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Far Horizons group discovers new archaeological site

The Oases of Egypt

with Professor Bob Brier and art historian, Patricia Remler

October 3 - 19, 2014

The Great Sand Sea of the western desert of Egypt is actually part of the Sahara Desert. This arid expanse, running for hundreds of miles west of the Nile to the border with Libya, is dotted with five verdant spring-fed oases, Siwa, Dakhla, Bahariya, Farafra, and Karga, and a sixth, the Fayoum, that was created during the time of the pharaohs.

Join Far Horizons for a memorable 17-day cultural trip of the oases of the western desert of Egypt. Begin with a drive through unparalleled desert beauty to the Mediterranean Sea with a stop at Deir al-Surian Monastery, or the Monastery of the Syrians. We then follow Alexander the Great’s path to Siwa Oasis, where the oracles of Amun declared him the son of Zeus. Bahariya Oasis was a major trading point on the route from Europe to Africa 2000 years ago, and was the site where the renowned “Golden Mummies” were found. At Kharga and Dakhla, view vibrantly colored Roman and Christian tombs. And at Farafra, drive into the desert to see the White Desert with its fantastic geologic formations. End with the Fayoum, the main place of worship of the crocodile god, Sobek. This immense area of Egypt is ideally suited to those individuals seeking both the beauty of the rugged wilderness and the remote ruins of Egypt’s historical past.

 

 

 

 

"A wonderful, fulfilling trip which I would like to repeat some day!!" - Elaine Zieve

 

 

 

“Bob’s lecture course was the chief reason for booking the trip. The contributions he made lifted the trip from the exceptional to the extraordinary.” - Donna Hackler

"Far Horizons' detailed planning makes for a perfect trip." - Amelia Smithers

 

Click here to request The Oases of Egypt brochure

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Tour Itinerary

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

Day 1: Depart for our cultural tour on the overnight group flight from New York’s JFK to Cairo.

Day 2: Upon arrival, transfer to the 5-star Mena House Hotel, located in Giza with stunning gardens and views of the Pyramids, for two nights.

Day 3: This morning will be spent touring the Citadel. After lunch at the renowned Naguid Mahfouz restaurant, walk through the Dionysias Templefamous Khan el-Khalili souk, or bazaar, largely unchanged since the 14th century. In the afternoon, we return to Pyramids at the Giza Plateau. The pyramid complex was the necropolis for the Old Kingdom royal families, and is dominated by the three magnificentpyramids. The Great Pyramid was built for Khufu (Cheops) in 2528 BC. Hisson Khafre (Chephren) created the second pyramid and the Great Sphinx and the valley temple next to it. The third and smallest of the pyramids was built for Khafre's son Menkaure (Mycerinus) and was once covered with costly pink Aswan granite. We continue on to the Solar Boat Museum that houses the 141-foot cedar boat meant to convey King Khufu to paradise. Gather this evening for our welcome dinner party at the hotel. (B/L/D)

Qasr Qarun Temple doorway Day 4: Today we drive south towards the nearest of Egypt's oases - Al Fayoum, where the lush greenery stretches along the placid shores of Lake Qarun. On the way we see many interesting sites. At the entrance of the Fayoum, Senwosret II built his ‘Shining Pyramid” of limestone and mid-brick at El Lahun. After the failure of his Dahshur Pyramid, Amenemhet III  abandoned it and started again with a new pyramid located near the modern village of Hawara el-Makta, not far from Lahun. It was built in typical 12th Dynasty fashion with a mud-brick core and a casing of fine white limestone. Overnight in the newly-renovated Helnan Auberge FayoumHotel, once a hunting lodge of King Farouk. (B/L/D)

Day 5: Our explorations of the Fayoum continue at Kom Aushim, or Karanis, one of the largest Greco-Roman cities in this oasis. It was founded in the 3rd century BC, probably by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, and was originally inhabited by the mercenaries of his army. Excavation at Karanis began in 1895 and was the first Greco-Roman site ever excavated in Egypt. During ancient times, Qasr Qarun was the beginning of the caravan route to the Bahariya Oasis and marks the location of the ancient town of Dionysias. The town contains a fascinating temple dedicated to Sobek-Re, the crocodile god, built more than 2,000 years ago. Then it’s on to the Pyramid at Meidum, a colossal tower shaped structure almost 200 feet high believed to have been built by the 4th Dynasty King, Sneferu, as one of the first attempts at building a pyramid. In the afternoon, drive back to Cairo and the Mena House for one night. (B/L/D)

