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Extension - White Christmas on the White Desert
December 22-26, 2012

At the end of every year in the ancient Egyptian calendar, five special days are set aside after winter solstice, to celebrate the birthdays of the most important gods and goddesses in ancient Egypt: Osiris, Horus, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys. Why not combine these events with a “White” Christmas celebration in Egypt’s fantastic White Desert?

Day 1 (22 Dec): BIRTHDAY OF OSIRIS. You will be picked up from Le Meridian: Pyramids Hotel at 11:00 a.m. and taken west to the Bahariya Oasis which is about 3 hours away. Upon arrival to the oasis you will be dropped off at the Bedouin Castle, where comfortable rooms, dinner, and live Bedouin music await you in the huge authentic Bedouin tent. The Birthday of Osiris can be acknowledged from 11:30 pm to 1:30 am when his Old Kingdom stellar representative, Canopus, appears in the sky, or with a leisurely walk thru the dense palm groves that surround your castle, as Osiris was also the god of fertility and growth.

Day 2 (23 Dec): BIRTHDAY OF HORUS. As pharaoh’s ascended the throne, they became the “living Horus” who was represented by a falcon’s head (as the son of Osiris), or the sun disc (as the son of Ra). Either way today you will see much of Horus as you begin your White Desert Safari. First we will see the Black Desert, a combination of desert sand and ancient black volcanic mountains. Then we will stop at Crystal Mountain, which was once a giant crystal-filled geode long-since pushed to the Earth’s surface. We continue off-road through the narrow and steep sand-filled passes of Agabat, and stop in the Flower Desert where you will find 35+ million year old coral pieces and petrified seashells. We continue off-road thru Roman Springs and the chalk formations in Tent Valley until we reach our favorite camping spot amidst the towering cliffs of the Western Desert. Your camp will be set up and awaiting you in our favorite isolated site. Enjoy dinner and Bedouin music around the campfire in this magical spot under a full moon and star-filled sky.

Day 3 (24 Dec): BIRTHDAY OF SETH. As Seth is the most important desert god, it is fitting that today involves an off-road exploration of the vast Western and White Deserts. After breakfast we begin our off-road desert journey through the Western Desert, which contains white chalk inselbergs, and towering steep cliffs. We will stop many times for photo opportunities, tea, and lunch. As millions of years ago this area was once an island-filled ocean, you will find many unusual petrified objects. We will continue to the White Desert, which features towering white chalk inselbergs resembling creatures such as: sphinxes, mushrooms, turkeys and such. Your Bedouin camp will be waiting for you with dinner cooking over the fire. Enjoy Christmas Eve in this magical place around the fire and gazing at the star-studded sky. The full moon rises at 4:30 p.m. After sunset Jupiter, Taurus and Orion appear, later followed by Seth, the ancient Egyptian’s “Bull’s Foreleg (Meskhetiu) that we refer to as the “Plough” or the “Big Dipper” (in Ursa Major).

Day 4 (25 Dec): BIRTHDAY OF ISIS. Mother Mary is believed to be a ‘reincarnation’ of the Egyptian goddess, Isis, so it is fitting that we wake up in the White Desert, dreaming of a White Christmas. After breakfast we will explore the New and Old White Deserts and have a late lunch in the small oasis of El-Haiz where you can swim in the natural springs outdoor small pool or simply soak your feet in the water channels that run through the restaurant. We will return to the Bedouin Castle in the Bahariya Oasis with time to enjoy a hot shower. Christmas dinner will be served. At 7:30 pm, Isis’s star, Sirius rises.

Day 5 (26 Dec): BIRTHDAY OF NEPHTHYS. We’ll pack our bags, have breakfast at the hotel, and depart at 10:00 a.m. We’ll make a 45-minute stop for a local antiquities tour at the Museum of the Golden Mummies (Optional). Then, we’ll board our microbus and drive back to Cairo in time to meet the first outgoing international flight. The rest of us will go back to the Meridien Hotel for an extra night for Dec 27 flights.

$375 per person. Tour includes: Round trip Cairo to Bahairya, Bahariya Oasis, Bedouin Castle, Black Desert, El-Haiz, Crystal Mountain, Agabat, Roman Springs (Ain Hadra), Western Desert, Flower Desert, Old and New White Deserts. all transportation, all breakfasts, lunches and dinners, coffee, tea, and one bottle of water per day, Bedouin wind breaks, carpets, tables, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, mattresses, eating and cooking utensils, tents, drivers, cooks, tickets, tours, hotel. Does not include tips or alcoholic beverage although beer and wine are available at a nominal fee. Option: Museum of the Golden Mummies ($9).
NOTE: Please pack just your carry-on bag for the Extension. Our big suitcases can be left in storage at the Meridien.

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