Egypt & Northern Sudan Cultural Tour & Vacations
The Nile loops a lazy arc through the arid desert, passing the crumbling remains of the civilisation that once lay at the heart of African trade and culture. But this isn’t the land of the Pharaohs. This really is the ancient land of Kush, the old kingdom of the Meroitic kings, lost for hundreds of years amongst the sands of the Sahara to the south of the great cataracts. Amongst the landscapes of northern Sudan, we discover the ancient lands of Nubia, where the desert plains are strewn by having an incredible collection of archaeological sites that lie beyond the tourist trappings of the Nile Valley.
Finally, our adventure ends amongst the bustling streets and souks of Khartoum, Sudan’s vibrant capital, where the great river begins its long odyssey north, retracing a part of our journey across a number of the most ancient and timeless landscapes on the world.
Tour starts in Aswan (Egypt): Our adventure begins in the town of Aswan, one of Egypt’s most fascinating destinations. Lying along the Nile, at the southern limits of Pharaonic power, the city is the perfect starting place for our journey beyond the cataracts. Hotel (no meals)
In Aswan: Today there exists a chance to explore something of Aswan’s rich cultural heritage before we move ahead. The plan is to keep the day fairly relaxed and freeform, however for those that wish to, the idea would be to visit the Tombs of the Nobles across the river on the West Bank, in addition to the fascinating Greco-Roman temple at Kalabsha.
The Temple of Kalabsha also offers strong links to the ancient lands to the south, dedicated because it is to the Nubian fertility and sun god, Marul (the Nubian same as the Egyptian god Horus). Built during the rule of the Emperor Augustus, about 200 BC, and lying some 30 miles to the south of Aswan, the temple was moved by UNESCO back in the 1960s in order to save it from the rising floodwaters of Lake Nasser.Hotel (B,L,D)
Aswan – Wadi Halfa (Sudan): Catching the overnight ferry today, we start our journey into the Nubian heartland and onto Khartoum and Sudan. Overnight Ferry (B,L,D)
Arrive Wadi Halfa: Arriving in Wadi Halfa today (insh’allah, as they say) we clear customs and immigration and then carry on to our first desert camp. During the Sudanese uprising under the Mahdi it became the headquarters of the Anglo-Egyptian army under Kitchener and later, during the Second World War, continued to serve as a vital type of communication for the Allied forces serving in Africa. Wild Camp (B,L,D)
Wadi Halfa – Abri – Soleb: Following the eastern bank of the Nile we travel beyond the Third Cataract and deep into the heart of Upper Nubia. We’ll spend today near the beautifully atmospheric ruins of the Temple of Soleb, the best preserved of Sudan’s Egyptian temples. Nubian Homestay (B,L,D)
Day 6 / 7:
Soleb – Tombos – Kerma: Crossing the Nile by small boat today, we visit Soleb temple, built by Amenhotep III during the 18th dynasty. Its walls richly decorated with hieroglyphics, bas-relief figures and columns, the temple was focused on both Amun-Re and Nebma’atre, the Lord of Nubia and it remains, to this day, a rich testimony to the importance mounted on Nubia by the Egyptian Pharaohs.
We’ll also visit the enigmatic mud brick monument of the Western ‘Defuffa’, an imposing building lying on the outskirts of Kerma, whose true purpose still remains something of the mystery. Wild Camp (B,L,D)
Nubian villages – Old Dongola: Continuing south we follow the Nile into the heart of the Nubia region, where the language of the residents differs markedly from those of their Arab neighbours and the normal restrictions imposed by Islam are more gentle. Later today we reach the site of Old Dongola, where we discover the remains of a small Coptic Christian kingdom (the Makuria Kingdom), which thrived here following the decline of the Aksumite Empire and enjoyed a comparatively easy coexistence with its Muslim neighbours for hundreds of years, until its collapse in the 14th century. Wild Camp (B,L,D)
Day 9 :
Old Dongola – El Kurru – Karima: Continuing through the Nubian desert we notice the changes in the terrain that surrounds us, once we pass from sand dunes and flat sandy plains, to low, brown rocky hills which have been eroded by the elements. Once we complete our crossing of the Nubian Desert we reach the site of El Kurru, the place to find a royal necropolis that goes back to the time of the ancient Nubian capital of Napata.
A red sandstone monolith that acts just like a beacon amongst the vast open landscapes of the Nubian Desert, the mountain lay at the centre of Nubian religious worship for hundreds of years and the large temple that adorns its feet are filled with dedications to the Pharaohs and their gods.Boutique Rest House (B,L,D)
Karima – Jebel Barkal – cruise on the Nile – Nuri: After visiting the temple today, we then take a cruise along the Nile to determine what’s left of the Fourth Cataract, since the majority of its granite boulders lie under the new artificial lake which was created by the Meroe Dam. Today we camp in the desert near to the medieval ruins of the Ghazali Monastery. Wild Camp (B,L,D)
Bayuda Desert – Atrun Crater – Atbara – Meroe: Once we continue across the desert today we visit the evaporating lakes that lie at the bottom of the Atrun volcano crater. Today this remarkable site is full of pyramids and funerary temples, some of them very well preserved, their walls decorated with bas-reliefs showing the lifetime of the kings and the gods.Fixed Safari-style Camp (B,L,D)
Meroe – Shendi – Naqa: Today we visit the Royal Necropolis in the near perfect light of the new day, before getting to the city itself. Departing the city we head for the small town of Shendi, some 50kms away, where we pause and explore its interesting souk before continuing onto the archaeological sites of Musawwarat and Naqa.Wild Camp (B,L,D)
Naqa – Mussawarat – Omdurman – Khartoum: Today we visit the 1st century Temple of Apedemak, whose sandstone walls are covered in engraved images of the Meroitic kings. The decisive battle, that happened on 2nd September 1898, saw a combined force of British, Egyptian and Sudanese troops under Lord Kitchener inflict an enormous defeat on the Mahdi forces, killing and wounding over 20,000 of the Mahdi’s Dervish warriors. We arrive in Khartoum later today.Hotel (B,L,D)
In Khartoum: After breakfast today we will take a tour of the city having a local guide, visiting the impressive Archaeological Museum, the place to find two beautiful temples that were rescued by UNESCO from the Lake Nasser area when the rising waters threatened to eat them forever. After a opportunity to see where the waters of the White & Blue Niles meet, then we head to watch a Whirling Dervish ceremony in the Ahmed El Nil Cemetery, before going back to the hotel for our last night in Sudan. Hotel (B,L,D)
Tour ends in Khartoum: (B)