Pyramids & Temples Alive
Oct 30 - Nov 11, 2018
Day 1 Arrive Cairo and transfer to hotel:
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel - the beautiful and central Ramses Hilton hotel - directly across the motorway from Cairo's Egyptian Museum. For those who arrive early, you can choose to relax and sip a cocktail in the lounge - or there will be an optional visit ($30US) to see a fascinating glimpse of modern Cairo: El Seed's mural - the stunning work of a French Tunisian artist that covers almost 50 buildings and is only visible from a certain point of the Mokattam Mountain. This Cairo excursion will also venture behind the famous Zabbalin village (of the famous garbage collectors of Cairo) to see the amazing monastery of Saint Simon the Tanner - a vast open space lying in the bosom of the hills, with dramatic coloured carvings all over the mountain.
The tour will officially begin in early evening with a celebratory welcome reception and introductions at the hotel. After the reception, our Egyptologist, Laura Ranieri, will present a brief introduction to Egypt and a sneak peek into the amazing museum(s) we will visit tomorrow.
Overnight Ramses Hilton
Day 2 The Egyptian Museum and Medieval Cairo:
After breakfast, we will set off to visit the Egyptian Museum, home to many of the greatest treasures of ancient history. We will tour the highlights, including Tutankhamen's golden mask, the stunning colossi of Amenhotep III, and granite sarcophagi/statues of the Old Kingdom. Beyond the well-known masterpieces you will also find rooms of opulent jewelry, ornate coffins, animal mummies - and strange and ancient curiosities. A microcosm of thousands of years of Egyptian art and history in a beautiful Victorian building. You will also have the option of visiting the two rooms of fascinating royal mummies (added cost 100EGP). Imagine being face to face with Ramses the Great!
After lunch, we will visit what is possibly the greatest Islamic building in Egypt: The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan. This magical place is one of the largest mosques in the world and certainly the finest piece of early-Mamluk architecture dating to 1363 BCE. We will venture in to feel the centuries of devotion still residing here - and perhaps even hear the stunning voice of the Muezzin (the one appointed to sing call to prayer).
Just outside the mosque is the beginning of Khan el Khalili market - an exotic medieval souk where few things have changed over centuries. We will take stroll through the colour and chaos of this 13th century covered marketplace where you can still see vendors plying traditional crafts - blacksmiths, cotton weavers, bread-makers, wood workers. Shop and haggle for exotic gifts and souvenirs. Or try some mint tea at a cafe. There may also be an option - for adventurous souls - to climb up Bab Zuweylah (one of the ancient minarets) to see views of the city.
After this very busy day, we will return to the hotel for an evening at leisure. Our Egyptologist Laura will lead a brief and lively chat on the wonders of the pyramids.
Overnight Ramses Hilton B, L
Day 3 The Giza Pyramids and Dance Show Evening:
Bright and early after breakfast, we will set off to Giza. The last surviving of the Seven Wonders of the world, the Great Pyramid of Giza is perhaps the most famous tourist site in the world. The Giza plateau itself, with its three major pyramids plus Queen's pyramids, ancient mastabas, and the Sphinx, is a much-anticipated highlight of any trip. We will arrive early to better ensure coveted entrance inside the Great pyramid of Cheops. If, however, Cheops entrance is not available, we will tour inside either the 2nd or 3rd pyramid. While on the plateau, we will also visit the solar boat museum and the extraordinary Sphinx. We will stop for lunch in Giza (not included) - with views of the Sphinx.
In the afternoon we will return to the hotel for rest and relaxation - a chance to contemplate the wonders of the morning. Late afternoon or early evening Laura will give an optional 20 minute talk on Egypt in the Old Kingdom - in preparation for tomorrow's activities. In the evening, we have a special excursion - dinner cruise to experience the mysticism and beauty of a traditional Sufi and belly dancing show.
