* NOTE: For this tour, the EXPIRATION DATE on your passport needs to be after June 6, 2025, which is 6 months after your arrival in Egypt. US, UK, and Canadian citizens do not need to obtain a visa for Egypt in advance. Tourist visas are issued upon arrival at Cairo airport. Cost is $25 USD. You can also obtain a visa online (onine is not recommended, there are a number of scam sites).
Departures from Notrh America, Wed, Dec 4, 2024: If you are traveling from places other than the UK or Europe, the departure date for your international flights is Wednesday, December 4th. Cairo is 7 hours ahead of New York, 10 hours ahead of California. Your flights will arrive in Cairo on the following day (Sunday, Nov 12). The only nonstop flights from the USA to Egypt are on Egypt Air. They all arrive the next day in the early morning. Those flights are Washington-Dulles IAD/Cairo, Newark, NJ-EWR/Cairo, and New York-JFK/Cairo. Flights from Boston have flight changes in the UK or Europe and arrive in the afternoons.
International flights are not included in your tour. Flights within Egypt – Cairo/Luxor and Aswan/Cairo – are included.
Note that the Real ID requirement for US domestic flights does not go into effect until May 7, 2025.
DAY 1 – Thursday, Dec 5, 2024: Arrivals in Cairo. Welcome meeting with dinner. Hotel: Giza hotel nIght #1. Meal: D
Welcome to Egypt! A representative will meet you at Cairo airport and bring you to our hotel.
Depending on when people arrive, we will be meeting for an orientation and Welcome Meeting and also have dinner together.
Our hotel is in Giza right near the pyramids. YES! You are now in Egypt!!
DAY 2 – Friday, Dec 6, 2024: Dashur – Red & Bent Pyramids. Afternoon group session with Aaron. Hotel: Giza hotel nIght #2. Meal: BB, L.
We begin our sightseeing with sites from Ancient Egypt’s Old Kingdom (2,575-2,150 B.C.). We drive southward through fertile farmlands to the pyramids at Dashur, dated even older than the pyramids at Giza! It is also a chance to begin savoring the riches of Egypt without huge crowds and souvenir sellers.
We spend time inside the Red Pyramid (nearly as large as Giza’s Great Pyramid) and then have the opportunity for an unforgettable walk across the open desert to the Bent Pyramid. The desert is rich with inspiration and the vastness is exhilarating. The Bent Pyramid was a key center of worship during the Middle Kingdom and was much more important than Giza at that time. The Bent pyramid is the only pyramid to retain most of its original casing stones. The Black Pyramid (Middle Kingdom mud brick) can also be seen from here.
After lunch in the Sakkara area, we will have time to align our energies and go to a deeper level with the experiences that will be unfolding for us during the tour.
Dinner is on your own this evening at our hotel near the Giza Pyramids.
DAY 3 – Saturday, Dec. 7, 2024: Giza Plateau – Great Pyramid, Sphinx, Valley Temple, camel ride (not obligatory), Khafre or Menkaure Pyramid.
Private Visit inside the Sphinx Enclosure* and a Private Visiit inside the Great Pyramid.* Hotel: Giza hotel night #2. Meals: BB, L
Today we spend a full day on the Giza Plateau. You can go inside whichever pyramids are open. Of the three pyramids, two are usually open while one is closed for renovations – dates are not announced in advance. Tickets for entering the individual pyramids are included in your tour package. The exact time of our private visit inside the Great Pyramid (with all 3 chambers open to us – Kings, Queens and subterranean”Pit”) has not yet been determined, but it will either be in the early morning or in the evening when the area is closed to the normal tourists.
We will also see the Great Sphinx & Valley Temple. There are legends of the Sphinx speaking. Does the Sphinx have a message for you? Unlike the other tourists who only see the Great Sphinx from a distance, our group will have special permission to enter the Sphinx enclosure where you will be able to touch the Sphinx and go into the sacred area between the paws! The Valley Temple is built with huge granite blocks that fit together snugly even today, almost 5,000 years later. Some think it is even older than that!
