The glorious Temple of Amun at Karnak
"Karnak ... it is a place that has been much written about and often painted; but of which no writing and no art can convey more than a dwarfed and pallid impression. To describe it, in the sense of building up a recognisable image by means of words, is impossible. The scale is too vast; the effect too tremendous; the sense of one's own dumbness, and littleness, and incapacity, too complete and crushing. It is a place that strikes you into silence; that empties you, as it were, not only of words, but of ideas ...".
Amelia B Edwards, from 'One Thousand Miles up the Nile'.
This 2-week study tour of Egypt provides an introduction to the archaeology and history of Egypt. Our tour begins in Cairo with a visit to Saqqara where we explore the 3rd Dynasty Step Pyramid of Djoser. We also visit the painted mastabas of the 6th Dynasty, and visit the ruins of Memphis to see the colossus of Ramesses II. The next day we explore the Pyramids of Giza and see the superbly preserved cedar boat of King Khufu. In the afternoon we explore the Valley temple of Khafre and get up close to the sphinx. A day is then set aside to wander through the wonderful collection of artefacts in the Cairo Museum as we trace the history of Egypt through its sculpture and reliefs.
We fly to Luxor and spend 5 days exploring the wonderful monuments in the area. Our stay in Luxor begins with a visit to majestic Luxor Temple. We stroll through the Luxor markets looking for bargains and then see the fabulous collection of artefacts in the Luxor Museum. We take an easy walk across the Theban Hills to see the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. We spend a day at Karnak exploring the fascinating history of the temple. On the west bank of Thebes we visit the village of the workmen known as Deir el Medina, and see the wonderful painted tombs of the nobles. We also explore the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses II known as the Ramesseum.
Our stay in Luxor concludes with a visit to Medinet Habu, the grand mortuary temple of Ramesses III. We join our luxury Nile cruise which will take us south toward Aswan. En route we stop to see the impressive, intact Ptolemaic Temple of Horus at Edfu, and the ruins of the Temple of Sobek at Kom Ombo.
In Aswan we see the granite quarries which include the remains of an abandoned obelisk, visit the Aswan High Dam, and explore the romantic Temple of Isis at Philae. We then fly down to see the majestic rock cut temples of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel. We fly back to Cairo for a day exploring some highlights of the mediaeval Old City. This includes the Mosque of Sultan Hasan, the grandest mosque of the 14th Century.
The beauty of the Nile at Luxor!
ITINERARY*Day 1: Depart Australia
Our flight leaves Australia with a short stopover. We arrive in Cairo on the evening of the same day. Overnight Cairo.
Day 2: Saqqara Pyramids and tombs - Memphis
Today we drive to Saqqara where we see the remarkable 3rd Dynasty Step Pyramid of King Djoser. We also explore the well preserved Old Kingdom mastaba tombs of Mereruka and Kagemni, and the 6th Dynasty Pyramid of King Tety. After lunch we visit the ruins of Memphis where we see the colossal statue of Ramesses the Great in the local museum. In the afternoon there is time to rest and relax. Overnight Cairo.
The pyramids of Giza
The Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri
Day 3: Giza pyramids
In the morning we visit Giza where we see the Pyramids of the 4th Dynasty. We see the remarkable cedar boat of Khufu and then visit the pyramid of Khafre. We have lunch near Giza and then explore Khafre's impressive Valley Temple and see the Sphinx. Overnight Cairo.
Day 4: The Cairo Museum - fly to Luxor
The day is set aside for a guided tour of the Cairo Museum. We see the statues and reliefs from the Old Kingdom through to the Ramesside Period including the treasures of Tutankhamun. Lunch takes place in a nearby cafť. In the afternoon there is free time for exploring other parts of the museumís enormous collection. We fly to Luxor in the early evening and check into our hotel. Overnight Luxor.
The sacred lake of Karnak
The village of the workmen at Deir el Medina
Day 5: Luxor Temple - afternoon in the markets - Luxor Museum
In the morning we visit Luxor Temple, located in the heart of the modern city. We explore this very photogenic monument including Ramesses IIís dramatic scenes of the Battle of Kadesh on the front pylons. In the afternoon there is free time to relax of explore the markets of Luxor. We then visit the fascinating Luxor Museum, which contains magnificent objects discovered in the local area, including objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun. A highlight is the cache of well preserved statues discovered in Luxor Temple. Overnight Luxor.