Overnight Giza Movenpick or similar, B
Day 4 Sakkara and the Step Pyramid & Dahshur pyramids:
We will enjoy an intensive full day exploring Sakkara - the great necropolis of the Old Kingdom. This rich archaeological site is most notably the location of Djoser's Step Pyramid, the oldest in Egypt. Our day begins at the modern Imhotep Museum, where we'll view some rare old kingdom relics, such as cobra reliefs, ancient harps, surgical instruments and the Old Kingdom mummy of King Merenre. We will then proceed to see Old Kingdom tombs, such as the breathtaking Mereruke, the mastaba of Ti, the tomb of Ptahotep (tombs opening and closures change, we will see tombs that are currently open at the time) - and also enter into the Pyramid of Teti.
Next, we will tour the Saqqara complex, including the Step pyramid itself, Djoser's court and the causeway.
We will have a beautiful lunch break at a peaceful country resort, the Sakkara Palms, where we will dine by the pool on fresh Egyptian fare.
In the afternoon we visit two more of the earliest pyramids in Egypt: the Bent, and the impressive and intact Red, both built by Senefru c. 2600 BCE. The Bent retains most of it casing stones. Entrance to the Red will be optional - and for the fit and adventurous minded only as it is an athletic climb. This Dahshur region presents a wonderful opportunity for pyramid exploration far from the crowds of Giza.
Overnight Giza Movenpick or similar, B Optional sound and light show at the Pyramids - $30
Day 5 The Beauty of Aswan and Upper Egypt:
After breakfast we will check out of our hotel and transfer to the airport for our flight to Aswan. The most southerly town in Egypt, Aswan is a beautiful place where the Nile widens and there are many islands to explore by Felucca (sailboat). After checking in at the hotel we will take a felucca trip to visit the rock-cut tombs of Qubbet el Hawa - enjoying the ibis birds and exotic flora along the way. Cut into the high cliffs across the river from the modern city of Aswan, Qubbet el Hawa is the site of an elite Old Kingdom cemetery. You'll enjoy breathtaking vistas as you explore the seldom-visited tombs of the high officials - a real off-the-beaten track experience. "Autobiographies" carved into their facades provide fascinating details of the lives of these men, several of whom led trading and military expeditions south into Nubia.
After a lunch break (optional) we will visit the famous Nubian museum, dedicated to the history of the "land of gold" (Nubia's meaning in hieroglyphs) - the area that stretches from Aswan in the north through the Sudan in the south. Designed as an innovative interpretation of traditional Nubian architecture - with life-size models bringing the local culture to life - it is a highlight of any Aswan visit - and won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2001.
In the evening, why not visit the vibrant Aswan spice market and barter for some exotic frankincense, indigo or coriander - an experience not to be missed.
Overnight Movenpick hotel or similar B
Day 6 Optional Abu Simbel and Relaxation:
Today you will have the highly-recommended option of joining an early morning (pre-breakfast) flight to the breathtaking temples of Abu Simbel: arguably the most impressive in Egypt. Built by the greatest of the pharaohs, Ramses II, these huge rock-cut temples marked the southern boundary of the Egyptian Empire with Nubia at the peak of its power during the New Kingdom. They were meant to convey the power of Egypt's rulers to anyone who laid eyes upon them. The great statues of Ramses and his wife Nefertari that adorn their facades arel awe-inspiring - and the four statues guarding the doorway to the larger of these temples are the largest sculptures that survive from the Pharaonic era. After breakfast the day is yours. Options are to take a felucca ride to explore the natural paradise of the botanical gardens (Kitcheners island), relax by the Movenpick's stunning pool, watching the ibis birds - or visit the great Aga Khan Mausoleum. Perhaps a final trip to the spice market and souk? In the evening we will have an optional excursion to the wondrous sound and light show at Philae Temple.
Overnight Movenpick hotel, Aswan. B.
