Passage of the Nile

This great caravan of antiquity starts appropriately in Ethiopia, the ‘cradle of civilization’ and heads inexorably north, tracing the Nile’s path to the Mediterranean Sea. From Addis Ababa to Alexandria – this is a remarkable land journey from the source to the mouth of the Nile!

Almost a transmigration, the journey starts in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, then moves to the Blue Nile Gorge before reaching the vast Lake Tana at Bahir Dar. From this lake, the Blue Nile emerges like an angry snake, carrying great volumes of silt that have fertilised the Nile Valley since eternity. The journey then crosses the lake to Ethiopia’s Camelot city of Gondar, from where we head to one of the great undiscovered treasure troves left on earth, North Sudan. Here we see the meeting of the Blue and While Niles at Khartoum, before heading north east to the forgotten Kush kingdoms of the Black Pharaohs, the oldest civilisation in sub-Saharan Africa. Within these landscapes, looming like a mirage in the red sands, are the spellbinding Nubian Pyramids of Meroe. With far more pyramids – every bit as captivating as those of their northern neighbour but without the tourist hoardes – these monoliths are a truly amazing sight. Moving north, we follow the meandering ribbons of the Nile cataracts through the changing faces of the great Nubian Desert. Our entrance into Karima is announced by the red sandstone mountain of Jebel Barkal, a holy peak believed to be the mound of all creation by the ancients. From here we begin a journey north by road that crosses the border to Abu Simbel in Egypt, where we see this great wonder of the world without the tourist convoys from Aswan which return the same day. The proximity of Abu Simbel to Sudan, together with our two-night stay opposite the temple, allows us this unique experience and also gives the opportunity to see a sound and light show in the evening. From Abu Simbel we continue to the Aswan High Dam where we embark on a magnificent three-night Nile Cruise to Luxor through possibly the world’s greatest open-air museum: the scale and grandeur of the monuments defies all superlatives! Travelling by train to Cairo we then visit the breathtaking Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, before making the short journey to Alexandria where the Nile drains into the Mediterranean Sea. This is an adventure that unveils hidden kingdoms, and a vast tract of humanity that has depended on these mythical waters since the beginning of time. This is Passage of the Nile, where the kindness and gentleness of the people – both Muslim and Christian – who inhabit the banks of the Nile, will provide the most enduring and searing memories!

Tour Fitness Level: Active

Highlights

Ethiopia

  • Visit to Dr Catherine Hamlin’s Hospital by the River in Addis Ababa
  • See the source of the Blue Nile at Lake Tana
  • Stay in Ethiopia’s Camelot city of Gondar

North Sudan

  • See the true whirling Dervishes in Khartoum
  • View the confluence of the Blue and White Nile in Khartoum
  • Two-night stay at Meroe, kingdom of the Black Pharaohs
  • See sunset and sunrise over the pyramids of Meroe
  • Three-night stay in the startling oasis hotel in Karima
  • Climb the holy mountain of Jebal Barkal
  • Visit the Royal Necropolis at El Kurru

Egypt

  • Explore the amazing site of Abu Simbel
  • See the superb Sound and Light show at Abu Simbel
  • Visit Aswan High Dam
  • Enjoy a three-night luxury cruise on the Nile
  • Visit the Valley of the Kings
  • Explore the remarkable Temple of Karnak
  • Visit the amazing site of the Pyramids of Giza
  • See the sound and light show at the Sphinx
  • Visit the greatest treasure house in the world, the Cairo Museum
  • See the spot where the Nile drains into the Mediterranean Sea
  • Travel from the source to the mouth of the Nile by land transport only: coach/train/boat

Inclusions

  •  All flights between Australia and Ethiopia/Egypt and Australia (inc domestic from your preferred capital city)
  • All ticketable air taxes (may be subject to change)
  • All visas and courier fees
  • All accommodation (twin-share)
  • All transfers
  • All ground transportation
  • Nile cruise
  • All meals as specified
  • Travel Directors’ tour leader throughout
  • Expert local guides
  • All entrance fees in specified sightseeing
  • All tips and gratuities

Please note that whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the above pricing, currency fluctuations beyond our control can affect final costs. A booking form is to be completed by all passengers, and a non-refundable deposit of AUD $3,000 per person paid at the time of booking. All escorted tours are based on a minimum group size of 10 people travelling.

