Herodotus said it 2,500 years ago: “Egypt is the gift of the Nile” – and what a gift it is – a narrow strip of cultivatable land teased from barren expanse of desert that is home of one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. The Nile, from the Sudan to the Mediterranean, was the life-blood of this remarkable culture that flourished for over 3,000 years.
Far Horizons presents an extraordinary 14-day archaeological tour to Egypt that includes many highlights. We have made special arrangements to enter the Queen’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid and Nefertari’s Burial Chamber — both closed to the public. Hosted by the Director, we join working archaeologists for cocktails and a tour of the incredible library at the Chicago House, a major center for Egyptian Studies. Traveling from Cairo to Luxor to Aswan, we will travel in the footsteps of the pharaohs and marvel at the glory of these monuments that have withstood the passage of time.
Join us for the opportunity to go behind the scenes, and experience a tour of Egypt that tourists rarely see!
Depart on a flight to Cairo.
Upon arrival, transfer to the 5-star Cairo Marriot Hotel, built around a 19th-century palace on an island in the Nile River, and our home for the next three nights.
Begin our archaeological tour of the Pyramids at the Giza Plateau. The pyramid complex was the necropolis for the Old Kingdom royal families, and is dominated by the three magnificent pyramids. The Great Pyramid was built for Khufu (Cheops)in 2528 BC. His son Khafre (Chephren) created the second pyramid and the Great Sphinx and the valley temple next to it. The third and smallest of the pyramids was built for Khafre’s son Menkaure (Mycerinus) and was once covered with costly pink Aswan granite. In the late afternoon, we return to the Great Pyramid for private entry into the tombs. Gather this evening for our welcome dinner party. (B/L/D)
Spend today at Saqqara, site of the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, forerunner of the great Giza pyramids, and location of many recent archaeological discoveries. Here we will visit the brilliantly painted mastaba tombs of Meriruka, Ptah-hetep and Ti, portraying lively daily life scenes, and then descend into the pyramid of Unas, whose interior walls record the world’s first religious texts. In the afternoon, drive to Dahshur to see the stunning Red and Bent pyramids of Sneferu, father of Khufu. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B/L)
Today will be spent at the newly-opened Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), the largest archaeological museum in the world, housing 50,000 artifacts from ancient Egypt including the first exhibition of the full tomb collection of King Tutankhamun. Many items on display have been relocated from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Solar Boat Museum, and from storages and museums in Luxor, Minya, Sohag, Assiut, Beni Suef, Fayoum, the Delta, and Alexandria. In the late afternoon we fly to Aswan and transfer to the Elephantine Island Movenpick Resort, our home for the next three nights. (NOTE: If the GEM is not open to visitors by the time of our visit, our group will instead visit the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.) (B/L/D)
Begin by driving to the 342-foot high Aswan High Dam, a great rock-fill construction designed to control irrigation and increase Egypt’s agricultural land. The granite quarries of ancient Aswan lay beside the Nile, thus providing easy access to boats for transporting this prized building stone to sites downstream. A crack in the granite stopped the cutting of what would have been an enormous obelisk, estimated at more than 120 feet high, now known as the Unfinished Obelisk. The island of Philae was the center of the cult of the goddess Isis and her connection with Osiris, Horus, and the Kingship during the Ptolemaic period of Egyptian History. For over 50 years the island and its monuments lay half-submerged in water built up by the Aswan Dam, until the UNESCO rescue operations completely dismantled and rebuilt the temples and moved them to the nearby island of Agilika. In the afternoon, board a private felucca to travel further down the Nile along Elephantine Island, the largest of the Aswan area islands, and one of the most ancient sites in Egypt with artifacts dating to pre-dynastic periods. The island is a beautiful place to visit, with wonderful gardens and some truly noteworthy artifacts. It was considered to be home of the important Egyptian god, Khnum, and while the still visible structure dates back to the Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, there are references to an earlier temple to this god on the island as early as the 3rd Dynasty. View the Temple of Khnum, originally erected during the Old Kingdom, a Greco-Roman Necropolis and the Temple of Satet, built by Queen Hatshepsut. After visiting the two nearby museums we return to the hotel. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B/L)
The morning is free to relax at the hotel or join the optional excursion to Abu Simbel in the morning. Lunch is on our own. In the late afternoon we visit the nearby Nubian Museum. The recipient of the Aga Khan award for its stunning architecture, this museum highlights Nubia, historically Egypt’s gateway to the rest of Africa. Today, Nubia’s lands lie under Lake Nasser, submerged in 1971 when the Aswan High Dam was opened. (B/D)
Early morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Abu Simbel. Upon arrival, continue to the two imposing and colossal rock-cut temples of Ramses II and his cherished wife Nefertari, which were saved in the late 1960s through a worldwide effort when UNESCO moved them to higher ground. Return to the airport in the afternoon for the flight back to Aswan.
