Ancient Egypt – land of the pharaohs, colossal statues, vast pyramids and magnificent many-columned temples. Travel the full length of the Nile Valley to visit both the highlights of ancient Egypt, and some of the rarely-visited sites. Visit iconic sites such as the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Valley of the Kings, and Karnak Temple, but also archaeological sites off the beaten track, such as 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.
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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 along the Nile Valley to Minya and Abydos to explore Middle and New Kingdom sites and operational working digs at Beni Hassan, Tel Amarna and Tuna el-Gebel. See exquisitely painted tombs, the palaces and temples of the short-lived city built by the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten, and sacred mummies of baboons and falcons stored in the necropolis at Tuna el-Gebel.
Cruising the Nile
Spend four nights gently meandering down 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.
Valley of the Kings and Queens
Over four nights in Luxor we take daily excursions across the Nile by boat, exploring burial sites and monuments on the West Bank. Visit the 18-metre high Colossi of Memnon and see the vibrantly decorated tombs of pharaohs and nobles in the Valley of the Kings, as well as Queen Nefertari and the Temple of Hatshepsut in the Valley of the Queens.
The tour starts on Friday 13 October at 6.00pm, at the Mena House Hotel, Cairo.
The tour ends on Saturday 28 October at the Le Meridien Heliopolis Hotel, Cairo, after breakfast.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Friday 13 October – 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)
Saturday 14 October – 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. We also visit 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 restaurant. Overnight Cairo (B, L, D)
Sunday 15 October – Pyramids of all shapes and sizes
Today we explore the Giza plateau’s iconic monuments of the 4th dynasty, the Sphinx, Great Pyramid of Khufu, son of Sneferu and the Solar Boat Museum. 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)
Monday 16 October – The Islamic & Egyptian Museums
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 visit the Museum of Islamic Art which houses the world’s largest collection of Islamic art and artefacts from different periods of Islamic history. Overnight Cairo (B, L)
Tuesday 17 October – Beni Hasan
We depart Cairo by coach for the four-hour trip to Minya, 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)
Wednesday 18 October – 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, L, D)
Thursday 19 October – 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, L, D)
Friday 20 October – Abydos
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 a local restaurant. Overnight Luxor (B, PL, D)
Saturday 21 October – Valley of the Kings
Crossing by boat to the West Bank our first stop is the Colossi of Memnon. These two eighteen-metre-high stone statues represent the Pharaoh Amunhotep III and once guarded his memorial temple. We continue into the Valley of the Kings and explore some of the 63 known tombs built for the pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom. Following lunch, we visit the Ramesseum, built over 30 years, with its fallen colossus of Rameses II. We return to the East Bank by coach and boat, this evening Lucia will give a talk. Overnight Luxor. (B, L)
Sunday 22 October – Temple of Hatshepsut
Returning across the Nile we visit 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. Just before lunch we visit Deir el-Medina, the village for the workers who constructed the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. After lunch, 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 and elsewhere. Lucia will give a talk this evening following our return to the East Bank. Overnight Luxor. (B, L)
Monday 23 October – Karnak Temple & the Luxor Museum
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. Just before lunch 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. We board our cruise boat, our base for the next four days. In the afternoon, our tour will take us 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 built by Alexander the Great at the rear and remnants of a Coptic Church and a still functioning mosque, demonstrating the temple has been in almost continuous use up until the present day. Dinner this evening is on board our cruise boat. Overnight Nile cruise. (B, L, D)
Tuesday 24 October – Valley of the Queens
Our touring in Luxor concludes at the Valley of the Queens, visiting the New Kingdom of queen and princes including Queen Nefertari’s tomb. Returning to our ship for lunch, we cast off from the banks and cruise down the Nile for the remainder of the day. Overnight Nile cruise. (B, L, D)
Wednesday 25 October – Edfu and Kom Ombo
This morning we go ashore to visit the Temple of Horus at Edfu. This temple is very dramatic and quite extensive, with many reliefs and a 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, 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 October – 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 the airport and fly back to Aswan. This afternoon we visit the Nubian Museum before dinner onboard. Overnight Nile cruise (B, L, D)
Friday 27 October – Temple of Philae and Aswan Dam
We disembark our cruise and our tour 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 which has so affected the ancient sites in the region, and life in Egypt more generally. After lunch we make our way to the airport to board our flight to Cairo. Tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner in the hotel. Overnight Nile Cairo (B, L, D)
Saturday 28 October – 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.”