The Marvels of Egypt with Margaret Mountford
The magnificent country of Egypt is home to some of history’s most incredible architecture, archaeology, and artifacts. From the Great Pyramids of Giza to legendary temples and ornate tombs, the extraordinary sites we visit on this tour are set among jaw-dropping desert landscapes. Marvel at ancient construction that proves how boundless human capability truly is, discover the stories behind glyph-covered walls in subterranean burial chambers and pore over captivating exhibits in some of the country’s best museums.
The second half of our journey will be by water as we embark upon a luxurious Nile cruise aboard the MS Farah. This will enable us to visit as many sites as our ten-day tour allows while experiencing Egypt from two very different perspectives.
Not only is this tour led by our fantastic guide lecturer Lucia Gahlin, we will also be joined by a very special guest, Margaret Mountford. Perhaps most widely known for her role as an advisor to Lord Alan Sugar in the BBC series The Apprentice, she has a PhD in Papyrology from University College London and will lead a guided tour on papyrus as well as give a fascinating talk during her time on this adventure.
- Private access to the intriguing interior of the Great Pyramid
Discover royal chambers and the incredible grand gallery inside this ancient wonder. This is a privileged chance to see the Great Pyramid up close and get a real sense of how it was constructed.
- An after-hours tour of Cairo’s Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
Home to an array of unbelievable treasures, including Tutankhamun’s funerary mask and the Merneptah Stele engraving, this museum boasts over 120,000 ancient Egyptian artefacts and the building was designed by French architect Marcel Dourgnon.
- Enjoy three nights in a fabulous hotel in Cairo
The Mena House Hotel has played host to celebrities, heads of state, kings and emperors alike over the years. Surrounded by 40 acres of lush gardens, it has a royal history rarely and its interior is decorated with antiques, original works of art and handcrafted furniture. The magnificent Pyramids of Giza can be seen from the hotel’s fantastic restaurants and the facilities available make this an indulgent place to spend our free time.
We depart from London in the morning and fly to Egypt, where our tour will begin. Upon arrival in Cairo, we will transfer to the fabulous Mena House Hotel, which will be our base for the next three nights. Located in the shadows of the Great Pyramids of Giza and surrounded by 40 acres of verdant gardens, this unique property will be the perfect place to unwind, recharge and continue our cultural immersion after our daily adventures.
Our day begins at one of the most iconic sites in all of Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza. The oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, these monumental relics were expertly constructed some 4,500 years ago and we are privileged to be given exclusive access to the Great Pyramid’s interior. Atmospheric passageways lead to royal chambers and the breathtaking grand gallery, and we can marvel at what’s hidden inside in splendid isolation. We also discover the enigmatic Great Sphinx, whose grand limestone form has occupied this very spot for over 4,000 years.
After enjoying lunch at a nearby restaurant, we continue our tour of Giza at the fascinating Solar Boat Museum. A humidity-controlled pavilion, this museum houses an impressive reconstruction of a pharaonic ship that is around 140-feet in length. Following a delicious dinner, we will return to our hotel for the remainder of the evening. Here, we can take a dip in the heated pool, make use of the hotel’s spa and fitness centre, or just simply recharge
Today we are joined by our very special guest, Margaret Mountford. Well-known for her appearances alongside Lord Alan Sugar on the popular BBC series The Apprentice, she is also an expert in the ancient world. Margaret completed her PhD in Papyrology at University College London and will guide us as we visit Sakkara, the vast necropolis to the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis. Sites we will explore here include the museum, the Tombs of the Nobles, the incredible Step Pyramid of Djoser and also the smooth-sided Pyramid of Teti, within which is inscribed a mass of sacred texts.
We will stop for lunch at the Palm Club, giving us a chance to discuss the morning’s amazing sites and then it’s on to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where we will be given after-hours private access to the world’s most extensive exhibits of pharaonic artefacts. The collections housed here are remarkable and Margaret’s insight and knowledge of ancient Egypt will illuminate them further in a special lecture. Among the many treasures on display here are the solid gold mask of Tutankhamun and the Narmer Palette, which is thought to depict the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. We will say goodbye to Margaret after our visit to the museum and the evening will be spent back at our hotel, where we will sit down to a fantastic group dinner.
Our morning will be spent in the skies above this magnificent country as we travel to Luxor and, upon arrival, we will transfer to the luxurious Hilton Hotel Luxor, our base for the next two nights. After lunch at the hotel, we visit Karnak, which is the second largest religious site in the world after Angkor Wat. Here, we encounter the cult temple of Amun-Ra, chief of the deities of the New Kingdom. This is a spectacular multi-period site with a wealth of religious and historical inscriptions at every turn. Chapels, gateways, halls and obelisks stand side by side and palm trees shimmer, reflected in the waters of the Sacred Lake. Our next stop is Luxor Museum, with its masterfully arranged collection of archaeological artefacts and many celebrated works of ancient art. Highlights here include the famous statue of Tuthmosis III, an extraordinarily realistic figure carved from greywacke. After a full day of captivating discoveries, we return to our hotel for dinner and time to relax before some well-deserved rest.
