The Nile Cruise

Written by Andrew Muigai

Continued from page 1

Aswan wasrepparttar source ofrepparttar 146512 granite stone thatrepparttar 146513 Pharaohs favoured for building temples and other monuments. The Northern Quarries arerepparttar 146514 site ofrepparttar 146515 giant Unfinished Obelisk. Hadrepparttar 146516 obelisk been successfully completed, it would berepparttar 146517 single heaviest piece of monolithic stonework -reaching about 42 m and weiging over 1168 tonnes. It must have brokenrepparttar 146518 hearts ofrepparttar 146519 builders, who supposedly abandoned it, after coming across defects inrepparttar 146520 rock formation.

The next stop onrepparttar 146521 cruise is Kom Ombo, 48 km torepparttar 146522 north of Aswan. The main attraction here isrepparttar 146523 Graeco-Roman temple. Work onrepparttar 146524 temple was started by Ptolemy VII in early second century BC and continued by some of his successors. The Romans Emperor Augustus built part ofrepparttar 146525 temple at around 30 BC. The Temple of Kom Ombo actually consists of two separate temples, each with its own entrance, colonnades, hypostyle hall and sanctuary. The southern temple is dedicated to Sobek -the crocodile god, whilerepparttar 146526 northern one honours Horus -the falcon god.

Thoughrepparttar 146527 two gods sharedrepparttar 146528 same grounds, in mythology, Sobek was associated withrepparttar 146529 god Seth, an enemy of Horus. At Kom Ombo,repparttar 146530 gods tookrepparttar 146531 liberty to bring along family - Sobek sneaked in his consort Hathor and son Khonsu, while Horus had his wife Tesentnefert and son, Panebtawy. If you have not seen mummies before, be sure to seerepparttar 146532 mummified crocodiles inrepparttar 146533 Sobek part ofrepparttar 146534 temple.

At Edfu, you disembark to seerepparttar 146535 Temple of Horus. Edfu wasrepparttar 146536 cult centre of Horusrepparttar 146537 falcon god. It is perhapsrepparttar 146538 best preserved of ancient temples of Egypt. The temple standing today was started by Ptolemy III at about 237 BC onrepparttar 146539 site of an earlier Pharaonic structure. Work continued under some ofrepparttar 146540 Ptolemies that followed. Appropriately,repparttar 146541 entrance adorned by two majestic granite falcons. The walls bear reliefs depicting Horus. One scene would please any tyrant -it shows Ptolemy XII dealing mercilessly with his enemies.

You next stop and highlight ofrepparttar 146542 cruise is Luxor. The range, magnificence and diversity ofrepparttar 146543 monuments inrepparttar 146544 Luxor area is unsurpassed in all of Egypt. Known torepparttar 146545 Greeks as Thebes, Luxor becamerepparttar 146546 capital of Egypt at around 2040 BC. The city survivedrepparttar 146547 sacking byrepparttar 146548 Assyrians inrepparttar 146549 7th century BC, but steadily declined, and was finally destroyed byrepparttar 146550 Romans inrepparttar 146551 first century BC. Amongrepparttar 146552 celebrated monuments dating from Luxor's heydays arerepparttar 146553 necropolis complexes atrepparttar 146554 Valley ofrepparttar 146555 Kings, Valley ofrepparttar 146556 Queens and Tombs ofrepparttar 146557 Nobles. You will also come across some outstanding temples scattered inrepparttar 146558 region.

The Egyptians buried their dead inrepparttar 146559 direction ofrepparttar 146560 setting sun andrepparttar 146561 west bank at Luxor wasrepparttar 146562 final resting place of royalty and high officials. The Valley of Kings is whererepparttar 146563 rulers ofrepparttar 146564 period historians refer to asrepparttar 146565 New Kingdom period (BC 1550-1070) awaitedrepparttar 146566 afterlife. The Pharaoh normally pickedrepparttar 146567 spot for his tomb and had it built in his lifetime. Tomb building for royalty and high officials was very serious business and it supported a battery of architects and craftsmen, who had a settlement inrepparttar 146568 valley. The valley contains over 60 tombs that have so far been excavated.

The tombs have suffered in recent years due to increased number of visitors, pollution andrepparttar 146569 rising ground water that has come withrepparttar 146570 Aswan High Dam. For this reason, not all of them are open torepparttar 146571 public at any one time. Unless you are a scholar, visiting three or four tombs should be sufficient. Amongrepparttar 146572 best tombs are those of Ramses I, Tuthmosis III and Ramses VI. Tutankhamun's is todayrepparttar 146573 most famous - though he is not considered a significant Pharaoh and he died at only nineteen.

