The Egypt trip was successful by all measures. Several students told me that they were sad to leave Egypt after all the excitements. I saw the tears in their eyes at Cairo International Airport on our way back to the US. I will share some highlights from this amazing trip. We arrived in Cairo and our bags were carried for us to the bus. We met Adel, our wonderful tour director, and Elegant tours representative Mohamed Assawy, and went to Gowharet Alahram hotel (4 stars). We left to see the great pyramids (during the 4th Dynasty, 2700 B.C). One can see the excitement on the face of the students especially going inside to see the kings’ rooms of the Khufu and Khafre pyramids. We toured the amazing “intact” Solar boat which was built to be used by the Pharaoh after his death and was discovered by Kamal ElMallak in 1954. We also took lots of pictures of the sphinx (face of king Khafre).
After a great time in the pyramids area, we left to the Egyptian Museum. We saw the Papyrus plants and the lotus flowers in front of the museum. Inside the museum we lived and enjoyed various dynasties (from about 5000 B.C.), including the golden treasures of Tutankhamen (king Tut). We saw the mummy of King Ramses II and other mummies of kings, queens, and even their animals. At night, we took the overnight sleeper train to Luxor and our luggage were carried for us.
In Luxor, we started with the Temple of Karnak and the sacred lake (my students collected water samples from the lake). Karnak was another wonder for all of us. We visited the Landing stage and Ave of Ram-headed sphinxes, various pylons, Sanctuary of the Sacred barks, South Propyleia, Depositaries for offerings, Temple of Thutmosis III, Temple of Ranses II, Eastern Gate, Osiris Chapels, Temple of Ptah, Temple of Khonsu, Temple of Montu, Temple of Amon-Ra (so many amazing architectures and wonders), various Obelisks of Thutmosis III, Obelisk of Hatshepsut in pink granite (30 m high and about 200 tons mass), Gate of Ramses II, Botanical Room, Festival Hall of Thutmosis III, Sanctuary of the Middle Kingdom and many other great sites. After Karnak, we took our bus to another great highlight of the Egypt trip, “the Nile Jewel” cruise ship (5-stars). I was told in July that our cruise will be 3-stars, so this was a good surprise. Afterwards, we enjoyed the various sites of Luxor Temple (another wonder) that has Amenophis III, 32 huge columns, Scenes of Amenophis presented by Horus and Aten to Amon-Ra. We toured a delightful Luxor market. Students learned to bargain (better than Egyptians as I was told by several vendors).
In Luxor we all took a tour through the famous sites in Luxor by Horse Carriages, then enjoyed different local drinks in a local cafeteria. Cruising the Nile from Luxor to Aswan was another joy and adventure. During our cruise, we took a small boat (felucca) to the west bank of Luxor to visit the Valley of the Kings. There are more than 22 treasures and sites in the Valley of the kings. The most impressive site was the tomb of the young and famous king, Tutankhamen (king Tut). We saw his mummy in the tomb. Another wonder was the Temple of the great pharaoh, Queen Hatshepsut (1505 B.C.). We were impressed with the two remaining roots of trees that were planted by Queen Hatshepsut. After her Temple we visited the Medinet Habu. There we enjoyed the wonder of Ramses III Temple and his palace. We also toured the Temple of Thutmosis I and the sanctuary of the three Thutmosis pharaohs. We went to the Nile Jewel and had a nice celebration party and the cruise crew were introduced to us. We watched on deck as the Nile Jewel passed through the Esna Lock (water level in Esna is 15 m higher than the Nile level in Cairo). We started a new day by visiting the only complete temple in Egypt, Edfu Temple which took about 130 years to build. It was constructed to worship the god Horus and was built for Thutmosis III by the great architect Imhotep. We were excited to see a lab with names of chemicals and recipes to make chemical and pharmaceutical mixtures to treat adults and infants.
Kom Ombo was visited on the following day. Part of this temple was the falcon god Haroeris (Horus the Elder) and a solar warrior god, Osiris (represented by the winged disk). Kom Ombo Temple was very crowded. There we saw the medical and surgical instruments that were used by the pharaohs (some still used nowadays in hospitals). We visited their clinic, the very accurate calendar (days, months, seasons, years). At night, there was a cocktail and a fun galabiah party. The cruise sailed to Aswan, the ancient Syene (886 Km from Cairo), then we took a flight to another great majestic wonder, Abu Simbel. Abu Simbel (the Jewel of the desert) was erected to glorify King Ramses II. It was one of the most beautiful and historical Temples in Egypt. The Temple was carved from the mountain (one piece). It was endangered by the waters of Lake Nasser, and therefore had to be relocated through an international effort coordinated by UNESCO. The most interesting fact inside the temple was the “the miracle of the sun”. The sun penetrates the entire length of the temple and shines twice a year on the face of Ramses II, on Feb. 22 (his birth date) and Oct. 22 (his ascension to the throne). There are lots of decorations and historical facts on the wall of the various rooms in Abu Simble such as the brightly colored engraved hieroglyphics that describe the military campaign against the Hittites, poems, different glories of the famous king, Ramses the second. We visited his beautiful Nubian wife’s temple (Nefertari).
