AIA Tours: land

Absolute Egypt

Tour Dates: January 31 - February 17, 2023 (18 days)

Tour Leader(s): Stephen Harvey ,

with 3 nights aboard private 8-cabin dahabiyas (sailboats)

This itinerary is carefully crafted to provide the discerning traveler with the finest Egypt tour available. It combines all the best attributes of an in-depth, small-group, all-inclusive, well-paced, luxury trip.

Highlights:

  • Learn with a distinguished and engaging American scholar plus a wonderful local Egyptologist and an excellent tour manager. This trio has been receiving accolades for many years.
  • Travel with a maximum of just 16 guests plus your trio of leaders.
  • Enjoy the best accommodations, including 12 nights at luxurious, 5-star hotels in Giza, Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan; one night at the best-available hotel in Abydos; and a three-night Nile cruise aboard a comfortable, eight-cabin dahabiya (traditional Nile sail boat).
  • Meet with excavators and conservators, including behind-the-scenes visits, when possible.
  • Discover the preeminent sites of the pharaohs from Cairo to Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel:
    • If it is open, spend two full days exploring the Grand Egyptian Museum that is scheduled to open in late 2022.
    • Tour the amazing Giza pyramids and Sphinx as well as Saqqara’s Step Pyramid of Djoser and newly-discovered, closed-to-the-public, Tomb of Wah Ti.
    • Explore the astounding temple complex of Karnak as well as Luxor Temple, plus spectacular royal mortuary temples and tombs in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, such as those of Seti I and Nefertari.
    • Visit the remarkable Temple of Hathor at Dendara as well as Abydos, one of the oldest and most important cities in ancient Egypt, where Steve Harvey, your AIA lecturer, has been working since 1993.
    • Cruise the Nile from Esna to Aswan aboard an eight-cabin sail boat, away from the convoys of large riverboats, so that we visit remarkable temples without the typical crowds. From the spacious top deck, observe timeless pastoral scenes of feluccas, farmers, herders, and village life.
    • Fly to Abu Simbel to visit the stunning and enormous rock-cut temples of Ramesses II and Nefertari.
    • An optional, seven-day, post-tour extension to the Siwa Oasis and Alexandria
      is available.

In short, this is the most exclusive, enjoyable, and fascinating introduction to Egypt available. It is limited to just 16 guests, so I urge you to reserve your space today.


Main Tour Pricing per person (16 nights):
Double Occupancy (13 to 16 Participants) $13,245
D
ouble Occupancy (9 to 12 participants) $13,745
Single Supplement* $3,545

With fewer than 9 participants, a small group surcharge may be added.
Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required (limited availability).

Optional pre-tour extension
Siwa Oasis and Alexandria Price per person/Double Occupancy (6 nights):
13 to 16 Participants $4,595
10 to 12 participants) $4,895
7 to 9 participants $5,195
Single Supplement* $1,595

With fewer than 7 participants, a small group surcharge may be added. Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required (limited availability).

To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884). To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

An image from within the Tomb of Nefertari. Image © R.T. Nielsen

The Sphinx and the Pyramids at Giza. Image © R.T. Nielsen

Feluccas seen along the banks of the Nile. Image © R.T. Nielsen

Seti I, burial chamber. Image © R.T. Nielsen

Luxor Temple. Image © Elsie

Abu Simbel, whose two temples were commissioned by Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th century B.C. © operator

Itinerary


Tuesday, January 31, 2023: Depart home
Wednesday, February 1: Arrive Cairo, Egypt | Private transfer to hotel in Giza
Thursday, February 2: Giza Plateau | Welcome dinner
Friday, February 3: National Museum of Egyptian Civilization or Grand Egyptian Museum
Saturday, February 4: Saqqara
Monday, February 6: Fly to Sohag | Abydos
Tuesday, February 7: Abydos | Dendara | Luxor
Wednesday, February 8: Karnak | Luxor Temple
Thursday, February 9: Valley of the Kings | Deir el Bahari | Luxor Museum
Friday, February 10: Valley of the Queens | Deir el Medina | Esna | Embarkation
Saturday, February 11: El Kab | Edfu | Sailing the Nile
Sunday, February 12: Gebel el-Silsila | Kom Ombo | Sailing the Nile
Monday, February 13: Aswan | Disembarkation | Philae | Nubia Museum
Tuesday, February 14: Elephantine Island | Aswan
Wednesday, February 15: At leisure in Aswan | Farewell dinner
Thursday, February 16: Fly to Abu Simbel | Fly to Cairo
Friday, February 17: Fly home OR continue on to the extension


Optional Post-Tour Extension
The Siwa Oasis & Alexandria
February 17-23, 2023 (7 days | 16 guests) with Egyptologist Stephen Harvey

