Pyramid drawing


In March & April 2010 I did a two week trip to Egypt with Peregrine Adventures. The trip was called 'The Nile and Desert Adventure', and included Cairo, Aswan, Abu Simbel, a Nile cruise between Aswan and Luxor, the East and West Banks at Luxor, and five days in the Western Desert visiting Al-Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra and Bahariya Oases. This trip provided a good mixture of the historic sights of Ancient Egypt and the great scenery of the Western Desert. A selection of photographs from this trip is contained below. Click on the thumbnails to see larger images:


The first few days of the trip were spent in Cairo and we first visited the Giza plateau to see the pyramids. The Great Pyramid of Cheops was constructed around 2600BC and was the tallest structure in the world for about 3800 years. It is 140m high, and contains 2.3 million stones each weighing about 2.5 tonnes each.


The Sphinx and Great Pyramid. The Sphinx is located at the bottom of the causeway to Khafre's Pyramid and consists of the body of a lion with the head of Pharaoh Khafre (Chephren). The Sphinx appeared smaller than expected.


The Pyramid of Khafre located next to the Great Pyramid still retains the original limestone casing near the top of the pyramid.


The Giza Plateau. There are nine pyramids on the plateau plus some other cemeteries around the pyramids. The plateau was full of tourists, buses, touts, and camel and horse drivers, but it was worth putting up with all this to experience these amazing ancient sights.


We visited the Egyptian Museum which is one of the greatest museums in the world. Highlights of this visit included seeing the treasures of Tutankhamun, plus the mummies of some of the pharaohs in the Royal Mummy Room.


We then visited the Islamic sector of Cairo. The Citadel is a fortress situated on a hill overlooking the city, and was the home of Egypt's rulers for over 700 years. The site contains a number of mosques, palaces and museums.


The Mohammed Ali Mosque is a Turkish style mosque within the Citadel that was completed in 1848, It dominates the skyline of eastern Cairo.


The interior of the Mohammed Ali Mosque contains numerous chandeliers and colourful domed ceilings.


The Al Azhar Mosque was founded in AD 970 and is one of Cairo's earliest mosques. Afterwards we visited the shops and narrow alleyways in the Khan al-Khalili bazaar.


We then caught an overnight sleeper train from Cairo to Aswan. The southward journey took 12.5 hours.


The Nile River at Aswan. This city of over one million people is located just north of the Aswan Dam and is the gateway to Nubia. This is a very scenic stretch of the Nile River.


We visited Philae Temple which is located on Agilkia Island between the old Aswan Dam and the modern High Dam. This temple complex was partially flooded by the old Aswan Dam, and was disassembled and rebuilt on this island in the 1970's. This temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis and was originally built around 300 BC during the Graeco-Roman period.


The Gate of Diocletian at Philae Temple.


Tourist crowds at the wharf at Philae Temple. Most sights in Egypt were full of tourists and very crowded.


The Unfinished Obelisk lies abandoned in a quarry on the outskirts of Aswan. This obelisk is over 40m long and 1100 tonnes but was never completed due to a flaw in the rock.


A mummy at the Nubian Museum. The Nubian Museum in Aswan contains great displays on the history, art and culture of Nubia.


We did a felucca ride around the islands of the Nile River at Aswan.


The next morning we flew south to see the impressive temple of Abu Simbel. This temple was built by Ramses II next to the Nile River between 1274 and 1244 BC and was rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser by a large international effort in the 1960's. Four giant statues of Ramses II which are over 23m high guard the Great Temple hall inside the mountain.


At Abu Simbel, with the Great Temple of Ramses II and the smaller temple dedicated to his wife Nefertari and the god Hathor.


The following day we began our Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor on the 'Melodie'. This was a small cruise boat but quite comfortable. It was good to relax on the boat, visit a few temples along the way, and watch the world pass by along the river.


We visited the Temple of Kom Ombo located 40km north of Aswan. This temple is dedicated to the local crocodile god Sobek and Horus the Elder, and is one of the last temples from Pharaonic Egypt.


Relief on a wall at Kom Ombo Temple.


Relaxing on the top deck of the boat.


Ancient sandstone quarry along the Nile River at Gebel Silsila. This quarry was used for centuries to provide sandstone for the Egyptian temples.


We then visited Edfu Temple, which is considered the most completely preserved Egyptian temple. This temple is dedicated to Horus, the falcon god, and was built during the Ptolemaic period around 200 BC.


The Court of Offerings at Edfu Temple is surrounded on three sides by 32 columns. The temple also contains a hypostyle hall with enormous columns. There was some restoration work occurring at the temple while we were there.


A granite statue of a falcon symbolising Horus, at Edfu Temple.


A typical cruise boat on the Nile River. There are huge numbers of cruise boats on this section of the Nile River, and the waterfronts at Aswan and Luxor are full of cruise boats, often moored up to ten deep!