Deir al-Surian MonasteryDay 6: As we travel towards the Mediterranean, stop to visit Deir al-Surian Monastery, housing a rich library that includes Biblical texts and writings of the earliest 'desert monks'. Most of the manuscripts are in Syriac, a branch of Aramaic, and the language of Jesus, as well as Pharaonic, Coptic, Arabic and Ethiopic. Overnight along the Mediterranean coast in Marsa Matrouh. (B/L/D)

Day 7: This morning's drive takes us to Siwa Oasis. Always more North African than Egyptian, Siwa today remains different from other Egyptian oases. It is the largest and most remote, and most Siwans are descendants of Bedouins that roamed the coast from Tunisia to Morocco. The local people, who speak a dialect called Siwi, continue to harvest dates and olives and get about by donkey and cart. Set among thick palm groves and filled with walled gardens and olive orchards, the modern town encircles the remains of the ancient mud-brick fortress of Shali. There will be time to explore the town and visit the Siwa House Ethnographic Museum. Overnight Siwa Safari Paradise Hotel for two nights. (B/L/D)

Siwa Oasis Old Townchildren in Siwa OasisDay 8: Several fascinating sites are located within Siwa Oasis. The Temple to Amun dates from the 7th century BC. In 331 BC, after taking Egypt from the Persians, Alexander the Great consulted the oracle here to validate his status as the son of Zeus and thus the legitimate ruler of the country. The nearby Temple of Umm Ubayda was at one time joined to the Oracle Temple by a causeway and formed an integral part of the rituals related to the Oracle and the god. Gebel El Mawta, the Mountain of the Dead, guards the northern entrance to the oasis. Tombs from the 26th Dynasty, Ptolemaic, and Roman periods are cut into the side of the nearby mountain. Fed by a network of underground springs, Siwa contains several springs, and Cleopatra's Bath is reputedly named for one of the queens who bathed here. (B/L/D)

Day 9: Drive through the sweeping sands and through Bahrein, Nawameissa, and Setra Oases to Bahareya Oasis with it’s more than 200,000 palm trees, thousands of date and olive trees, and profusion of hot and cold springs. More than 2,000 years ago, the oasis was thriving - a resting place for merchants traveling between Europe and Africa. One of the most famous visitors was Alexander the Great who stopped here on his way back to Memphis. A temple was erected to honor this king. Time permitting, we will stop to see the vividly decorate tombs at Qarat Qasr Selim. Overnight at the Bahariya Palm Village Hotel. (B/L/D)

Egypt's White DesertDay 10: In 1996, an amazing cemetery was found outside the village of Bawiti in Bahariya Oasis. When opened, it was found to contain Greco-Roman period mummies that had lain undisturbed in stone-carved catacombs beneath the sands of the Western Desert. Some of the mummies are on display at the Bahariya Museum. If we have time, we will stop at the early Christian basilica at Ain el-Hayez. Continue into the White Desert to explore the geologic formations, and on to Farafra Oasis where the mud-brick houses are painted blue, some even decorated with landscapes, birds and animals. Tonight watch the sunset over the exquisite sands of the desert and dine under the stars. Overnight in Farafra in the Badaweya Hotel where the rooms are in the local architectural style scattered among flowering bougainvillea and banana and lemon trees. (B/L/D)

Deir El HaggarDeir El Haggar statuesDay 11: Deir El Haggar is a tiny perfect Egyptian temple nestled between undulating dunes in the Sahara half-way between the Nile and the Libyan border. Dating from the Roman period it has inscriptions from the reigns of Nero, Vespatian, Titus and Domitian. We will visit Gebel Al-Muzawaqa to see the decorated tombs of Pedubastis and Petosiris. Then it’s on to Dakhla. Inhabited since prehistoric times, studies show that there was once a huge lake here. It is a very lush region brimming with orchards and produce, and 10,000 years ago, the climate here was similar to that of the African Savanna. Upon arrival visit the fortified Islamic town of Al Qasr, built at Dakhla Oasis in the 12th century, probably on the remains of a Roman era. Overnight for one night in the Desert Lodge, built in a traditional design and situated on top of a cliff overlooking the village below. (B/L/D)

