October 17, 2022 Tauck Small Group Tour: Jordan & Egypt: Petra to the Pyramids?

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Comments

  • AlanS - I'll let you know if Interpol comes knocking on my door.

  • As always, appreciate all the responses and updates. We arrive in Jordan 2 days early. Looks like nice reviews for dinner at Kempinski Italian restaurant by the pool. Any other dinner suggestions in Jordan ? Happy to be on new nonstop from IAD to AMM ! thx so much !

  • cuzin GJ....I highly recommend the signature Jordanian dish and drink (Mansaf and Lemon Mint Tea) at the Kempinski hotel.. I saved that as my special treat on my last night at the hotel. It was delicious beyond words. My reservation was later in the evening and the server tried his darnest to get me to order something else on the menu.

    When I spoke to our local guide Sufian the next morning, he explained that the dish is very heavy and most Jordanians do not eat it at night. He also indicated it takes a bit of time to prepare--which is probably why they were trying to persuade me to order something different. It probably took a little more than half-hour to prepare. I have NO regrets. I know I will never test anything like that again. I savored every bite.

  • thx Pure Luxury ! .... I just checked out mansaf dish - looks yummy !

  • A (very short) trip report on the extra-curricular activities we considered/accomplished on our recently completed tour:
    1. Wadi Mujib Gorge - didn't do this as 1) Ms. Portolan for some reason thought that if we were at a resort, we should relax and 2) see 1.
    2. Monastery trail at Petra - I did this and it took about a hour going up (photos along the way). Tiring but not dangerous. Walked 10 miles that day from hotel into Petra, up to the Monastery and back to the hotel eschewing the camel ride and golf cart offer only applied to those returning with the group. Definitely earned my dinner that day.
    3. Petra at night - due to a conflict with another Tauck group, our first night in Petra when we'd planned to do this became the Bedouin dinner at Little Petra. The second night was after the above mentioned 10-mile trek, so we decided not to do Petra at Night. Good thing as we were dining atop the Movenpick (very nice option) when we watched a thunderstorm role in and dump a lot of rain amid thunder and lightning. After a hasty retreat from the rooftop with our recently delivered food, we finished our meal in the central atrium. First rain that Petra had seen for a year. The site had a delayed opening the next day which didn't affect us as we'd left for Wadi Rum. Light rainfall all the way to Wadi Rum which ended shortly after we arrived, so no problem with dust!
    4. Unfinished obelisk - arrived too late in Aswan which made this a non-option.
    5. Cheops/Khufu pyramid - after the visit to Saqqara where we entered Teti's Pyramid (who?), I felt unfulfilled. So, the next day (Cairo mosques, churches and markets), I asked to be dropped off at the entrance to the Mena House (to save time backtracking from the room), I "walked with a purpose" up the hill to the Giza site, bought both the general admission (220 pounds) and second ticket to enter the great pyramid (440 pounds, so about $30 for both) and went directly to the entrance and completed the challenging route to the tomb room. Challenging because there was a long stretch of steeply inclined passage with a ceiling height of (at a guess) 4'-6"...and I'm 6'1", so all done hunched over, then another long incline in the Great Hall where you can climb erect. Very warm (~90+ degrees). Made it to the tomb room having taken pictures all along the route. Not much to see but the outer sarcophagus (no decorations), so started my return. Half-way down the Great Hall, the lights went off for a brief moment so I kept up the pace. Reached the entrance door right about 4 PM and they shut and locked the door behind the couple directly behind me. And then they started herding everyone off the Giza site. So, it took me 45 minutes from being dropped off and, reasonably, you need an hour to do this at a more normal pace. I'd received bum information from the local guide who had said that the 4 PM deadline was just to enter, so I might not have attempted it had I known the correct end time...but very glad I did.

  • edited November 1

    Scott, it sounds like you gave it the good ole college try! Thanks for filling in some of the holes in my knowledge base and validating my decision to take in Meidom, Dahshur, and Saqqara instead of going back to the Giza plateau. I believe almost all of the sites close at 4:00 pm so anyone thinking about returning to any of them after spending the day with Tauck needs to take that into consideration. That was one of a couple of reasons we didn't make it into the subterranean corridors and chambers of the step pyramid of Djoser.

    Was the sand at Wadi Rum still wet or damp? Our group did a little barefoot climb up a large sand dune/drift for photos, etc. It would have been a bit different in wet sand.

    A lot of people don't realize that the interiors of most of the large old kingdom pyramids do not have any sort of hieroglyphic "pyramid texts" or decoration. It is only the smaller pyramids like that of Teti I which have them as do the mastaba tombs of high officials like Mereruka, Teti's vizier, etc. which not only have the texts, but also colorful relief drawings. However, even those don't compare to amazing and colorful decorations of the New Kingdom (18th, 19th, 20th dynasty) tombs in the VOK and VOQ.