Treasure hunters had overrepparttar 146574 years looted most tombs inrepparttar 146575 valley. But Howard Carter,repparttar 146576 British archeologist, discovered Tutankhamun's tomb almost intact in 1922. The treasure that was found here is truly amazing- statues, chests, chariots, beds, weapons, and many items he needed forrepparttar 146577 afterlife. The main item today at Tutankhamun's tomb is his mummy. About 1700 items recovered atrepparttar 146578 tomb are now at display atrepparttar 146579 Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The most outstanding ofrepparttar 146580 collection isrepparttar 146581 11 kg solid gold death mask. Imagine then, whatrepparttar 146582 looters carried off fromrepparttar 146583 bigger tombs ofrepparttar 146584 more illustrious Pharaohs!

Onrepparttar 146585 other side ofrepparttar 146586 Valley of Kings isrepparttar 146587 Temple of Deir el-Bahri, built by Queen Hatshepsut. Hatseput. The temple is very impressive from a distance and is a great place to take photos. The name Valley ofrepparttar 146588 Queens is misleading, as both male and female royals and some high officials were interred here. About 80 tombs have been identified, of whichrepparttar 146589 most famous is that of Queen Nefertari. Take more photos atrepparttar 146590 Colossi of Memnon -two huge statues that arerepparttar 146591 sole legacy ofrepparttar 146592 temple of Amenhotep III.

Amenhotep III also builtrepparttar 146593 Temple of Luxor onrepparttar 146594 east bank. The temple was dedicated torepparttar 146595 god Amon, though inside you also find a shrine dedicated to Alexanderrepparttar 146596 Great. The temple's entrance is lined with Sphinxes, and inside you find colonnades, courts, obelisks and wall murals. The mosque of Shaykh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj was built on top of part ofrepparttar 146597 temple. You can also visitrepparttar 146598 Luxor Museum, which has interesting exhibits fromrepparttar 146599 area.

The incredibly impressive Temple of Karnak is a huge complex that was dedicated torepparttar 146600 god Amon. Inrepparttar 146601 New Kingdom period, this wasrepparttar 146602 most important temple is Egypt. It is probablyrepparttar 146603 largest religious building ever and it can carry no less than 10 average Christian cathedrals. Some ofrepparttar 146604 interesting structures withinrepparttar 146605 complex arerepparttar 146606 gigantic hypostyle hall,repparttar 146607 Kiosk of Tarhaka, statue of Ramses II, temple of Ramses III andrepparttar 146608 sacred lake.

The best time to take a Nile cruise is overrepparttar 146609 cooler months of November - March. These are alsorepparttar 146610 peak months and to avoid crowds, always start out early each day. October, atrepparttar 146611 endrepparttar 146612 hot season is tolerable, especially when you factor in that it falls with off-season period: it is cheaper ad less crowded. When visitingrepparttar 146613 monuments, you are advised to hire a guide who will explainrepparttar 146614 historical context at each site. If you are on a Nile Cruise package, repparttar 146615 services of a guide will usually be included.

You do a lot of walking, and you need to bring along suitable shoes. Other items you ware encouraged to pack are: sunglasses and sun screen lotion. Remember also to carry bottled water and photographic film, which you can buy atrepparttar 146616 cruiser or at a bazaar. Light clothing is generally recommended though you may need a sweater and jacket for winter evenings.

Copyright Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Tanzania safari and tours at the website.

The Big Cats of East Africa

Written by Andrew Muigai

Continued from page 1

The leopard isrepparttar strongest climber amongrepparttar 146511 carnivores. And they spend mostly their days inactive, draped over tree branches. So, to see them, set your sights torepparttar 146512 treetops. You are further advised to take your game drives very silently and watch out at rivers and water holes. The leopard is a stalking predator and lies ready to pounce at such places where prey would seek food and water. Some lucky people also come across leopards basking onrepparttar 146513 rocks early inrepparttar 146514 mornings.

The cheetah isrepparttar 146515 smallest ofrepparttar 146516 big cats of East Africa. It can reach up to 1.4 m in length; males can weigh up to 55 kg and females 40kg. Forrepparttar 146517 inexperienced, it is difficult to tell apart from a leopard. But you can distinguish it byrepparttar 146518 long teardrop-shaped lines on each side ofrepparttar 146519 nose, fromrepparttar 146520 corner ofrepparttar 146521 eyes torepparttar 146522 mouth. It also has protruding and streamlined neck and thin legs. This animal is specially adapted for speed and it is indeedrepparttar 146523 world's fastest mammal.

