In 2019 ORACUL launched two (inaugural) educational tours to Egypt. Both were filled to capacity, included Nile cruises, and were a great joy to conduct. Please see below for the itinerary, as well as some comments from guests.

Many people have asked us for information on when our next tours will occur (to Egypt and/or elsewhere). We hope soon, but at this time our small team is working on a documentary. If you would like to participate in a future ORACUL tour, please sign up for our mailing list on the Contact Us page. We will send an announcement the next time a tour is planned, which, again, we hope will be soon.

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you for the trip of our lifetime to Egypt in June. We discuss our adventure almost daily; and the one, truly most positive feeling we all share, is that your guided tour was 120% over-the-top. Marnie mentions all the time how there was not a single negative to the entire experience, which I, Eve, and Rose concur. We thank you so much for giving us this experience. We hope to attend another trip in the future.

Chris Anderson & Family

Thank you again for putting together a fantastic experience in Egypt. The tour hit all the possible high notes that two weeks could offer. It was fun, relaxing, convivial, and just bloody fascinating. I think our group dynamic reflected your personalities; welcoming, inclusive, curious, and happy. The Egyptian staff were absolutely lovely and reinforced that dynamic. That you all were so open to all our inquisitive minds and varied responses made dreaming about the wonders of the universe and the time of Zep Tepi both possible and exciting. The accommodations were brilliant/well chosen. I will remember always the towel sculptures greeting me in the room (and the delight of the staff at making them). Great food and great discussions. All together your work was a huge gift to me (and I dare say the others). As the ‘real’ world rushes back in around me I will have this experience to keep my mind on the true reality – that life is magical and that there are still mysteries that point us towards the divine. The ‘small’ stuff we sweat over has lost its power.

Mark Hopkins

ORACUL’s 2019 Egypt Tours

The Organization for the Research of Ancient Cultures (ORACUL) invites you on a fourteen-day pilgrimage to the land of Zep Tepi – Ancient Egypt! Together we will travel from Giza to Abu Simbel and back again, taking in sites as old as civilization itself. Indeed, this is one of the key questions we will examine as we journey together: How old is civilization? From our hotel at the foot of the Great Pyramids, to our Nile cruise that will carry us to Upper Egypt and back (plus a few buses, a short plane ride, and perhaps additional modes of transportation interspersed), we will examine the science, marvel at the beauty, debate the dating, and discuss all topics related to ancient Egypt, as we enjoy meals, walks, and starlit evenings together. We invite you to join ORACUL, with Dr. Robert Schoch as our Tour Leader, for this grand adventure, which we hope you will find wondrous!

2019 Tour Itinerary (FYI)

Day 1: Mena House

Meals listed on all days are included as part of the tour.
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Guests arrive in Cairo. They will be met at the airport by a tour representative and escorted to the historic Mena House Hotel in Giza, located at the foot of the Great Pyramid. This landmark hotel was initially established in 1869 as a royal hunting lodge. It has since welcomed kings, queens, princes, presidents, and celebrities from all walks of life and parts of the world. This will be our hotel while in the Cairo area. Guests will settle into their rooms; then in the evening there will be a welcome dinner with brief introductions. (D – Overnight at the Mena House Hotel)

Day 2: Giza Plateau

After breakfast, our group departs the hotel at 09:00 to spend the morning touring the Giza Plateau. Guests will walk, with Dr. Robert Schoch and our local guides leading, to see some of the greatest wonders of the ancient world – the three Great Pyramids, the Isis Temple, the Solar Boat, the Great Sphinx, the Sphinx and Valley Temples, and numerous other sites at this iconic location. With evidence of an ancient lightning strike between the Sphinx and the Second Pyramid, together we will question whether or not this is ground zero for Zep Tepi. We’ll have a relaxing lunch at a restaurant with a view of the Pyramids. In the afternoon, we will enjoy a short drive and a private visit to the Abu Rawash Pyramid, just north of Giza. In the evening, back at the Mena House, Dr. Schoch will give a lecture presentation of his research to the guests. (B/L/D – Overnight at the Mena House Hotel)