For those who like to shop, after lunch there is a visit to a perfumery with Egyptian perfume oils.
*Note: We are applying for special government-issued permits which will allow us to have a private visit for our group alone in the Great Pyramid after the other tourists have left for the day or in the early morning before they arrive and a private access inside the Sphinx Enclosure. We have every reason to believe that we will receive these permissions, as we have on our previous tours. However, we cannot guarantee this because government policies can change unexpectedly.
Also note that the Solar Boat is no longer on the Giza Plateau but has been moved to the new museum (GEM) for restoration.
DAY 4 – Sunday, Dec 8, 2024: Saqqara: Step Pyramid, Unas Pyramid, Old Kingdom Tombs, Teti Pyramid, Serapeum, Imhotep Museum. Flight from Cairo to Luxor. Hotel: Luxor, night #1. Meals: BB, L, D.
On our way to Saqqara, we drive through the Black Land where the people have farmed the rich Nile silt for thousands of years.
Our sightseeing will be at the Saqqara Complex (also spelled Sakkara) today. Special treats for our previous travelers are that a passage under the Step Pyramid has been opened and also the famous Pyramid of Unas. The Unas Pyramid is where we find the earliest inscriptions of the Pyramid Texts, what has become known as the “Egyptian Book of the Dead.”
Here at Saqqara we also visit the Teti Pyramid and some Old Kingdom tombs with fascinating scenes of the daily life in Ancient Egypt’s Old Kingdom and the Serapeum, a place shrouded in mystery. Before leaving we are delighted to see that the Imhotep Museum has now reopened. A perfect way to finish our tour of Saqqara.
After lunch, we may also stop to see some of the local carpet weavers, if people are interested.
Dinner together near Cairo Airport before our departure. Evening flight to Luxor.
UNAS VALLEY TEMPLE
DAY 5 – Monday, Dec 9, 2024: Luxor Temple, Luxor Museum, Shopping: Egyptian Jewelry, Papyrus shop with demonstration, grocery store, Luxor street bazaar. Hotel: Luxor, night #2. Meals: BB, L
Welcome to Luxor! Luxor has been a tourist attraction from long before the New Testament era. The Greeks looked to Egypt as the place of great wisdom and were enthralled by the temple ruins they found there. We begin our visits here with the Luxor Temple. Both gently beautiful and full of awesome grandness, this temple was the “Bride of Karnak” during the annual Apet festival. There is an Avenue of Sphinxes that connects Luxor Temple with Karnak Temple and it is one of the newly opened attractions! You may have seen the extravagant ceremony that was broadcast recently when it opened. Youtube video.
Afterwards, we visit the Luxor Museum. There is a special exhibit room for a cache of statues found in near-perfect condition. They were buried under a courtyard at the Luxor Temple and found only recently during renovations. There is also a new wing to the museum with an excellent mummy exhibit and a number of splendid artifacts.
In the afternoon we visit a shop that sells jewelry with Egyptian motifs and a papyrus shop. We will also visit a local grocery store where we will get snacks and lunches to eat for our day-long bus trip to Abydos and Dendera tomorrow. If you enjoy bargaining and shopping, or just plain people-watching, you might enjoy a late-afternoon/evening visit to the Luxor Bazaar. Souvenirs, scarves, dresses, and more. You can even try smoking the shisha (flavored tobacco) in a water pipe.
LUXOR TEMPLE MORNING
LUXOR STREET BAZAAR
DAY 6 – Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2024: Abydos – Seti 1 Temple, Ramesses II Temple. Dendera Goddess Hathor Temple. Hotel: Luxor #3. Meals: BB, D. (lunch is on the bus)
Today we drive north of Luxor to Abydos, the place of pilgrimage in Ancient Egypt. Along the way, we see the hills of Nag Hammadi where the writings known as the Nag Hammadi Library were found (parts of the New Testament that were left out). Here in Abydos, we visit the exquisite Seti I Temple, the Ramesses II Temple, and the mysterious Osirion. The wall reliefs and pillared halls of the Seti 1st Temple contribute to the air of sacredness that pervades this site. This was the Mecca of Ancient Egypt and it continues to draw spiritual pilgrims to this day.
