DYLAN BICKERSTAFFE – STUDY/ADVENTURE TOURS
DAUGHTERS OF ISIS Tour – NOVEMBER 14-24th, 2014 NOW ON!
I am delighted to announce that I shall be leading the Daughters of Isis tour for Ancient World Tours (AWT) for a second time in 2014. The revised itinerary includes both classic sites, and hidden gems.
We will explore the Egyptian Museum – including the treasures of Tutankhamun and the Royal Mummies (optional) – the Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, and also the giant Pyramids at Dahshur, the Pyramid at Illahun, and the Pyramid and Labyrinth site at Hawara. In the desert we shall visit the enigmatic temple at Qasr el Sagha; the deserted city, Dimei of the Lions; and Karanis.
In Luxor we see the many wonders of Karnak, including the Red and White Chapels of the female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and Luxor Temple. A day trip will take us to the artistic splendours of Abydos, and the wonderfully preserved Temple of Hathor at Dendera.
At Kharga Oasis our 4x4s take us to the Roman outpost fortress at Lebekha, the brilliant Hibis Temple, and the Biblical murals in the Christian cemetery at Bagawat; and then the fortified hilltop temple complex at Gueita, and the evocative ruins of Dush. Both Hibis and Gueita are extremely rare survivals from the Persian period in Egypt.
Back at Luxor we see a selection of tombs in the Valley of the Kings; Hatshepsut’s magnificent temple; the workman’s village – with tombs and temple – at Deir el Medina; the superb temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu; and the tremendous highlight of the tour – a special visit to the exquisite, normally closed, tomb of Queen Nefertari.
An optional day trip provides the opportunity to see some more rarely visited sites – the colourful tombs, chapels, and Vulture rock at El Kab; the tomb of Akhtifi at Moalla; and the tranquil temple at Tod.
Overall, a great itinerary, with something for both ‘first timers’ and ‘seasoned veterans’.
The tour is well subscribed but a few places are still available.
ROME June 2014
An enjoyable trip saw us dodge thunderstorms to see some fabulous sites, and wander the streets of Rome, finding historical wonders at every turn.
Special highlights were trips to Palestrina – to see the famous Nile Mosaic in the museum on the site of the temple of Fortuna; Tivoli to see Hadrian’s Villa and the Villa D’Este; and a day wandering the streets of Ostia Antica.
I hope to repeat the trip in early 2015.
CRETE of the MINOANS Sept/Oct 2012
This two-week tour proved to be a most enjoyable experience. Located in pleasant hotels in four centres (Heraklion, Matala, Siteia, and Olous/Elounda) to ensure we had plenty of time to locate and explore a very large range of Minoan sites (and other attractions), we found time for relaxed lunches, as well as a number of adventures. These included the ascent of Minoan Peak Sanctuaries at Petsofas, Karfi, and Mount Juktas; the Zakros Gorge (with Minoan Fort), as well as the spectacular Kritsa gorge. We also explored the famous Idean and Diktean caves, as well as other historic caves at Skotino, Eleithyia, Trapeza, and Milatos. The only real disappointment was the closure of the excellent Agios Nikolaus Museum for refurbishment. The Minoan sites were, of course, the focus, and we had a beautiful visit to a peaceful and uncrowded Knossos, and long relaxed explorations of Phaestos, Hagia Triada, Zakros, Petras, and Malia palaces; but it was the remote villas, tholos tombs, and later cities and churches that provided some of the most interesting moments. There will definitely be return visits!