From a resting position,repparttar 146524 cheetah can reach a speed of 80 km/h in less than 3 seconds. It can run a stable speed of 105km/h, compared to a man's 37km/h. But take heart, it is not a man-eater. The cheetah lacksrepparttar 146525 stamina to be more than a short distance runner. It is not a very social species and lives either singly or in small groups. Females are ready to procreate from aboutrepparttar 146526 age of 2 years and after a gestation period of about 90 days give birth to up to 6 cubs. Hunting by day only, this solitary hunter relies on its famed speed and keen eyesight. It technique is to stalk stealthily and then take a short killer dash when prey is within 30 m.

The cheetah is mainly found in grasslands, woodland savannas and semi deserts. It survives best in vast ranges where prey is plenty. This cat has never enjoyed wide geographical distribution or high densities. And numbers have drastically fallen overrepparttar 146527 last few decades. Today not more than 12,000 remain worldwide, mostly in eastern and southern Africa. In East Africa,repparttar 146528 only areas where you can easily spot cheetahs are Maasai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania. Butrepparttar 146529 cat is also present, though in fewer numbers, in Tsavo in Kenya, Mkomazi in Tanzania and Queen Elizabeth in Uganda.

Scientists have classifiedrepparttar 146530 cheetah as an endangered species and think that it faces possible extinction. Only one species -jubatus remains today. The lack of genetic diversity, possibly caused by inbreeding, is yet another handicap in ensuringrepparttar 146531 long-term survival of this cat. In its daily life,repparttar 146532 cheetah faces competition from other carnivores such as lions and hyenas. In some areas, Maasai Mara of Kenya for example, instances of lions killing cheetah cubs are very common; hyenas too eat them. The lion killsrepparttar 146533 cubs only to destroy and never eats them -an extremely disgraceful show for an animal that would be regarded as king.

Cheetahs are active only by day. In East Africa's game sanctuaries, tourists interrupt critical activities like feeding and suckling ofrepparttar 146534 young. There are incidences of mothers abandoning their cubs underrepparttar 146535 pressure of human curiosity. Consideringrepparttar 146536 challenges facingrepparttar 146537 species, conservation options are yet limited byrepparttar 146538 fact that cheetahs do so poorly in captivity and almost never breed unless free. Spare a thought today forrepparttar 146539 cheetah, whose future is so uncertain. If you want to do more, talk torepparttar 146540 Cheetah Conservation Fund ( And hope that such glorious days as when it was honored as a cat-goddess in ancient Egypt will yet come again.

East Africa is a year round safari destination. The rains come around April- May and November-December. This does not however, much affectrepparttar 146541 travelers' ability to get around. In generalrepparttar 146542 best time to go on safari to seerepparttar 146543 big cats is overrepparttar 146544 drier months whenrepparttar 146545 grass is short and sighting animals is so much easier. But in areas such asrepparttar 146546 Maasai Mara,repparttar 146547 animals are so plentiful that you are going to see lots of them regardless ofrepparttar 146548 season. The peak tourist season falls around January to February and July to August. April to June isrepparttar 146549 low season and prices for accommodation inrepparttar 146550 lodges can be as much as 40% lower than inrepparttar 146551 high season.

Accommodation on safari varies from basic camping to luxury lodges and tented camps. Out there inrepparttar 146552 bush, you will be pleasantly surprised that there is a variety of East African safari lodges:-

- Kenya Hotel & Lodges

- Tanzania Hotels & Lodges

having allrepparttar 146553 trimmings of 5 star luxury. But if you want to rough it out, you will find campsites in almost allrepparttar 146554 game reserves and national parks. It is generally recommended to take an escorted safari package:-

- Kenya Safaris

- Tanzania Safaris

that includes transport, park fees and accommodation. The reason for this is thatrepparttar 146555 tour guides are usually well versed aboutrepparttar 146556 animals, where to find them and how to get there and have other such useful local knowledge. But if you have a lot of time and need more freedom as you get around, then taking a rental car is an option.

On safari, wear light cottons and linen. Warmer clothing is needed forrepparttar 146557 evenings and for your early morning game drive. Some rainwear is advisable between March and June and October and December. You should bring along a decent pair of sunglasses. The glare you experience in bright tropical light is a new and uncomfortable experience for most. It is also a good idea to carry a pair of binoculars. They are very useful for spotting animals and will earn yourepparttar 146558 envy of your less knowledgeable traveling companions.

Copyright Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Tanzania safari and tours at the website.

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