Our rewarding tour extends far beyond overworked images of an Egypt of just 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.
- Explore the seldom-visited pyramid complexes at Dahshur and Abusir
- Wander through Karnak, whose vast sprawling complex is largely dedicated to Amun
- Explore Luxor’s Valley of the Kings and Queens, home to the tomb of Tutankhamun
- Travel to the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Cruise in comfort along the Nile, visiting sites that include Kom Ombo’s rare double temple
- Visit the mummy rooms of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum with an expert Egyptologist
- Visit Aswan’s beautiful Philae Temple and High Dam – and the great rock temples of Abu Simbel
WHAT TO EXPECT
Saturday, February 2 or November 9: ARRIVE IN CAIRO
We arrive into Cairo on Saturday and transfer to our first hotel where we will meet for dinner.
Sunday, February 3 or November 10: CAIRO
After an introductory lecture, we begin touring at Memphis, the first capital of a united Egypt, and Sakkara, its necropolis. At Sakkara we will visit the museum and tour the Step Pyramid complex of Djoser, which predates the Giza pyramids and is the world’s first monumental building constructed entirely in stone. We will also tour the smaller Pyramid of Teti, built for a Sixth Dynasty king, whose burial chamber is covered with pyramid texts to ensure the survival of his soul, and the mastaba tombs of the Nobles Ti and Ptahhotep.
Monday, February 4 or November 11: CAIRO
Touring begins at the only surviving representatives of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. We will also stop at the museum, where the remarkably preserved remains of the Solar Boat of Cheops are displayed.
Tuesday, February 5 or November 12: CAIRO
We will spend the full morning at the Egyptian Museum, where we will view the highlights of its huge collection, including the mummy room and objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun. After lunch our first stop will be the Citadel, famed as the stronghold of Salah el-Din. The day continues with a stroll through Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, one of the largest suqs in the Middle East, and ends with a walk through the warren of streets lined with fascinating architecture.
Wednesday, February 6 or November 13: CAIRO
Today we will trace the rapid development of the pyramids following their creation at Sakkara. At Dahshur, Snefru completed the Bent Pyramid using the lessons learned at Meydum. In the Red Pyramid, he perfected this architectural form. After lunch, we have been granted a special permit to visit the site of Abusir, where most of the 5th-Dynasty pharaohs built their pyramids.
Thursday, February 7 or November 14: LUXOR
This morning we fly to Luxor and transfer to our hotel, selected for its excellent location on the Corniche and within walking distance of the market, museum and some of the sites. The ancient city was built on the east bank of the Nile, while the west bank was the city of the dead, mostly reserved for tombs and funerary monuments. We will begin our exploration with a full afternoon of touring at the magnificent sanctuary of Amun-Re at Karnak. This fascinating temple’s maze of monumental gateways, obelisks, pillared halls and subsidiary shrines is reached via an avenue lined with fantastic beasts. In the late afternoon we will visit the Luxor Museum.
Friday, February 8 or November 15: LUXOR
This morning we will cross the Nile to visit the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. The tombs to be visited are those of Tutankhamun and others selected from the tombs open to the public today. We will also visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, at Deir el-Bahri, one of Egypt’s most spectacular monuments.
Saturday, February 9 or November 16: LUXOR
We will return to the west bank of the Nile to visit some of the hundreds of tombs of the Nobles, spread over two square miles. These tombs are of special interest for their naturalistic murals, which give us an intimate view of life in ancient Egypt. We will also visit the ancient village of the artisans, Deir el-Medina, one of the best-preserved town sites in Egypt and the subject of the television series Ancient Lives. In the late afternoon, we will have a specially arranged tour of the Oriental Institute’s Chicago House, where a member of the staff will tell us about their Epigraphic Survey. Since 1924, this Epigraphic Survey has both photographed and made line drawings of the inscriptions and reliefs on major temples at tombs at Luxor, which are then published and filed for future reference. The survey’s program recently expanded and now also includes conservation as well as restoration, and it does important work in deciphering meanings and clarifying uses according to cultural context.
Sunday, February 10 or November 17: LUXOR
Driving north through villages of baked-mud houses and lush cultivated lands bordering the Nile, we arrive in Dendera and visit the Temple of Hathor, goddess of love, music and wine. Although this temple was largely built in the first century BCE, it occupies the site of a much older building. On the roof of the temple is a plaster cast of the famous Zodiac of Dendera (original in Paris), one of the three circular representations of the heavens found in Egypt. We continue to Abydos, where we will tour the Temple of Seti I, viewing the famous List of Kings and some of the most beautifully painted reliefs surviving from Pharaonic times.
Monday, February 11 or November 18: LUXOR
Our last visit to the west bank will include the Colossi of Memnon and the temples and chapels of Medinet Habu, the largest built by Ramesses III. We will explore the Ramesseum, where the fallen statue of Ramesses II inspired Shelley’s famous poem “Ozymandias.” The morning is concluded with the rarely visited tombs of Kheruef and Ankh-Hor. Returning to the East Bank, we board the deluxe Farah Nile Cruiser, our floating hotel for the next four nights. In the late afternoon we will explore the Temple of Luxor, including the procession of the Opet Festival and scenes of the divine conception of Amenhotep III.
Tuesday, February 12 or November 19: SAIL/EDFU
This morning will be completely at leisure. We will have time to do some more touring, explore the local suq, hire a felucca to sail the Nile or just relax at the pool. During lunch on the Farah, we sail to Edfu to dock for the night.
Wednesday, February 13 or November 20: SAIL/ASWAN
Touring begins this morning at the Temple of Edfu, a completely preserved Ptolemaic temple of the falcon god Horus. We then will have several hours to enjoy the sundeck and pool as well as the ever-changing panorama of life along the Nile. In the late afternoon we arrive at Kom Ombo, often called the Acropolis of Egypt for its spectacular site overlooking the Nile. It is also unusual in being dedicated equally to two gods, Horus the Elder and the crocodile god Sobek. After completing our visit, we sail on to Aswan.
Thursday, February 14 or November 21: SAIL/ASWAN
Our touring begins at the Quarries, where an unfinished obelisk remains embedded in its native stone. Our next visits are the High Dam and Philae, the Ptolemaic temple dedicated to Isis, an incredible complex of chapels and shrines as well as the last bastion of paganism in the Byzantine Empire.
Friday, February 15 or November 22: ASWAN
This morning we will disembark and transfer to our hotel. Touring begins at the Kalabsha Temple, built in the reign of Augustus on the site of an earlier sanctuary founded by Amenhotep II. The temple, which was later converted to a church, was dedicated to the Nubian god Mandulis, who was associated with Isis. In the same antiquities park, we will visit the relocated Graeco-Roman kiosk of Qertassi and the shrine of Ramesses II, from Beit el-Wali. Lastly, we will visit the Nubia Museum. This evening we will meet for our farewell dinner at the hotel.
Saturday, February 16 or November 23: CAIRO
A memorable day! We fly to Abu Simbel, where the rock-cut temples of Ramesses II and his favorite queen, Nefertari, have been saved from the rising waters of the Nile resulting from the Aswan High Dam. The temples were built to honor the deified royal pair and to awe the Nubians. That awesome feeling exists today no less than it did 3,200 years ago. An afternoon flight brings us back to Cairo.
Sunday, February 17 or November 24: DEPART FROM CAIRO
We transfer to the airport for our flights home or onward travels.