Day 12: There are several notable villages in Dakhla Oasis. The capital, Mut, was named after the ancient goddess of the Theban Triad. Here, the Museum of the Inheritance is housed inside a traditional house, and displays different aspects of Dakhalan culture and family life. In the afternoon we transfer to Kharga, visiting several interesting areas along the way. Balat is a picturesque town that was important in the Old Kingdom. Nearby are the Al-Adaba tombs and ain Asil. Most notable are the five mastabas, or burial buildings, which were discovered during a sandstorm. During excavations of the mastaba of the governor Medunefer, who served during the rule of Pepi II, rich funeral artifacts were found, including exquisite gold jewelry.Roman era tombs were found in nearby Ezbet Bashandi Village. Overnight for two nights in the four-star Pioneer Hotel with rooms around a center courtyard with swimming pool. (B/L/D)

Day 13: Kharga is the largest oasis, and we will visit several outstanding sites here. The Temple of Hibis is the only Persian temple in Egypt. Built on the site of an 18th Dynasty settlement of Saites, the 6th century BC temple is well-preserved with painted vultures and huge reliefs of Darius greeting Temple of HibisEgyptian gods on the outer walls. Nestorian chapels have been found at El-Bagawat, including a plethora of mud-brick chapels with Coptic murals, including the Chapel of Peace with images of Adam and Eve and the Ark on its dome, and the Chapel of the Exodus with frescoes of Pharonic troops pursuing the Jews led by Moses out of Egypt. Qasr el-Ghueida is one of the few temples constructed and decorated entirely during the Ptolemaic period. Qasr el-Zaiyan contains a small temple erected under the Ptolemies; it flourished until the Byzantine period.  Northeast of Kharga is found the ruined Temple of Nadura, built by the Romans, and most likely dedicated to the wife of the Egyptian god Amun. Finally visit the picturesque Kharga fortress city, the Ghuweita, strategically positioned on a high hill protecting the surrounding valley. (B/L/D)

Qasr el-Labeka or Labeka FortDay 14: Depart Kharga with a stop at Baris Oasis. Here, walk through houses designed in traditional Nubian style by the architect, Hassan Fathy; they remain uninhabited because local people refused to live in them due to their similarity to tombs. The city of Dush grew as a result of the slave trade, and the temple here, dedicated to Isis and Serapis, is in pure Pharaonic tradition. Its name derives from Kush, the ancient Sudanese capital which traded with Egypt along the Nile. Continue to Luxor and overnight for two nights at the Nile Hilton Palace Hotel. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)

Day 15: The celebrated Egyptian city of Thebes, modern Luxor, was described by Homer as “the city of a hundred gates” because so many of its temples had the monumental entrances favored by contemporary Greek architecture. Thebes was twice the capital of ancient Egypt. It was from Thebes that Ahmose restored the unity of Egypt and inaugurated the New Kingdom. Today is a free day to explore Luxor at leisure. In the evening, we visit the magnificent Temple of Luxor. This has always been a sacred site and was the power base of the living divine king and the foremost national shrine of the king’s cult. The temple’s southern end was the dwelling place of the holy of holies, the principal god, Amun. (B/L/D)

Day 16: Our early afternoon flight returns us to Cairo.  Overnight at the Fairmont Heliopolis Hotel located next to the airport.  Enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel. (B/D)

Day 17: Transfer to airport in the early morning to board our flight back to the USA. (B)

 

 

 

‘Bob Brier and Pat Remler make these trips unique experiences. Aside from the knowledge they bring , they are fun and a great team, complimented by their great relationship with our guide, Mohamed. It does not get better than this I venture to say!’ - Vivian Mosby

 

Tour Leaders - Bob Brier and Patricia Remler

Professor Bob Brier received his Ph.D from the University of North Carolina. He is not only one of the nation’s leading Egyptologists, but a brilliant lecturer and storyteller. He is professor of philosophy at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University and the author of several books including The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story (Berkley Books, 1998), The Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians (Greenwood Press, 1999) and The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery (Harper Collins, 2008). Professor Brier has served as director of the "Egyptology Today" program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and as host of the Learning Channel series, The Great Egyptians. He has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar, and has received Long Island University’s David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of his achievements as a lecturer. Bob is a featured lecturer on The Teaching Company series, and a wonderful teacher with a special flair for evoking the distant past in ways that make it seem vividly present.