When we leave Abydos, we drive to the Goddess Hathor Temple at Dendera. This Ptolemaic (Greek) temple was built on the site of an older temple for the goddess Hathor. One of the outstanding features is the amount of astrological imagery. The temple is covered with representations of constellations and stars. This temple also introduces you to the elements of the Ptolemaic temples (which we will see more of when we sail south toward Aswan).
abydos KINGS LIST
DAY 7 – Wed, Dec. 11, 2024: OPTIONAL. Early morning option: Balloon Ride* over the West Bank. *The cost of the balloon ride is not included in your tour.
TOURING: Karnak Temple Complex with Open Air Museum. West Bank – Visit with Village Children. Hotel: Luxor #4 Meals: BB, L
If you don’t mind getting up in the morning before sunrise, you might like to take the optional balloon ride this morning. We cannot guarantee the availability of this, as it is dependent on the weather (wind), but if you would like to try it, you will feel like a drone flying over the West Bank.
The splendors of Karnak fill our day today. Karnak, Saqqara, and the Giza Pyramids are included in almost every Egypt tour, but the typical visit for each of these sites is about 45-60 minutes. We dedicated a whole day to the Giza pyramids, a whole day to the many sights at Saqqara, and we will do the same with Karnak. There is so much to see there!
Karnak was the center of government during the New Kingdom and each Pharaoh wanted to leave something impressive there. The largest temple complex in Egypt, we see multiple temples, obelisks, great gates, and the famous hypostyle hall – unequaled to this day. We also see the Sacred Lake, the Festival Hall and Botanical Garden of Tutmosis III (a precursor of Napoleon’s later record of the fauna and flora found in Egypt).
Also at Karnak, we visit the fascinating Open Air Museum where we view the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut and Tutmosis III (Karnak’s original Holy of Holies) and Senwosret’s White Chapel with its finely-carved Middle Kingdom hieroglyphs. These are in raised relief – some of the best to be found anywhere. There is something new each time we visit, as the reconstruction of new pieces is ongoing.
In the late afternoon, we cross the Nile to the West Bank of Luxor where we visit some village children there. After all our sightseeing, it is a delightful change of pace to spend time with them. Their exuberance and delight in making friends with us is a favorite part of the trip for many. Ruth brings school supplies and candy to share with the kids, and there is always lots of fun and playfulness when we visit.
White Chapel – Karnak
VISIT WITH KIDS
Karnak – White Chapel
DAY 8 – Thursday, Dec. 12, 2024: Luxor West Bank sites – Valley of the Kings, board our Nile Cruise boat, Hatshepsut’s Deir El Bahari Temple, the Colossi of Memnon,
Hotel: Nile Cruise Boat #1 Meals: BB, L, D
We begin our touring here on the West Bank of Luxor with the Valley of the Kings (where King Tut’s tomb was found). There are many tombs here, and excavations are still going on, as well as renovations to tombs that have been uncovered for a long time. One never knows which tombs will be open that day, but there will be a variety to choose from. The special ticket for the remarkable Tomb of Ramesses V&VI is included in your tour, in addition to 3 other tombs of your choice. This is the tomb you may have seen with the spectacular scene of the sky goddess Nut arched across the ceiling.
When we finish our visit in the Kings Valley, we board our Nile Cruise boat and have lunch on board.
In the afternoon, we visit one of the earliest New Kingdom temples. Called “The Most Splendid of All” by the ancient Egyptians, Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple, the famous Deir El Bahari, has inspired many, including the founders of modern architecture. One of the outstanding features is the picturesque Hathor columns in the Hathor Chapel on the second Level. The third level has now also been opened to the public.
