Exploring The Pyramids With An Egyptologist Guide
Director of Sales, Elizabeth Story, shares the highlights of a recent trip to Egypt with Kensington Tours
I’m sure you know about the pyramids and the Sphinx, but nothing quite prepares you for coming face to face with something that has been around since 2504 BC. It has a way of putting life into perspective. Plus, the history is just fascinating — especially when you travel with a local guide. Kensington Tours only uses accredited Egyptologists, which made my recent trip so much more rewarding.
Upon arrival in Egypt, I checked in at Mena House. It is a vast property, recommended by my Kensington Tours Destination Expert, that is situated very close to the Pyramids in Cairo with rooms with a view. The lovely grounds and welcoming staff made a great first impression of this amazing country.
Looking at the Pyramids, going inside of one, and viewing the Sphinx is a highlight of any visit to Egypt and this is exactly what I did with my Egyptologist guide, Manal. Manal has been a guide in this area for 30 years and still delivers information passionately with true love of her country. She shared some information that really helped to enhance my tour, including the fact that the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only remaining ancient wonder of the world, still has unexplored passageways. She also mentioned that the calendar as we know it was invented by Egyptians. 365 Days divided into 12 months. The calendar helped to predict the Nile’s annual flooding. She also informed me that after years of political instability, Egypt has made a comeback. Visitor figures doubled from 2016 to 2017 and there are some impressive projects under way. Foremost is the $1-billion Grand Egyptian Museum, which is due to begin a phased opening in January 2020. This marble megalith will display King Tutankhamun’s entire burial collection for the first time ever, within an exact reconstruction of his tomb.
After two days in Cairo I flew to Luxor and the Kensington Tours team organized a seamless transfer to the vessel that would take me down the Nile River.
Every day along the Nile was a discovery in how ancient and engrossing this country is. We begin with a visit to the Temples of Karnak, strolling along the Avenue of Sphinx to enter the complex. The Temples of Karnak make up the history of Thebes and consist of colossal sandstone columns transported 100 miles along the Nile River, with panoramic friezes still intact. The temple dates to approximately 1400 BC and is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship rather than the Pharaohs, cult gods or deified versions of the king in death.
I should mention here that the Valley of the Kings and Queens on the hottest day reached 48 degrees with 10 percent humidity! Water in hand and moving slowly in the heat, I explored the famous Tomb of Tutankhamun along with two other interesting tombs. King Tut as he was known, became Pharaoh at the age of nine, and the discovery of his nearly intact tomb in 1922 fascinated the world. No pictures were allowed inside, but to my surprise Tut remains in his temple since when they discovered him they ‘broke’ part of him and decided to leave him there. He is displayed in a plexiglass case. I also explored the recently renovated mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the second historically confirmed female Pharaoh. I learned from my Egyptologist guide, Hassan, that Hatshepsut is generally regarded as one of the most successful Pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty.
Purposely built in to my itinerary were also lazy afternoons when I just ‘chilled’ on my deck under an umbrella with a cold drink in hand, watching the scenery float by. The pacing was spot on.
On my last day on the Nile I sailed on a Felucca, which is a non-motorized sailing vessel, and traditionally what was used on the Nile before motorized vessels. It was a lovely experience and considering the extreme heat, what little breeze there was I enjoyed.
At the end of my four-night cruise I flew from Aswan back into Cairo. This time my Destination Expert put me at the five-star Ritz-Carlton in central Cairo for a new and wonderful perspective on this diverse city. I set out to explore the museum and see some of the mummies taken out of their tombs, and also to experience the hustle and bustle of old Cairo. It was a perfect last few days. I would recommend always leaving the museum to last as having learnt so much of the history, it brought everything together.
If ancient Egypt is on your (or your client’s) bucket list, I encourage you to call Kensington Tour’s Middle Eastern experts at 1.888.903.2001 or email email@example.com. This trip again reinforced that an expert-planned trip with a private guide is so much more extraordinary than a large group tour. A knowledgeable private guide is also a must-have. If you have clients who prefer to travel with others, consider putting your own group together. I would recommend 8-12 is ideal and perhaps include yourself as the tour conductor.
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