NUBIA – A journey along the Nile

A unique itinerary that finally can be experienced thanks to the opening of the land border between Egypt and Sudan. A journey that makes you discover the history: from the first invasion of the Egyptian Pharaohs who subdued the Sudanese Nubia, to the area of ​​Jebel Barkal, the capital city of the Kingdom of the Black Pharaohs, when the Nubian Kings conquered the whole pharaonic Egypt. We will visit Meroe, where a great indigenous culture which rivalled even with the Romans developed and where there are dozens of pyramids laid down in the desert. We will then cross the border to reach Abu Simbel and board  on a small boat to discover Lake Nasser, visiting beautiful sites such as Wadi Es Sebua, Amada and Kasr Ibrim, with no tourists at all and far from any political tension in Egypt until the beautiful temple of Abu Simbel. In Sudan we travel by 4×4 vehicles along the Nile to admire and discover the beautiful archaeological sites of Soleb, Tombos, Kerma and also to see the colourful Nubian villages, the Nubian Desert and the Jebel Barkal with its polychrome tombs. We will also experience the Bayuda Desert with its volcanic cones and nomadic settlements up to the astonishing UNESCO site of the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. In Khartoum, we will visit the Archaeological Museum and the huge market in Omdurman.

15 days
Oct-Apr
all accommodated

The services include:

  • Meeting at airport and private transfer to hotel
  • 1 O/N at Isis Corniche Hotel Aswan 4**** in BB
  • 1 O/N at Nubian House in Abu Simbel in BB
  • Full board on the boat including water, coffee and tea
  • Individual lake permission for the protected areas and for visiting the fortress of Qasr Ibrim, normally not accessible for tourists
  • Fixer in Sudan for border crossing
  • 2 O/N at Acropole Hotel (3***) or similar in Khartoum in BB (possible upgrade at 4 or 5***** hotel in Khartoum upon request)
  • all the camping equipment for the overnights in camp (igloo tent, rubber foam mattress) and a cook in charge of the meals
  • 3 O/N in a special preset camp in Sudan in Tombos with shared facilities
  • 1 O/N in full board at the Nubian Rest House in Karima
  • 2 O/N at the Meroe Camp in FB
  • In Sudan transport with Toyota Land Cruisers (4 pax per car) or Toyota Hilux double cabin (3 pax per car guaranteed) including one extra day for our vehicles to to reach Wadi Halfa from Khartoum.
  • TL English speaking
  • Sudanese staff
  • mineral water outside Khartoum
  • meals as per itinerary
day 1 / Khartoum - arrival

Meet and greet at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Dinner NOT included and overnight stay.

Meal plan
  • NO meals included
Accommodation
Khartoum - hotel of your choice
Day 2 / Khartoum - town tour

Breakfast at the hotel and then we visit the Archaeological Museum that, besides many beautiful objects, contains two beautiful temples rescued by UNESCO and moved from the Lake Nasser area, when it was flooded by the water (closed on Mondays). We then visit the Mahdi’s tomb from the outside and, time permitting, the Khalifa’s house Museums (open until 13.30) in Omdurman. Lunch included in a local restaurant (Al Housh). Then we visit the largest souk in Sudan. Dinner NOT included and overnight. (B.L.)

Meal plan
  • Lunch included
  • Dinner NOT included
Accommodation
Khartoum - hotel of your choice
Day 3 / Khartoum - Naga and Mussawarat temples – Meroe

Breakfast at the hotel and then we begin the journey northward. After about 50 km, we get into a desert area covered with huge round granite boulders; these are the last offshoots of the rocky formations of the 6th Cataract. We leave the asphalt road and we drive for about 30 km on a desert track among many camel thorn acacia trees to visit the two archaeological sites.  The site of Naga it is one of the two centres that developed during the Meroitic period. In Naga, in a typical Saharan environment with rocks and sand, we find a temple dedicated to Apedemak (1st century A.D.): a wonderful building with bas-relief decorations depicting the god with a lion’s head, the Pharaoh, noblemen and several ritual images. A few metres away there is a small and odd construction with arches and columns, named “kiosk“, in which we can notice Egyptian, Roman and Greek styles, all at the same time. Not far away we reach another temple dedicated to Amon with many statues of rams and beautiful gates decorated with bas-reliefs. We then go to Mussawarat, not far away from Naga. This settlement is located in a beautiful valley crowned by hills.  Here the ruins of a very big temple are visible; it once played an exceptional important role.  Its main characteristic, the “Great Enclosure” is made by many constructions and boundary walls which surround a temple built in the 1st century A.D.  The large number of elephants represented on these walls makes you think that this animal used to have an important role in this area.  Beyond the big wadi there is another temple – restored by a German archaeological mission – dedicated to the god Apedemak. Picnic in the area and then we return on the main road and driving North and all of a sudden, we can glance at more than 40 pyramids, located on top of a hill, some of them perfectly preserved, which belong to the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. Arrival at the Meroe Camp with a beautiful view on the pyramids. Accommodation in comfortable and fully furnished tents, dinner and overnight stay. (B.L.D.)