Itinerary

07/02/2019 Australia – Dubai

Depart from your chosen Australian airport on the flight to Dubai.

08/02/2019 Dubai – Addis Ababa (D)

On arrival in Dubai we connect with the flight to Addis Ababa.

Depart Dubai Emirates EK 723, 09.25

Arrive Addis Ababa 12.40

Welcome to the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’! Ethiopia is one of the world’s most extraordinary, yet least visited, countries. Lying in the mountains at an elevation of 2,500m, Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world. It enjoys a superb climate with an average year-round temperature of 25 degrees. On arrival in Addis Ababa we transfer to our hotel.

Hilton Addis Hotel

Addis Ababa

09/02/2019 Addis Ababa (BLD)

Unlike nearly all other African cities, Addis Abba was not built as a colonial settlement. Rather, it was chosen by Emperor Menelik II in the 1880s to be the permanent capital of Ethiopia. Lying at the foot of Mount Entoto, Addis Ababa has a population of five million and is criss-crossed with wide avenues that are lined with eucalyptus and jacaranda trees, brought to the city by Menelik II. This morning we visit the fascinating National Museum where the oldest human skeleton ‘Lucy’ is on display. In the afternoon we drive up to Mount Entoto for a magnificent view of Addis Ababa.

10/02/2019 Addis Ababa – Bahir Dar (BLD)

This morning we start our 560km drive, on all asphalt road to Bahir Dar. After a few hours we catch our first sight of the Blue Nile as we descend 1,400 metres into the spectacular Nile Gorge. We then ascend from the gorge onto a plateau and continue through to Bahir Dar on the shores of Lake Tana, and the source of the Blue Nile.

Kuriftu Hotel

Bahir Dar

11/02/2019 Bahir Dar (BLD)

Bahir Dar was the capital of Ethiopia in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This attractive town was, and still is, an important commercial centre. This morning we visit the Blue Nile Falls. Here the river pours over the side of a sheer 42 metre high crevasse forming dense mists and rainbows. In the afternoon we see the Blue Nile emerging from Lake Tana, transporting the lake’s vast silt deposits to Khartoum and the Nile Valley in Egypt.

12/02/2019 Bahir Dar – Gorgora – Gondar (BLD)

Today we board a boat to explore Lake Tana’s famous island monasteries, founded in the Middle Ages. In the afternoon we visit local villages as well as the colourful marketplace, where traditional wares such as baskets, pottery and hand-woven clothes are traded. We continue by boat to the northern shore of Lake Tana and the town of Gorgora, where we disembark and continue by road to the fabled highland city of Gondar, popularly known as ‘Ethiopia’s Camelot’.

Inn of the Four Sisters

Gondar

13/02/2019 Gondar (BLD)

Gondar was the 17th- and 18th-century capital of Ethiopia. Founded by Emperor Fasilides around 1635, the city is famous for its stunning medieval castles and beautiful churches. This morning we explore this amazing UNESCO World Heritage-listed complex. In the afternoon we drive to the nearby Simien Mountains where canyons, gorges and soaring 4,000m peaks create a startling wilderness. In places the dramatic topography, dominated by basalt lava flows, is reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.

14/02/2019 Gondar – Khartoum (BLD)

Leaving Gondar, we head north and after three hours we reach the Metema border. After clearing immigration on both the Ethiopian and Sudanese sides we continue through to Khartoum to arrive in the late afternoon.

Corinthian Hotel

Khartoum

15/02/2019 Khartoum (BLD)

Khartoum is the capital of Sudan and is located precisely where the Blue and White Niles merge. Today we visit this confluence of the two rivers before heading to the Presidential Palace where General Charles Gordon was beheaded in 1885.We also visit the stunning Archaeological Museum. In the afternoon we cross the White Nile to the suburb of Omdurman, which evokes a Middle Eastern atmosphere with its maze-like streets and huge Souq.

