15 Days /14 Nights Join ZARZORA Expeditions for the exquisite extended in-depth program into the Red Sea desert, learning about the Ancient great history where this path was the gate from Asia to Europe, where history happened . A range of important archaeological sites dating from Prehistoric to Byzantine. Ancient treasures of petroglyphs, cemeteries, fortified wells, gold and emerald mines, hard stone quarries, roads, forts, ports, and temples. The 'Red Land' was known as life in ancient Egypt, protecting and separating ancient Egypt from neighboring countries and invading armies. For Egyptians, the Eastern Desert was a source for precious metals and semi-precious stones. Discover with us the treasures of the red sand sea desert when our 4X4 modern cars will transform into time machines that will take you back to such a great era.
Route & Program
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Arrival to Cairo
Cairo � ST. PAUL Monastery � Jabal Galalah
Wadi Abu Had � Wadi Qena
Wadi Abu Marwa � Bir Murayr
Bir Qattar � Deir Al-Atrash
Mons Claudianus � Wadi Atallah
Wadi Hammamat � The Cave of Boats � Didymoi � Wadi Zeydun
Hadrabah � Wadi Al-Dabah � Wadi Hafafit
Wadi Hafafit � Wadi Al-Gemal � The Roman Road
Continuing the Roman Road
Route & Program
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Day 1: Arrival to Cairo
Day 2: Cairo � ST. PAUL Monastery � Jabal Galalah
Day 3: Wadi Abu Had � Wadi Qena
Day 4: Wadi Abu Marwa � Bir Murayr
Day 5: Bir Qattar � Deir Al-Atrash
Day 6: Mons Claudianus � Wadi Atallah
Day 7: Wadi Hammamat � The Cave of Boats � Didymoi � Wadi Zeydun
Day 8: Hadrabah � Wadi Al-Dabah � Wadi Hafafit
Day 9: Wadi Hafafit � Wadi Al-Gemal � The Roman Road
Day 10: Continuing the Roman Road
Day 11:Wadi Hodein
Day 12: Wadi Abraq
Day 13: Wadi Al-Na'am � Wadi Al-Beida
Day 14: Wadi Al-Zarqa � Marsa Alam
Day 15: Departure
Abraq : The fort of Abraq sits on a flat plateau, overlooking a large wadi along what seems to be the southernmost Ptolemaic trade route to the Red Sea coast. This massive fortress, over 160 meters wide, may have been built to protect a trade route; the nearby well was probably the main reason for the location of the stronghold. Pictographs and graffiti, which include gazelles, elephants, cows, camels, warriors on horseback, and Christian crosses cover large boulders and the wadi walls near the well. The fortress was built on a bluff that rises over fifty meters above the wadi floor. Where the bluff has a gentler slope, and is easier to climb , the outer defensive wall is over two meters thick and four meters high. In the center of the fortress, a natural rise of the rock facilitated construction of a citadel, some six meters above the level of the outer wall on the wadi side . This central building has twenty-eight rooms surrounding a large courtyard. Smaller buildings were constructed inside the outer southern wall, and at the southwestern corner a large tower once overlooked the entrance path to the fort. This path zigzags on the steep western side of the rock from the wadi floor to the entrance gate, close to the central building. Early travelers like the Frenchman Linant de Bellefonds, who visited the fort at Abraq in 1832, and the American Colston who saw it about twenty years later, considered the stronghold an elephant hunting station. It is, however, unlikely that elephants were hunted here in the Ptolemaic period, when environmental circumstances in this area closely resembled those of the present day. It is plausible that the elephants depicted near the well are memorials of travelers coming from the south.
