October 6, 2022

Egypt was an enormous a part of my nice grandfather’s life. The fifth Earl of Carnarvon used to come back right here from the top of December to the start of April from 1906 till 1922 – and now I’m visiting Egypt as soon as extra, though within the warmth of summer season.

So, thank goodness for Viking Osiris’s very good air con.

It has been an honour to be made godfather of Viking Osiris — the custom is often for a girl to call a ship (my spouse Fiona is godmother to 2 Viking ships) so it’s serendipitous as a result of that is the centenary 12 months of the invention of Tutankhamun by my great-grandfather and the archaeologist Howard Carter.

Lord Carnarvon journeys down the Nile on the Viking Osiris (above), a ship he was not too long ago made godfather of. Viking Osiris’s Pyramids and Pharaohs cruise alongside the Nile contains each the Pyramids of Giza and Tutankhamun’s tomb within the Valley of the Kings

Lord Carnarvon outside Tutankhamun's tomb during his latest trip to Egypt on a river cruise

This year is the centenary year of the discovery of Tutankhamun by Lord Carnarvon's great-grandfather and the archaeologist Howard Carter

Lord Carnarvon (left) outdoors Tutankhamun’s tomb throughout his newest journey to Egypt on a river cruise. This 12 months is the centenary 12 months of the invention of Tutankhamun by his great-grandfather and the archaeologist Howard Carter (proper)

Fiona and I are on board Viking Osiris’s Pyramids and Pharaohs cruise alongside the Nile, which incorporates each the Pyramids of Giza and Tutankhamun’s tomb within the Valley of the Kings.

The pandemic meant none of us has been capable of journey, so it’s such a pleasure to sail on the Nile by the guts of the nation. It’s notably poignant to be again within the Valley of the Kings as a result of the fifth Earl’s discover led to such an perception and curiosity into Historic Egypt.

Enhancements have been made to entry the tomb of Tutankhamun. It makes an enormous distinction and I’m a lot impressed by the work of the Egyptian authorities.

Guests now not must clamber down the stone stairs to enter the burial chamber. The brand new Grand Egyptian Museum, which overlooks the Pyramids, is a continuation of the work to have fun the one hundredth anniversary of the invention in November 1922.

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It is because of open this November however till then Tutankhamun’s golden masks, jewelry and sarcophagi stay housed within the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It’s a pleasure to hitch a night tour there with Viking, with out the crowds.

Viking visitors spend two nights in Cairo, so we’ve got sufficient time to witness life on this heaving capital of 20 million individuals. I by no means tire of seeing the Pyramids, the final Marvel of the Historic World, made from 55 million tons of limestone.

Improvements have been made to access the tomb of Tutankhamun in Luxor (above), Lord Carnarvon says, adding: 'It makes a big difference and I'm much impressed by the work of the Egyptian authorities'

Enhancements have been made to entry the tomb of Tutankhamun in Luxor (above), Lord Carnarvon says, including: ‘It makes an enormous distinction and I’m a lot impressed by the work of the Egyptian authorities’

Tutankhamun's golden mask, jewellery and sarcophagi remain housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Pictured above is the outer golden shrine of Tutankhamun's burial chamber, on display in the museum

Tutankhamun’s golden masks, jewelry and sarcophagi stay housed within the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Pictured above is the outer golden shrine of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, on show within the museum

Luxor is our subsequent cease and that’s the place we board the ship. Right here, the river is sort of a movie set — quiet, clear and extensive, fringed with inexperienced islets and palm timber with water taxis being the one different vessels on the river.

The ship has its personal personal berth so there isn’t a double mooring the place passengers get up to search out one other ship blocking their view of the Nile. That makes an enormous distinction, too.

Earlier than boarding, Fiona and I even have a particular dinner on the Winter Palace in Luxor, the place my great-grandfather used to entertain and throw events. The resort has not misplaced its contact.

As with all Viking cruises, we’re provided a collection of complimentary excursions and take a water taxi from the East to the West Financial institution to go to the Valley of the Kings.

I’ve been right here many instances and, as we drive alongside in an air-conditioned coach for the four-mile drive to the valley, I can’t think about what it was like for my great-grandfather, using a donkey to the excavation web site.

No marvel he lastly purchased a Ford automotive in 1922.