  • AlanS: going back to the Great Pyramid was the only possible option if we went with the tour to the last day's program in old Cairo which we did and enjoyed. I knew, of course, that the inner rooms were unadorned, but as a civil engineer, the accomplishment of the Great Hall is an amazing achievement. It also allows me to mention going into a pyramid which people have actually heard of. The sand at Wadi Rum was damp and therefore a bit easier to walk on and up the dune you mention. Preventing the dust was a huge plus.

  • Yes the great gallery and its corbeled ceiling would have been interesting to see. The burial chamber ceilings of the smaller pyramids I entered in Meidom and the bent pyramid in Dahshur (both by Sneferu), though smaller and not nearly as tall, also had corbeled ceilings.

  • edited November 2


    Cross-section of the Great Pyramid for reference to photos below:

    The low-ceiling, ~25-degree "ascending passageway" (note the hunched figure at far end, descending toward me head first)

    The inclined "Grand Gallery," 40m long and again inclined about 25 degrees

    The "King's Chamber" with sarcophagus. Note that the structure shown on the diagram above the King's Chamber isn't visible. The chamber has a flat ceiling.

    In the diagram at the start of this post, you can see where I passed the ends of the passageways to the "Queen's Chamber" and the "Subterranean chamber," but they can't be entered

  • edited November 2

    Scott, thanks for the photos and details!!! Now I know what I missed.

    It appears the ascending passageway in the Great Pyramid was similar to the northern descending corridor in the Bent Pyramid which is slightly steeper. The Bent Pyramid corridor starts out at 28°38’ for the first 41' before changing to 26°10’ for the final 217' !!! It was a long way down. The corridor also had a very low ceiling. Both factors made in necessary to enter backwards facing the entrance and back down the entire way, in a bear crawl position, and exit the same way. That put a lot of strain on my back and legs, especially hamstrings. My muscles were sore for 2+ days afterwards!! :o

    Was the person in your photo going up or backing down? :D Was it hard on your legs??

    I hadn't planned to enter the Bent Pyramid after learning how difficult it was from Joyce Welch, former Taucktourian. Her guide took her and one or two others there in 2019 after their A&K tour ended. It wasn't on Joyce's tour but it had just re-opened to tourists in 2019 after being closed for over 50 years!!! Her guide had never been inside. Joyce said her legs, especially hamstrings, were like jelly when she was done!!

    When my guide suggested it, I said what the hey, we are flying home tonight and I can rest on the plane! :D

    Thanks again for the info and photos.

    p.s. I took this photo during the guided portion of our visit to the Giza Plateau- this is as close as I got to entering the Great Pyramid: :(:D:D:D

  • Alan, who is the guy on the left of your photo, I recognize him from somewhere,

  • AlanS: sounds like your experience descending into the Bent Pyramid was very similar to mine in the ascending passageway. And, yes, rough on the legs and my back & head which were in frequent contact with the ceiling to minimize the crouching. The guy in the picture was descending head-first toward me as I did on the return. I added that to the caption as well as a couple of other clarifications.

    I would have liked to do what you did at the Bent Pyramid and Dashur, but we didn't stay beyond the end of the tour leaving at 2:35 AM the morning (!?!) after the farewell activities.

  • Portolan - How tall are you (And, yes, rough on the legs and my back & head which were in frequent contact with the ceiling to minimize the crouching.) that your head was in contact with the ceiling?

    I'm afraid if I tried it, it would be another experience like the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam. More like a crouching duck walk. Not real enjoyable.

  • thx for info and great pix ! simply amazing interior views of pyramids. I did notice the rare rain in Jordan and Cairo for part of one day recently. Question on Day 8 of J&E journey. While visiting Kom Ombo, do we have time to visit Crocodile Museum ? and is it worth the time ? I have read that admission is included with Kom Ombo ticket.

  • We did visit the crocodile museum.

  • A visit to the Crocodile Museum was included as part of the Egypt: Jewels of the Nile tour that I recently completed. We spent about 5-10 minutes in the Museum after the visit to Kom Ombo. It isn't a very large place.




  • edited November 2

    Smiling Sam: I'm 6'-1". Head in contact with ceiling at intervals because I was trying to make full use of the limited height and also to look forward and up. I've been in the Cu Chi tunnels, but that was 8 years ago and my knees were better.

    cuzin GJ: yes, time at Kon Ombo allowed for a brief visit to the Crocodile Museum. We were in Petra for a serious thunderstorm (fortunately after our full-day visit there and then arrived in Cairo many days later just after severe rainfall the day before. Who would have thought?


    Tick, tick, tick...


    It rained in Cairo the day before we arrived which allowed for this reflected shot of the Great Pyramid.

  • Portolan - The 5" difference in our heights makes those tunnels considerably more painful. My head touched the ceiling in the shower on the Philae. I'm used to watching for low clearances.

