The mystique that is Egypt has lured travels for hundreds of years. Egypt is many things -- fascinating, educational, mysterious, powerful, humbling, engaging, beautiful . . . and extraordinarily photogenic. It is a window into the ancient past in which we can see the art and architecture of one of the world's most brilliant civilizations. Join Jim on this photography tour that explores the most stunning highlights that have always enticed you to visit Egypt -- the impressive Temple of Karnak, the pyramids at Giza, the human-headed, lion-bodied Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings, Luxor Temple, Abu Simbel, and the tombs of the pharaohs. Photograph ancient murals and hieroglypics that still have the original colors even though they've been exposed to the intense desert sun for 3200 years. Marvel at the engineering genius that built such enduring monuments and be awed by the sheer magnitude of them. This is a photo tour you won't want to miss.
A word on security: Jim would not lead a tour to a place where he felt that he and his tour group might be in danger. Terrorism exists all over the world, from New York to Boston, from San Bernardino, California to Brussels and Madrid. Jim wouldn't avoid New York City because of 911, and he wouldn't avoid going to Paris or Brussels because of those recent attacks. Similarly he won't avoid going to Egypt. A life where fear dominates is not a life well lived. It is not a life rich in experiences. Serious security measures are taken in Egypt just like they are at American airports, and with that understanding we just have to live our lives and appreciate each day.
Day 1, Oct. 5, Thursday. Depart North America (or elsewhere) for Cairo, Egypt (airport code CAI). Overnight enroute.
Day 2, Oct. 6, Friday. You arrive in Cairo and are met by a local representative and transferred to our hotel. We will meet in the lobby of the hotel at 2pm to begin our photography in the heart of the old walled city of Cairo. Because we start exploring on arrival day, Jim recommends either arriving in Cairo one day early (on October 5), or breaking up your flight to Egypt by overnighting in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, or some other hub. By doing either of these two things, you won't be so exhausted when you arrive. On the walking tour of the old city, we will visit the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, the largest in the Middle East, and of particular interest is El-Khayameyya Street which is the oldest section of the bazaar. Here you'll see the work of appliqué craftsmen who produce stunning geometric abstract designs in their artwork. Overnight Novotel El-Borg located on the banks of the Nile River, and from the rooftop cafe you'll enjoy a stunning panoramic view of Cairo. 4 star.
Day 3, Oct. 7, Saturday. Today you will tour 7,000 years of history at the Cairo Museum which houses the largest collection of ancient Egyptian art in the world. You'll see the treasures of the boy-king Tutankhamun, including his phenomenal gold mask, the solid gold sarcophagus that held his mummy, and his exquisite throne. Following lunch, we visit the Great Pyramids of Giza built about 4500 years ago. They are giant tombs for the mummies of the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. Nearby sits the enigmatic Sphinx with the body of a lion and the face of a man wearing a royal head cloth which workers may have based on King Khafre to guard his enormous funerary monument. About a thousand years after the Sphinx was built it was covered with sand until a young prince had a dream in which the Sphinx told him that if he cleared the sand away, he would become Pharaoh. This story is told on the "Dream Stela" that was placed between the Sphinx's paws by King Tuthmose IV. We will take advantage of late afternoon lighting to take the most artistic shots of these world famous structures. Overnight Novotel El-Borg.
Day 4, Oct. 8, Sunday. After breakfast we will transfer to the airport for the flight on Egypt Air to Luxor. Some of the greatest of the ancient Egyptian architecture is located within just a few miles of our hotel. The ancient Egyptians stopped building pyramids as royal tombs after robbers stole all the treasures inside, and instead they started burying their royalty in secret tombs at Thebes, today's West Bank of Luxor. We explore the Valley of the Kings, where New Kingdom pharaohs were buried in hidden tombs which have maintained their richly painted hues and were filled with treasures for use in the afterlife. Then we visit the Valley of the Queens, where the pharaohs' wives and children were buried. The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut rises out of the desert plain in a series of brilliant white terraces. Nearby are the Colossi of Memnon, two immense statues of Amenhotep III which, in Pharaonic times, guarded the entrance to his once great temple.
Karnak Temple, one of Jim's favorite places to photograph in the world, was built over a period of two millennia by generations of Pharaohs. The Hypostyle Hall is a veritable forest of giant stone pillars rising 75 feet (23 meters) toward the sky and carved with hieroglyphics. On many of the walls you'll see hieroglyphics in their original colors even though they've been exposed to the hot desert sun for more than three millennia.