Day 3: Temple of Osiris / Oseirion

In the morning, our group will fly from Cairo to Sohag in Middle Egypt; after that, we have a drive to Abydos. Here we will visit the Temple of Osiris, filled with incomparable reliefs telling the story of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, and the mysterious low-lying Oseirion. There is much debate regarding the Oseirion. Constructed of huge megaliths, and sitting numerous meters below ground level, it has been suggested that it may go back to the period of Zep Tepi, thousands of years prior to classical dynastic Egypt. We will examine the evidence firsthand. We will then have lunch and check into the House of Life Hotel where we will stay the evening. (B/L/D – Overnight at the House of Life Hotel)

Day 4: Temple of Hathor

After breakfast, we will drive to Dendera where we will visit the Temple of Hathor. Hathor is most often recognized as the “cow-headed goddess”. Her temple, remarkably complete, includes incredible decorated columns, magnificent zodiac ceilings, multiple levels, and “secret crypts” – all of which we will explore together while discussing the sacred and esoteric meaning of what we experience. Afterwards, we will drive to Luxor where we will board our boat for our Nile River Cruise. Guests will have time to settle into their cabins and enjoy dinner; then there will be evening lecture presentations by Dr. Schoch and/or others. (B/L/D – Overnight Nile Cruise)

Day 5: Luxor & Hatshepsut Temples

After breakfast, our group will visit the West Bank of Luxor. In the Valley of the Kings guests will have the opportunity to explore several of the tombs that extend deep into the cliffs, including the Tomb of Tutankhamun. We will also visit Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple, which includes a depiction of an expedition to the mysterious land of Punt, the Hapu Temple, and the Colossi of Memnon. These structures were tourist attractions in ancient Greek and Roman times, and inspired modern architects. Afterwards, we’ll drive back to our cruise boat where we will have lunch and relax. There will be time for a little shopping before our evening visit to the magnificent Luxor Temple. (B/L/D – Overnight Nile Cruise)

Day 6: Temple of Karnak

We will have an early breakfast so that we can enjoy the entire morning visiting the Temple Complex of Karnak. This is one of the most extensive religious complexes in the world, representing many centuries of use and reuse. Here we will see the avenue of the sphinxes, the Great Court, the Hypostyle Hall, the Sacred Lake, obelisks, temples, pylons, private chapels, and so much more! It is difficult not to be completely overwhelmed. Later in the day we will enjoy time on our cruise ship sailing the Nile toward the south, passing through the Esna locks along the way. In the evening guests will again be treated to presentations (if they wish to partake in them). (B/L/D – Overnight Nile Cruise)

Day 7: Temple of Kom Ombo

After breakfast, there will be presentations and/or group discussions for those who wish to participate – others can enjoy the boat and its amenities. After lunch, we will visit the dual Temple of Kom Ombo, dramatically located on a bend in the Nile. Unlike virtually any other single temple in Egypt, this is a dual temple, dedicated to both the crocodile-headed Sobek and the falcon-headed Haroeris (Horus the Elder). In the shade of the temple we can discuss the concept of duality (often expressed as the balance between the dark and the light, the good and the evil) that was so important to the ancient Egyptian concept of the cosmos. Alongside the ancient temple is a modern museum containing ancient mummified crocodiles, which we will visit as well. Then we continue sailing to Aswan. (B/L/D – Overnight Nile Cruise)

Day 8: Island of Philae

After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a motorboat ride to the enchanting new Island of Philae. Here is located the world-famous Temple of Isis. It is not only rightfully famous for its beauty, and for being one of the last holdouts of the old religion against the incursion of Christianity in the early centuries of the common era, but it is also famous for having been moved. Like Abu Simbel, which we will visit the next day, the original location of the temple is now under the waters of Lake Nassar, which formed when the Aswan High Dam was built in the 1960s. In order to save the temple, it was moved to the close-by, but slightly higher, island of Algikia, which thus became the new Philae. Afterwards, we will explore the famous Aswan quarry, home to the 1,200-ton Unfinished Obelisk. We will then travel, again by motorboat, to visit Elephantine Island and later to a Nubian Village where we can get a sense of these proud and important people who are part of Egypt. (B/L/D – Overnight Nile Cruise)