We will also stop to see the “Colossi of Memnon.” They are actually two huge statues of Amenhotep III which stood at the entrance to a temple that no longer stands. During our first tours of Egypt, there were fields of grain behind these statues. Today it is an active archeological site with new artifacts being discovered on a regular basis.
Tonight is our first night on our Nile Cruise boat. Time to settle in and relax. Dinner is on board in the evening.
USE FULL SCREEN (bottom right square icon) to watch the video below of the burial chamber of Ramesses V&VI Tomb.
The Ceiling of the Burial Chamber of the Tomb of Ramesses V&VI
kv – RAMESSES v&vi
VALLEY OF THE KINGS
VALLEY OF THE KINGS
Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings
KV – Tomb Ceiling
VALLEY OF the Kings
COLOSSI OF MEMNON
DEIR EL BAHARI
DAY 9 – Friday, Dec 13: Tomb of Queen Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, Medinet Habu. Cruise Boat begins sailing south. Hotel: Nile Cruise Boat, #2. Meals: BB, L, D
On our final morning in Luxor, we have a very special treat, the Tomb of Queen Nefertari! There is a hefty entrance fee (about $85 USD), but that has been included in your tour. The beauty of this tomb is incomparable, literally breathtaking. Images from this tomb, with its many depictions of the gods and goddesses, are found in all the well-known books of Egypt. What an opportunity to see it ourselves up close!
Ruth Shilling (your tour leader!) has authored a book with many beautiful photos of this tomb. See it on Amazon.
The Medinet Habu Temple was the last great temple built while Egypt was still ruling supreme. It was built as the Egyptian power in the New Kingdom was declining. Built by Ramesses III on a site seeded by Hatshepsut at the very beginning of the New Kingdom, it is second only to Karnak in size. There is a wonderful hall of pillars with colored reliefs of the many gods & goddesses of Ancient Egypt.
We say farewell to Luxor as our cruise boat begins our journey toward Aswan. The river flows from deep in Africa out to the Mediterranean Sea, so it is flowing from south to north. We are now traveling southward and will be stopping to see temples that were built by the Greek emperors a thousand years later. Tonight our boat docks in Esna.
ANUBIS – NEFERTARI TOMB
DAY 10 – Saturday, Dec 14, 2024: Pass through the Esna lock, visit Edfu Temple, and Kom Ombo Temple. Hotel: Nile Cruise Boat, #3. Meals: BB, L, D.
At Esna, we will be passing through the lock. The level of the Nile is regulated at this point in the river.
We continue sailing on to Edfu where we visit the Edfu Temple for the Falcon God Horus. From the Nile cruise boat, we will see temples from the Greco-Roman era. The Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Philae Temples were built during the time the Greeks ruled Egypt (332 BCE – 30 BCE). After 30 BCE, Egypt was ruled by the Romans.
The Edfu Temple is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt. Built during the Ptolemaic era on an older site, it is dedicated to the god Horus. Horus was the original superhero. Even the word hero is derived from Heru, his name in the Ancient Egyptian language. He is the savior and redeemer, the one who fights for what is right. He is represented as a falcon (a type of hawk).
The Kom Ombo Temple sits high on a hill above the Nile. It’s a special feeling when we approach it. This temple has two parallel entrances, one for each of the deities it honors. Sobek was a crocodile god and Haeoris was an aspect of the hawk-god Horus.
HORUS AT EDFU
DAY 11 – Sunday, Dec. 15, 2024: Aswan – Nubia Museum, Spice Shop, Goddess Isis Temple at Philae. Hotel: Nile Cruise #4. Meals: BB, L, D.