Nearby is Luxor Temple, another stunning example of the artistry and engineering of the ancient Egyptians. It is located on the east bank of the Nile River in what was known as ancient Thebes and dates to 1400 B.C. At twilight the temple is illuminated artfully, and we will take advantage of this by shooting with tripods and using the HDR technique to capture phenomenal detail. Overnight Sonesta St. George Luxor Hotel. 4 star.
Day 5, Oct. 9, Monday. We visit Dandera Temple today to see the Ptolemaic temple of the goddess Hathor who enjoyed great devotion as the deity of maternal and family love, beauty, and music and whom the ancient Greeks associated with Aphrodite. This incredible temple complex is almost intact, allowing us a special glimpse of its former glory. Hathor is portrayed throughout with a cow head or cow ears.
In the early evening, we attend a Sound and Light show at Karnak Temple. This is a fascinating walking tour through history of this huge temple complex. You can capture unique and intriguing photographs because of the mysterious lighting and the use of shadows. Overnight Sonesta St. George Luxor Hotel. 4 star.
Day 6, Oct. 10, Tuesday. This morning we leave Luxor and drive to Aswan. On the way we'll stop to photograph the Temple of Khnum at Esna whose Great Hypostyle Hall was built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Most of its ruins are yet to be explored as they lay under modern houses. About 4 miles from here is the Monastery of the Three Thousand Six Hundred Martyrs, where the 10th century church is said to be one of the most beautiful in Upper Egypt. The architecture, sculptures, and murals are exquisite. We continue to Edfu and visit the impressive Temple of Horus, the falcon god. Afterwards we visit the Greco Roman Temple at Kom Ombo, dedicated to Horus and the crocodile god, Sobek. Once on the caravan routes from Nubia's gold mines, now it's a farming town with native Egyptians and a large population of Nubians who were displaced from their land when Lake Nasser was created. At the Temple of Kom Ombo, there is a wonderful view of the countryside, and south of here is the Roman Chapel of Hathor, dedicated to the wife of Horus and used to store mummified crocodiles from the nearby animal necropolis. Overnight Movenpick Resort Aswan. 4 1/2 star.
Day 7, Oct. 11, Wednesday. Today we explore the Aswan area which is rich in ancient sites including the beautiful Temple of Isis, the Philae temple complex, and the Temple of Khnum. We also enjoy a sailing adventure on the Nile River to get a different perspective on the beauty of this area as well as thousands of years of Egyptian history. Overnight Movenpick Resort Aswan. 4 1/2 star.
Day 8, Oct. 12, Thursday. We transfer from our hotel to the airport this morning for the short flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel. Carved from one piece of rock, four massive statues of the Pharaoh Ramses II look out over Lake Nasser. This temple that Ramses II built 3200 years ago is dedicated to the god Ra-Hurakhti. The walls inside show the pharaoh in his various exploits, and the inner sanctum is lit with the first rays of the sun on February 22 and October 22 of each year. Next door is the temple that Ramses dedicated to his favorite wife, Nefertari. Twilight photography here is spectacular, and we can shoot at night during the Sound and Light show. Overnight at the Seti Abu Simbel. 4 star.
Day 9, Oct. 13, Friday. This morning we drive the short distance to the airport for our return flight to Aswan and then to connect to our flight back to Cairo. We overnight in an airport hotel with five restaurants, a fully equipped gym, and two outdoor swimming pools. Jim will conduct a critique session that will also involve some Photoshop instruction. Overnight Novotel Cairo Airport. 4 star.
Day 10, Oct. 14, Saturday. We will be escorted to the airport for our return flight home today, knowing that we've seen and photographed one of the greatest ancient cultures in history.
Tour cost: $5575 Includes all lodging based on double occupancy, all ground transportation, all airport transfers, all breakfasts, one lunch, three domestic flights -- from Cairo to Luxor, Aswan to Abu Simbel, and Abu Simbel to Cairo, entrance fees to the national monuments and ruins, photo pass fees, portage, services of a local guide, photo instruction and critiques on demand.
Single supplement: $580
Not included: International airfare, visa fee (U.S. citizens can purchase a visa upon arrival at this time -- currently $25); Canadian citizens should get their visa prior to travel), all lunches except on the first day in Cairo, all dinners, items of a personal nature.