Lakecity residents visit cradle of civilization

Imagine gazing at the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, floating on a boat down the Nile River, soaring in the sky in a colourful hot air balloon while looking down over ancient temples, hiking through the steep rock walls at ancient Petra or floating effortlessly on the Dead Sea. These are just some of the incredible memories a group of adventurous travellers from Williams Lake had the opportunity of experiencing during a trip to Egypt and Jordan.

After clearing customs and getting our Egyptian visas we boarded a bus to Giza and our wild adventure began. Here the lines on the roads seem to be just “suggestions” and a three-lane highway became a six-lane free for all. As we drove up to our hotel we could see the pyramids ahead of us, our adventure was about to begin.

Our first day was packed with adventures as our wonderful Egyptologist, Samai, d stories about the history and life of this complicated country. The pyramids are enormous and stand as majestically as they did thousands of years ago. We were able to go inside some of them to see and even touch the hieroglyphics carved on the walls. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only Wonder of the Ancient World to have survived until modern times and was built as a tomb for King Khufu.

The Great Sphinx is the largest monolith statue in the world and was carved out of the bedrock around 2558 BC, it stands in front of the pyramids to protect them. It felt as though we were brought back in time as we rode our camels in front of these ancient wonders.

We travelled north to the city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea. In this bustling seaside city, we went deep down under the ground to explore the Catacombs of Kom el-Shoqafa, a Roman funerary complex. We enjoyed a great lunch at a fish restaurant on the water where they served many different types of fish including Canadian salmon.

We flew to Luxor to begin our four-night cruise up the Nile River then headed straight for Karnak Temple. Over 30 pharaohs built on this site over 500 years making it the largest and most diverse of all the temples in Egypt. Beautifully carved columns with the original paint still visible, intricately carved obelisks, and many buildings are still adorned with colourful paintings. In the early evening, we visited Luxor Temple to watch the sunset and see the magical way the temple comes to life at night. This is thought to be where many of the kings of Egypt were crowned including Alexander the Great.

The next morning we watched the sunrise from a hot air balloon. It was so quiet and peaceful as we soared higher into the sky looking down over temples, farms, and the Nile. What a fabulous experience to with friends.

Then it was onto the Valley of the Kings to see the tombs of pharaohs where we walked through the highly decorated and colourful hallways to the burial chambers. The afterlife was more important to the Egyptians then life on earth. We explored the tomb of Tutankhamen (King Tut) one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world and a World Heritage site.

We rode in horse-drawn carriages to Edfu Temple of Horus the falcon-headed man wearing the crowns of upper and lower Egypt. Then sailed to Kom Ombo to see the temple dedicated to two gods the crocodile god Sobek and Horus the elder. Finished off at the crocodile museum where mummified crocodiles were on display.

Our group then arrived in Aswan to find out that the King of Egypt was in town and staying at our hotel. The security was intensified and there were men in black suits on every corner. Some of us took a plane down to Abel Simbel built 3,000 years ago for Pharaoh Rameses II and his Queen Nefertari. These massive temples were moved when President Nasser built the dam on the Nile in 1964. This was a huge multinational effort with help from UNESCO and many countries in the world.

In the afternoon we took a small boat to a Nubian village where we had tea, visited a school, and got to hold a baby crocodile. The Nubians are the indigenous people of this area and have lived here since 7000 BC.

We flew back to Cairo for a few nights and went to an authentic Egyptian restaurant where we tried many Egyptian foods including a Molokheya, a green slimy soup that was supposed to be super healthy, but not very tasty.

: A trip of a lifetime to Africa for Williams Lake adventurers

The next morning was spent at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo which is full of the most important pieces of ancient Egyptian history. The Golden Mask of King Tut is one of the many magnificent items in the museum. There are many sarcophagus, mummies, face masks, and jewellery, as well as beautiful statues and pieces of art. Egypt is still trying to get other countries to return Egyptian treasures so they can be put back where they belong in the Egyptian museum.

We visited the Mosque of Muhammad Ali located on Citadel hill of Cairo. As it is on the hill in the middle of Cairo so very visible and has great views, we were actually able to see the pyramids in Giza from the hill.

Then we flew to Jordan where life is peaceful and quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of Egypt. We drove south toward Petra and arrived at our beautiful hotel where we relaxed by the pool and enjoyed this beautiful resort. This evening we went to have dinner at a local family’s home. The mother, grandmother and aunt cooked in the kitchen while the children greeted us and talked to us about their lives. We had an amazing experience as we filled up on authentic Jordanian dishes. We all slept well that night.

We hiked through a narrow fissure or canyon (Siq) for about 45 minutes to get to the Treasury of Petra. The colour of the stone is beautiful ranging from pink to orange depending on the sunlight. In 1985 Petra became a UNESCO heritage site and in 2007 was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

We continued walking past the Treasury to the Monastery There are over 850 stairs carved in the stone hills and it is a very steep climb up the rock hills but the views are spectacular.

We left Petra and drove to Madaba to tour the City of Mosaics and St. Georges Church then onto Mount Nebo where Moses saw the promised land and was buried.

An amazing view all the way to Israel and the River Jordan.

Our final day was a very full day as we started with a tour of Amman including the citadel and Roman ruins. Then it was off to the Dead Sea, the lowest elevation on earth, where we floated in the healing salty waters. This was so much fun to feel the buoyancy you couldn’t sink in if you tried.

It was a fabulous trip with so many new experiences and fun times. We arrived back to Canada with a deeper appreciation for the wonderful country that we have the privilege to live in.

It’s great to a special trip like this with friends and I can’t wait until my next journey.

In July I am travelling to Italy and Greece for a few weeks visiting Rome, Sorrento and the island of Capri and then flying to Athens and touring some of the ancient Greek sites before heading to the island of Santorini for three nights. It is going to be a beautiful trip to two of the most loved countries in the world. If you are interested give me a call as we have a few spots left.

Then in September of 2020 a trip to Croatia and Slovenia which has been a dream destination of mine. If you are interested let me know…

Sharon Smith is a retired teacher who took students on educational tours and now takes adults on amazing tours around the world. Contact her at 250-267-3227 or at [email protected] to learn where she’s going next.

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