Two Weeks in Egypt - October 2012

The 70th Commemoration of the Battle of El Alamein and a trip up the Nile

Introduction

The Battle of El Alamein raged across the North African desert in 1942. For many people, it was the New Zealand Division's finest hours as a small group of battle-weary troops finally defeated the combined German-Italian Axis Forces under Rommel. The battles hold a fascination for many people, especially those who had relatives there. My father's battalion - the 22nd Battalion of 2NZEF - featured in the early parts of the battle, only to have two of its three companies captured on Ruweisat Ridge when the British tanks failed to arrive.

The 70th anniversary of the main battle offered a chance (well, an excuse really) to visit the area and to pay my respects to the men of the 22nd who lie in the cemetery or who are remembered at El Alamein. A tour of Egypt was on offer, with some time in Cairo and Alexandria and then the classic cruise up the Nile, from Luxor to Aswan. It was too tempting, so off I went.


The Tour Itinerary

In outline, we flew to Dubai then on to Cairo where we spent two days visiting the Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum for our first glimpse of the story of the Pharaohs and then some of the old New Zealand Army sites and the Commonwealth Cemeteries. From Cairo we travelled by bus to Alexandria that was our base for several days. We drove west along the coast to El Alamein (twice) and then back to Cairo Airport for the flight south along the Nile to Luxor. Here we boarded a Nile cruise boat for the three days travel to Aswan and a feast of ancient temple sights. Finally I flew back to Cairo, then to Dubai, Sydney, Auckland and finally to Wellington.

Day 1 Arrival in Dubai. Bus tour of the city, with visits to the river, Old Souk and Gold Souk. Visit to the tallest building in Dubai (the Burj Khalifa) by day and by night, and the magnificent water fountains in the lake beside the shopping complex.
Day 2 Dubai in the morning then our flight to Cairo
Day 3 Waking to see the Pyramids outside the window then a visit to them. Visited the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries of Cairo and Heliopolis and then the site of the old Maadi Camp.
Day 4 Across Cairo again by bus to the Egyptian Museum for our first glimpse of Pharoahs, then up to the old citadel on the skyline and the Mosque of Sultan Hussan. After lunch the long bus trip out to Alexandria on the coast and our accommodation at the historic Cecil Hotel on the harbourfront. Also a set of photos of the chaos of Cairo as seen from the bus
Day 5 Morning visit to Chatby and Hadra Cemeteries then by bus to El Alamein and the New Zealand ceremony for the 70th Commemoration of the Battle of El Alamein. (The story of the Ceremony is here) Back to Alexandria for the night.
Day 6 By bus back to El Alamein again for the International Ceremony, then visits to the Alamein War Museum the German and Italian Memorials and the Alamein Railway Station (The story of the International Ceremony is here)
Day 7 Time in Alexandria to visit the Citadel on the harbourfront and lunch.
Day 8 Early start for the trip to Cairo Airport and our flight to Luxor. Arrival on our cruise boat and a visit to the Luxor Temple. Overnight on the cruise boat.
Day 9 Early start in the cool of the morning to cross the Nile and visit the Valley of the Kings. Visit to the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon before returning to the ship and cruising up the Nile to Edfu
Day 10 At Edfu visit the Edfu Temple and the Temple of Horus.Return to the ship and sail up the Nile to visit the Temple of Kom Ombo late in the afternoon.
Day 11 Arrival at Aswan, a tour of the Aswan High Dam, the Temple of Philae and sailing a felluca on the Nile.
Day 12 A short flight south to Abu Simbel and the magnificent carvings of Ramses II, then back to Cairo.
Day 13 An overnight stop in Dubai then back to New Zealand


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Last updated: 26/03/2013