We left the wonder Temple to visit the “High Dam” which was built by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1960 and this giant project was completed by Anwar Assadat in 1971. We visited the granite quarries and the famous “unfinished obelisk” which was never detached from the rock. It would have been 42 m height and 1,150 tons mass. We left the granite site and on our way to the Nile Jewel we saw the Philae Temple, which was also saved from inundation by the Aswan Dam. The following day we took a Nubian felucca and enjoyed listening and singing with the Nubians on the felucca. During this relaxing sailing in the Nile we saw the mausoleum of Aga Khan, Kitchener Island, the Island of trees, the Elephantine Island, different types of plants, animals and birds. The scenery was amazing and educational. Students collected water samples from the pure Nile water at this site. We toured the famous Saad Zaghlol street in Aswan and returned to the Nile Jewel for the night.
Another great highlight of the trip was the camel ride (the Nile river was on our right) to the Nubian Suhail village. Students loved and enjoyed their interaction with a Nubian family, holding crocodiles, drinking local drinks, visiting a Nubian school. Then we had fun climbing a Sand Dune (took about 40 min). The winners received free silver cartouches as awards from Adel, our tour director. We left the Nile Jewel and Aswan and took a flight to Cairo and spent the night in Gowharet Alahram Hotel.
Next morning we left to tour the Citadel, the famous Mohamed Ali (the founder of modern Egypt) Mosque, and the sites at the Citadel. The visit to Saqqara was another great experience. Famous sites in Saqqara are step pyramid (pyramid of King Zoser, 2667 B.C, 3rd Dynasty), the Mastaba of Ti, Mereruka (marvelous decorations of the daily activities such as hunting, fishing, animals, plants, celebrations, etc.), Mastaba of Ptah-Hotep and other wonder sites. South Saqqara, we saw the “Red Pyramid”, the pyramids of Snefru including the Red Pyramid and the bent pyramid. We toured the museum in Saqqara which has mummies of various kings, queens, and monks; tools; even their cheese is still there in the museum. After Saqqara we headed to the ancient capital of Menufer, called Memphis. We saw great sites in Memphis, such as the glorious architect Imhotep, the Alabaster Sphinx of Amenophis II (made from a single rock), Ptah and the colossus of Ramses II, with its amazing details and many cartouches that carry his name.
The following day we left our hotel to visit the religious complex in “Masr Alqadeemah” (Old Cairo). That was an excitement for all of us to visit The oldest Church in Egypt, the Crypt Church (Jesus, Mary and Joseph the Carpenter are believed to have stayed there to avoid the oppression of the Romans). We toured the Hanging Church which was built on top of the walls of the Roman fort. We observed the quddas (mass) there, toured Abraham Bin Izra Synagogue and finally, Amr Ibn Elas mosque (the oldest mosque in Africa). It was rewarding to see the followers of the three religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) living in peace and harmony in the same area.
We left Cairo on a long bus trip (more than 8 h), crossing from Africa to Asia (Sinai). During the trip, we crossed the Suez Canal via Ahmad Hamdy Tunnel to Sinai. We stopped by Moses Spring (God’s gift to Moses after crossing the Red Sea), the Pharaoh’s Bath (mineral-hot spring). The hot spring was amazing. Students collected water samples from the Hot spring and the Red Sea. We reached the nice St. Catherine hotel and had dinner and rested in our rooms till 1:00 am and then left the hotel after hot tea and coffee at 1:30 am to Mount Moses (believed to be the place where Moses spoke to God). We hiked Mount Moses accompanied by a local Bedouin (Eid) so we do not get lost at night. We reached the summit of Mount Moses (took more than 2 h, more than 2200 m) and watched the most amazing sunrise. We met people from different parts of the world and celebrated the sunrise with them.
After getting down (wasn’t easy) we visited St. Catherine’s Monastery, the Chapel of the Burning Bush, the Burning Bush (sacred tree or Alaliqah Almuqaddasah), Basilica of the Transfiguration and the Well of Moses, which is still the drinking spring water in St. Catherine’s Monastery. After having breakfast in St. Catherine’s hotel and relaxing from the tough climbing of Mount Moses, we left the hotel in Sinai heading back to Cairo. During our trip back we saw Aaron and Salih graves. We also visited the Sinai Culture and Educational center. We arrived to Cairo at 8:00 pm, checked in Gowharet Alahram Hotel, had dinner and left the hotel at 1:30 am for Cairo Airport. We thanked Adel, our tour guide, for the great job he did. Many students were emotional but enjoyed the wonders of Egypt. As many students mentioned, this was a fantastic and great experience for Culver-Stockton students to visit and enjoy 5000 years of civilization. Mission accomplished! Thanks to our new Calendar!
In conclusion, I would like to thank Dr.Andy Walsh and Omaima Ebeid for their help and support before and during this trip. I also thank all the students for being on their best behavior during this trip. They were good ambassadors for Culver.