16/02/2019 Khartoum – Naga – Meroe (BLD)

Today we start our journey northward. Soon after leaving Khartoum we reach a desert area that is dotted with huge granite boulders that form part of the dramatic 6th Nile Cataract. Leaving the asphalt road behind, we make the short drive to the temple complex of Mussawarat. Located in a valley, the ruins – which date back to the 1st century A.D – are crowned by the Great Enclosure with its astonishing elephant carvings. After our visit here, we move further north towards Meroe. Suddenly a field of pyramids – many of them perfectly preserved – rises from the desert sands: this is the Royal Necropolis of Meroe.

Permanent Tented Camp

Meroe

17/02/2019 Meroe (BLD)

Meroe is located in the Nubian desert, along the banks of the Nile where an astounding collection of 200 pyramids are embraced by the desert landscape. These are the tombs of the kings and queens of the Meroitic Kingdom which ruled the area for nearly a thousand years. The Meroe pyramids, immediate cousins of the Egyptian pyramids, are distinctly Nubian in style, with narrow bases and steep angles on the sides. Built between 2,300 and 2,700 years ago, they feature decorative elements from the cultures of Pharaonic Egypt, Greece, and Rome. When the ancient Egyptians abandoned pyramids for hidden tombs, the Nubians continued to use their pyramids. Meroe became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 and yet, few tourists visit the site. Those who do share these incomparable treasures with desert nomads who live their lives in the traditional way which has remained unchanged for centuries.

18/02/2019 Meroe – Karima (BLD)

Today we drive further north where we cross the Nile and enter the vast Bayuda Desert. This desert is etched by a loop, formed by the Nile between the 4th and the 6th Cataract, and distinguished by sharp black basalt mountains – most of them volcanic and cone-shaped. They alternate with level pebble stretches and large valleys crossed by dry wadis where sparse vegetation clings to life. We cross the River Atbara which is the last of the Nile’s tributaries on its way to the Mediterranean and gives its name to the town which is now Sudan’s main rail hub. We pause to visit Atbara’s Railway Museum, where amongst the quietly rusting British built steam locomotives is the train used by Lord Kitchener. We then cross a bridge over the Nile to reach Karima and our hotel, situated in a garden oasis on the right bank of the Nile.

Nubian Rest House

Karima

19/02/2019 Karima (BLD)

Karima is a small and tranquil town close to the base of Jebel Barkal and south of the 4th Cataract. This area of the Nubian Desert is dominated by Jebel Barkal (meaning ‘holy mountain’ in Arabic) which can be seen from more than 40 kilometres away. This has been the theocratic heart of the Kingdom of Kush for more than a thousand years, and the monolithic red sandstone mountain of Jebel Barkal was considered to be the source of all creation and residence of the god Amun. After exploring the Jebel Barkal site we embark on our first cruise on the Nile River.

20/02/2019 Karima – El Kurru – Karima (BLD)

After breakfast we set out for the royal cemetery of El Kurru. This is the necropolis of the ancient capital, Napata, that dates back to the 7th century BC, and is the final resting place of Nubian King Tanwetamani and his mother, Queen Qalhata. Though there are dozens of tombs here, two in particular have been excavated in the rock under partially collapsed pyramids, and are wonderfully preserved. They are decorated with images of the Pharaoh and gods with multicoloured hieroglyphic inscriptions.

21/02/2019 Karima – Wadi Halfa – Abu Simbel (BLD)

This morning we depart for the Sudanese/Egyptian border travelling through the central Nubian area and the 3rd Nile Cataract, where we see many villages set amongst yellow sand dunes and palm trees. The houses are painted and decorated with flowers and colourful patterns and the people who live in the area speak a different language from the Arabs. By lunchtime we reach the border, and after completing formalities, cross into Egypt and continue on to Abu Simbel.

