Thursday, July 28, 2011


(does not include Cairo or Red Sea)

(Situated at what was in antiquity (known as Syene) Egypt’s southern border (1st Cataract), with Nubia lying beyond; must take additional flight to Abu Simbel.)
Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel – Abtal Al Tahrir Street; 011-20-97-316-000;; renovated in 2010.
Basma Hotel – in front of Nubian Museum; 011-20-97-231-0901;; eat on terrace in evening.
1902 – Abtal Al Tahrir Street (at Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel); 011-20-97-316-000;; 1978 film, Death on Nile scene (Grand Ball) filmed here.
Sights & Sites
Abu Simbel – 25 miles from Sudanese border; 2 temples (Ramses II’s Great Temple and Hathor’s Temple, dedicated to Ramses II’s wife, Nefertari) built between 1274-1244 BCE; were cut into pieces and moved to current location in 1960s to save from dammed water rising.
Aswan Market – no need for guide; essentially small town main street with offshoots.
Nubian Museum – el Fanadek Street (opposite Basma Hotel); 011-20-9-731-9333;
Roman Philae Complex – enormous, Greco-Roman complex where goddess Isis worshipped.
St. Simeon’s Monastery – best example of ancient Christian (Coptic) stronghold in Egypt; dates back to 7th Century; abandoned in 12th Century because of water shortages; wrecked structure is on high ground and very photogenic.
Unfinished Obelisk – in quarry where much of ancient Egypt’s red granite taken; if erected, would have been 1.168 tons and 137' high.

Sights & Sites
Temple of Horus – falcon god complex; begun in 237 BCE and completed by 57 BCE, by Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos, Cleopatra’s father; best-preserved Egyptian temple in existence; set back from river, completely entombed in sand for 1.9K years.

(Elephantine was nucleus from which Aswan evolved.)

Sights & Sites
Kitchener’s Island (Aswan Botanical Garden) – 100s species flora from Africa, Far East, and India.
Sir William Willcocks Museum – also known as “Aswan Museum” or “Elephantine Museum”; Willcocks was Old Aswan Dam engineer; contains objects unearthed at Elephantine Island sites.

Sights & Sites
Greek Ptolemaic Pharaonic Complex – largely completed under Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos, Cleopatra’s father; noteworthy for beautiful setting, on high promontory at Nile River bend.

(Known as Waset in ancient times, renamed Thebes by Greeks and Al-Uqsur (“Palaces”) by conquering Arabs in 7th Century; east bank of Nile River is ceremonial temples site (because where sun rises); west bank is where mortuary temples and tombs are (because where sun sets).)
Hotel al Moudira – Nile River, West Bank; 011-20-12-325-1307;; splendid, uniquely atmospheric, with large, domed, beautifully furnished rooms; some of best food in Egypt; pool.
Sofitel Winter Palace – Corniche El Nile Street; 011-20-95-238-0425;; built in 1886.
Al-Moudira – Nile River, West Bank (at al-Moudira Hotel); 011-20-12-325-1307;; at al-Moudira hotel; some of best food in Egypt.
El Kababgy – Lower Corniche; indifferent food but excellent views – across river to Theban hills.
Nour El Nil – 011-20-10-657-8322 or 011-20-10-570-5341;; luxuy tour operator; in particular, river cruises on 5 custom-built dahabeyas; 6-day/5-night cruises between Luxor and Aswan; big “panoramic” cabins at boats’ back are among most attractive accommodations in Egypt: not huge, but fitted with period furnishings and picture window nearly at water-level; Meroe is desirable boat.
Anthony Sattin – 011-44-781-256-6089;; private individual that sometimes does knowledgeable Egyptian tours.
Sights & Sites
Deir al-Bahri – Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple; triple-tiered, ramped temple (begin early here (dawn) because crowds really interfere).
Deir al-Medina – tombs.
Karnak Complex – dedicated to Amun-Re (Supreme God, pharaonic legitimator), Khons (their son, moon god), and Mut (Amun-Re’s wife, Khons’ mother); largest place of worship in ancient world; built over 2K years by succession of mostly new kingdom pharaohs.
Luxor Temple – open till 9-10 pm most of year; built largely by Amenhotep III and dedicated to same triad as Karnak Complex; Mosque of Abu el-Haggag built on site, dedicated to 12th Century sheik who arrived here from Baghdad.
Medinet Habu – Ramses III’s mortuary temple; well-preserved with brightly colored ancient paintings still visible.
Ramesseum – Ramses II’s mortuary temple; dramatically shattered.
Tombs of Nobles – nonroyal necropolis; especially worth seeing is Ramose’s tomb (#55) – Thebes governor.
Valley of Kings – at least 60 royal tombs.
Valley of Princes, Princesses & Queens – far fewer tombs here; 2 are notable: (1) Amunherkhepshef (#55) – Ramses III’s son, only 10-11 when died; and (2) Nefertari (#66) – Ramses II’s wife (can be entered only by special arrangement with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and for hefty fee).
West Bank back roads – arrange with driver to show you roads between al-Moudira hotel and river; mudbrick homes, sugarcane fields, shepherds and flocks – even tiny Greco-Roman temple not mentioned in any guidebooks.
Workmen’s Village – where those who built tombs lived; also can visit workmen’s tombs, such as that of Inherkhau (#359), foreman, and Sennedjem (#1), artist.

Adrere Amellal – Sidi al-Ja’afar; 011-20-22-735-9343;; no experience like it; food, service, rooms, surroundings on highest level; isolated and quiet; on Siwa oasis.fsiwa.

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