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 the ruins of Memphis where to see the colossus of Ramesses II. At Saqqara we explore the 3rd Dynasty Step Pyramid of Djoser, the pyramid of Tety and the painted mastabas of the 6th. 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.
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. We visit Deir el Bahri, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, see Howard Carter's House and explore the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. We spend a day at Karnak exploring the fascinating history of the temple and then see the fabulous collection of artefacts in the Luxor Museum. 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 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, explore the romantic Temple of Isis at Philae and visit the Aswan High Dam. We then see the majestic rock cut temples of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel and see the Sound and Light Show. We return to Aswan where we sail a felucca round the beautiful islands and visit the Monastery of St Simeon. We fly back to Cairo. 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 also have 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: Memphis - Saqqara Pyramids and tombs
Today we visit the ruins of Memphis where we see the colossal statue of Ramesses the Great in the local museum. We then visit 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. 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. In the afternoon we fly to Luxor and check into our hotel. Overnight Luxor.
Day 4: Luxor Temple - Luxor markets - free time
In the morning we visit Luxor Temple, located in the heart of the modern city. We explore this very photogenic monument including Ramesses II's dramatic scenes of the Battle of Kadesh on the front pylons. In the afternoon there is free time to relax or explore the markets of Luxor. Overnight Luxor.
The sacred lake of Karnak
The village of the workmen at Deir el Medina
Day 5: Deir el-Bahri - Carter's House - Valley of the Kings
In the morning visit 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 visiting Howard Carter's House. Now a memorial to Carter's life, we see the fascinating replica of Tutankhamun's tomb. We head to the Valley of the Kings where we see three of the royal tombs of the New Kingdom (the real Tomb of Tutankhamun is an optional extra). Overnight Luxor.
Day 6: Karnak Temple - Luxor Museum
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. We explore see the festival hall of Tuthmosis III, and the small Temple of Ptah. In the afternoon we visit the Luxor Museum, which contains magnificent objects discovered in the local area, including objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun. A highlight is the cache of statues discovered in Luxor Temple. Overnight Luxor.
Day 7: 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.
Day 8: 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 - we 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 splendour of the Ramesseum
The avenue of sphinxes at Luxor Temple
Day 9: 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 our cruise to Kom Ombo, where the ruins of the Ptolemaic Temple of Sobek are dramatically set beside the River Nile. Overnight Nile cruise boat.
The Temple of Horus at Edfu
Luxury cruise down the Nile
Day 10: Granite Quarries - The Island of Philae - Aswan High Dam
In the morning we leave the cruise boat and visit the fascinating granite quarries of Aswan where we see the remarkable unfinished obelisk which is still embedded in the bedrock. We then take a small motor boat to the beautiful ruins of Philae, cult place of Isis. After lunch we see the Aswan High Dam, built in the 1960's and 70's to control the flooding of the Nile. We drive across the desert to Abu Simbel town and check into our hotel. Overnight Abu Simbel.
Day 11: Abu Simbel - Sound and Light Show
This morning we explore the stunning rock cut temples of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel. Carved into the Nubian sandstone, the two temples were moved in the 1960's with the construction of the Aswan High Dam. In the afternoon there is some free time to relax before we see the beautiful Sound and Light Show at Abu Simbel in the evening. Overnight Abu Simbel
The Temple of Isis on Philae Island
The mosque of Mohamed Ali Pasha in the citadel
Day 12: Aswan - Felucca sailboat ride - Monastery of St Simeon
In the morning we drive across the desert to Aswan. We spend the day on a felucca sailboat exploring the beautiful islands of Aswan. This includes a stop to visit the Botanical gardens on Kitchener's Island. We also ride a camel (or take a short walk) to the 10th Century Monastery of St Simeon located in the desert west of Aswan. In the late afternoon we fly to Cairo. Overnight Cairo.
Day 13: The Cairo Museum
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 café. In the afternoon there is free time for exploring other parts of the museum's enormous collection. Overnight Cairo.
Day 14: Islamic Cairo
This morning 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. There is time in the Khan el-Khalili markets for last minute shopping. We head to Cairo International Airport for our flight to Australia in the late 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.