Explore 4000 years of history in the land of pharaohs, rock-cut tombs, pyramids and magnificent temples. This 18-day tour travels the full length of the Nile Valley visiting awe-inspiring sites from one of the world’s most iconic civilisations, such as the pyramids of Giza, the great museums of Cairo, the Temple of Karnak and Luxor. The tour also takes in some rarely-visited sites, including a tour of the active excavations at Middle Kingdom Amarna – Akhenaten and Nefertiti’s capital – and cruises up the Nile from Luxor to Aswan visiting the temples of Upper Egypt.
The 4000-year-old history of one of the world’s most iconic civilisations
The intriguing world of the pharaohs: mummies, funerary rituals and mysterious tombs
The daily lives of ordinary people revealed at rarely visited non-royal tombs
The life-giving waters of the Nile in myth and history
Incredible feats of engineering undertaken by the ancients, which remain difficult to explain today
The history of archaeology, from tomb-robbing to Napoleon, Carter and modern science
Explore Old Kingdom sites and New Kingdom tombs at Saqqara, including the Step Pyramid of Djoser
Admire Giza’s iconic Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and Solar Boat Museum
Experience Middle Kingdom sites in Amarna, rarely visited by tourists, with visits to working archaeological sites
Visit Luxor’s museums and the Valley of the Kings and Nobles, the Luxor Museum and Karnak Temple
Cruising the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, stopping at temples and sites along the journey
Marvel at the Ramses II Temple at Abu Simbel
Days 1–4: Arrive Cairo and explore the museums, pyramids and tombs at Saqqara and Giza.
Days 5–7: Drive to Minya and see Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan, Amarna and Abydos.
Days 8–11: Travel to Luxor and visit the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Ramesseum.
Days 12–14: Visit Karnak Temple and the Luxor Museum. Cruise up the Nile, stopping at Luxor Temple, Edfu and Kom Ombo.
Days 15–16: Arrive in Aswan and visit the Temple of Philae, Aswan Dam and Elephantine Island.
Days 17–18: Fly to Abu Simbel and on to Cairo for departure.
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
Emirates and Etihad have daily flights from Australia to Cairo. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Thursday 17 January: 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)
Friday 18 January: 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 visit the Museum of Imhotep and go inside the pyramids of the great kings Unas and Teti to see the pyramid texts. After lunch, we visit the mastaba tomb of Mereruka or the powerful vizier Kagemni, and the New Kingdom tombs of Maya, Tutankhamun’s treasurer, and his general, Horemheb. We also see the recently opened tomb of Maia, Tutankhamun’s wet nurse, 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 Khan al-Khalili restaurant. Overnight Cairo (B, L, D)
Saturday 19 January: Pyramids of all shapes and sizes
Today 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. After lunch in Giza 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. Lucia will give a talk in the hotel this evening. Overnight Cairo (B, L)
Sunday 20 January: Coptic Cairo and the Egyptian Museum
This morning we visit the Egyptian Museum, Cairo’s vast treasure trove of antiquities from all periods of Egyptian history including the wondrous finds from Tutankhamun’s tomb. In the afternoon, we visit the Coptic Museum which houses the world’s largest and most important collection of Coptic art and artefacts. We also visit the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Egypt’s oldest with its unique Andalusian influenced minaret, and the adjacent Gayer-Andersen Museum noted for its various rooms decorated in a variety of oriental and Arab styles. Overnight Cairo (B)
Monday 21 January: 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 Middle Kingdom Provincial Governors or Nomarchs at Bani 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)
Tuesday 22 January: 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 completely 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)
Wednesday 23 January: 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)
Thursday 24 January: 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)
Friday 25 January: 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 Amonhotep 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. The largest tomb in the Valley of the Queens is that 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. Following lunch, we visit the house where Howard Carter lived during his search for Tutankhamun’s tomb. It has been restored and decorated with pictures and tools from the excavation. Returning to the East Bank by coach and boat, the evening is at leisure. Overnight Luxor. (B, L)
Saturday 26 January: Temple of Hatshepsut
Returning across the Nile we visit Deir el-Medina, the village for the workers who constructed the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. From 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. Lucia will give a talk this evening following our return to the East Bank. Overnight Luxor. (B, L)
Sunday 27 January: The Ramesseum and Medinet Habu
This morning 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 visit the Ramesseum, built over 30 years, with its fallen colossus of Rameses II. After lunch, we finish the afternoon with a visit to the Tombs of the Nobles where we see three interesting tombs of high ranking 18th Dynasty officials. Lucia will give a talk in the hotel this evening. Overnight Luxor. (B, L)
Monday 28 January: Karnak Temple and 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 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. Dinner this evening is on board our cruise boat. Overnight Nile cruise. (B. L.D)
Tuesday 29 January: Luxor Temple
Our touring in Luxor concludes at 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 a well-preserved mosque, demonstrating the temple has been in almost continuous use up until the present day. 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 30 January: 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 31 January: 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. We return to the boat for lunch, before checking into our Aswan hotel on Elephantine Island. Overnight Nile Cruise (B, L, D)
Friday 1 February: Nobles tombs and Nubian Museum
This morning we travel by boat to Qubbet el-Hawa a large dune on the cliffs opposite Aswan close to Kitchener’s Island. Here, we visit the Old and Middle Kingdom Tombs of the Nobles where six decorated tombs of governors and other dignitaries are open to the public. Back on Elephantine Island we visit temple sites including the Temple of Khnum. After lunch we visit the fascinating Nubian Museum to learn about the civilisation, history and culture of the Nubian people from Prehistoric times to the present. Lucia will give a final talk in the hotel this evening. Overnight Aswan (B, L)
Saturday 2 February: 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 on to Cairo for our farewell dinner this evening. Overnight Cairo. (B, L, D)
Sunday 3 February: Depart
The tour concludes after breakfast.
Is a UK-based Egyptologist with a wealth of experience as an educator, researcher, archaeologist and museum curator. She has lead regular tours to Egypt since 1994.
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.”
Hotels on this tour will all be five-star with the exception of our accommodation in Minya and Abydos. Hotels will be confirmed for this tour by the end of March.
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.