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Meroe Camp
Day 4 / Meroe - the Necropolis and the Royal city of Meroe

Morning dedicated to the visit of the pyramids. The Royal Necropolis of Meroe is located at about 3 km from the Nile on some hills covered by yellow sand dunes.  Several pyramids stand out with their sharp shapes against the clear sky. Each one has its own funerary chapel with the walls fully decorated with bas-reliefs that show the King’s life and offers to the gods. Lunch at Meroe Camp. In the afternoon we move along the Nile to visit the ruins of the Royal city. The excavations confirm that the town of Meroe used to cover a large area and the Royal city was located in a central position, surrounded by suburbs and a boundary wall.  Most of the area where the city is located, formed by many small hills covered by red clay fragments, has still to be excavated by the archaeologists. Dinner and overnight stay at the permanent Meroe Camp. (B.L.D.)

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Meroe Camp
Day 5 / Meroe – Bayuda Desert - Nuri – El Kurru – Karima

Today we cross the Nile in Atbara and we enter the Bayuda Desert, the area bounded by the loop formed by the Nile between the 4th and the 6th Cataract and characterized by sharp black basalt mountains, most of them volcanic and typically cone-shaped. They alternate with level pebble stretches and large valleys crossed by dry wadis, where little vegetation can be seen. It is very likely to meet isolated groups of Hassanya e Manasir nomads, who live in familiar groups in small huts made of intertwined branches close to the rare water wells, with their caravans and herds of camels and cattle. We finally reach the pyramids of Nuri. Little walk among those ancient ruins before crossing the Nile. In the village of El Kurru there is one of the necropolises of the ancient capital, Napata.  Here we can visit one tomb, which is excavated in the rock under pyramids – partially collapsed – and are totally decorated with images of the Pharaoh, of the gods and multicolour hieroglyphic inscriptions. Not far from here there is an interesting site of petrified wood, an ancient forest with hundreds of huge trunks. We shall then reack the village of Karima at the feet of Jebel Barkal. Dinner and overnight in the charming Nubian Rest House at the feet of Jebel Barkal. (B.L.D.)

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Karima Nubian Rest House
Day 6 / Jebel Barkal – Nubian Desert – Old Dongola - Tombos

Landmark in the Nubian Desert, Jebel Barkal (“Jebel” means mountain in Arabic) can be seen from a few dozen kilometres whilst still in the open desert. At the foot of this wonderful and isolated red sandstone mountain, considered holy since the ancient times, there is a big temple, dedicated to the Pharaohs of the New Reign and to their patron, AmonAmon‘s ancient “Pure Mountain”, the Olympus of the Nubians, was the religious Nubian heart for more than 1000 years.  Besides the ruins of the big temple there are still several sculptured granite rams that were supposed to border a long avenue that probably led to the pier on the Nile.  In the mountain wall there is a big room decorated with bas-relief.  The Jebel Barkal archaeological sites are on the World Heritage list. The Royal necropolis of the ancient city of Napata, the Nubian capital (from 800 to 400 B.C.) before the Meroitic period, had a large number of pyramids, located in three different places: few hundred metres north of Jebel Barkal; a dozen kilometres southwards from the holy mountain, in El Kurru; in Nuri, which is located on the other bank of the Nile. We will then reach the archaeological site of Old Dongola. Here there are the rest of a Christian Coptic temple with marble columns as well as several suggestive ruins of churches situated on the banks of the Nile. We continue our journey along the Nile. This area is the central part of the Nubian region. Here the population lives in small villages amongst yellow sand dunes and palm trees they speak a different language from the Arabs and also the Islamic religion is not as “strict” as in other regions. The women don’t cover their faces and readily speak to foreigners. Some houses in the Nubian Villages are painted and decorated with colourful patterns and flowers. Enthusiastic hospitality abounds, people will often invite foreigners to visit their home and share a meal or a cup of spiced tea. Picnic in the area. Late in the afternoon we reach the preset camp in the area of Tombos.