Patricia Remler is an author, photographer, and art historian. She was the Researcher for four important Learning Channel documentaries - the three-part Pyramids, Tombs, and Mummies, the six-part series The Great Egyptians, the one hour Napoleon's Obsession: The Quest for Egypt, and the three-part series Unwrapped, The Mysterious World of Mummies. She is the author of Egyptian Mythology A - Z.

 

 

 

“As I have told every single person who has inquired about the trip since our return, I cannot imagine going to Egypt without Bob Brier and Pat Remler. I know that it IS possible to go there without them, but Bob Brier’s lectures from the Teaching Company were what lead us to Far Horizons in the first place, and the combination of the presence of Bob Brier and Pat Remler truly made the trip into one that holds the title for me of The Trip of a Lifetime. Bob Brier is such a wonderful teacher, and his remarkable enthusiasm for these wonders that he has seen so many times really sets him apart from other scholars I’ve known. Before going on this trip, my expectations of Bob Brier were fairly high, and he managed to so far exceed what I had hoped for that I have become a true fan for life. I don’t expect this experience to be easily dislodged from the pedestal it sits on in my mind.”- Deborah L. Hackler

 

Tour Dates

October 3 - 19, 2014

Tour Cost

$11,995 (per person, double occupancy) includes round trip airfare from New York’s JFK to Cairo, Egypt and one Egyptian internal flight; all hotels; most meals (as listed in the itinerary); ground transportation; and entry fees.

Cost Does Not Include: The separate donation check for $150.00 to the American Friends of the British Museum, Inc. (with 'North Kharga Oasis Survey/Ikram' in the subject line); airport transfers for flights other than designated group flights; meals other than those listed in the itinerary; food, alcoholic and other beverages not on set menus; passport and visa fees; airport fees and taxes; excess baggage charges; gratuities to guides and drivers; email, telephone, and fax charges; laundry or other items of a personal nature.

Single Supplement: $1,195.00. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement will be charged.

Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.

Archaeological tour group expeditionDonation Checks: Cost of the trip does not include the separate donation check for $150.00 to the American Friends of the British Museum, Inc. (with 'North Kharga Oasis Survey/Ikram' in the subject line). As a tour company that benefits from the historical, cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to scholars, archaeological and cultural projects, and museums in each of our destinations. This has created a bond with the academic community that allows you to gain an 'insider's view' of the work being done in each country. Please see information on the survey’s website. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.

Registration

A deposit of $500.00 along with a separate check for $150.00 to “Institute of Bio-Archaeology”, is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 75 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest to the trip. Click here to download our Registration Form.

Archaeological tour group in the desertCancellations and Refunds

Cancellations received in writing at least 75 days before departure will receive a refund less a $250.00 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 75 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.

Air Ticketing


If you do not fly on the group flight, you are responsible for all flight arrangements and transportation (including airport transfers) to join the Bagawat tombsgroup. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased.

Private Tours of Archaeological Sites

The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be onsite when our groups arrive due to other commitments.

Travel in the Oases

This trip is for the hardy! This cultural trip is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We will be traveling into remote areas of the western Egyptian desert. Hotels are the best available but will not be up to the standard of the hotels along the Nile. Most will not have bell staff, and you may have to carry your own luggage. Meals will not be haute cuisine and several lunches will be picnics or box lunches. During several days we travel in 4-wheel drive vehicles that may not be air-conditioned or new, and we will walk over uneven terrain for a mile or more. A flexible attitude, team spirit and a good sense of humor are helpful! If you have questions about your ability to handle this sort of challenge, please call us.

 

THIS ARCHAEOLOGICAL TOUR OF THE OASES OF EGYPT IS LIMITED TO 14 PARTICIPANTS