The Temples at Abu Simbel
The Temples at Abu Simbel

Egypt: Pharaohs and Pyramids


16 days From $6,595

February 2 2019

Few of life’s great travel experiences surpass the sense of awe inspired by a first encounter with Egypt’s legendary ancient monuments and archaeological sites. No preconceptions can quite prepare the first-time visitor for their scale and grandeur, nor match the enduring impact of the story they unfold.

On our rewarding tour, discover more than ancient Egyptian images, pyramids and mummies. It will especially appeal to the traveler in search of a true understanding of a civilization whose culture and heritage had such a profound influence on the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as our own modern world. Unhurried yet comprehensive, our itinerary offers an exceptional opportunity to enjoy a memorable journey through 3,000 years of history – with your knowledgeable tour leader on hand to share their insights into the discoveries that each new day brings.

Traveling the Nile on land, water and in the air from Cairo to Abu Simbel, and visiting Egypt’s most spectacular temple and pyramid complexes, both world-famous and lesser-known, our tour also features a 5-day river cruise aboard the beautifully-appointed M.S. Farah, among the most modern and luxurious vessels sailing the life-giving waters of the Nile.

To further follow in the footsteps of ancient explorers, add on an optional extension Jordan Lite: Petra & Beyond: an extra 7 days to explore the essential sites of Jordan, from outstanding ancient history, to biblical sites and beautiful desert landscapes.

What's included?

  •  Expert Scholar & Tour Manager
  •  Local Guide / Tour Manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Local Transport
  •  Entries & Tips

Please note that our March departure does not include an expert scholar, but it does include a local guide.

Led by...

Dr Luigi Prada

Dr Luigi Prada

Dr Luigi Prada is a member of academic staff at the Egyptology Department of the University of Oxford, England.

Book Now $6,595
Includes deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $950

Tour highlights:

  • Explore the seldom-visited pyramid complexes at Dahshur and Abusir, where the 5th-Dynasty Pharaohs built their pyramids
  • Visit Aswan’s beautiful Philae Temple and High Dam – and the great rock temples of Abu Simbel
  • Travel to the Pyramids of Giza, one of the seven wonders of the world, the Sphinx and the fascinating Solar boat museum
  • Cruise in comfort along the Nile, visiting sites that include Kom Ombo’s rare double temple
  • Wander through Karnak, whose vast sprawling complex is largely dedicated to Amun

Tour details

Dates February 2 2019 - February 17 2019
Duration 16 days
Cost $6,595
Single supplement: $950
Deposit: $1,250 , balance due by November 10 2018
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code A19EGY

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

February 2 2019: Itinerary

We arrive at Cairo on Saturday and transfer to our hotel. In the evening we meet up with our group to enjoy our first dinner together.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Marriott Mena House Hotel, Giza

An informative morning lecture, outlining the eventful story of Egypt’s ancient kingdoms and dynasties, sets the scene for our fascinating journey to come. After lunch our afternoon tour to nearby Memphis quickly translates words into dramatic spectacle! Founded over 5,000 years ago and the first capital of a united Egypt, Memphis has revealed many major archaeological finds amid its iconic pyramids and royal tombs. At Sakkara necropolis (burial ground) we visit the museum and tour the 3rd Dynasty Pharaoh Djoser’s distinctive Step Pyramid complex. This, the oldest pyramid, pre-dates the famous Giza pyramids by at least four centuries and was the first monumental building constructed completely from stone. We also explore the smooth-sided Pyramid of Teti, a 6th Dynasty king (whose burial chamber is covered with pyramid texts to ensure the survival of his soul) and the “mastaba” (bench) tombs of the Nobles Ti and Ptahhotep.

All meals included

Hotel: Marriott Mena House Hotel, Giza

Today we move forward in time for our visit to the only two surviving representatives of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the three Pyramids of Giza (one towering to nearly 500ft) and the Sphinx, the largest sculpture of the ancient world. There’s an opportunity to explore the site – and to visit the Solar Boat Museum (solar boats served as funerary barges for the dead Pharaohs), where the important reconstructed remains of the Solar Boat of Cheops are displayed.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Marriott Mena House Hotel, Giza

We devote a full morning to the highlights of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, home of the world's largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including the mummy room and items from the tomb of Tutankhamun. After lunch and a visit to the Citadel, the medieval Islamic stronghold of Salah el-Din, we enjoy a leisurely stroll through the atmospheric Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, the city’s historic souk whose warren of cobblestone lanes and alleys lined with colorful shops and stalls offer a lively Cairo experience definitely not to be missed.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Marriott Mena House Hotel, Giza

As we travel today from Cairo to neighboring Dahshur and Abusir we continue to trace chronologically the story of the development of the pyramids following their initial design at Sakkara. At Dahshur’s royal necropolis the 4th Dynasty King Snefru completed the problematic Bent Pyramid, later perfecting this architectural form with the larger Red Pyramid. We have also received a special permit for an afternoon visit to the site of Abusir, the primary burial ground where the 5th Dynasty Pharaohs built their pyramids.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Marriott Mena House Hotel, Giza

