Posted on Feb 22, 2019 in Alumni News and News
The Alumni Association’s very own Keon Stowers and Danny Woods hosted a fantastic group of Flying Jayhawks all the way to Egypt and back. Keon shares their adventures.
Our journey through history started at the acclaimed Egyptian Museum. This enormous facility was a relic in its own manner. The museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of Egyptian artifacts, spanning 5,000 years. Words simply cannot do this museum justice; it is beyond spectacular in every way. Artifacts that would be treasures in other museums are merely lining the walkway or lying to the side.
That night we got acquainted with our fellow Jayhawks at the welcome reception. After the reception we enjoyed a brisk walk through the busy Cairo streets to enjoy a traditional Lebanese dinner at the acclaimed Taboula Restaurant.
Sakkara, along with Memphis, served as one of Egypt’s first capitals. We visited the ancient Mastaba of Mereruka and the Pyramid Tomb of King Teti. The amount of detail in these reliefs in this tomb are fascinating. You will understand not just the life of Mereruka but also so much about Egyptian habits and day-to-day living, all via carvings on a wall. We were lucky enough to have a guide who could point out small details we might have missed. It was a great start to our journey through the immense burial site.
Sakkara is also home to the Step Pyramid of Djoser, considered to be the first pyramid of Egypt. We descended down the tunnel that leads to an ancient tomb, filled with colorful hieroglyphics and ancient carvings. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip.
After a quick Egyptian lunch, we made our way to the ancient Pyramids of Giza. It was an amazing experience to visit the sole-surviving and oldest monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. After a steep climb inside the largest Pyramid, a small group of Flying Jayhawks sang the Rock Chalk chant—truly a once-in-a-lifetime Jayhawk experience.
After the Pyramids, we made a quick stop at the Solar Boat Museum to see a cedar vessel thought to be more than 4,500 years old.
One of my favorite days of the trip: the religious day. We had the chance to visit mosques, churches and temples of Islamic and Coptic Cairo. First stop was the Citadel, a beautiful, old mosque. After touring inside, we enjoyed a breathtaking view of Cairo and pyramids on the far horizon. It was a great start to what ended up being a memorable, educational day.
After touring the Citadel, we had a double dose of spectacular mosques to visit, which ended up being one of the highlights of the day. We visited the Mosque of Mohammed Ali, also known as the Alabaster Mosque, then continued to the grand Al-Rifai Mosque.
The day continued with delights like visiting Cairo’s most famous Coptic Christian church, the Hanging Church. After that, we had the unique opportunity to visit the Church of St. Sergius, which is believed to be built over the cave where Mary and Joseph once rested.
We ended the day with a delicious lunch at a nearby Egyptian restaurant. After our bellies were full, we embarked upon a wild shopping experience inside the Khan el Khalili bazaar, a traditional Egyptian market.
After an early morning checkout and flight to Luxor, we viewed the well-preserved artifacts of the Luxor museum, which displays monuments from various periods of ancient dynasties. It also contains a mummy for one of the famous kings of Egypt called Ahmous. After a quick lunch and siesta, we visited the spectacular Luxor, which was definitely a treat at night.
We bused through the city of Luxor to visit the breathtaking Valleys of the Kings and Queens. The tombs of the kings were truly magnificent. Carved from rock with beautiful wall art, the walls are full of vibrant colors, symbols and stories as if they were made yesterday.
The tomb of King Tut was by far one of the best. Then we made our way over to the Valley of the Queens, where we took in the spectacular views of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb and many more.
The Valleys were simply fantastic—one of the defining moments in the entire tour. No words, books or photographs will prepare you for this experience. It was truly a treat.
That evening we took an exclusive tour of the Chicago House in Luxor and learned about the mission to preserve Egypt’s ancient cultural heritage through documentation. We capped the day off with a delicious Egyptian dinner aboard the ship and enjoyed a traditional belly-dancing show.
The Temple of Karnak was without a doubt my favorite temple in Egypt. Boasting the biggest area , every single space was beautifully carved or engraved and has been masterfully restored. Standing inside the temple and looking up at the roof, or the tops of the pillars, it’s amazing to think how life would have been for the ancient Egyptians.
After lunch and a quick siesta, our group of flying Jayhawks gathered atop the cruise ship to take in the immaculate scenes of the Nile River and Esna Lock.
With a late start this morning, I enjoyed early views of the Nile River atop the cruise ship before heading to the Temple of Horus at Edfu. Traveling to the temple was quite the adventure, because we had to hop aboard a horse carriage and ride through the streets of Edfu—one of my favorite moments of the trip because I saw the true Egypt through the sights, sounds and smells of one its busiest cities. The temple itself is beautiful and well preserved. It was interesting to see the detailed architecture and the hieroglyphics, which remain surprisingly intact.
After a delicious dinner aboard the ship, we spent a good chunk of time picking the brain of our Egyptologist with questions about what we had learned so far. It was a great refresher at the midpoint of the trip.
We took a quick flight to Abu Simbel to see the colossal Great Temple of Ramses II and Temple of The Goddess Hathor. The Temple of Ramses ll is one of the most beautiful monuments in the world—an architectural miracle. It is a place that you should experience firsthand to realize the great artistic and historical splendor the ancient Egyptians embodied to build this colossal masterpiece.
We ended the night with a fantastic Egyptian dinner and farewell reception. At the reception Danny and I, along with most of our flying Jayhawks group, enjoyed wearing our galabayas while dancing to some traditional Egyptian tunes. It was the perfect finale to a wonderful Egyptian adventure.
We boarded a felucca boat and sailed to the island temple complex of Philae and the Aswan High Dam, where we saw the rising waters of the dam crashing up against the breathtaking complex of Philae. Later we visited a unique shop to learn about the ancient process of handcrafting papyrus.
Before making our last stop at the massive Russian Monument, we took in the immaculate views to the Aswan High Dam. This dam has been very important to Egypt because it has helped control the Nile’s annual flooding and has improved the nation’s power supply. After this tour, we headed back to Aswan for a quick flight back to Cairo to start our journey back to Kansas.
Travel day! Although this day was long and filled with travel and layovers, it gave me a chance to reflect on everything I had just experienced on our trip. At any moment throughout the day I would close my eyes for a few seconds and I swear I could quietly hear the hustle and bustle of Cairo: the constant traffic sounds, the beeping of horns.
The Legends of the Nile trip is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you get a chance to book this trip, don’t pass it up!
The Flying Jayhawks trip “Legends of the Nile” took place Jan. 29-Feb. 9, 2018. The trip was hosted by Keon Stowers, assistant director of student programs, and Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs. View more photos from the trip; pictures may be downloaded for personal use. Find more information about Flying Jayhawks trips, including a schedule, or sign up for travel emails.