Seti Abu Simbel Lake Resort

Abu Simbel

22/02/2019 Abu Simbel (BLD)

Abu Simbel was built in ancient Nubia by Ramesses II to demonstrate his power and divine nature. The entrance to the Great Temple is dominated by four colossal statues of Rameses – two on each side of the opening. The alignment of the temple is such that twice a year the sun’s rays reach into the innermost sanctuary to illuminate the seated statues of Ptah, Amun-Re, Ramesses II and Re-Horakhty. One of history’s most breathtaking engineering feats was performed here in 1968, when the complex was relocated in its entirety to an artificial hill high above the Aswan Dam reservoir. The relocation of the temples was necessary to avoid their being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan Dam on the Nile. This morning we visit Abu Simbel before the tourist convoy from Aswan arrives, giving us the opportunity to enjoy the solitude of this wondrous temple on the western bank of Lake Nasser. In the evening we attend a magnificent sound and light show which transports us to the time of the pharaohs and brings the ancient world to life.

23/02/2019 Abu Simbel – Aswan (BLD)

This morning we join our convoy for the journey to Aswan and in the afternoon, we visit the High Dam. Finished at the end of the 1960s, it is the second biggest dam ever built, while Lake Nasser is the largest man-made lake in the world. We also visit the unfinished obelisk which lies in its original position in a granite quarry in Aswan.

Movenpick Resort

Aswan

24/02/2019 Aswan – Kom Ombo (BLD)

Today we board a felucca boat to visit Elephantine Island, otherwise known as Kitchener’s Island. The island was given to Lord Kitchener in the 1890s as commander of the Egyptian army. Imbued from an early age with a great passion for beautiful palms and plants, Kitchener set about turning the entire island into the stunning Aswan Botanical Gardens. He imported plants from the Far East, India, as well as many countries in Africa. Today, the garden, which covers 6.6 hectares is filled with birds as well as hundreds of species of flora. After our visit we board M/S Amwaj for our three-night Nile Cruise to Luxor, heading north for our first stop at Kom Ombo. On arrival we disembark to visit the unusual double temple dedicated to the gods Sobek (the crocodile god) and Haroeris (the falcon-headed god).

25/02/2019 Kom Omb – Edfu (BLD)

In ancient times, Edfu was a flourishing Greek city known as Apollinopolis Magna, after the chief God Horus-Apollo. Today this historically rich city is a friendly and commercial place were the local produce is sugar and decorative pottery. However, The Temple of Horus is the outstanding attraction here. It is considered to be the best-preserved temple in Egypt. The origins of the temple date back to the Ptolemaic times, between 237 and 57 BC. The Temple of Horus seen today is the compilation of 180 years of construction, additions, and inscriptions and consists of elements of both Egyptian temples and Greek architecture.

26/02/2019 Edfu – Esna – Luxor (BLD)

After breakfast we continue sailing north to Luxor and on arrival we visit the East Bank where we explore the complexes of Karnak and Luxor Temples. The Karnak Temple complex comprises a vast collection of derelict temples, chapels and pylons, which were built more than 2,000 years ago. It is the largest religious complex ever constructed. This enormous collection of statues, columns and avenues, which was an overwhelming ‘place of the gods’ for ancient Egyptians, is still today, an awe-inspiring sight. In the afternoon we cross the river and start to unravel the mysteries of the West Bank of Luxor visiting Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple and the Colossus of Memnon. Later we explore one of the most outstanding archeological sites in the world. Located in a secluded valley and discovered only in the 1900s, is the Valley of the Kings. Here there are approximately 60 excavated tombs, including those of Ramesses the Great and Tutankhamun, with many more yet to be uncovered. Some tombs were robbed thousands of years ago, but we still see the fantastic painted hieroglyphics lining the corridors. Most tombs contained false entrances or false burial chambers to confuse robbers and deter them from finding the riches, which were thought to be needed in the after-life.