This morning, we fly 300 miles south along the Nile to Luxor, setting of ancient Thebes. Our hotel has been selected for its ideal location on the riverside Corniche, within walking distance of the city’s market, museum and two principal archaeological landmarks, Karnak and Luxor Temples. Modern Luxor, on the Nile’s east bank, has grown up around the ruins of these great complexes. Our exploration begins with an exciting afternoon spent here at Karnak’s ‘City of Temples’, probably the ancient world’s largest remaining religious site, with many structures dating back 4,000 years. We focus on the story and spectacle of the immense sanctuary of the sun-deity Amun-Re. Reached via the famous Avenue of Sphinxes, lined with carved human-headed beasts, this is a dazzling maze of monumental gateways, obelisks, pillared halls and subsidiary shrines. In the late afternoon we visit the Luxor Museum.

All meals included

Hotel: Sonesta St George Hotel, Luxor

This morning we cross the Nile’s to visit the inspiring settings of the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. Here on the west bank was the necropolis area reserved for royal burials from around 2100 BCE, but it was the Pharaohs of the later New Kingdom period who chose these once-remote desert valley site for their grand rock-cut tombs. Of over 60 tombs discovered in the Valley of the Kings a number are open to the public and we enter a selection of these – most notable among them the resting place of the boy-king Tutankhamun, famously discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. We also travel to the adjacent Valley of the Queens, containing some 75 tombs that belonged to queens of the 19th and 20th dynasties. At nearby Deir el-Bahri we visit the impressive colonnaded Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, mortuary temple of the only female Pharaoh (sometimes pictured in Pharaonic dress, wearing a false beard!).

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Sonesta St George Hotel, Luxor

We return to the west bank of the Nile to see the Tombs of the Nobles, over 400 of which lie scattered here across an area of two square miles. Carved into a rocky hillside, they are less-visited than their more famous neighbors but have a special interest for their naturalistic murals giving detailed insights into daily Egyptian life of the period. We also call at the well-preserved archaeological site of the ancient Deir el-Medina, once the village-home of the artisans who built and decorated the royal tombs of Thebes. Later in the afternoon we have a fascinating special tour of the Oriental Institute’s Chicago House to learn about the Institute’s Epigraphic Survey since 1924 - dedicated to producing photographs and precise line drawings of the inscriptions and relief scenes of Luxor’s major temples and tombs.

All meals included

Hotel: Sonesta St George Hotel, Luxor

This morning an interesting 50-mile drive north to Dendera takes us through a landscape of villages of baked-mud houses and the lush cultivated banks of the Nile. Dendera is home to an important temple complex whose main feature is the remarkably well-preserved Temple of Hathor, goddess of love, music and wine. Although the present temple was built largely in the 1st century BCE, it occupies the site of a far older building. On the still-intact ceiling is a circular plaster cast (the original is in the Paris Louvre) of the beautiful Zodiac of Dendera, displaying the hours of the day and night as well as the journey of the sun, moon and the stars across the sky. We return to Luxor to enjoy an afternoon at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Sonesta St George Hotel, Luxor

Today’s re-visit to Luxor’s west bank takes us to the enigmatic Colossi of Memnon, two gigantic sandstone statues of Amenhotep III dating from the 14th century BCE. We next explore the nearby temple complex at Medinet Habu - dominated by the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, displaying many well-preserved reliefs and massive statues of the Pharaoh. We call at the Ramesseum funerary temple (whose fallen statue of Ramesses II inspired Shelley’s famous sonnet “Ozymandias”) and, lastly, at the less-visited nobles’ tombs of Kheruef and Ankh-Hor, interesting for their reliefs and images. From here we return to Luxor for lunch aboard our Nile Cruiser, our deluxe floating hotel for the next four nights. In the late afternoon we go ashore to visit the imposing Temple of Luxor. Constructed over 3,000 years ago, the temple preserves much of its structure, with many intact statues and relief carvings, including imagery of the annual procession of the Opet Festival celebrating the Nile flooding season.

All meals included

Hotel: MS Farah, Nile Cruise Ship

Our first morning on the Nile is spent at leisure in Luxor, either relaxing on board by the pool or enjoying independent sightseeing, shopping in the local souk or perhaps sailing on a traditional felucca. WE enjoy lunch on board before setting sail on the first leg of our cruise upstream to Edfu, where we dock for the night.