The Ma'aza Bedouin : When the Maaza arrived in the Eastern Desert is unclear. It has been said that, in the eighteenth century, 250 Maaza families left northwestern Arabia on the same date to come to Egypt. The Maaza themselves say that Arabian Maaza had for long traded with the people of Egypt, exchanging their goat cheeses and dates for grain, cloth and sometimes livestock. The Maaza live in a patriarchal society, tracing their lineage from father to son back to the founder of the tribe, Ma'iiz ibn-al-Jabal, who lived "long ago" in northwestern Arabia. When they had established themselves in the Eastern Desert, they continued their age-old custom of raiding to augment their nomadic pastoral livelihood. They found that the peasants of the Nile Valley were easy targets for their raiding parties. Their raiding habits eventually got them into trouble and in 1803, they suffered a serious setback at the hands of Mohammad Ali, who later ruled Egypt (1805�1848). Now that raiding is no longer an acceptable way of life, their lifestyle is that of true pastoral nomads. They follow the available water and herbage, setting up their beit ash-sha'ar, 'houses of hair' (tents) for a while and moving on when necessary. Their relationship with their environment is an intimate one and they know and understand the plants and animals. They know when and where the plants grow and whether they are good for food, medicine or forage. They understand the animals and their habits and movements and they have their own conservation ethic. The Maaza way of life is, inevitably, being eroded with time but, harsh as it was and is, it is a good life; a life with the freedom they value so highly and the honor they hold so dear.
The 'Ababda Bedouin : From time immemorial, the Ababda Bedouin have been known as skilled herders, camel breeders, and guides for merchant and pilgrim caravans. They do not carry compasses, nor do they navigate by the stars; instead they use wind direction and the sun Their desert tracking skills are legendary and even Ababda children learn to distinguish the individual tracks of their family's animals. One branch of the Ababda fought with the British against the Dervishes in Sudan. Some Ababda still lead a nomadic lifestyle, constantly on the move in search of water and pasture for their livestock and collecting plants for food, medicine, and trade. They also exchange their camels for other goods including corn, beans, dates, linen, leather, and other commodities. The Ababda are said to share with the Bisharin, a curious belief that animals sacrificed at a tomb turn into gazelles or ibex, which enjoy the wali's protection. (G. W. Murray, inSons of Ishmael: a study of the Egyptian Bedouin, 1935.
The Bisharin Bedouin : The Bishari who occupy the land from Baranis south to Port Sudan area are descended from Neolithic tribal groups of ancient Hamitic origin and may have belonged in the area for more than 4000 years. They have a close affinity with their environment and the responsibility they feel for it is rooted in their ancient heritage. Their own lore tells of their origins thus: Their ancestor was Bishar, who had a grandson or great-grandson called Koka. Koka was a holy man and took two wives: Umm Ali and Umm Nagi. In the course of time they both gave birth. Umm Nagi became the mother of the plants and animals of Gebel Elba, while Umm Ali became the mother of the Bisharin. Eventually, Koka decided to depart his life and he turned himself into part of the mountain so that he could forever watch over and protect his children. This tale explains the very close affinity the Bisharin have with their environment and the responsibility they feel for it. Today the Bisharin have lost much of their traditional grazing land to the High Dam at Aswan and many of them have settled on either side of Khor al-Allaqi. They also stay close to their ancestral home on and around Gebel Elba.
The Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite in Egypt : is a Coptic Orthodox monastery located in the Eastern Desert, near the Red Sea mountains. It is about 155 km (96 mi) south east of Cairo. The monastery is also known as the Monastery of the Tigers. The Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite dates to the fifth century AD. It was founded over the cave where Saint Paul the Anchorite lived for eighty years. The first travel narrative of the monastery was provided by Antoninus Martyr, a native of Placentia, who visited the tomb of Saint Paul the Anchorite between the years 560 and 570 AD. The first monks to occupy the monastery may have been Melkites, but they were followed by Egyptian and Syrian monks. The Syrians may have had a sustained existence at the monastery, for it appears that they also occupied the monastery during the first half of the fifteenth century, after which their presence disappeared. Like most of Egypt's monasteries, this one suffered repeatedly at the hands of Bedouin tribes. The most destructive of their raids was in 1484 AD, when many of the monastery's monks were killed and the library was put to the torch. The monastery was later rebuilt under the patronage of Pope Gabriel VII of Alexandria (1526�69 AD), who sent ten monks from the Syrian Monastery to populate the monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite. During the second half of the sixteenth century, the monastery was again attacked and ransacked twice by the Bedouins, forcing the monks to finally leave. The monastery remained deserted for the following 119 years, only to be repopulated by a group of monks from the Monastery of Saint Anthony under the patronage of Pope John XVI of Alexandria (1676�1718 AD), who promoted an extensive reconstruction of the monastery in 1701 AD.