Day 7 Aswan Dam and Philae Temple:
Early risers: why not join us for a pre-breakfast camel ride (optional) to a medieval Christian monastery - a very sacred place, perched atop a sandy hill. After breakfast we will visit the great Aswan dam, an engineering marvel that changed the course of life along the Nile. We will also see the great unfinished obelisk of Hatshepsut and the granite quarries before boarding our beautiful new 5-star cruise ship The Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise, which will be our home on the river during our 4-day journey to Luxor.
Enjoy a sumptuous lunch on board. In the afternoon, visit the great temple of Isis on Philae island, the last operational temple in Egypt in which Egyptians worshipped for centuries until the Roman Emperor Justinian closed its doors in the 6th Century CE. The entire temple - with its beautiful statuary and reliefs was moved onto this island in the 1970s to preserve it from submersion after the creation of the new Aswan dam. Return to your boat for a leisurely dinner and show.
Overnight Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise B, L, D
Day 8 Ptolemaic Masterpieces:
After breakfast, we will visit the unusual double temple of Kom Ombo dating from Ptolemaic times, around 100 BCE. The southern half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world with Hathor and Khonsu. Meanwhile, the northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder. We can also visit the crocodile mummy museum.
Lunch on board.
We sail downstream (north) to Edfu, where we will visit Edfu Temple in the afternoon. This temple is the most complete in Egypt - and devoted to the hawk god Horus.
We return to the ship for dinner. After a relaxing meal, our Egyptologist Laura will provide an engaging presentation on death, afterlife and the West Bank in preparation for our Valley of the Kings visit tomorrow. Sail to
Luxor Overnight Luxor
Overnight Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise B, L, D
Day 9 Luxor and The Valley of the Kings:
After breakfast, we will visit the famous West bank - land of the dead - including the great rock cut tombs of the Valley of the Kings, with their vibrant colours and wonderful stories. Here you will have a chance to enter into three of the tombs, based on what is open. We will also visit the gigantic Colossi of Memnon, gateway to the temple of Amenhotep III, the largest mortuary temple complex on the west bank. We will also visit the world-famous Queen Hatshepsut temple - nestled into the pink mountains - Meret Seger - meaning "she who loves silence." This was the great temple of the woman who would be king - one of Egypt's greatest builders in the New Kingdom.
Return to the ship for lunch on board. In the afternoon, why not visit the beautiful Luxor Museum (optional) where you can see colossal statues, treasures and the mummies of the great Ahmose and Ramses I.
Dinner on board the cruise ship. Overnight Luxor
Overnight Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise B, L, D
Day 10 East Bank and Luxor Temple:
Today you have an optional early morning balloon trip. Rise before the sun and soar like Horus in a beautiful balloon, gliding high above the great monuments, mountains and green agricultural fields (added cost $120USD).
Disembark and transfer the beautiful Steigenberger Nile Palace hotel in Luxor. The rest of your day will be free to explore the beautiful east bank of Luxor on your own - check out the souk, Mummification Museum or the famous Aboudi bookstore. East bank of Luxor is a wonderful place to walk along the cornice, go jewelry shopping (gold and silver) or take a caleche (horse and carriage) ride.
As the sun slowly dips, we will then make our way to the very romantic Luxor Temple, with its massive colossi and beautiful temple reliefs. See the great obelisks, colossi and fall under the spell of Ramses, Hatshepsut and Amenhotep III. After our temple visit, we will have an optional visit to the Old Winter Palace Hotel (where Agatha Christie penned her novels and Carter had his G&T's) to have a drink in the famous library bar.
Overnight Steigenberger Nile Palace Hotel B
Day 11 Denderah and Abydos Temple, Middle Egypt:
After breakfast, hop onboard our air-conditioned motor coach to take a scenic drive north to rural middle Egypt. Today we will visit two of the greatest temples in Egypt - and ones not always on the mainstream travellers' itinerary. These have also been two powerful spiritual centres favoured by pilgrims for millennia. We will take a brief stroll to visit the cenotaph-temple of Seti I. The carvings within are probably the most symmetrically beautiful ever created in Egypt. Explore seven stunning shrines - each to a different god, including Ptah, who was said to have breathed and thought the universe into existence. Explore behind the temple to find the eerie Osirium - mythical burial grounds of the god Osiris - and a little-visited temple of Rameses II.
