Written by Marshall Cossman.
In February my wife and I took our first trip to Egypt. It was an eleven day tour sponsored by National Geographic and operated by Abercrombie & Kent. Since we had experience with both companies, we were not surprised with the quality of the trip. Our first three days were spent in Cairo, population 19 million and cars about 12 million. Our guide, Akram Allam, has a PhD in Archeaology but is only part-time in the field. The rest of his time is acting as a tour-guide, par excellence. Our time was spent at the pyramids in Giza, as well as others in Dashur, a nearby village. Egypt is filled with thousands of villages. Some in our tour went into the Red Pyramid, so called because it had originally been painted red. Because of his re-known, Aki, as our guide is known, was able to get permission for us to enter the burial sites of the pyramid workmen. Quite a treat, but, as Aki said, there was more to come. From Cairo we flew to Abu Simbel to see the Temple of Ramses II, early Egypt’s greatest Pharaoh. Next to his is the temple of his queen, Nefertiti. Both overlook the 60 mile long Lake Nasser, which extends into the Sudan. We then flew back north to Aswan where we saw the Aswan Dam which forms Lake Nasser. This is where we embarked on Sun Boat IV, A&Ks Nile River boat. Luxurious. Run like a large cruise ship but with only about 50 passengers. This was to be our home for three days. Along the way we stopped to see the Temple of Phillae and finally, Luxor, known as Thebes in pharaocnic days. Luxor has two major temples, Karnak and the Temple of Luxor. In the early days they were connected by a 1.8 mile causeway, lined with small sphinxes. Across the Nile lie the Valley f the Queens and the Valley of the Kings. We entered King Tut’s tomb, small but his mummy was there. Unfortunately it will be moves shortly to a museum for better preservation. We then were given permission, thanks to Aki again, to enter a locked tomb that was discovered in 1995. It was magnificent. Brightly painted figures on all the walls. Because the passageways are narrow and low, one must bend over a fair amount of time, it’s amazing the coffins and sarcophagi can fit through them. There were plenty more stops but not enough space here to report We saw 18 museums, pyramids and digs in 11 days. We have the passes for them all.
What is so amazing is the number of temples and pyramids. The areas they cover and the size of the structures are awesome. The ingenuity to carve and assemble them is beyond belief. Thousands of workmen did all this. As Aki kept reminding us, they did this because they honored their pharaoh, who was a god. They did it in 100+ degree heat because the more heat they were exposed to, the closer they were to their primary god, Ra, the Sun God. What a civilization!