The next morning our boat had to pass through the locks at Esna.


A felucca on the Nile River near Luxor.


We arrived at Luxor then visited the Karnak Temple complex. Thebes was the ancient capital of Egypt, and this huge complex was the most important place of worship during the New Kingdom period. Karnak contains a huge assortment of temples, pylons and obelisks built by many pharaohs. The tourist crowds while we were there were horrendous.


The Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak Temple contains 134 papyrus-shaped stone columns symbolising a papyrus swamp, and is one of the greatest constructions of Ancient Egypt.


Luxor is full of horse-drawn carriages, and it is hard to walk around the streets without being approached by a carriage driver hoping to get some passengers.


Luxor Temple and the Avenue of the Sphinxes. This temple complex is located right in the middle of the town near the shops and waterfront.


The next day we visited the sights of the West Bank. The setting sun in the west was associated with death, and the West Bank therefore contained the royal tombs and memorial temples for the pharoahs. Our first stop was at the Colossi of Memnon, two enormous statues that were part of a long disappeared memorial temple to Amenhotep III.


The funerary temple of Queen Hatsheput at Deir al-Bahri, built around 1500 BC. This restored temple is located below dramatic limestone cliffs towering 300m directly above, and is near the Valley of the Kings. Queen Hatsheput was the only woman pharaoh.


The Valley of the Kings. We visited this valley which contains 63 royal tombs from the New Kingdom period. We went inside the tombs of Ramses I, Ramses III and Ramses IX, which contained colourful wall paintings and reliefs. Others from our group also went inside the tomb of Tutankhamun.


Carter's House is the domed house where Howard Carter lived during his search for Tutankhamun's tomb. It has now been opened as a museum.


From Luxor we then did a five day journey through the Western Desert back to Cairo. Along the way we visited Al-Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra and Bahariya Oases, saw amazing desert scenery and more ancient Egyptian and Roman sites.


In Al-Kharga Oasis we visited the Temple of An-Nadura, a Roman temple and fort now in ruins on a hill overlooking Al-Kharga.


The Temple of Hibis near Al-Kharga is the largest temple in all the oases and is now undergoing restoration. It dates from the Greco-Roman period around 500 BC.


The Necropolis of Al-Bagawat at Al-Kharga Oasis is one of the earliest surviving and best preserved Christian cemeteries in the world. The cemetery contains 263 mud brick tombs dating from the 3rd to 6th centuries AD.


Paintings of scenes from the Old Testament on the domed ceiling of the Chapel of Peace at Al-Bagawat.


Some interesting mud brick buildings at Bedouin Camp village, our accommodation in Dakhla Oasis. Dakhla was the ancient capital of the oases during the pharaonic age and lay on important caravan routes.


There were some great views from our hotel of the escarpment near Dakhla Oasis.


In Dakhla Oasis our group did a one hour camel ride from our hotel out into the desert.


We then went driving on the nearby sand dunes. These dunes mark the beginning of the Great Sand Sea which extends into Libya and the Sahara Desert.


Al Qasr is a well preserved medieval/Ottoman town in Dakhla Oasis. The town is full of narrow alleyways and ancient Islamic houses made of mud-brick, and contains an old mosque from the 12th century.


The White Desert near Farafra Oasis. This area of desert contains rock formations sculptured into weird shapes by the desert wind. The rock consists of white chalk but looks like snow in some instances.


Pinnacles in the White Desert.


The formations of 'Mushroom Rock' and 'The Chicken' in the White Desert.


Just north of the White Desert is Crystal Mountain, a rock formation made up of large quartz crystals.


Just before Bahariya Oasis we passed through the Black Desert, an area of small, black volcano-shaped peaks. The black colouration is caused by basaltic rocks. From here we continued through Bahariya Oasis and on to Cairo, where our Peregrine trip ended.


On my final day in Egypt I visited some more pyramids south of Cairo. The Step Pyramid at Saqqara is the earliest pyramid, and the world's first stone monument. It was built around 2800 BC for the pharaoh Zoser.


Further south at Dahshur is the Bent Pyramid, built by pharaoh Sneferu around 2700 BC. This was the first attempt at a smooth sided pyramid, but the lower part was built at too steep an angle and they had to change to a lower angle for the upper part of the pyramid. Most of the outer casing is still intact on this pyramid.


The Red Pyramid at Dahshur is the world's oldest true pyramid, and pre-dates those at Giza.


I went down the 63m long passage into the interior of the Red Pyramid.


The interior of the Red Pyramid contains two 12m high antechambers and a 15m high burial chamber. The air was quite stuffy and smelly inside the pyramid but it was a great experience to go inside it.


On the flight out of Cairo the following day we flew over Eastern Desert of Egypt, which contains some spectacular scenery.

Contact "alanlevy at pcug dot org dot au" for more information.

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Page last modified on Friday 19 March 2021