The wonders of Egypt continue to amaze us this morning as we pay a visit to the Valley of the Kings. This was the final resting place of royals and nobility alike for almost 500 years, with excavations dating this site back as far as the 16th century. Its most notable occupant is King Tutankhamun, famously discovered by Howard Carter in 1922 and since returned to his original grave, where he now lies undisturbed. We also explore the nearby Valley of the Queens, which houses Nefertari’s Tomb. The colours on the walls here remain as vivid and arresting as the day they were painted and this tomb is truly a sight to behold.
A stunning funerary shrine that has been carefully restored to its former glory awaits us this afternoon at Deir el-Bahri. This site, the Temple of Hatshepsut, is cradled by the dramatic natural sculptures of neighbouring cliffs and is an unparalleled desert vision. We return to the Hilton Hotel Luxor this evening and prepare for the remainder of our tour, our base for which will be aboard a ship.
Our first tour stop today will be Medinet Habu, which is arguably the most well-preserved temple of the New Kingdom and filled with a wealth of exemplary paintings, carvings and sculptures. In total, this percent contains over seven square kilometres of decorated reliefs. Next, we visit the Ramesseum, with its fallen colossus of Ramesses II - an astounding testament to the pharaoh’s reign and the inspiration behind Percy Bysshe Shelley’s masterpiece ‘Ozymandias’. Finally, we discover the tombs of Kheruef and Ankh-hor and our luggage will be taken aboard the MS Farah ahead of the start of our luxurious Nile cruise.
From here, we make our way to the ship and enjoy an indulgent lunch at sea before heading out to a late afternoon visit to Luxor Temple. Avenues of sphinxes, military reliefs and gorgeous papyrus columns inspire awe at this monumental site, which rounds off our day before we return to the ship for dinner.
Today we enjoy a much slower pace. We have a relaxing start as our morning will be spent at leisure and we will then be treated to another wonderful lunch on the ship. Afterwards, we set sail for Edfu and can watch the wonderful scenery this journey affords us glide by. Dinner will be on board the MS Farah again and we will take the rest of the evening to recharge before another full day of captivating site visits tomorrow.
The Temple of Edfu is our first destination today and this site embodies traditional pharaonic architecture. Here, we step into one of this country’s most magnificently preserved shrines, the construction of which is thought to have spanned an incredible 180 years, from the 3rd to 2nd century BC. Towering at a jaw-dropping 37 metres, its pylon - or gateway - is the highest among all of Egypt’s surviving temples and is decorated with vivid scenes of King Ptolemy VIII destroying his enemies before Horus. This complex even houses a Nilometer, which is a structure that was made to measure both the depth and clarity of flooding Nile waters.
From Edfu, we return to the ship and, while we sit down to lunch, we sail on to visit the temple at Kom Ombo. Dedicated to both Sobek the crocodile god and Horus the falcon-headed god, this is an unusual double temple and it was constructed during the Ptolemaic dynasty. We will sit down to another fantastic meal on the ship and unwind ahead of our final full day in Egypt.
A cruise along the Nile to Aswan Quarry kick-starts our penultimate day on this wondrous tour and, upon arrival, we marvel at the largest-known ancient obelisk, which is mysteriously unfinished and located in the northern region of the quarries. We also take a look at the Aswan High Dam, which is an impressive rock-fill dam fed by the Nile’s waters that creates the vast reservoir, Lake Nasser.
Our group will return to the ship for lunch and then we move on to Philae to visit the temple. Originally located on an island known as Philae, the temple was submerged under rising waters after the construction of the old damn back in 1906. Luckily, UNESCO helped to move the temple to its current location just below the High Dam and this ambitious project took over nine years to complete. Philae Temple is dedicated to more than one god, but the largest temple in the complex is dedicated to the goddess Isis. Later, we will return to the MS Farah for our farewell group dinner, where we can toast the amazing experiences this tour has given us.
We will take a morning flight back to the city of Cairo, where our tour began, and from there we will bid farewell to our group and catch our return flights home.
- Hotels - All accommodation included, from the hotels to our luxury cruise ship, the MS Farah
- Meals - All breakfasts and lunches, and seven dinners
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Entries & Tips - Entry and tips to all sites included
- Flights - Scheduled return flights from London to Cairo
- Andante Guide Lecturer & Tour Manager - The services of an experienced Andante Travels tour manager
- Three nights at The Mena House Hotel
- Two nights at the Hilton Hotel Luxor
- Four nights on board the MS Farah, which is a luxurious, contemporary ship with a variety of facilities that include a fitness centre and sauna, a mezzanine floor with both a hairdresser and boutiques, a library and a lounge bar.