Friday, February 17, 2023: El-Alamein War Museum and cemeteries | Marsa Matruh
Saturday, February 18: Siwa Oasis
Sunday, February 19: Siwa: Oracle of Amun, Gebel Al Mawta, Shali
Monday, February 20: Drive to Alexandria
Tuesday, February 21: Alexandria: National Museum, Kom al-Dikka, Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Wednesday, February 22: Alexandria | Cairo
Thursday, February 23: Fly home 

View Detailed Itinerary

January 31-February 17, 2023 (18 days | 16 guests) with Egyptologist Stephen Harvey

plus an optional post-tour extension to the Siwa Oasis & Alexandria

ITINERARY
(B)= Breakfast, (L)= Lunch, (R)= Reception, (D)= Dinner

Tuesday, January 31, 2023: Depart home

Wednesday, February 1: Arrive Cairo, Egypt | Private transfer to hotel in Giza
You will be met upon arrival at Cairo’s airport and transferred to Giza’s historic Mena House, a palatial hotel set amid forty acres of gardens, with magnificent views of the adjacent Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops). Gather for dinner at the hotel. Overnight at the 5-star Marriott Mena House hotel in Pyramid View rooms for five nights. (D)

Thursday, February 2: Giza Plateau | Welcome dinner
Spend the morning exploring the Giza Plateau, including the Great Pyramid of Khufu; Eastern Cemetery, with its vibrantly-decorated mastaba of Meresankh III; mortuary temple of Khufu; timeless Sphinx; and nearby Valley Temple of Khafra. After lunch at a nearby restaurant we return to our hotel. This evening we gather for a welcome reception and dinner with our three expert trip leaders: AIA lecturer/host, Egyptology guide, and tour manager. (B,L,R,D)

Friday, February 3: National Museum of Egyptian Civilization or Grand Egyptian Museum
We will visit the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC), which opened in 2017, housing materials from all periods of Egyptian archaeology, including the Gallery of Royal Mummies. Alternatively, if the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is open, we will visit it instead to see Tutankhamun’s funerary collection, the reconstructed 4,000-year-old Khufu ship, colossal statues of Ramesses the Great, and more. (B,L,D)

Saturday, February 4: Saqqara
This morning we visit the Imhotep Museum on our way into the extraordinary necropolis at Saqqara, where we see the Step Pyramid of Djoser; the pyramid and causeway of Unas; the mastaba of the “two brothers,” Nyankhkhnum and Khnumhotep; and (pending permission) the newly-discovered, closed-to-the-public, 5th-dynasty Tomb of Wah
Ti. After an outdoor lunch at Saqqara Palm Club, we return to the Mena House hotel for an afternoon at leisure to relax, enjoy the pool, and pack for our early flight tomorrow morning. Gather for dinner at our hotel. (B,L,D)

Sunday, February 5: Egyptian Museum or Grand Egyptian Museum
We will spend a full day visiting the historic and renowned Egyptian Museum (formally known as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities) to see treasures of the pharaohs, including magnificent artifacts from the royal tombs of Tanis. Alternatively, if the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is open, we will see more of the GEM’s collections not seen on Friday, February 3rd. (B,L,D)

Monday, February 6: Fly to Sohag | Abydos
Transfer to the airport early this morning for our flight to Sohag. Upon arrival we drive to Abydos, one of the oldest and most important ancient cities in Egypt, where AIA lecturer Stephen Harvey has worked since 1993. Begin our visit at Shunet es-Zebib, one of the oldest standing massive brick structures in the world, the architecture of which points to some features of later structures, like the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara. Next explore Kom el-Sultan, another large, Early Dynastic Period mud-brick structure, which includes an early Temple of Osiris where excavations have revealed hundreds of stelae yielding information about the cult of Osiris. After lunch we will visit the Temple of Ramesses II, with impressive reliefs of the Battle of Kadesh on its exterior walls and delicately-preserved paint colors. Check-in to our simple but conveniently located hotel and gather for dinner. Overnight at the House of Life Abydos hotel. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, February 7: Abydos | Dendara | Luxor
This morning we return to Abydos to visit the spectacular Temple of Seti I, where was discovered the “Abydos King List”—the long, invaluable list of pharaohs of the principal dynasties (as recognized by Seti) that was inscribed on a wall. The temple also has seven chapels with exquisite reliefs. After lunch we drive to Luxor, stopping en route at the Temple of Hathor at Dendara, which has recently been extensively restored, revealing its startlingly well-preserved painted astronomical ceiling and reliefs. Upon arrival at Luxor we settle in at our hotel and gather for dinner. Overnight at the 5-star Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor Hotel (Old Wing) for three nights. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, February 8: Karnak | Luxor Temple
A short drive through town brings us to Karnak, the world’s largest temple complex (built over the course of two thousand years), where a generous amount of time is scheduled for exploring this astounding and immense archaeological site. Our visit will include Karnak’s Open Air Museum, which has on display many newly reconstructed buildings. We return to our historic hotel on the east bank of the Nile and enjoy lunch and some time at leisure. Before dinner we visit the adjacent Luxor Temple, which is illuminated to striking effect. (B,L,D)

