Witness some of the most iconic ancient structures the world has ever seen and delve deeper into Egypt’s fascinating history, from Pharaohs to Greek Ptolemaic rulers, the Romans, Coptic Christianity’s biblical legacy and on to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century. This new 21-day tour takes you to Cairo’s pyramids and museums, Luxor’s temples and the Valley of the Kings, and then down the Nile to Abu Simbel and a cruise on modern-day Lake Nasser. The tour culminates in Alexandria at the Nile River Delta with the modern Biblioteca and visits to Australian World War II sites and graves at El Alamein.
Cairo’s unforgettable pyramids and Sphinx, the Step Pyramid of Djoser and the Egyptian and Islamic museums
Luxor’s impressive Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings, Nobles and Queens, the Ramesseum and Luxor Museum
Cruise the Nile to Aswan, stopping at Kom Ombo and Edfu
Egypt’s modern engineering marvel: Aswan High Dam
Abu Simbel and the temples of Lake Nasser
Alexandria’s waterfront Biblioteca, a reimagining of its ancient library
Moving World War II sites, graves and museum at El Alamein
Days 1–4: Cairo’s iconic sites and museums at Giza, Saqqara and Memphis.
Days 5–8: Fly to Luxor and explore the complex of temples and museums, as well as monuments and tombs on the West Bank at the Valley of the King, Queens and Nobles.
Days 9–12: Travel to Aswan aboard a luxury Nile cruise, stopping at Kom Ombo, Edfu, Elephantine Island and Philae Temple.
Days 13–15: Cruise Lake Nasser from Abu Simbel, to visit Nubian temples on the western shore.
Days 16–21: Fly to Alexandria. Visit Greco- Roman sites, the New Library and WWII sites at El Alamein. Return to Cairo for departure.
The tour begins and ends at our hotel in Cairo. Emirates and Etihad Airlines have direct flights into and out of Cairo from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Sunday 15 March: Arrive in Cairo
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)
Monday 16 March: The Egyptian Museum and Giza
This morning we explore the Egyptian Museum, Cairo’s vast treasure trove of antiquities from all periods of Egyptian history including the wondrous finds from Tutankhamun’s tomb. After lunch we explore the plateau’s iconic monuments of the 4th dynasty, the Sphinx, Great Pyramid of Khufu, son of Sneferu and the Solar Boat Museum. Overnight Cairo (B, L, D)
Tuesday 17 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 also see the Apis bull burials in the Serapeum. After lunch, 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. Overnight Cairo (B, L)
Wednesday 18 March: Museum of Islamic Art and Coptic Cairo
This morning we visit the Museum of Islamic Art which houses the world’s largest collection of Islamic art and artefacts from different periods of Islamic history. We visit the citadel, a large fortress complex with views over Cairo built as protection against the crusaders during the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods dating from 1174. Below the citadel is the massive Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa, a grand yet elegant structure regarded as the finest example of early Mamluk architecture in Cairo. After lunch at a restaurant in the Kham el Khalili bazaar we explore Coptic Cairo’s early Christian churches and the extensive collections held at the Coptic Museum. Overnight Cairo (B, L)
Thursday 19 March: To Luxor
Today we fly to Luxor, our base for the next four nights and the gateway to many of the Nile Valley’s most iconic sights. On arrival we head to the New Kingdom Temple of Luxor; commenced by Amenhotep III, it is dedicated to Amun-Ra and the cult of divine kingship. There is a shrine to Alexander the Great at the rear and remnants of a Coptic Church and the well-preserved Abu al Haggag Mosque, demonstrating the temple has been in almost continuous use as a place of worship up until the present day. Overnight Luxor (B, D)
Friday 20 March: Karnak Temple
This morning we visit the vast open-air museum of Karnak, 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 and was linked to Luxor Temple by an avenue of sphinxes. After lunch we visit the recently opened Temple of Mut, wife and consort to Amun-Ra also known as the Mother Goddess. The temple complex features numerous black granite statues of Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess, a symbol of Mut. Overnight Luxor (B, L)
Saturday 21 March: Valley of the Kings