This morning we begin our drive to Luxor, stopping along the way to explore two remarkable Ptolemaic sites: The Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to the crocodile-god Sobek, and the Temple of Horus, the falcon-headed god, at Edfu. Kom Ombo is notable for its two sanctuaries. One is dedicated to the crocodile-god, Sobek, and the other to the falcon-god, Horus the Elder. There are clear depictions of ancient medical instruments on one wall. In ancient times, sacred crocodiles basked in the sun on the riverbank near here, and hundreds of mummified crocodiles were found in the vicinity. The Temple of Horus is the best-preserved ancient temple in Egypt and the second largest after Karnak. Built from sandstone blocks, the huge Ptolemaic temple has a massive entrance pylon covered with traditional scenes of the king smiting his enemies before Horus. Upon arrival to Luxor, transfer to the Hilton Luxor Resort and Spa, our home for the next five nights. (B/L/D)
The celebrated Egyptian city of Thebes, modern Luxor, was described by Homer as “the city of a hundred gates” because so many of its temples had the monumental entrances favored by contemporary Greek architecture. Thebes was twice the capital of ancient Egypt. It was from Thebes that Ahmose restored the unity of Egypt and inaugurated the New Kingdom. Today we visit spectacular Karnak and the Temple of Amun. Arguably the most remarkable religious complex ever built, it contains 250 acres of temples, chapels, obelisks, columns and statues built over a period of 2,000 years and incorporating the finest aspects of Egyptian art and architecture. As many as thirty pharaohs are believed to have contributed to this complex, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity rarely seen. Today’s tour visits the magnificent Temple of Luxor. This has always been a sacred site and was the power base of the living divine king and the foremost national shrine of the king’s cult. The temple’s southern end was the dwelling place of the holy of holies, the principal god, Amun. Continue on to the Luxor Museum, housing the remarkable artifacts found in nearby excavations. The Chicago House is the Oriental Institute headquarters in Egypt and a major center of Egyptological studies. Here, we join the Director and his staff as they host us for cocktails and a specially arranged private viewing of the library, among the finest in Egypt. (B/L/D)
Begin today on Luxor’s west bank, the royal necropolis of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile. Beginning with the 18th Dynasty and ending with the 20th, the pharaohs of ancient Egypt abandoned the Memphis area and built their tombs in Thebes. Most of these tombs were cut into the limestone following a similar pattern – three corridors, an antechamber and a sunken sarcophagus chamber – and stunning decorations by the finest craftsmen cover many of the passages and chambers. Here we will visit one of the smallest tombs in the necropolis, the Tomb of Tutankhamun, undoubtedly the most famous of the Egyptian tombs because of the extraordinary discoveries made here in the early 20th century.
At lunch, galabeya makers will come to take measurements and orders for the typical Egyptian robe for those who want to purchase one. Deir El Medina was the village home of the workmen who were responsible for the construction and embellishment of the royal tombs from the New Kingdom. The master masons, artists and sculptors who worked on the crypts were born, trained, lived, died, and buried here. Within two of their tombs, we gaze upon dazzling paintings that speak of the status of the individuals. Continue to the Ramesseum. Ramesses II built his fabulous mortuary temple on the site of Seti I’s ruined temple, where he identified himself with the local form of the God, Amun.
The main building, where the funerary cult of the king was celebrated, has pylons decorated with scenes from the Battle of Kadesh. These scenes show Ramesses fighting the Hittites in a heroic counterattack, standing in his chariot firing arrows with deadly precision. (B/L/D)
There are many temples to Hathor, the cow-goddess who presided over love, music, dance and enjoyment, but the temple in Denderah is the best preserved. The building is richly decorated with 18 Hathor-headed columns supporting the roof of the hypostyle hall and a series of reliefs linking the traditions of Hathor with her husband, Horus. We spend the morning here and return to Luxor in the afternoon for some free time to relax or explore the city. (B/L/D)
Begin today on Luxor’s west bank in the Valley of Queens, the burial place of the royal wives, concubines and daughters of the pharaohs, and the princes who died at an early age. The most renowned of these tombs was that of the favorite wife of Ramses II. Normally closed to the public, we have special permission to enter the interior of the burial chamber of Nefertari’s tomb, covered with scenes of exceptional quality and beauty. Ramesses III chose the sacred site of Medinet Habu to build his funeral temple. Surrounded by a fortified enclosure wall and covering more than twenty acres, the complex contains funerary chapels, shops, and the gigantic Great Temple with it intact pylon decorated with scenes of the king’s victories. Here, we join Dr. Ray Johnson for a private, behind the scenes tour of the building. And finally, see the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh, certainly the most beautiful architecture within the Valley of the Kings. (B/L/D)
Fly to Cairo in the morning and continue on to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. After lunch at the renowned Naguib Mahfouz Restaurant, named for the famous Nobel Prize-winning writer who used to dine here almost every day, we transfer to the Fairmont Heliopolis Hotel. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Transfer to airport to board your flight back home. (B)
Price is based on double occupancy and includes:
Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.
Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.
As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.
Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.
A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.
International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for a mile or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging 3-4 miles of walking. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least half an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 30 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking for a mile or two every day. We feel that this preparation will increase your enjoyment of the trip. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.
This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. At times we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will not be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.