Eastern Desert : Originating just southeast of the Nile River delta, it extends southeastward into northeastern Sudan and from the Nile River valley eastward to the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea. It covers an area of about 85.690 square miles (221.940 square km). The Eastern Desert consists of a rolling sandy highland that rises abruptly from the Nile valley and merges some 50 to 85 miles (80 to 137 km) east of the Nile into the Red Sea Hills, a series of rugged volcanic, north�south-trending mountain chains that reach a maximum height of 7.175 feet (2.187 metres) at Mount Sh'ib al-Banat. The desert receives occasional rainfall and is extensively dissected by wadis (dry beds of seasonal streams). Most of the sedentary population lives in small fishing, mining, or petroleum-extracting communities along the Red Sea coastal plain east of the Red Sea Hills. Nomadic desert dwellers live by herding and trading. The Eastern Desert, relatively isolated from the rest of Egypt, is rich in natural resources including Egypt's major oil fields (located both onshore and offshore in the Gulf of Suez) and deposits of phosphate, asbestos, manganese, uranium, and gold.
Deir al-Atrash : (Monastery of the Deaf One), al-Saqqia, and al-Heita. These clearly accommodated traffic coming from the quarries of Mons Porphyrites and its environs and some-those at al-Saqqia, al-Heita, and one other-also serviced traffic from Mons Claudianus..
Mons Claudianus :is at the foot of Jebel Fatira, located about 30 miles from Port Safaga just of the Qena road. This was a Roman Penal Colony of substance, where Quartzy diorite, high quality granite, was mined as building materials for the Roman Empire. This black stone can still be seen in Rome in the portico of the Pantheon, in Hadrian's Villa, and public baths and in the columns and floor of the Temple of Venus. A temple begun by Hadrian but never finished is in ruins, but the staircase leading to it can still be seen. There is also a Roman camp, dwellings, workshops, stables and a dromos. The camp is surrounded by granite walls with rounded defense towers on the corners, to protect it from Bedouin attacks. There are hot springs today, which were used in a complex underground heating system for the sweating baths. The actual quarries are on the opposite side of the wadi. There are fragments of granite, with several ruined artifacts such as a broken column and column slab. Excavations at two quarry sites in the remote Red Sea mountains show that the labourers who worked them and the soldiers in charge had a diet much richer and more varied than was thought. Staples included wheat, lentils, dates, donkey meat and wine, along with luxuries such as artichokes, pine nuts, pomegranate, grapes, watermelon and even black pepper from India. There were also a number of transport caf�s along the roads linking the quarries to the Nile Valley.
In Ancient Egypt Hammamat :was a major quarrying area for the Nile Valley. Quarrying expeditions to the Eastern Desert are recorded from the second millennia BCE, where the wadi has exposed Precambrian rocks of the Arabian-Nubian Shield. These include Basalts, schists, bekhen-stone (an especially prized green metagraywacke sandstone used for bowls, palettes, statues, and sarcophagi) and gold-containing quartz. Pharaoh Seti is recorded as having the first well dug to provide water in the wadi, and Senusret I sent mining expeditions there. The site is described in the earliest-known ancient geological map, the Turin Papyrus Map, describing a quarrying expedition prepared for Ramesses IV.
ROCK ART The history of the Wadi Hammamat :extends much further back than pharaonic times. Artifacts from the Badarian period (about 5500-about 4000 BC) and numerous Predynastic petroglyphs (rock carvings), found immediately northeast of the bekhen stone quarries, attest its early importance. From before the era of writing, humans scratched depictions of animals and themselves on rock faces throughout the Eastern Desert. In the prehistoric era, in addition to representations of gazelles, long-horned cattle, giraffes, elephants , ostriches, and other animals, the artists who produced these images also carved sickle-shaped boats, animal traps, and human hunters. This art may represent game that they stalked for food or may embody more magical or religious meanings ; we simply do not know. The richness of wildlife, however, is a strong indication that the Eastern Desert was more abundantly watered in late prehistory than it is today. The style in which these carvings were made, by comparison to designs painted on pottery, allows us to date them to sometime before the late fourth millennium BC.
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