East and West of the Nile
Cairo & Luxor
WHEN TO GO
OCTOBER TO APRIL
Cairo & Luxor
EGYPT AT THE CROSSROADS OF CIVILISATIONS
Um al-Dunya, an Arabic expression meaning ‘Mother of the World’, evokes the extraordinary achievements of Egypt, from the riches of its early antiquity to the evolution of religion, culture and science through the ages. How has Egypt’s position between east and west borne such an outsized influence on the human story?
Piece together Egypt’s grand narrative along the languid banks of the Nile, amid the boundless sands where the souls of kings and queens met the afterlife in their necropolises, and in the modern-day cities of Cairo and Luxor that reveal so many layers of a past richly lived. Along the way, unlock special access to ancient sites, palaces and museums, and share in the reflective insights of world-leading Egyptologists, archaeologists and historians.
THE NILE AND THE SANDS
The story of Egypt springs from the Nile, giving rise to the ancient capitals of Memphis and Thebes, and defining east and west, where dawn symbolises life and fertility, and sunset death. But far from its life-giving waters, beneath the lone sands and wind-eroded rocks of Wadi Al Hittan, it’s not Pharaohs but Egyptians of an even more ancient order that slumber. The Valley of the Whales contains invaluable fossil remains of the earliest suborder of cetaceans, known as Archaeoceti. How did these giants evolve from land-based to ocean-going animals?
MONUMENTS TO ANCIENT DYNASTIES
The great necropolises at Giza and Saqqara, and those of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, belong to the symbolic west of the Nile. While the city sleeps, join Emma Bonthorne, an archaeologist, for a dawn visit to the pyramids at Giza, which reveals them in moments of quiet beauty. At Luxor, follow the gods into the afterlife for an expert-led exploration of the necropolis of Queen Hatshepsut or the tomb of Queen Nefertari in the company of Emma Bonthorne, and gain private access to Seti I or Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. On the Nile’s east bank, discover the temples of Luxor and Karnak, recently re-joined by the magnificent, restored Avenue of Sphinxes.
THE URBAN FABRIC OF HISTORIC CAIRO
Multi-layered Cairo, at the crossroads between the Arabic and Western worlds, is where cultures have collided for millennia - Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Mamluks, Turks, French and British. Old Cairo sprang up on the Nile’s east bank, where the city’s architectural layers are revealed in its many places of worship – the Hanging Church of Coptic Cairo, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the Amr In Al As Mosque. Stroll back in time along medieval El Moez Street, delve into the perfumed Khan El Khalili Bazaar, and sample authentic Egyptian cuisine in prosperous Zamalek.
OCCUPATION AND THE MODERN ERA
How did tourism and the European influence affect its capital, Cairo? Relive the golden age of travel in Cairo and Luxor’s colonial-era hotels, lavishly restored. Enjoy lunch at the former Gezira Palace. Explore the Manasterly Palace and the Nilometer on Roda Island, grand relics of the Ottoman conquest. Learn more about the collections inside the Edwardian baroque Museum of Egyptian Antiquities; a local historian explains how they define the West’s obsession with pharaonic Egypt.
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