Ancient Egypt – land of the pharaohs, colossal statues, vast pyramids and magnificent many-columned temples. Travel the full length of the Nile Valley from Alexandria to Abu Simbel, to visit both the highlights of ancient Egypt, and some of the rarely-visited sites. Visit icons such as the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Valley of the Kings, and Karnak Temple, but also archaeological sites off the beaten track, including Tell el-Amarna, the remains of an ancient city built by the ‘heretic’ pharaoh Akhenaten, whose fascinating changes to art and religion still provoke debate.
We cover 3000 years of ancient Egyptian history, from the pyramids of Egypt’s Old Kingdom, through to the Roman-era temple of Philae, ‘Jewel of the Nile’. This tour offers a varied and comprehensive exploration of the pyramids, rock-cut tombs, temples and towns of ancient Egypt, examining an ancient civilization not just of pharaohs but also of ordinary people.
Join us for a memorable journey through Egypt’s colourful and vibrant history and landscape
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Cairo’s great monuments
The pharaohs of Egypt created great monuments to see themselves through the afterlife. The Pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx are immediately recognisable but we truly understand this world with visits to lesser known sites, such as the step Pyramid of Djoser, and seeing scenes of daily life painted and preserved on the walls of Nobles and Generals tombs.
Treasures for the Afterlife
The highlight of any visit to Cairo is a visit to the Egyptian Museum, a vast treasure trove of pharaonic antiquities, housing 160,000 objects covering 5000 years of Egyptian history. Over its 42 rooms, we see a wealth of treasure including ancient papyrus, statue and sarcophagi from the New Kingdom and glorious finds from Tutankhamen’s intact tomb.
Travel to Alexander the Great’s city of Alexandria, and along the Nile Valley to Minya and Abydos to explore Middle and New Kingdom sites and an operational working dig at Tell el-Amarna.
Cruising the Nile
Spend four nights gently meandering up the Nile River aboard our luxury five-star cruise. Relax in the well-appointed air conditioned cabins, enjoy a la carte dinners in the restaurant or read a book in the library. Explore the Karnak and Luxor Temples, Edfu and Kom Ombo by day and gaze at the stars from the deck by night.
The tour starts on Wednesday 22 March at 6.00pm, at the Mena House Hotel, Cairo.
The tour ends on Saturday 8 April at the Le Meridien Heliopolis Hotel, Cairo, after breakfast.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Wednesday 22 March – Arrive
The tour commences at the hotel in Cairo at 6pm. Meet your tour leader and fellow travellers in the lobby of the hotel for an introductory talk and drinks followed by dinner in the hotel. Overnight Cairo (D)
Thursday 23 March – Saqqara
Depart by coach this morning for Saqqara to see the Step Pyramid of 3rd dynasty pharaoh, Djoser, which is also the oldest monument we visit from the Old Kingdom. We are able to go inside the pyramid of the great king Unas to see the earliest known pyramid texts, and into the New Kingdom temple-tombs of Maya, Tutankhamun’s treasurer, and his general, Horemheb. After lunch, we visit the Imhotep Museum, the mastaba tomb of Mereruka, and the Apis bull burials in the Serapeum that have re-opened after decades of being closed. Tonight, we enjoy a welcome dinner in the hotel. Overnight Cairo (B, L, D)
Friday 24 March – Pyramids, All Shapes & Sizes
Today we explore the plateau’s iconic monuments of the 4th dynasty, the Sphinx, and Great Pyramid of Khufu, son of Sneferu. After lunch in Giza, we trace the evolution of royal burials from stepped to smooth sided pyramids with a visit to the Red and Bent Pyramids at Dahshur. Both built by the pharaoh Sneferu, the Bent Pyramid was the first, unsuccessful attempt at a smooth-sided pyramid. Determined to build an appropriate resting place, Sneferu succeeded in building his pride and glory with the Red Pyramid and it is possible to go inside. Lucia will give a talk in the hotel this evening. Overnight Cairo (B, L)
Saturday 25 March – Museums of Egypt
This morning we visit the oldest archaeological museum in the Middle East. The Egyptian Museum, housing some of the largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities in the world. After lunch, we visit the Royal Mummies Hall at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. (B, L)
Sunday 26 March – Alexandria
We depart Cairo by coach for Alexandria. Upon arrival, we visit the archaeological site of Kom el-Dikka, a well-off residential area in Graeco-Roman times, with lovely villas including the Villa of the Birds, bathhouses and a theatre. We stop at the National Museum of Alexandria before enjoying dinner in the hotel. Overnight: Alexandria (B, D)