Next we will have about an hour's drive south to visit the Temple of Hathor at Denderah built during Ptolemaic and Roman times - the most complete of Egypt's ancient temples and one of the best restored. This is where Cleopatra possibly honeymooned with Julius Caesar - and you can see her image at the back. The ceiling of vibrant blue and greens shows sky goddess Nut (pronounced: Noot) swallowing the sun and giving birth to the new day. This is also a very rare two story temple where the New Years Day Festival was celebrated - with Hathor's union with Horus as the new day sun. Venture deep into the crypt to see strange reliefs. Go up on the roof to see the site of the fascinating zodiac ceiling - the oldest in the world.
Overnight Steigenberger Nile Palace, Luxor. B, L
Day 12 The magnificence of Karnak:
After breakfast and a brief Egyptology talk by Laura, we will hop into caleches (horse and carriages) to travel to north Luxor to see the great temple of Karnak. The largest religious structure in the world, Karnak temple was built over a period of 3000 years by almost every Pharaoh of Egypt from the Middle Kingdom onwards. Marvel at the great Avenue of the Sphinxes, Hatshepsut's obelisk - and the great Hypostyle Hall of Ramses the Great and his father Seti I. We'll also visit the sacred lake and zoological gardens (engraved in stone) of Thuthmosis III.
After lunch (on your own) you can enjoy a final afternoon of relaxing or shopping.
In the evening, enjoy a beautiful farewell dinner at a traditional local restaurant.
Overnight Steigenberger Nile Palace, Luxor. B, D
Day 13 Tour ends:
Check out of hotel for your transfer home - or continue your travels on one of our Egypt or Jordan extensions. B
Two departures to chose from:
Nov 21 - Dec 3, 2017 & Oct 30 - Nov 11, 2018
Tour cost $3195 PP USD based on twin share - Single supplement $750USD for 2017 departure. $3,395USD per person based on twin share - Single supplement $875USD for 2018 departure.
Deposit of $300USD is required at time of booking.
Final due by Sep 21, 17 for 2017 tour. Final due Aug 30, 18 for 2018 tour.
Laura Ranieri is a professional writer, the founder of Ancient Egypt Alive, and an Egyptologist, from the University of Toronto. She has written and lectured in Canada and the United States on ancient Egypt. Together with Your Journey, she developed the 2012 Archaeology Alive Tour & the 2016 Undiscovered Egypt tours. Laura has also produced short documentaries on the country and has excavated in Bulgaria at a classical Greek site and in Egypt at Amarna (Akenaten's kingdom) and South Asasif (west bank of Luxor). She began her career as an actress and travel TV show host, and is passionate about bringing the history of Ancient Egypt Alive to the general public.
- 02 nights accommodation in Cairo at Ramses Hilton or similar on BB Basis.
- 02 nights accommodation in Giza at Movenpick or similar on BB Basis.
- 02 nights accommodation in Aswan at Movenpick Aswan or similar on BB Basis.
- 03 nights accommodation on board of M/S Amwaj Nile cruise or similar on FB Basis.
- 03 nights accommodation in Luxor at Steigenberger Luxor hotel or similar on BB Basis.
- All transfers throughout with air conditioned private bus
- Entrance fees with entry as mentioned
- Private English speaking guide throughout
- 12 breakfast, 6 lunches, 4 dinners
- 1 bottle of mineral water everyday
- Service charge and taxes
- includes Cairo Aswan flight
- Entry visa
- International flight ticket
- Insurance medical or cancellation - both recommended
- Tipping and personal expenses
- 76 days or more deposit is non refundable
- 75-60 days prior to departure 25% is non-refundable
- 59-31 days prior to departure 50% is non-refundable
- 30 days or less prior to departure 100% non-refundable