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The Oases of the Western Desert

March 11-28, 2004

Escorted by Robert K. Ritner, Associate Professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago


Day 1: USA/Cairo - Our Lufthansa flight departs Chicago in the evening.

Day 2: Cairo - We arrive in Cairo this afternoon and transfer to our Pyramid-view rooms at the famous Mena House Oberoi Hotel, situated near the Giza plateau. We will meet for dinner. (D)

Day 3: Cairo - After a morning of leisure, touring begins at the Egyptian Museum, where we examine the objects that pertain to this special tour, particularly those in the numerous side galleries on the second floor. Overnight at the Mena House Oberoi. (B)

Day 4: Alexandria - We depart for Alexandria. Today's touring begins at Qait Bey Citadel, the site of the Great Lighthouse, and includes the painted tombs near the Bay of Anfoushy which date from about 200 BC, the necropolis of the Ptolemaic period at Shatby, and the lovely Hellenistic painted tombs at Mustapha Pasha. Overnight at the Renaissance Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 5: Alexandria - We continue our exploration of ancient Alexandria at the catacombs of Kom el-Shuqafa, Tigrane's Tomb, Pompey's Pillar, and the Serapeum. The site of Kom el-Dikka encompasses a Roman odeon made of fine white marble, as well as a large bath complex, house, and what may have been classrooms. We will also visit the newly excavated mosaics on the site of the Great Library of Alexandria and round out our day at the Graeco-Roman Museum. Overnight at the Renaissance Hotel. (B/L)

Day 6: Mersa Matrouh - After completing our touring, we depart Alexandria driving through the newly reclaimed desert, stopping en route at Abu Menas, a pilgrimage site known for its exceptional basilica, at Abusir (Taposiris), with its temple dedicated to Osiris and a Roman lighthouse. At El-Alamein we will visit the war memorials. Overnight at the Beausite Hotel in Mersa Matrouh. (B/L/D)

Day 7: Siwa Oasis - We continue along the route Alexander took from Memphis to Siwa Oasis in order to consult the oracle of Zeus-Ammon. We enter a flat stony expanse of desert and finally the reddish hills and date palm groves of Siwa Oasis. During our stay we will visit many sites within the oasis as well as the surrounding desert. This afternoon we will begin our touring at the ancient town of Aghurmi, site of the Temple of the Oracle, already famous in the 26th Dynasty and consulted by many great men before Alexander. We will also visit the 30th Dynasty temple at Umm Ubayda and the spring known locally as Cleopatra's Bath. Overnight at the Paradise Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 8: Siwa Oasis - This morning we will concentrate on sites in eastern Siwa, including the painted tombs at Gebel el-Mawta, the Ptolemaic stone-built tomb chapels of Abu Awwaf, and the last inhabited hatiya on the eastern side of Siwa, El-Zaytun, constructed around a stone temple. This afternoon's touring will be to sites west of town. In Hatiyat Khamisa, one of the most fertile parts of Siwa, we find a small stone temple and a ridge of over 100 rock-cut tombs. Nearby is the famous Doric-style temple and tomb at Bilad el-Rum. Our last stops of this full day will be at the new Siwa House Ethnographic Museum and the medieval fortress of Shali, the deserted central village of the oasis founded in 1203 AD and built of blocks of salty lake mud. Overnight at the Paradise Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 9: Bahariya Oasis - This morning we will transfer from our bus to four-wheeled vehicles as we re-enter the Western Desert, also known as the Libyan Desert, crossing the rough desert track to Bahariya Oasis. Although Bahariya is only 225 miles from Cairo, it has been the least touched by the modern world and survives today on its date palms and hot springs. Several villages occupy the Bahariya depression, but the main one is el-Bawiti. We will overnight in this lovely setting at the new Palm Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 10: Bahariya Oasis - Today we will visit the newly opened archaeological sites in Bahariya Oasis, including the temple dedicated to Alexander the Great, the 26th Dynasty temple of Ain el-Muftilla, the tomb of the 19th Dynasty Governor Amenhotep, and the 26th Dynasty tombs of the merchants Bannentiu and his father Djed-Amun-Iufankh. A tour highlight will be the recently discovered "Valley of the Golden Mummies" (pending the required permission). Overnight at the Palm Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 11: Dakhla Oasis - From Bahariya we traverse a rugged landscape until, finally, the famous white chalk "inselbergs" of the Farafra Depression come into view. The inselbergs rise majestically to a considerable height and, together with the eerie chalk formations of the White Desert to the south, comprise one of the natural wonders of Egypt. We continue on to Dakhla Oasis. Dakhla is known for its fruit orchards, pink cliffs spanning the horizon, and traditional village architecture. Overnight at the Star Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 12: Kharga Oasis - Our touring today includes a Roman temple dedicated to the Theban Triad at Deir el-Hagar and the wonderfully painted Roman tombs of Pelusis and Petosiris at el-Mazauwaka, where Petosiris is dressed in Greek clothing, and scenes from the Persian Mithras cult are intermingled with traditional Egyptian funeral rites. We then visit the Old Kingdom necropolis of Qila el-Dabba at Balat, the relief-decorated Roman tomb of Kitnes at Bishendi, and, if possible, the new Canadian excavations. After completing our touring, we continue to the most populated and developed of the oases, Kharga, and the Pioneer Hotel, with its relaxing garden setting. (B/L/D)