  • I, too, experienced a severe rainstorm in Petra. I heard sirens go off at 1:00 a.m. to warn of the flooding. The next morning, the street was filled with water and ruins were closed because of the flooding, and there was no assurance that they would be open by afternoon, so we (the 9 of us left on the tour, with the TD and local guide) decided change plans, skip time in Amman, and spend the next morning at the ruins. By the time the next morning arrived, the government of Jordan had closed the ruins because of Covid.

  • I'm only 5'9" but still had to be careful in the Bent Pyramid- I tried to use only one hand on the handrail so could put the other on my head as a buffer, especially where the ceiling was extremely low at the transition point between the upper and lower corridor. It was also difficult to keep my camera from bumping into the walls and wooden ramp- I carried it in my soft-sided bag and tried to keep it positioned on my back, but was not always successful. :s

    British

    That was Howard, a single on our tour, in the blue puffer jacket. I forget his total, but he has quite a large number of Tauck tours under his belt, so you may have toured with him at some point.

    cuzin GJ

    We were on J&E but also visited the Crocodile Museum. It is right there where the boats dock. It is small and only takes a few minutes to tour, even if you read all the info placards. Tauck paid for the admission.

    Portolan

    Since the sites closed at 4:00 pm and even after stopping at a carpet gallery, we got back to the hotel in plenty of time to clean up, finish packing, and take a nap, before heading to the airport- our Turkish Air flight left at 2:45 am! :| I was pretty tired and barely remember our connection in Istanbul.

  • Portolan
    November 1
    . . . . as a civil engineer, the accomplishment of the Great Hall is an amazing achievement.

    Even knowing they built the corridors and chambers from the bottom up as they built the pyramid, it is still an amazing. From your photos, it appears the fit and finish of the granite blocks in the burial chamber are incredible. I couldn't tell if there were examples there, but like some of the Inca structures in Peru, perfect 90° inside corners in ancient Egyptian structures were not always at the intersection of two blocks, sometimes they would 'cut' an inside corner in a single block. That requires removing a lot of stone! I find that not only amazing but I wonder why? Of course the ultimate examples of precision are the interiors of sarcophagi, both for human burials and especially the huge ones we saw in the serapeum built to hold the Serapis bulls! They had perfectly flat inside surfaces and perfect, 90°, inside corners with no radius!! There are so many details like that that often go unnoticed, except by people with engineering backgrounds (or are a bit OCD :D )

  • Alan S .. oh yes! Howard was on our just completed Singapore Bali tour. He was a lovely guy and fun. He wore his mask on our tour the entire time!

  • Yes, he was a nice guy. My wife said she remembers him saying he was going to Bali later in the year. He left a nice pair of slacks and a jacket at the Movenpick in Abu Musa. The hotel found them but they hadn't caught up with him before the end of the tour in Cairo. I wonder it he ever got them back?

  • Last 2 questions before we depart Thursday from Knoxville. Our return flight on December 2 from CAI to FRA on Lufthansa at @ 2:05am. As of 11/13/22, still can't choose seats ( unless you pay the $20+ pp euro scam for early seat assignments ). When were you able to pick your seat for this flight at no extra charge ??? Finally, being late November, with cooler, pleasant weather for tour, can we expect flies and mosquitoes at any particular stop ??? Appreciate all the info from everyone.

  • We were there last early December and the weather was perfect, no bugs.

  • cuzin GJ My tour was mid-December--beautiful weather, no flies or mosquitos. I can't help with the seat question. I flew Qatar business class. I was allowed to select my seats upon booking.

  • cuzin GJ
    9:55AM
    "Last 2 questions before we depart Thursday from Knoxville. Our return flight on December 2 from CAI to FRA on Lufthansa at @ 2:05am. As of 11/13/22, still can't choose seats ( unless you pay the $20+ pp euro scam for early seat assignments ). When were you able to pick your seat for this flight at no extra charge ??? . . . ."

    I'm guessing you are not flying in business- business class gets free seat selection and can be made at booking (with the usual disclaimers):

    "On intercontinental flights as well as on continental feeder flights, advance seat reservation is free of charge for passengers in Business and First Class."

    It appears Lufthansa https://www.lufthansa.com/ae/en/seat-reservation has a complicated Economy Class, seat reservation matrix https://www.lufthansa.com/ae/en/seat-reservation-economy-class In certain situations seat selection is free- within 23 hours of check-in.

    If you are on a code share or booked via a code share or alliance carrier, you might be able to go to their site and select your seats, but again, you may need to pay. We don't pay but must often do that to select seats on Air France segments when we book business class with Delta.

  • I was in Egypt the day after Thanksgiving 2021. The weather was perfect, but the flies where very annoying. Some places it was hard to frame a picture because of these tiny biting flies. Thinking about it now, my hands where very dry from all the sanitizer that we were using, so I was countering that dryness with hand cream. Maybe the flies were attracted to the scent in the hand cream.

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