 

Meal plan
  • Picnic lunch
  • Dinner at preset camp
Accommodation
Preset camp
Day 7 / Tombos – Sebu – 3rd Cataract - Kerma – Tombos

After breakfast we reach the Third Cataract which used to be the third huge obstacle that the ancients Egyptians had to face when trying to sail on the Nile River.  We walk up the hill to the ancient Ottoman Fort where we can have beautiful views of the cataract. In Sebu, right on the river bank of the Nile it is possible to visit one of the richest sites of rock engraving of all Sudan with hundreds of images from prehistoric to Egyptian times. In the afternoon we arrive in Kerma where we visit the majestic “Defuffa” the monument that characterizes Kerma civilization. Very interesting is the Museum created by the Swiss archaeological mission after the recovery of seven statues of the Black Pharaohs in 2003. We then reach the ancient granite quarries of Tombos where we will see a statue of Taharqa simply left there in the sand. Return tot he preset camp for dinner and overnight stay (B.L.D.)

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Preset Camp
Day 8 / Tombos – Island of Sai - Temple of Soleb - Tombos

After breakfast we reach the Island of Sai taking a short cruise on the Nile to see the Nile crocodiles and to reach the ruins of an Egyptian temple and an old Ottoman fortress on the island. We shall then continue southward until the small village of Wawa. Here we will take a small motor boat to reach the temple of Soleb, the most beautiful Egyptian Temple in Sudan. Return to Tombos. Dinner and overnight at the preset camp. (B.L.D.)

 

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Preset Camp
Highlights
Day 9 / Tombos – Wadi Halfa – Ashkait - Abu Simbel

Today we depart very early in the morning and we continue until the border with Egypt. After passing the Sudanese border by a local bus and once we have cleared the formalities to enter Egypt, we shall meet our Egyptian staff who will accompany us for the rest of the journey. Arrival in the late afternoon in Abu Simbel. Check in at the hotel. Dinner NOT included and overnight stay. Please bear in mind that crossing the border might takes long hours. (B.L.)

Meal plan
  • Dinner NOT included
Accommodation
Nubian House in Abu Simbel
Day 10 / Abu Simbel – beginning of the cruise - Toshka Island – Qasr Ibrahim Fortress - Amada

In the morning we enjoy a visit of the famous rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel. (In case there is enough time, we shall do the visit the day before. A UNESCO World heritage site, these spectacular ruins were constructed by Ramses II. Without doubt one of the most  powerful of the New Kingdom Pharaohs, which includes the 4 iconic 20 meter high statues of the great pharaoh himself. After the visit we board our private boat to start our beautiful cruise on Lake Nasser. We reach Toshka Island by foot, enjoying the desert scenery. The skies above echoes with the sounds of dozens black hawks. The boat will catch us on the other side of the island where we will enjoy the opportunity to swim in the lake. We then sail towards Qasr Ibrim (qasr = fortress) the only monument to have remained in its original location when the lake was flooded. We have the privilege of visiting these ruins by foot, which are normally not accessible to the public. For one month a year, archaeologists come on a mission to this mysterious place. We will take lunch with view on the remaining’s of the old Cathedral. We then continue cruising across the lake towards Amada where we will arrive just before sunset. A light evening walk to an observation point will allow us to watch a fantastic sunset over the entire lake, just amazing. We then finish the day close to the setting of the stunning Amada Temples, the oldest of the lake’s historic temple sites. Dinner and first night on the boat. (B.L.D.)