Our cruise boat has arrived in Aswan. Some people think of Aswan as the “Jamaica of Egypt.” The local Nubian culture has a more laid-back feel to it and their bright-colored clothing and painted buildings have a very different feel from the northern parts of Egypt. Aswan has been a trading center for more than 5,000 years. The cataracts here in the Nile mean that trading boats are unable to pass through this area with their goods. So the traders from Africa stopped here and met the traders from the Mediterranean. One of the prized items of trade was the exotic spices, so Aswan became renowned for its spice trade. We will visit a spice shop here, which will be a treat for any chefs in our group!
The Nubia Museum is a small museum with artifacts from this area and a display about the local Nubian culture, so we will visit that as well.
In the afternoon, we visit the beautiful Goddess Isis Temple at Philae Island.
Tonight is our last night on our Nile Cruise boat. Sometimes there is a dress-up party with dancing. We will see what the boat has on its schedule.
Philae Isis Temple
DAY 12 – Monday, Dec. 16, 2024: Disembark from the cruise boat, Abu Simbel Temples by road. Flight from Aswan to Cairo. Hotel: Cairo Airport Hotel, #1. Meals: BB, L, D.
After checking out of our cruise boat, we begin the day-long journey via the desert road to Abu Simbel. After visiting the temples, we will enjoy lunch at a local Nubian Restaurant. The Abu Simbel Temples were made famous when the high dam was constructed and they were soon to be submerged under the new lake, Lake Nasser. A UNESCO international effort saved the temples by moving them to higher ground. The two large temples of Abu Simbel (constructed by Ramesses II) were carved into the cliff itself. The smaller temple is for the Goddess Hathor and was dedicated to his queen, Nefertari.
We fly back to Cairo this evening and check into our hotel which is conveniently located right at the Cairo airport for easy arrival this evening and for our departures home on Wednesday.
ABU SIMBEL-RAMESSES II
RAMESSES II TEMPLE
RAMESSES II TEMPLE
NEFERTARI HATHOR TEMPLE
NEFERTARI HATHOR TEMPLE
DAY 13 – Tuesday, Dec. 17: Museum Day in Cairo. Hotel: Airport Hotel. #2 Meals: BB, L.
We have high hopes that the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) will be open at the time of this tour. Just as the name implies, this will be a world-renowned museum. It is the largest museum in Africa and will also house the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities.
If for some reason the GEM is not open yet, we will visit the Cairo Egyptian Museum. or wherever the King Tutankhamen treasures are currently on display.
Dinner is on your own tonight at our hotel. It’s time to reorganize your belongings and make them ready for your flight home tomorrow night. Check-out from the hotel is in the morning before we leave for sightseeing.
DAY 14 – Wed., Dec 18, 2024: Visit to the sites in Old Cairo – Coptic Christian Churches and a Synagogue, Farewell Meeting. Hotel: none. Meals: BB, L
Today we journey into Downtown Cairo to explore the area known as “Old Cairo.” Although these buildings are newer than the ancient Egyptian temples we have been visiting, sometimes they feel even older to us because we can better imagine what it was like for the people who walked these cobble-stone streets. The “Hanging Church” is said to have been built about 690 AD. That is still 1,300 years old!! The Ben Ezra Synagogue was originally a church but was sold to the Jews to use as a synagogue in 882 AD. It was later torn down but rebuilt in about 1030 AD. If there is interest, we will also spend some time at the historic Khan El-Khalili street bazaar.
After lunch in Cairo, the afternoon will be dedicated to a group meeting to digest and process all that we have learned and experienced. It’s hard to believe our time has reached an end and soon it will be time to go our separate ways.
Most people will probably have flights leaving during the night tonight. If your flight does not leave until tomorrow morning, you will need to book another hotel night for tonight. The hotel is right within the airport perimeter and there is a shuttle that will take you to whichever terminal you need to leave from.
Farewell Egypt! You will continue to live in our hearts!
*Note that there may be changes to the above itinerary due to circumstances beyond our control. However, every effort will be made to maintain this program as it is stated.