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.
Explore Old Kingdom sites and New Kingdom tombs at Saqqara, including the Step Pyramid of Djoser
Admire Giza’s iconic Great Pyramid and the Sphinx
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. Fly to Abu Simbel and visit the Nubian Museum and Elephantine Island.
Days 17–18: Visit the Temple of Philae, Aswan Dam and on to Cairo for departure.
The tour begins and ends at the hotel in Cairo. Emirates and Etihad Airlines offer 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.
Thursday 21 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 22 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 are able to go inside the pyramid of the great king Unas to see the earliest known pyramid texts. After lunch, we visit the Museum of Imhotep, the mastaba tomb of Mereruka and the New Kingdom temple-tombs of Maya, Tutankhamun’s treasurer, and his general, Horemheb. We also see 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 23 January: Pyramids of all shapes and sizes
Today 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. 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)
Sunday 24 January: 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)
Monday 25 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 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)
Tuesday 26 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 27 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 28 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 the hotel. Overnight Luxor (B, PL, D)
Friday 29 January: Valley of the Kings
Crossing by boat to the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings, we explore some of the 63 known tombs built for the pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom and 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. Following lunch, we 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 three New Kingdom tombs of a queen and princes in the Valley of the Queens. Returning to the East Bank by coach and boat, the evening is at leisure. Overnight Luxor. (B, L)
Saturday 30 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. The two eighteen-metre-high stone statues forming Colossi of Memnon represent the Pharaoh Amonhotep III and once guarded his memorial temple. We then 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)
Sunday 31 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 1 February: Karnak Temple & 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. 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 2 February: 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 built by 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 3 February: 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 and falcon-headed god, Horus the Elder. We continue sailing to Aswan this afternoon. Overnight Nile cruise. (B, L, D)
Thursday 4 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 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 5 February: Nobles Tombs
We disembark our cruise and travel by boat to Qubbet el-Hawa a large dune on the cliffs opposite Aswan. 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. We also visit temple sites on Elephantine Island including the Temple of Khnum and Satet. The afternoon is at leisure before Lucia gives a final talk in the hotel this evening. Overnight Aswan (B)
Saturday 6 February: Temple of Philae and Aswan Dam
Our 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. After lunch, we fly on to Cairo for our farewell dinner this evening. Overnight Cairo. (B, L, D)
Sunday 7 February: 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.”
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, taxis or public transport are 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
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
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?
Our 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
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