Thursday, February 9: Valley of the Kings | Deir el Bahari | Luxor Museum
In the Valley of the Kings, our morning exploration includes several royal tombs, including the legendary Tomb of Tutankhamen and the spectacular Tomb of Seti I. Continue on to the stunning mortuary temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahari, including the Third Terrace Sanctuary of Amun with its beautifully preserved painted decoration. After lunch we return to the east bank of the Nile and visit the small, but excellent, Luxor Museum. Return to our hotel and then gather for dinner. (B,L,D)

Friday, February 10: Valley of the Queens | Deir el Medina | Esna | Embarkation
Spend the morning in the Valley of the Queens, where we gain access to the touching Tomb of Khaemwaset, a young son of Ramesses III; and the Tomb of Nefertari, often called the most beautiful tomb in Egypt. Continue on to Deir el Medina, the ancient village of the workers who built the pharaohs’ tombs, where we visit the beautifully-preserved Tomb of Sennedjem and the recently-restored Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor. Our last visit on the west bank is the tomb of Ramose. Drive to Esna and visit the recently-restored temple of Khnum, with its wonderful astronomical ceiling with previously unknown names of ancient Egyptian constellations. Afterward, we embark our sailing vessel, a traditional Nile sail boat called a dahabiya, which will be our home-away-from-home for the next three nights. Our group will sail aboard two of these smaller-sized vessels that will travel together and avoid the crowds cruising in a convoy of large Nile riverboats. We enjoy a late lunch as we sail up the Nile. The afternoon is at leisure until we gather for dinner onboard. Overnight aboard an eight-cabin dahabiya for three nights. (B,L,D)

Saturday, February 11: El Kab | Edfu | Sailing the Nile
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast onboard before visiting El Kab, one of the oldest settlements of Upper Egypt and now a famous necropolis with remarkable tombs of nobles and army generals. Continue to the city of Edfu for a tour of the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus, Egypt’s most complete and best-preserved temple. Return to our dahabiyas and relax as we sail up the Nile. This evening, enjoy an onboard dinner of Egyptian specialties presented with a performance of local music and dancing. (B,L,D)

Sunday, February 12: Gebel el-Silsila | Kom Ombo | Sailing the Nile
Set out this morning to visit Gebel el-Silsila, located at the narrowest point along the entire length of the Nile. It was the location of a major New Kingdom sandstone quarry and workshop, where artifacts and tombs have been discovered. Sail onward to the twin Temples of Sobek and Horus at Kom Ombo, including a visit to the magnificent (though small), new Crocodile Museum. Continue cruising to Aswan, and partake in a final gala dinner onboard. (B,L,D)

Monday, February 13: Aswan | Disembarkation | Philae | Nubia Museum
Disembark this morning at Aswan and visit an ancient granite quarry with an unfinished obelisk. Set out on a short boat ride to the island of Philae for a visit of its Temple of Isis, which has been called Egypt’s most beautiful temple. After lunch we check-in to our beautiful, recently renovated hotel on the Nile. This afternoon, visit Aswan’s elegant Nubia Museum, which exhibits many of the more than 3,000 artifacts recovered during the excavations of Nubian sites that were threatened by the construction of the High Dam. We return to the hotel and gather for dinner. Overnight in the Nile wing of the 5-star Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan hotel for three nights. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, February 14: Elephantine Island | Aswan
Embark feluccas (small, traditional sailing vessels) to visit the archaeological site on Elephantine Island. Then we take a motor boat ride through the Nile cataract for lunch at a Nubian restaurant. This afternoon, enjoy a walk through Aswan’s suq, the most charming and traditional of the markets in Egypt, where one can find interesting Nubian ethnographic items such as baskets, pottery, and scarves that are unique to the Aswan area. We return to the hotel and gather for dinner. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, February 15: At leisure in Aswan | Farewell dinner
Today is at leisure, to relax at our luxurious hotel overlooking the famous cataracts of Aswan. Enjoy a final lecture with generous time for Q&A with both Stephen Harvey and our local Egyptology guide. This evening we gather for a farewell reception and dinner at our hotel hosted by our trio of leaders. (B,L,R,D)