Day 9: Abu Simbel

After breakfast, we will drive by bus to Abu Simbel, the modern home of the colossal Temples of Ramesses II and his wife Nefertari. Like the Temple of Isis which we visited the previous day, these temples were relocated in the 1960s to save them from inundation under the rising waters of Lake Nassar. Rivaling the Great Pyramid and Great Sphinx in its monumentality, one may wonder why this Temple of Ramesses II was not included in the list of ancient wonders compiled by the Greeks and Romans (probably because of its remote and inaccessible location, which even today adds to its mystery and power). Afterwards we’ll drive back to Aswan. There will be a boxed lunch on the bus this day, as the drive is several hours. We will return to the boat and continue our Nile journey. (B/L/D – Overnight Nile Cruise)

Day 10: Temple of Edfu

This will be a relaxing day when guests can enjoy the amenities of the cruise boat and the vistas of Egypt along the Nile River. After lunch, we will visit the Temple of Edfu dedicated to Horus, one of the most complete temples surviving from the ancient world. This temple is sometimes referred to as a “book written in stone” telling the heroic and dramatic story and foundational myth of the “good” Horus battling the “evil” Set (Seth) in its reliefs and hieroglyphic inscriptions. These we will have the chance to experience firsthand, as well as admire the incredible architecture of the site. We will return to the boat for dinner, then sail back to Luxor. (B/L/D – Overnight Nile Cruise)

Day 11: Cairo

In the morning, our group will fly back to Cairo. On the way back from the airport, we will stop at the famous market known as the ‘“Khan El Khalili”’ to do some souvenir shopping (for those interested in picking up some typical Egyptian items), see the local sites, and learn a little about Islamic Cairo. After lunch, we will visit the Egyptian Museum, repository of many of the greatest ancient Egyptian antiquities, collected from all parts of Egypt and spanning over five millennia. Later, we’ll drive back to the Mena House for check-in. (B/L/D – Overnight at the Mena House Hotel)

Day 12: Bent & Red Pyramids

After Breakfast, we’ll drive to Dahshur to visit the Bent & Red Pyramids. We will enter the Red Pyramid. In the Red Pyramid we will view several chambers, one of which appears to be much older than the others. Could it be the case that this pyramid, which itself is over 4500 years old according to standard Egyptological dating, was built around and over a much older structure, one dating back centuries or millennia earlier? We will explore the evidence and possibilities. Next we’ll drive to Saqqara, home of the Step Pyramid (attributed to King Djoser) and its associated complex that strikes so many as being incredibly “modern” in appearance despite its great antiquity. We will also enjoy a visit to the mysterious and mystical Serapeum, a huge subterranean complex containing enormous stone boxes (often called sarcophagi). We’ll have lunch at the Saqqara Palm Club. Before we leave Saqqara, we will stop at one of the famous carpet schools where ancient weaving traditions are preserved. (B/L/D – Overnight at the Mena House Hotel)

Day 13: Sphinx & Great Pyramid

Our last full day together will begin with a private predawn visit to the Sphinx Enclosure to watch the Sun rise, as the Great Sphinx has each morning for millennia. Here we will also examine firsthand the evidence that Dr. Schoch first put forth three decades ago that the core-body of the Great Sphinx dates back thousands of years earlier than dynastic Egypt (the head was subsequently re-carved; originally the statue was a lioness). Afterwards, we’ll go back to the hotel to relax and have breakfast. Later that afternoon we will gain private entry into The Great Pyramid, exploring the Grand Gallery, spending quiet time in the King’s Chamber, and overall absorbing the profundity of this greatest wonder of the world. Our tour will culminate with a farewell dinner at the Mena House. (B/L/D – Overnight at the Mena House Hotel)

Day 14: Departure

Here is where we say good-bye. Breakfast is included on this day; however, our tour ends at check-out. Guests will be taken to the airport as/when needed for their departures, with warm wishes for safe travels home. (B)

This was the trip of a lifetime. Everything was organized beautifully and we can only imagine the amount of planning it took to make this tour such a resounding success. We reveled in every moment of it, and we can’t wait to participate in the next ORACUL adventure!

Kathy Watterson and Ron Machuga

ORACUL tours may resume once our documentary is completed. Please add your name to our mailing list for future announcements regarding tours and other topics. (We keep our mailings to a minimum – no regular newsletters, for example, only important announcements on occasion.)

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