We cross by boat to the West Bank where our first stop is the Colossi of Memnon. These two eighteen-metre-high stone statues represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and once guarded his memorial temple. We continue into the Valley of the Kings and explore some of the 65 known tombs built for the pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom. We have special access to the largest and most impressive tomb built for Seti 1 which is notable for its rooms decorated with highly refined bas-reliefs and colourful paintings. After lunch, we travel to Deir el-Bahri and the imposing Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut. Set in a natural amphitheatre and built on three levels, the temple seems to emerge from the surrounding rock. There was a garden of exotic incense trees in the first courtyard brought back from the Queen’s trading expeditions to Punt, perhaps modern-day Somalia. Overnight Luxor (B, L)
Sunday 22 March: Valley of the Queens
We return to the West Bank to visit three New Kingdom tombs of a queen and princes in the Valley of the Queens where we also visit the tomb of Queen Nefertari, favourite wife of Rameses II. Usually closed to visitors, we have special access to see the high-quality vibrant decorations adorning every surface. We also visit the Tombs of the Nobles where we see three interesting tombs of high ranking 18th Dynasty officials. The afternoon is free to enjoy Luxor. Overnight Luxor (B, L)
Monday 23 March: Ramesseum
This morning we visit the ruins of the Ramesseum, the memorial temple of Rameses II built over 30 years, with its fallen colossus of the enduring pharaoh. In the West Valley lies the Tomb of King Ay, originally believed to have been dug for Tutankhamun but swapped for a tomb in the non-royal area of the valley when young Tutankhamun died. Just before lunch we board our cruise boat, our base for the next four days. In the afternoon, we visit the delightful Luxor Museum, which houses a wonderful collection dating from the Old Kingdom to the Mamluk period including a famous statue of Thutmose III and the fascinating Mummification Museum. Dinner this evening is on board our cruise boat. Overnight Nile Cruise (B, L, D)
Tuesday 24 March: To Edfu
Today we head to Medinet Habu and the well-preserved Memorial Temple of Rameses III. The temple, apart from its sheer size and architectural importance, is covered in reliefs depicting Rameses’s conquests of foreign invaders from Libya, Crete and elsewhere. We also explore the rarely visited memorial Temple of Seti I, completed by Rameses II after Seti’s death. 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 25 March: Edfu and 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 temples of the crocodile headed god, Sobek, associated with Upper Egypt, and Horus the Elder, associated with Lower Egypt. We continue sailing to Aswan this afternoon. Overnight Nile Cruise (B, L, D)
Thursday 26 March: Temple of Philae and Aswan Dam
Our shore excursion today takes us to the picturesque island of Philae where the exquisite temple of Isis rises magically out of the river. We also visit the Aswan High Dam and the Unfinished Obelisk – more than twice the size of any known obelisk. Quarrymen apparently abandoned the obelisk when fractures appeared in its sides. However, the stone, still attached to bedrock, gives important clues to how the Egyptians quarried granite. Tonight, is spent aboard the boat docked in Aswan. Overnight Nile Cruise (B, L, D)
Friday 27 March: Abu Simbel
Today we drive to Abu Simbel, south of Aswan, and board the MS Prince Abbas for our Lake Nasser cruise. Pharaoh Ramses II had two temples carved out of solid rock 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. Afternoon Tea and dinner are served aboard our boat. Overnight Lake Nasser Cruise (B, L, AT, D)
Saturday 28 March: Lake Nasser
This morning we sail to Kasr Ibrim, in Lower Nubia. Once a formidable citadel set on clifftops, it is the only archaeological site to have survived the flooding during the construction of the Aswan High Dam. We view the site from our boat as it is not accessible by land. We then visit the Amada Temple on the western shore, the oldest discovered in Nubia. The temple was originally built by Thutmose III but ‘renovated’ several times by subsequent pharaohs. Nearby is the speos or rock-cut Temple of Derr, built by Rameses II. Finally, we visit the relocated tomb of Pennut, Viceroy of Nubia under the rule of Ramesses VI. This evening we sail for Wadi Es Sebu and enjoy a cocktail party before dinner. Overnight Lake Nasser Cruise (B, L, D)
Sunday 29 March: Wadi es-Sebu
This morning we visit Wadi Es-Sebu where an avenue of Sphinxes lines the approach to the temple forecourts dedicated to Amun-Ra. We also visit the Graeco-Roman Temple of Dakka dedicated to Toth featuring an impressive and intact entrance pylon and the Roman-era Maharraqa Temple dedicated to Serapis and Isis. We cruise to Aswan and dock for the evening. Overnight Lake Nasser Cruise (B, L, D)
Monday 30 March: To Cairo
Prior to disembarking we visit Kalabsha Temple, the largest freestanding Nubian Temple built for the Roman Emperor Augustus and dedicated to the Nubian sun god, Mandulis. We transfer to Aswan Airport this afternoon and board a flight to Cairo. Overnight Cairo (B)
Tuesday 31 March: To Alexandria