27/02/2019 Luxor (BLD)

This morning we leave our Nile cruise to explore the Temple of Dendara which is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt. In ancient times, Dendara was associated with healing. Patients who travelled there for cures were housed in special buildings where they could rest, sleep, and commune with the gods in their dreams. The walls, rooms, and roof are complete and extraordinarily well-preserved.

Sofitel Pavillion Winter Hotel

Luxor

28/02/2019 Luxor – Cairo (BLD)

After breakfast we depart for Luxor railway station for our journey to Cairo.

Depart Luxor Train 23, 08.00

Arrive Cairo 18.30

Kempinski Nile Hotel

Cairo

01/03/2019 Cairo (BLD)

Cairo is the largest city in Africa, with an extraordinary history. On the east side of the city there is evidence of 2,000 years of Islamic, Christian and Jewish cultures which still flourish to this day. On the west side lies the ancient Egyptian city of Giza, the renowned capital of the old kingdom and the site of the pyramids – the only one of the ancient Seven Wonders to have survived the ravages of time. As part of our city tour this morning we visit the incredible Archeological Museum, which houses the treasures of Tutankhamun. In the afternoon we visit the Giza pyramid complex, where we see the Great Sphinx, which guards the bodies of the dead. With the body of a lion and the head of a man, this awesome limestone structure is more than 2,700 years old.

02/03/2019 Cairo (BLD)

Early this morning we visit the medieval laneways of the Khan Al Khalili bazaar. Dating back to the 14th century, it is perhaps the most celebrated market in Africa, Always frenetic, almost everything can be bought here including camels and AK 47s, as well as gold, copper and spice. After our visit here, we explore Coptic Cairo – the old part of the city – with its famous Hanging Church, so-called because of its situation above a gateway in the old Roman fortress. We also visit Abu Serga, a 5th-century Coptic church where the holy family is thought to have stayed during their flight into Egypt.

03/03/2019 Cairo – Alexandria (BLD)

Today we take the Desert Road, 180 kilometres to the ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’. Located near the Nile Delta, Alexandria was founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, who was only 25 years old at the time. Alexandria is full of legends and intrigue and has a very different history from the rest of Egypt. The municipality was planned in squares, like a chessboard, with two main streets intersecting vertically and horizontally, from east to west and north to south. Alexandria had five districts, each one named after a letter of the first five letters in the Greek Alphabet: A (Alpha); B (Beta); G (Gamma); D (Delta) and E (Epsilon). These five letters represent the initial letters of the text ‘Alexander the king, the descendent of the gods, erected the city’. Our hotel is located on the Corniche, a gorgeous waterfront promenade which runs along the eastern harbour, ending at Montaza Palaca. An evening stroll here gives us enchanting views of the bay and the sea.

Hilton Hotel Alexandria Corniche

Alexandria

04/03/2019 Alexandria – Rosetta – Alexandria (BLD)

Sixty kilometres from Alexandria is the port city of Rosetta, located on the banks of one of the two main distributaries of the Nile and where the great river forms one of the largest deltas in the world as it drains into the Mediterranean. The total length of its journey from Lake Tana in Ethiopia to the Mediterranean is a staggering 6,700 kilometres. This morning we visit Rosetta and later return to Alexandria and explore the Royal Library. Built in 2002, it is a memorial to the most important library in antiquity which was burned down causing the loss of the ancient world’s single greatest archive of knowledge. The modern library may not be as rich as the previous one, however it is still a huge library and a major cultural centre that includes three museums, four art galleries, a planetary and a laboratory where old manuscripts are rescued and repaired. We then explore the catacombs which were discovered accidently, only in 1900. Consisting of three tiers of tombs and chambers, the catacombs showcase a Graeco-Roman style architecture, and is the largest Roman burial site in the country.

05/03/2019 Alexandria – Dubai (B)

This morning we leave Egypt to fly to Dubai.

Depart Fly Dubai FZ 176, 10.24

Arrive Dubai 15.49

06/03/2019 Dubai – Australia

In Dubai we connect with the flight to our chosen Australian airport.