Essential Egypt | Luxor & Cairo

Pyramids of Giza
Pyramids of Giza
Statue in the Temple of Karnak
Statue in the Temple of Karnak
River Nile at Luxor
River Nile at Luxor
Medinet Habu temple in Luxor
Medinet Habu temple in Luxor
Temple of Luxor
Temple of Luxor
Saqqara
Saqqara
Step Pyramid in Saqqara
Step Pyramid in Saqqara

Howard Carter’s description of his first glimpse into Tutankhamun’s tomb is also a fitting introduction to our tour of Egypt – [I see] ‘wonderful things’. Our modern world has allowed certain images of Egypt to become familiar to us, but there is still no adequate substitute for witnessing first-hand the unique treasures of the Cairo Museum, the monumental pyramids, the solar boat that carried the Pharaoh to his final resting place, and the quiet intrigue of the hypostyle hall situated at Karnak.

  • Observe Tutankhamun’s treasures, which include his exquisite golden death mask inlaid with glass and semiprecious stones
  • Discover the site of Karnak – or ‘the most sacred of places’ – with its ruined temples, chapels and pylons, all constructed during the Pharaonic era
  • Take a tour of the remarkable tombs in the Valley of the Kings, once the royal cemetery for the ancient city of Thebes
  • Visit the Great Pyramid of Giza – the defining symbol of Egypt and the last of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World

Themes

  • Ancient Egyptians

Itinerary 2020

Day 1

We depart from London and arrive in Cairo; the buzzing, energetic, metropolis that is Egypt’s extraordinary capital – a city that Egyptians admiringly refer to as ‘the Mother of the World’.

Hotel: Le Meridan Pyramids, Cairo
Meals: Snack provided in the hotel room due to late arrival

Day 2

Today we are introduced to the monuments of the Old Kingdom with a morning visit to Saqqara, a vast necropolis to the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis. We discover the Step Pyramid of Djoser which was enlarged and heightened to tower above the older mastaba tombs, the smooth-sided Pyramid of Unas; the Mastaba of Mereuka and the excellent Imhotep Museum, home to unique exhibits found during excavations nearby. After lunch we visit Memphis, which served as the country’s capital during the Old Kingdom. Today this bustling ancient city is reduced to an open-air museum, its highlight being the extraordinary fallen colossus of Ramesses II.

Hotel: Le Meridan Pyramids, Cairo
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

This morning we visit the pyramid complexes on the Giza Plateau, including the Great Pyramid of Cheops, the best preserved of the Seven Wonders of the World. We also explore the Solar Boat Museum, which houses an original pharaonic ship; the Valley Temple of Khafra and the enigmatic Great Sphinx, whose limestone form has occupied this spot for more than 4,000 years. In the afternoon, we visit the remarkable collections of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where the world’s most extensive exhibitions in pharaonic artefacts can be seen. Among the many treasures on display are the solid gold mask of Tutankhamun and the Narmer Palette, thought to depict the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. 

Hotel: Le Meridan Pyramids, Cairo
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

We fly to Luxor today, the site of ancient Thebes and a city often cited as ‘the world’s largest open-air museum’. Our first visit here is to Dendera where we explore the Temple of Hathor, with a grand layout built to include several halls and shrines – and even a laboratory. The temple is famed for its depictions of Cleopatra VII and Caesarion, excellent examples of Ptolemaic Egyptian art.

Hotel: Sofitel Pavillon Winter Luxor
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

This morning we travel by motorboat and then by coach, to visit the famous Colossi of Memnon on the West Bank at Thebes. These two enormous statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III stand at a towering 18-metres high and were erected to guard the entrance to the pharaoh’s vast and opulent memorial temple. Alas, only traces of that once-great temple remain. We move on to the Valley of the Kings. This was the final resting place of royals and nobility for almost 500 years, with excavations at the site dating back as far as the 16th century BC. Its most notable occupant is, of course, King Tutankhamun, so famously discovered by Howard Carter in 1922, and since returned to his original grave where he now lies undisturbed. The wonders of the region continue to amaze us this afternoon, as we proceed to the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, a stunning shrine which has largely been restored to its former glory. The temple is cradled by the dramatic natural sculptures of neighbouring cliffs.

Hotel: Sofitel Pavillon Winter Luxor
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

We pay a visit to Deir el Medina this morning. This ancient village on Luxor’s West Bank is the former home to the workers who constructed tombs nearby in the Valley of the Kings. These artisans were operating at the height of their profession, and substantially better off than the average workers in Egypt at that time. That is until the conditions of their employment began to deteriorate, and many turned to looting the graves they had made. Our next stop is 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’. After lunch, we journey on to Medinet Habu, arguably the best-preserved temple of the New Kingdom, filled as it is with a wealth of exemplary paintings, carvings and sculptures. In total, the precinct contains over seven square kilometres of impressively decorated reliefs. 

Hotel: Sofitel Pavillon Winter Luxor
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

This morning we lose ourselves in the captivating complex of Karnak. Here we encounter the cult temple of Amun-Ra, chief of the deities of the New Kingdom. This is a spectacular multi-period location with a wealth of religious and historical inscriptions at every turn. Chapels, gateways, halls and obelisks stand side by side. Sturdy pillars touch the African sky. Following this, we explore Luxor Museum, a masterfully arranged collection of archaeological artefacts, and home to many celebrated works of art. Highlights include the famous statue of Tuthmosis III, an extraordinarily realistic figure carved out of greywacke. We round off the day visiting Luxor Temple, with its avenue of sphinxes, military reliefs and gorgeous papyrus columns. Tonight, we will enjoy a farewell dinner and can recount the highlights of what has been a truly memorable tour.

Hotel: Sofitel Pavillon Winter Luxor
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

The modern world is calling us home. We take our leave from Egypt and catch our return flights back to London.

Meals: Breakfast included

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Travel Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2020 Tour Details

Mon 23rd Mar - Mon 30th Mar

Available

£2,795

Full Price £2895 Save £100

inc.

sgl supp: £495

ELC20A

Led By: Lucia Gahlin

Mon 5th Oct - Mon 12th Oct

Available

£2,795

Full Price £2895 Save £100

inc.

sgl supp: £495

ELC20B

Led By: Lucia Gahlin

Guide Lecturer

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