Monday 27 March – Greco-Roman Egypt
This morning we depart by coach for the Serapeum. We explore this Greco-Roman Period site that was once an ancient Greek temple built by Ptolemy III Euergetes, including so-called Pompey’s Pillar. We continue to the Catacombs of Kom el-Shugafa discovering this historical archaeological site. After lunch, our final stop is at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina with its Antiquities Museum. Overnight: Alexandria (B, L)
Tuesday 28 March – Wadi Natrun
Today we begin our tour visiting Wadi Natrun known for its Coptic monasteries where thousands of Christians escaped from Roman persecution in the 4th century. We then continue by coach to Cairo, where we check into the hotel in Giza. This afternoon we explore the Grand Egyptian Museum, the largest archaeological Museum in the world, followed by a talk in the hotel. Overnight: Cairo (B)
Wednesday 29 March – Beni Hassan
This morning we depart Cairo for Middle Egypt, an area still off the radar for most travellers. After a picnic lunch, we explore the exquisitely painted tombs of the First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom provincial governors or nomarchs at Beni Hasan. The tombs are reached by a long flight of stone steps up the hill affording a bonus panoramic view of the Nile Valley. Lucia will give a talk this evening followed by dinner in the hotel. Overnight Minya (B, PL, D)
Thursday 30 March – Tell el-Amarna
Today we visit the city of Akhetaten at Amarna, established by the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten under his vision for a society dedicated to the cult of one god. Although the city had only a brief existence it has been carefully excavated and provides an unusually accurate picture, because Akhenaten chose a completely new site to construct his city. Our full day visit allows us to explore the city and its suburbs, including the Temple of Aten, the ‘Palace of Nefertiti’, and tombs decorated in the ‘Amarna-style’ of art. Lucia will give a talk this evening followed by dinner in the hotel. Overnight Minya (B, PL, D)
Friday 31 March – Tuna El Gebel
We depart for Abydos, stopping at Tuna el-Gebel, a necropolis with tombs dating mostly to the Greco-Roman Period. Here we visit Akhenaten’s rock cut boundary stela, the catacombs which stored sacred mummies of baboons, ibises and falcons, and the unique temple-tomb of Petosiris, a high priest. After lunch at the rest house, we continue to Abydos. Overnight Abydos (B, PL, D)
Saturday 1 April – Abydos & Dendera
Our focus this morning is the spectacular Temple of Seti I, one of the most complete and beautifully decorated temples in Egypt. Dedicated to Osiris, a major feature is a long list of cartouches known as the Abydos Kings List. Carved into the temple wall, it contains the names of 76 kings of Egypt acknowledged by Seti as legitimate pharaohs. Continuing to Dendera we visit the Temple of Hathor, who is seen as the patroness of love and fertility. The temple is visually stunning with a grand entrance, detailed carvings and hieroglyphs. Recent cleaning has revealed the vibrant and detailed astronomical painted reliefs on the ceiling. Arriving in Luxor, we check in and enjoy dinner in the hotel. Overnight Luxor (B, PL, D)
Sunday 2 April – Valley of the Kings
Crossing by boat to the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings, we marvel at the ‘Colossi of Memnon’ and explore some of the 63 known tombs built for the pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom including Tutankhamun’s tomb. We go on to visit the fallen colossus, ‘Ozymandias’ in Ramesses II’s memorial temple, the Ramesseum. Following lunch, we visit Hatshepsut’s memorial temple at Deir el-Bahri. Returning to the East Bank by coach and boat, Lucia will give a talk this evening. Overnight Luxor. (B, L)
Monday 3 April – Karnak & The Luxor Museum
This morning we visit the cult temple of Amun-Ra, chief of the deities of the New Kingdom and the largest religious site in the ancient world. The temple is unusual for its longevity, having been continuously used for a period of some 2000 years. We visit the delightful Luxor Museum, which houses a wonderful collection including a famous statue of Thutmose III. Just before lunch we board our cruise boat, our base for the next four days. In the afternoon we visit Luxor Temple, joined by a processional way to Karnak temple. Dinner this evening is on board our cruise boat. Overnight Nile cruise. (B, L, D)
Tuesday 4 April – Tomb of Nefertari
