-made trip to Egypt, please either call one of our specialist travel consultants or complete our tailor-made request form and one of our experts will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary.
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