The Carnarvons enjoy a special dinner at the Winter Palace in Luxor during their trip, where Lord Carnarvon's great-grandfather used to entertain and throw parties. He commented: 'The hotel has not lost its touch'

The Carnarvons take pleasure in a particular dinner on the Winter Palace in Luxor throughout their journey, the place Lord Carnarvon’s great-grandfather used to entertain and throw events. He commented: ‘The resort has not misplaced its contact’

It has been at the very least ten years since my final balloon trip over the Valley of the Kings — it was one thing of a bumpy touchdown the primary time as we ended up in an sad farmer’s area. 

This time, the flight is superbly orchestrated.

My alarm goes off at 3am and the solar rises. Shortly afterwards, I’m a passenger in one in all greater than a dozen vibrant balloons floating over the golden sand cliffs and inexperienced cultivated fields, with a fowl’s eye view of previous and present archaeological excavations.

During their trip, Lord and Lady Carnarvon go on a 'beautifully orchestrated' balloon ride

Throughout their journey, Lord and Woman Carnarvon go on a ‘superbly orchestrated’ balloon trip

I return to the cool ship the place mild pours in by the glass-roofed three-deck atrium and the huge home windows in all public areas. I like the pared-back Scandi design and partitions dotted with images from our archive.

Fiona discovered 160 black and white photographs taken by the fifth Earl they usually seize day by day life in Egypt within the early twentieth century, from the solar rising over the Nile, conventional feluccas with big sails, avenue scenes and household teams on the tombs.

What a unprecedented nation that is. I’ve been revisiting my favorite locations, too, from the 62-acre Karnak Temple with 134 pillars that defy gravity and the enormous Luxor Temple with 2.7km Avenue of Sphinxes. 

On the 62-acre Karnak Temple web site, Lord Carnarvon says you might be met by 134 pillars that ‘defy gravity’

The entrance to Luxor Temple, with its '2.7km Avenue of Sphinxes'. 'What a special country Egypt is,' says Lord Carnarvon

The doorway to Luxor Temple, with its ‘2.7km Avenue of Sphinxes’. ‘What a particular nation Egypt is,’ says Lord Carnarvon

Poignant: The Colossi of Memnon near Luxor, where the Carnarvons boarded their ship

Poignant: The Colossi of Memnon close to Luxor, the place the Carnarvons boarded their ship

It’s, nevertheless, the smaller, Dendera Temple, in Qena, that brings me pure delight. It’s unexpectedly breathtaking.

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It the primary time I’ve seen this temple and the expertise is so optimistic. Good for Viking for organising journeys to lesser recognized websites of antiquity. 

Devoted to Hathor, the goddess of pleasure and music, the Dendera Temple is likely one of the greatest preserved temples in Egypt. It’s unusually on two ranges and the one temple with a determine of Queen Cleopatra carved on the partitions.

Dendera Temple (above) - 'one of the best preserved in Egypt' - gives Lord Carnarvon 'pure delight'

Dendera Temple (above) – ‘among the finest preserved in Egypt’ – provides Lord Carnarvon ‘pure delight’

For hundreds of years, the inside was coated in black soot from fires, however within the final 5 years its ornate columns and the ceiling have been revealed to point out decorations of vultures, winged discs, astrological indicators and the union between Hathor and Horus.

I simply can’t imagine the fantastic, unique colors and detailing. I’m additionally fascinated to see the beginning home the place statues have been carried out of the darkness as soon as yearly and into the daylight to be rejuvenated. The Historic Egyptians believed that the rays of the solar have been life-giving. I additionally love the best way conservationists have left some patches of black soot to point out how the temple seemed earlier than their work began.

We’re studying on a regular basis on this Nile cruise and I hope that Fiona and I’ve additionally introduced a level of data and anecdotes to passengers on ‘my ship’.

TRAVEL FACTS

Twelve-day Pharaohs & Pyramids cruises depart January to Might and August to December 2023-24, from £4,550 pp together with flights, resort lodging, all onboard meals, together with wine, beer and comfortable drinks with lunch and dinner. Excursions, wifi, ideas, night leisure and enrichment talks are additionally included. Ebook by December 31 for a £750 pp saving and free drinks package deal (vikingrivercruises.co.uk, 0800 319 6660).

Highclere’s celebrations to mark the centenary 12 months of the Tutankhamun discovery will likely be held on October 8 and 9, with citadel excursions and journeys by the cellars to observe the trail which led to the tomb of Tutankhamun. £45pp (highclerecastleshop.co.uk).