Our touring in Luxor continues, and we visit the New Kingdom of tombs of queens and princes in the Valley of Queens including a visit to the rarely-visited tomb of Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II. We also visit Ramesses III’s memorial temple, Medinet Habu. Returning to our ship for lunch, we cast off from the banks and cruise up the Nile for the remainder of the day. Overnight Nile cruise. (B, L, D)
Wednesday 5 April – Edfu & Kom Ombo
This morning we go ashore to visit the Temple of Horus at Edfu. The Temple is very dramatic and quite extensive, with many reliefs and hidden ambulatory. It is dedicated to Horus and was built in Greco-Roman times. After lunch, we cruise to Kom Ombo to see the double temple of the crocodile-headed god, Sobek and falcon-headed god, Horus the Elder. We continue sailing to Aswan this evening. Overnight Nile cruise. (B, L, D)
Thursday 5 April – Abu Simbel
Today we fly to Abu Simbel, south of Aswan. Pharaoh Ramses II had two temples carved out of solid rock here and built so precisely that twice every year the first rays of the morning sun shine down the entire length of the temple-cave to illuminate the back wall and three of the four gods seated there. The colossi of the king, wearing the characteristic ‘nemes’ head cloth and double crown (of Upper and Lower Egypt), are each 20 metres high, while the facade is more than 35 metres wide and 30 metres high. After lunch, we return to Aswan and visit the fascinating Nubian Museum to learn about the civilisation, history and culture of the Nubian people from Prehistoric times to the present. Tonight is spent aboard the boat docked in Aswan. Overnight Nile Cruise (B, L, D)
Friday 7 April – Temple of Philae & Aswan Dam
Our excursion today takes us to the picturesque island of Philae where the exquisite temple of Isis rises out of the river. We also visit the Aswan High Dam. Built in the 1960’s it has radically affected the ancient monuments in this area, and life in Egypt more generally. After lunch, we fly on to Cairo for our farewell dinner this evening. Overnight Cairo. (B, L, D)
Saturday 8 April – Depart
The tour concludes after breakfast.
An Egyptologist with a wealth of experience as an educator, researcher, archaeologist and museum curator.
Lucia Gahlin is an Egyptologist based in the UK with over 20 years experience of leading tours to Egypt, and to collections of Egyptian antiquities in museums around the world. She has a strong personal interest in the art, archaeology, literature and architecture of ancient Egypt, and is the author of chapters and books, such as ‘Egypt: gods, myths and religion’.
Lucia holds a First Class Honours Degree in Egyptology/Ancient History from University College London. Her postgraduate research took her into university teaching, curatorial work in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London, and archaeological excavations in Egypt. She has taught Egyptology for the Continuing Education departments of a number of universities in the UK, and has taught undergraduates at University College London and the Universities of Warwick and Bristol. Lucia is an Honorary Research Associate at University College London’s Institute of Archaeology. She continues to teach occasional continuing education courses in Bristol, and lectures widely. In 2017 she will do her third month-long lecture tour in Australia for ADFAS.
Lucia continues to teach classes in the Petrie Museum, one of the world’s most important collections of Egyptian antiquities. As Chair of the Friends of the Petrie Museum she is deeply ensconced in museum life. Lucia is also Co-Director of Bloomsbury Summer School, based at UCL, organising short courses and study days on Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East.
Lucia’s knowledge of Ancient Egyptian history and culture extends from the Predynastic Period through to the Roman Period. In Egypt she has lead tours visiting funerary, religious and settlement sites spanning several millennia of ancient history, from Alexandria in the north to Abu Simbel in the South. Her areas of special interest are Ancient Egypt’s social history, settlement archaeology and the rituals and beliefs of daily life.
Lucia led her first tour to Egypt in the mid 1990’s and has continued to lead countless popular tours to sites throughout Egypt. She has designed most of the tours she leads.
We asked Lucia, what motivates her to continue leading tours?
“As a freelance Egyptologist, I am lucky enough to lead a varied life as an educator, researcher, archaeologist and museum curator, but my greatest passion is discussing and sharing my knowledge of Ancient Egypt with interested and like-minded travellers, as we explore Egypt together.
Travellers often comment on my enthusiasm when I talk about Ancient Egypt. If I inspire others to delve more deeply into this extraordinary civilization, and perhaps re-visit this vivid and fascinating country, then I will continue to lead tours to the places I love.”