EGYPT: Land of the RED CROWN. November 2012
I was excited to be leading this tour for Ancient World Tours because of the interesting itinerary which included rarely visited sites in the Faiyum and Delta regions of Egypt. However, none of us was prepared for all the additional things we were to see owing to the kindness of the regional inspector, Sayed Awlad, who showed us a great deal extra within the Faiyum. At Hawara we were shown recently uncovered flooring of the Middle Kingdom Labyrinth structure; at Lahun we saw a cemetery and Valley Temple currently under excavation, as well as further discoveries close to the pyramid, and the workers’ town excavated by Petrie. At Karanis we saw the exhibition in the restored dig house as well as excavations in the town site, near the temples; and at Dimei the dig director introduced us to the site. We also travelled to the quarries at Gebel Katrani and the petrified forest on our way to the Qasr el Sagha. After leaving the impressive temple at Qasr Qarun we travelled via Wadi Rayan to Medinet Madi where we saw the exhibition in the new visitor centre and the newly revealed processional way – with altars, shrines, subsiduary buildings and temples – leading to the Middle Kingdom temple. This is apart from the statue bases at Biahmu, the stela and waterwheels in Medinet el Faiyum.
We saw no trouble in Cairo, but the traffic was terribly congested. This did not prevent us from visiting the Museum, and seeing a range of Islamic monuments including the Ibn Tulun Mosque and the Gayer Anderson House, and of course exploring the pyramids and other attractions on the Giza plateau. In the Delta the sites of Bubastis and Tanis had much to reveal including new excavations. We had the pyramids at Meidum and Dahshur virtually to ourselves, and the Serapeum and tombs of Horemheb and Maya at Saqqara were a special delight, on top of the mastabas of Ti, Kagemni, and the newly reopened mastaba of Mereruka.
I must thank our knowledgeable and affable guide, Ehab Refaat, for ensuring that we enjoyed as much as possible throughout. A tremendous tour.
I have been leading tours of my own design to Egypt since 2000. The first of these were organised through Ancient World Tours (AWT) and, as a result of their success, I was asked to lead a number of ‘standard’ tours from their brochure. This arrangement worked especially well over three seasons with the Luxor-based Temples and Tombs tour (and the similar The Valley of the Kings in March 2010), where my intimate knowledge of specific sites of the New Kingdom particularly enhanced the experience. In November 2009 I led the very successful Shadow of Ramesses tour, based in Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan with a Lake Nasser cruise.
Tours of my own design have also been included in the AWT brochure, the most popular being Pharaohs of the Sun which recently appeared there for the fourth year running.
Latterly I have begun to run my own tours independently, working with trusted local guides and ground agents, and organising cheap flights from the UK. You will soon be able to read about the first of these, Desert Signs and River Shrines - which ran early in 2007 and was a great success - in an extended account on this site. If anything even more successful and enjoyable was my second independent tour Oases and Middle Egypt which ran in November 2008, exploring the oases and travelling off-road in the Western Desert in 4x4s, and visiting many rarely visited sites in Middle Egypt, as well as the better known ones such as Amarna, Beni Hassan and Deir el Bersha. An account of this extremely good humoured tour will be provided as soon as time allows, but a small selection of images from it can now be viewed here (see Gallery).
My tours are generally designed around a specific theme and combine exploration of more unusual and inaccessible sites with fresh insights into the better known monuments. With Pyramids and Faiyum (2000) the emphasis was on rarely seen monuments of the Middle Kingdom, together with pyramids from both Middle and Old Kingdoms. Amarna via Oases (2003) was designed to gain access to Amarna and other interesting monuments of Middle Egypt, travelling from Luxor through the spectacular western desert and seeing little visited sites in the oases. Aswan and the Upper Nile Valley (2004) flew to and from Luxor from the UK, calling at interesting and unusual sites on the journey to and from Aswan. The local monuments were all explored whilst based in Aswan, and day trips taken to Silisila, Kanais etc. Pharaohs of the Sun (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) examines the Sun Cult of Ancient Egypt with monuments of the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom with special emphasis on the Amarna period. For this reason the tour is based in first Cairo, then Minya (the sites of Amarna/Akhetaten extend over three days), and finally Luxor.
Future Tours will not be restricted to Egypt and will include Mycenaens and Minoans; Syria; Turkey; Libya.
Contact me if you would like me to organise a trip for you.