All meals included

Hotel: MS Farah, Nile Cruise Ship

We go ashore this morning to see the Temple of Edfu, a beautiful Ptolemaic temple dedicated to Horus, the avenging falcon god. A late construction built between 237 and 57 BCE, this is one of Egypt’s best-preserved ancient monuments. The desert sand that once filled and protected it after the Roman Empire banned what was seen as a pagan cult allows us to visualize how some of Egypt’s older ruined temples might once have looked. Back on board, we have several hours to enjoy our vessel’s sundeck and pool, as well as the ever-changing panorama of everyday life along the Nile. Later in the afternoon we disembark to visit the partially-restored remains of Kom Ombo’s Ptolemaic temple standing dramatically above the Nile. Dedicated equally - and unusually - to two competing gods, Horus the Elder and the crocodile god Sobek, it even has separate areas for each. We then return to our Nile Cruiser and sail on to Aswan.

All meals included

Hotel: MS Farah, Nile Cruise Ship

A day of contrasts, exploring the history - both ancient and more modern - of a Nile city that has been a strategic and commercial southern Egypt gateway since time immemorial. We begin at the Quarries, acknowledged as archaeological sites in their own right and the source of quality stone for the construction of Ancient Egypt’s decorative monuments (look out for the unfinished obelisk that remains embedded in its native stone!). We continue to the massive High Dam holding back the waters of man-made Lake Nasser, and then to the atmospheric ruins of Philae, the Ptolemaic island temple dramatically rescued from the rising waters of the lake. A labyrinthine complex of chapels and shrines, originally dedicated to the goddess Isis, this was the Byzantine Empire’s last bastion of paganism.

All meals included

Hotel: MS Farah, Nile Cruise Ship

After disembarking this morning to transfer to our hotel, we visit the grand Kalabsha Temple, first built in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus on the site of a sanctuary founded by Amenhotep II. Originally dedicated to the Nubian sun god Mandulis, it later became a church. After the construction of the High Dam it was moved to Lake Nasser from its former location 30 miles to the south. Relocated here, too, were the delicate Graeco-Roman kiosk (a small temple) of Qertassi and the shrine of Ramesses II from Beit el-Wali. There’s an opportunity to admire the archaeological finds in the Nubian Museum before we conclude our final full day with a farewell group dinner.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Aswan Mövenpick Hotel

Our tour ends on a memorable high note with a flying visit to the world-renowned Nubian site of the temples at Abu Simbel, 140 miles south-west of Aswan. Miraculously rescued from Lake Nasser’s rising waters after the creation of the High Dam and rebuilt on the western bank, the two massive rock temples of Ramesses II and his favorite queen, Nefertari were originally carved into the mountainside in 1244 BCE to honor the deified royal pair and to awe the Nubians. The colossal statues of Ramesses at the entrance still inspire a sense of awe today just as they did over 3,000 years ago. An afternoon flight brings us back to Cairo for our overnight stay.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Le Meridien, Cairo Airport

We transfer to the airport for our flights home or onward travels.

Meals include: Breakfast

February 2 2019: Additional Info

February 2 2019: Accommodation

Surrounded by 40 acres of lush green gardens, in the shadows of the Pyramids in Cairo, you’ll be treated like royalty in the Mena House Hotel. Some of its previous guests include Heads of State & Kings. The luxury hotel boasts hand-carved furniture, original works of art and rooms to watch the sun rise and set over the great Pyramids.

Step into this Egyptian wonder on the banks of the Nile, you’ll be met by the hotel’s magnificent lobby, and look out for the elevators which are designed to look like Pharaohs’ tombs, a lovely quirk reminiscent of the past in this contemporary hotel. Not that it will be easy to forget your surroundings, with a room with a view and the perfectly situated ‘Nobel’s’ Bar’ on the terrace to enjoy an evening’s aperitif in front of the Egyptian sunset.

Welcome aboard the MS Farah, the Nile’s finest cruise ship.  Step onto the polished floor and into the triple height foyer. The cabins are equally as impressive with comfortable furnishings, Egyptian cotton no less, each room is equipped with private bathroom, TV and luxury amenities. After a day of sightseeing ancient monuments, relax in the contemporary lounge/ bar on board, or enjoy an evening in the steam room and sauna.

Back on dry land, you won’t miss the water, as the Mövenpick Resort has spectacular views of the Red Sea & tranquil lagoons surrounded by lush gardens. Spacious rooms with private terraces create open and comfortable spaces to enjoy your stay here. When you’re not enjoying the surrounding views, why not enjoy the hotel’s spa or relax on its exclusive beachfront?

Le Meridien Hotel & Spa is in the perfect location to end your adventure in Egypt, the hotel is less than a kilometer from the Sphinx and with views of the pyramids. The spacious & comfortable rooms have AC and are all newly refurbished in a clean and modern style. In the evening grab a drink from the hotel bar and recline in the hotel garden, in the shadow of the great pyramids while you soak up the last of the Egyptian sunshine before heading home.

February 2 2019: Enquiries

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November 9 2019

Dr Caroline Hebron

Led by Dr Caroline Hebron

16 day tour, from $6,695

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