Day 13: Kharga Oasis - Our day begins with visits to the Roman Temple of Nadura, the fascinating Bagawat Christian Cemetery, which has mudbrick tombs painted with Biblical scenes, and the newly reconstructed Hibis Temple, built by Darius I in honor of Amun. After lunch, we will visit the new Museum of the Oases, with time in the late afternoon to explore the interesting local market and village. Overnight at the Pioneer Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 14: Kharga Oasis - We drive to Doush (ancient Kysis), to visit a large Roman fortress and the stone temple built during the reigns of Domitian and Trajan, and decorated during the reign of Hadrian. Returning to Kharga we will stop at two Ptolemaic and Roman temples: the fortress-like Qasr el-Ghueita, built of red sandstone and surrounded by a high wall, and Qasr el-Zaiyan, a small Roman temple dedicated to Amenebis. Overnight at the Pioneer Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 15: Luxor - Leaving our wonderful oases behind, we travel through the Western Desert for the last time and re-enter the Nile Valley just south of Luxor. After lunch at our hotel, we will spend a full afternoon visiting Karnak Temple. One can never have too much time to contemplate the wonderful reliefs and monumental architecture of this magnificent temple. Visit Chicago House after touring Karnak Temple. Overnight at the Sheraton Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 16: Luxor - This morning we will ferry to the West Bank of the Nile in order to visit a few of the many sites not usually seen, including Malqata, the royal residence of Amenhotep III, and the recently conserved tomb of Nefertari, as well as some of the newly opened tombs in the Valley of the Kings. There will be time for independent visits to the Luxor Museum and to explore the local market for last-minute shopping. Overnight at the Sheraton Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 17: Cairo - After a morning at leisure we fly to Cairo and transfer to the Meridien Heliopolis Hotel, where we will have our farewell dinner. (B/L/D)

Day 18: Cairo/USA - An early departure on Lufthansa connecting in Frankfurt to Chicago.

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About your Lecturer

Robert K. Ritner, Associate Professor at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, accompanied The Oases of the Western Desert.

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Tour Costs

Per Person, Land and Air: $6190
Per Person, Land Only: $5360
Single Supplement: $645
Flights within Egypt: $125
Tax deductible contribution of $400 to the Oriental Institute is included.

Your Land and Air package includes:
* Meeting, assistance, and transfers upon arrival and departure in Egypt.
* Porterage of one suitcase per person throughout.
* Services of an English-speaking Egyptian guide and escort throughout Egypt.
* Touring per itinerary in a deluxe private air-conditioned bus (with toilet) and/or 4x4 vehicles.
* All entrance fees and service charges based on listed touring.
* Hotels as listed double occupancy including Pyramid-view rooms at the Mena House in Cairo and Nile-view rooms at the Sheraton in Luxor. Single surcharge when applicable.
* All meals as listed (B/L/D) will be either buffet, table d'hôte, or multi-choice.
* Bottled water on the bus and at all meals.
* Gala farewell dinner including wine.
* All tipping to local guides, drivers, porters, and restaurants.
* Transatlantic tourist class jet via Lufthansa or other IATA Carrier. Internal flights via EgyptAir.

Your Land and Air package does not include:
* Excess baggage charges
* Visa fees
* Beverages not specified
* Transfers for participants arriving independently
* Items not on menus or of a personal nature

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Terms and Conditions

Cancellations: In the event of cancellation, refund in full will be made until sixteen weeks before departure, less a $200 handling fee. Between sixteen and twelve weeks before departure, the cancellation penalty is $600, between twelve and eight weeks the cancellation penalty will be $1900, and from eight weeks until the time of departure, the penalty will be $2980 plus other penalties levied by hotels and operators. These penalties could be as high as 100%. In addition, if cancellation is made within 21 days of departure, the airline ticket is non-refundable. Insurance is available to cover these penalties and is recommended. By purchasing your trip cancellation insurance at the time of your initial deposit, Travelers Insurance Company will waive the usual exclusion for pre-existing medical conditions.
Responsibility: Archaeological Tours, a division of Lindstone Travel, Inc., in accepting bookings for the tour, clearly stipulates that it is not liable for the faults or defaults of other companies and persons that may be used in the carrying out of the tour services; also for accidents, baggage losses, delays, strikes, political unrest, riots, and acts of God and war. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable for the comfort or well-being of the passengers, or for any reason whatsoever, to alter the itinerary or arrangements, such alterations may be made without penalty to the operator. Additional expenses, if any, shall be borne by the passengers. The right is also reserved to withdraw this tour; also to decline to accept or retain any persons as members of the tour. No refunds can be made for absence from the tour unless arrangements are made at the time of booking. Lufthansa or other IATA Carrier concerned is not to be held responsible for acts, omissions, or events during the time passengers are not on board. The passage contract in use by the companies concerned shall constitute the sole contract between the company and the purchaser of these tours and/or passengers.

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Revised: March 3, 2009

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