Day 6: Theban Hills walk - Deir el-Bahri - Valley of the Kings
In the morning we take an easy walk across the Theban Hills for a spectacular view over the Nile Valley. Our walk takes us to the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, including an opportunity to view the newly reconstructed Third Terrace. We have lunch in a local cafe before travelling by bus to the Valley of the Kings. Here we see three of the royal tombs of the New Kingdom including the tomb of Merenptah (the Tomb of Tutankhamun is an optional extra). Overnight Luxor.
Day 7: Karnak Temple - free afternoon
The morning is set aside to explore the ruins of the Temple of Karnak. We visit the forecourt and Hypostyle Hall, before wandering around the impressive shrine. In the afternoon we see the festival hall of Tuthmosis III, the Temple of Ptah and the little-visited Ramesside Temple of the Moon God Khonsu. In the afternoon there is free time to revisit Luxor markets or have a rest. Overnight Luxor.
Day 8: Deir el-Medina - Tombs of the Nobles - Ramesseum
In the morning we visit Deir el-Medina, the ancient village of the workmen who cut the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. We explore the village and the superb painted tombs of Senejdem and Inherkau. We then see a number of the other painted tombs in the so-called 'Valley of the Nobles' including the 18th Dynasty tomb of Ramose. The afternoon is spent at the impressive mortuary temple of Ramesses II, known today as the Ramesseum. We check into our luxury Nile cruise boat.
The splendour of the Ramesseum
The avenue of sphinxes at Luxor Temple
Day 9: Medinet Habu - Nile cruise
In the morning we see the monumental mortuary temple of Ramesses III known today as Medinet Habu. This is the best preserved of the royal funerary temples and contains superb painted scenes from the 20th Dynasty. In the afternoon we begin our luxury Nile cruise boat - sail upstream towards Edfu. We relax and watch scenes of village life, fishermen on the river and birdlife en route. Our journey takes us through the lock at Esna in the evening. Overnight Nile cruise boat.
The Temple of Horus at Edfu
Luxury cruise down the Nile
Day 10: Edfu and Kom Ombo Temples - Nile cruise
In the morning we see the remarkable Ptolemaic Temple of Horus at Edfu. Completed in the period of Cleopatra, Edfu temple is richly decorated with scenes and inscriptions. From here we continue on to Kom Ombo, where the ruins of the Ptolemaic Temple of Sobek are dramatically set beside the River Nile. Overnight Nile cruise boat.
Day 11: Granite Quarries - Aswan High Dam - The Island of Philae
In the morning we visit the fascinating granite quarries of Aswan and see the remarkable unfinished obelisk which is still embedded in the bedrock. From here we travel to the Aswan High Dam, built in the 1960ís and 70ís to control the flooding of the Nile. In the afternoon we head by motor boat to the beautiful ruins of Philae, cult place of Isis. We fly to Abu Simbel and check into our hotel. Overnight Abu Simbel.
The Temple of Isis on Philae Island
The mosque of Mohamed Ali Pasha in the citadel
Day 12: Abu Simbel
This morning we explore the stunning rock cut temples of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel. Carved into the Nubian sandstone, two temples were moved in the 1960s with the construction of the Aswan High Dam. In the afternoon we fly to Cairo. Overnight Cairo.
Day 13: Islamic Cairo
Today we tour the Old City of Cairo and see the awe inspiring buildings of the medieval Islamic Period. Highlights include the monumental 19th Century Mosque of Mohamed Ali in the Citadel of Saladin and the impressive 14th Century Mosque of Sultan Hassan. The day ends in the Khan el-Khalili markets with time set aside for last minute shopping. Overnight Cairo.
Day 14: Depart Cairo
The morning is free time to relax and finish packing. We depart Cairo International Airport for our flight to Australia in the afternoon.
Day 15: Arrive in Australia
We arrive back in Australia in the afternoon.
* Please note that the Company reserves the right to make alterations to the itinerary in the period up to 60 days prior to a tour departure. The itinerary may also be subject to minor re-arrangement due to the scheduling of the operators and availability of access. If this occurs, the Company will endeavour to provide a comparable alternative.