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Night on the boat
Day 11 / Navigation on lake Nasser: Amada temples – Korosqo – “Nubian fjords” sail – Wadi El Arab dunes and evening walk

After a light breakfast we take a sunrise walk up to the temple site of Amada. Dating back to the XVIIth dynasty, these are the oldest monuments to survive the creation of the lake. Relocated by a team of French engineers, the complex include some of the best- preserved inscriptions left in ancient Egypt and this morning we will pay a visit to the temples of Amada and Derr and the  tomb of Pennout. Returning to the boat we then cruise on, heading next towards the wonderful sandy beaches of El Marsan. This place is a great opportunity for swimming in stunning clear waters of the Nile or to try out some fishing from the shore. After the break we head to the dramatic canyons of Korosqo, also called de “Nubian fjords”, on the other side of the lake which is only 2-3 km wide at this place. This stretch of the lake provides an ideal spot to look out for birds and other animals living on the shores of Lake Nasser, as we turn north and meander through the narrow confines of the gorge. After lunch we then continue on to Wadi el Arab, where we will take an evening walk in the desert before enjoying drinks and dinner in the shadow of a vast, golden dune. (B.L.D.)

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Boat
Day 12 / Navigation on lake Nasser: morning walk – Wadi Seboua temples – Madiq wall and engravings – Suqqar and evening walk

After breakfast we will start the day with a light morning trek through the great dunes of Wadi El Temsah (crocodile bay). One of the unique places on lake Nasser where dunes plunge into the lake waters. The boat will pick us up later on where we will head north toward the temples of Wadi es Seboua, Dakka and Maharraqa. Saved from the rising flood waters of Lake Nasser, the temples sit along the western banks of the lake and include the stunning Temple of Ramses II, dramatically lying half- buried among the desert sands and approached along a spectacular avenue of sphinxes which gave the name to Wadi es Seboua, valley of the lions. Re-boarding the boat, we enjoy lunch with views from the upper deck on the temples. Then we continue cruising to Madiq to discover some nearby ancient Egyptian engravings. This unofficial site is one of our well kept secrets. We had confirmation form a famous archaeologist, that the date for these engravings are definitely late Predynastic (Nagada II, c. 3500 BCE to about 3100 BCE) to the New Kingdom. The motifs are purely ancient Egyptian. The presence of the Horus emblem (the bird) in particular marks a very early date, as does the low central cabin without a sail. After the visit we continue our itinerary towards Soqqar bay (sugar bay) for the night. Dinner and night on the boat.

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Boat
Day 13 / Abu Derua – Garf Hussein – Abu Stetta birdwatching – Kalabshah archipelago and evening walk

This early morning we start cruising from Soqqar to Abu Derua, a cone like hill in the middle of the lake. We stop for breakfast and eventually a morning swim. Then we sail toward Garf Hussein where we can spot the unfinished holiday palace of Anwar el Saddat. Unfortunately he was assassinated before ever living in his palace on the shores of Lake Nasser. The famous Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy designed and built the beautiful palace, it has many Nubian features. Following Garf Hussein we negotiate our way north through the strait of Abu Steit for bird watching. This evening we will take a sunset walk on the Kalabshah archipelago, keeping an eye out for basking Nile crocodiles. Dinner and night on the boat.

Meal plan
  • All meals included
Accommodation
Boat
Day 14 / Boussalem – Kalabshah temple – Aswan High Dam harbour (end of cruise) – Overnight in Aswan

After breakfast we start our final cruise towards Aswan. At Boussalem we enjoy a last swimming in the lake and some fishing from the shore. Then we head to the temples of Kalabshah which lay just besides de the Aswan high dam. Kalabsha Temple, ancient Talmis, was built over an earlier New Kingdom site during the Roman Period for Caesar Augustus. This is perhaps the finest example of a freestanding temple in Nubia and is constructed from sandstone blocks. Kalabsha Temple complex is among the most important of the salvaged monuments on Lake Nasser. It includes the main temple of Kalabsha, Beit el-Wali, Garf Hussein, and the Kiosk of Qertassi. Lunch with splendid view on the temples and the high dam. After lunch we enjoy a last little stretch on the boat until we reach the commercial harbour. It’s time to say goodbye to the crew and disembark. Transfer by road to Isis Corniche Hotel 4****. Dinner NOT included and overnight stay.

Meal plan
  • Dinner NOT included
Accommodation
Isis Corniche Hotel in Aswan
Day 15 / Departure

Transfer to the airport and boarding your international flight

Departure date
Status
Language
06/10/2018
english
confirmed
open
closed