This morning we depart by coach for Alexandria. Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria is strategically located on the Nile Delta at the Mediterranean Sea and was one of the greatest cities of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Egypt. Famed throughout antiquity, Alexandria’s harbourfront was the site of the great Pharos Lighthouse, one of the seven ancient wonders of the ancient world and the Great Library. Today, the city is Egypt’s second largest and has undergone a renaissance as the country’s cultural capital. Overnight Alexandria (B, L)
Wednesday 1 April: Alexandria
Opened in 2002, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina we visit today is a monument to the great classical institution lost in antiquity. With four museums and an enormous reading room, the library is a modern reimagining of the ancient centre of culture and learning. We also visit the only Roman Theatre found in Egypt and explore the Citadel of Qaitbey, a fortress situated at the mouth of the harbour on the site once occupied by the Pharos Lighthouse. Following lunch, we visit Pompey’s Pillar, a 30-metre column originally built to honour the Emperor Diocletian and the Kom El Shoqafa Catacombs which display a combination of Egyptian, Roman and Greek influences. Overnight Alexandria (B, L)
Thursday 2 April: El Alamein
Today we travel west to El Alamein where the battle of the Western Desert campaign was fought between the Axis forces of Germany and Italy and the Allied, British Imperial and Commonwealth forces in July 1942. We visit sites associated with the battle and the war cemetery which contains the graves of the men who perished at all stages of the Western Desert campaigns, including some 3000 Australians from the 9th Australian division of the British Eighth Army. We also visit the El Alamein War Museum which provides an excellent introduction to the North African campaigns of World War II. Overnight Alexandria (B, L)
Friday 3 April: Return to Cairo
The morning we return by coach for our farewell dinner and a final night in Cairo. Overnight Cairo (B, D)
Saturday 4 April: Depart
The tour concludes after breakfast. (B)
An historian specialising in the religion and art of the Middle East and North Africa, having spent several years in Arabia.
Chris Bradley is a cultural historian specialising in the religion and art of the Middle East and North Africa. After many years of leading tours he has built up an enviable knowledge and personal photographic library that he uses to enhance the Academy Travel tours that he leads to Ethiopia, Iran and Central Asia.
Chris gained an honours degree at the University of Liverpool and spent several years working in Arabia, which gave him a good foundation for understanding the Middle East in general. The Arabic that he learnt through the 1970s proved invaluable for his own travels throughout the Middle East whilst researching, writing and photographing more than a dozen guidebooks as well as countless travel articles. For 30 years he has supplied international picture libraries with photographs that are used worldwide in newspapers, magazines, websites and museums, including the V&A and British Museum in London. This experience also led to his filming and producing credits on many television documentaries for the BBC and National Geographic TV.
Chris was invited by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to analyse sustainable tourism development, initially for Libya and later Egypt. His interest in Islamic and early Christian art is an underlying theme for many of his illustrated talks and lectures for the Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and around the world. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and regularly gives lectures at their various locations. His study days on Islamic Art, The Silk Road, Roman and Islamic Art of North Africa are always over-subscribed.
In the 40 years since Chris started leading group tours in the Middle East he has worked in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Oman, Yemen, Sudan, Morocco and Tunisia. This experience has allowed him to design and develop his own itineraries to Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. His tours aim, where possible, to go beyond the obvious major sights and search for the hidden gems.
We asked Chris, what do you enjoy about tour leading?
“Because of the scope of my interests I enjoy making connections between countries and religions that are often not obvious and I am always searching for links along the lines of ‘where did that idea come from?’ Working with each country’s national guides (many of whom are now personal friends), I love to expand every aspect of the subjects that we cover for the groups, which could be the Queen of Sheba, Zoroastrianism or Shia Islam.”
What is included in the tour price?
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.