Turn back time

By Helen Hayes 29 November 2023
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With the spotlight firmly shining on Ramses the Great through a newly opened exhibition at the Australian Museum in Sydney, Egypt and its antiquities are front and centre.

This article is brought to you by Adventure World.

Ramses II was a phenomenon – a man for the ages in so many ways. Thanks to the Australian Museum and major partner, Adventure World, we can dive into his realm by visiting the much-anticipated exhibition – Ramses & The Gold of the Pharaohs.

The exhibition, in Australia for the first time, will feature 182 antiquities direct from the pyramids and museums of Egypt. As well as experiencing the treasures, you can learn the stories of the pieces, the history, and what life was like in the days of the pharaohs. It is an incredible opportunity to capture this glimpse into ancient times without leaving our shores.

The exhibition

Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs opened on 18 November 2023 to great, deserved fanfare, and will thrill and inspire visitors until 19 May 2024. Plenty of time for you to visit and take a ride back through thousands of years to the sands of the Sahara and the banks of the Nile. The new multisensory museum experience looks at the life and accomplishments of Ramses the Great who ruled Egypt for 67 years, the second longest reign for any pharaoh. In an astonishing fact, Ramses II lived for 92 years and fathered about 100 children.

Ramses was an impressive leader, a renowned warrior who secured peace with his neighbours and led a massive building campaign with some of those buildings still standing.

A highlight of the exhibition will be the sarcophagus of Ramses II, perhaps the most impressive royal coffin from ancient Egypt. This invaluable artifact rarely leaves Egypt. Apart from Sydney, it has only been displayed in one other foreign city – Paris. The reverence Egyptians of the time had for Ramses is evident in the craftmanship of the carved cedar coffin, discovered in 1811 at the Royal Cache at Deir el-Bahari archaeological site on the west bank of the Nile River, opposite the city of Luxor and east of the Valley of the Kings. It is staggering to think we can see it firsthand.

Ramses sarcophagus on display at the Australian Museum. Image credit: Australian Museum

The exhibition also showcases other treasures and one-of-a-kind relics, some of which have never left Egypt before. Visitors will be taken aback by the stunningly preserved collection of artifacts, including sarcophagi, animal mummies, striking jewellery like the necklace of Psusennes, the coffin of Sennedjem, royal masks including the golden mask of Amenemope, exquisite amulets and opulent golden treasures of the tomb that show the superb workmanship of Egyptian artisans. All of the objects in the exhibition have come from museums and historical sites in Egypt and are on loan from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Visitors to the exhibition can experience a virtual reality tour of two of Ramses’s most impressive monuments, the Tomb of Queen Nefertari, his favourite Royal Consort, and the temples of Abu Simbel. The only thing better than viewing this is to see them in real life – something you can do with Adventure World.

See the Egypt that Ramses built

Egypt is home to the only remaining Ancient Wonder of the World – the Pyramids of Giza. The architectural genius it took to build these majestic, mesmerising structures has fascinated the world for generations. Adventure World can take you to Egypt to take in the history and storied wonders of this ancient land. The 10-day Authentic Egypt itinerary will leave you awestruck as you take in the scope and size of the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, and learn about their secrets from your private Egyptologist tour guide. Visit the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum, the world’s largest archaeological museum dedicated to ancient Egyptian history and culture with an astonishing treasure trove of artifacts – including those from the reign of Tutankhamun. The itinerary also includes a four-day cruise of the Nile, during which you will explore the many jewels of Luxor. They include the Temple of Luxor and the Temple of Karnak, with the latter covering 40ha and having a history spanning a mind-boggling 13 centuries. Visit the Valley of the Kings, where the tomb of Ramses the Great was found, Aswan, and the masterful rock temples of Abu Simbel, constructed during the reign of Ramses II.

Large ancient ruins of Karnak temple with colourful sky, Egypt. Image credit: Adventure World

The significance of cats

Cats were important to the ancient Egyptians and were often placed in tombs as a sacrifice to the goddess Bastet, who was often shown as a woman with the head of a cat. They also revered lions, and it is said that Ramses II had a pet lion that even accompanied him to the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites. In Ramses & The Gold of the Pharaohs, there are several animal mummies on display, including crocodiles, mongoose, and a 10-month-old lion cub.

If you’d prefer to see lions on the move, Adventure World has a 13-day Authentic East Africa itinerary that will take you up close and personal with wildlife as you visit many renowned national parks and conservation areas, from the legendary Serengeti and the Masai Mara, to Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Nairobi National Park.

The itinerary, which is meticulously curated and can be tailored to your interests, starts in Nairobi, where a highlight will be searching for rhino in the only national park in the world that is within a city. At the Sheldrick Trust Elephant Orphanage, you can see for yourself how the Trust works with the Kenya Wildlife Service to raise orphaned elephants rescued from various places throughout Kenya.  

Endangered White Rhinoceroses in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya. Image credit: Adventure World

In the Mara Reserve, pinch yourself as you see an A to Z of wildlife on several game drives, returning to your luxurious tented suite to sleep while being serenaded by the animals of Africa. You might want to do a hot-air balloon safari or enjoy a cultural visit to a Maasai village to learn about and be inspired by their traditions. During the migration season there is the prospect of waiting in anticipation for herds of wildebeest and zebras to cross rivers and tributaries where predators lie in wait for their annual buffet. In Tarangire, see elephants and other game including lion prides and perhaps an elusive leopard, while in Lake Manyara you’ll stay in a stunning lodge perched on the edge of the spectacular Rift Valley. Visiting the Serengeti is akin to living in a wildlife documentary, particularly if you are there during the calving and migration season. Thousands of zebra and wildebeest move in large herds across the savanna, grazing and following the circuit they have made annually since birth. The Serengeti is magical at any time of year, with its vast open plains and array of wildlife big and small, from elephants to hippos, warthogs to servals and a multitude of feathered friends. It will leave you breathless at nature’s beauty.

Whether you choose to go to the ancient lands of Egypt or elsewhere in Africa, Adventure World has you covered, with 40 years of experience delivering authentic, trusted and thoughtful service.

Exploring inside the temples of Abu Simbel. Image credit: Adventure World

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