Thursday, February 16: Fly to Abu Simbel | Fly to Cairo
Transfer to the airport early this morning for a short flight to Abu Simbel, where we visit the two world famous and fantastic rock-cut temples of Ramesses II (built to honor himself and his queen, Nefertari). Moved when the Aswan High Dam was built, they are a marvel of ancient and modern engineering. Then fly to Cairo and check-in to our luxurious airport hotel, which features fully soundproofed rooms. Dinner is at our hotel. Overnight at the 5-star Le Méridien Cairo Airport hotel. (B,L,D)

Friday, February 17: Fly home OR continue on to the extension
Check out this morning and enter the airport (our hotel has direct access to Terminal 3 via footbridge, as well as a free shuttle to Terminal 2) to catch flights homeward. (B)


Optional Post-Tour Extension
The Siwa Oasis & Alexandria
February 17-23, 2023 (7 days | 16 guests) with Egyptologist Stephen Harvey

 

Friday, February 17, 2023: El-Alamein War Museum and cemeteries | Marsa Matruh
Depart Cairo, driving north and then along the Mediterranean to the seaside resort town of Marsa Matruh, stopping along the way at El-Alamein. Two major battles were fought here in 1942 between British and Axis forces, and the Allies won a decisive victory in November of that year, preventing Germany from penetrating any farther into Egypt. We will visit the War Museum, which is an excellent overall introduction to WWII’s North Africa campaigns as well as the Battle of El-Alamein itself, plus the Italian and German military cemeteries. Continue on to Marsa Matruh, which boasts a beautiful, 4.5-mile white sand beach and turquoise waters. Alexander the Great is said to have stopped here on his way to Siwa Oasis (our next destination), and Cleopatra reputedly came here to bathe. Marsa Matruh was also an important stopping point for trade in the ancient Mediterranean. Just offshore is Bates’s Island, which has provided much evidence for 2nd millennium B.C. trade between the Levant, Cyprus, Greece, and Egypt. Time-permitting, we will visit Marsa Matruh’s recently-opened Archaeological Museum, which exhibits artifacts excavated locally and highlights the role of the city as an ancient trading hub. Check-in to our resort hotel and gather for dinner. Overnight at the 5-star Carols Beau Rivage hotel. (B,L,D)

Saturday, February 18: Siwa Oasis
Drive south through miles and miles of sand until suddenly a huge lake appears, surrounded by date palms. Here at Siwa Oasis we find our unique and beautiful eco-lodge, built of kershef (a mixture of mud and rock salt) in the indigenous style, which has been featured in many international publications. At night it is lit by hundreds of beeswax candles and oil lamps, and a flat-edged pool bubbles up from Roman springs. Float in the lake, which is as salty as the Dead Sea and said to be good for the skin. Dinner is served under the stars. Overnight at the 4-star Adrère Amellal Desert Eco Lodge for two nights. (B,L,D)

Sunday, February 19: Siwa: Oracle of Amun, Gebel Al Mawta, Shali
The town of Siwa is Egypt’s most remote oasis town, located on the northwest edge of the Great Sand Sea. The very traditional Siwans have held fast to their own distinct Berber culture and language, and are known for their exquisite jewelry and crafts. In the 4th century B.C., Alexander the Great visited this area to consult the Oracle of Amun, which is said to have confirmed that he was a god and a king of Egypt. We visit the ruins of the oracle temple; Gebel Al Mawta (Mountain of the Dead), a small hill with rock-cut tombs that have wall paintings and date from the 26th dynasty and the Ptolemaic and Romans periods; and Shali, the old village of Siwa, with houses dating back to the 13th century. Return to our eco-lodge for dinner. (B,L,D)

Monday, February 20: Drive to Alexandria
We depart Siwa Oasis this morning, driving north through the desert and east along the Mediterranean Sea for about 6.5 hours, to reach the port city of Alexandria. Founded in 332 B.C. under the reign of Alexander the Great, Alexandria was the capital of Egypt until A.D. 642. An important center of learning in the ancient world, today the cosmopolitan city has a more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern feel. Check-in to our historic hotel, which overlooks the Mediterranean, and gather for dinner. Overnight at the 4-star Steigenberger Cecil Hotel for two nights. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, February 21: Alexandria: National Museum, Kom al-Dikka, Bibliotheca Alexandrina
This morning is dedicated to exploring some of the jewels of Alexandria beginning with the Alexandria National Museum, whose exhibits span the city’s history from antiquity to the modern period. In recent years many significant finds have been recovered from Alexandria’s harbor through underwater archaeology, and we will see some of these portions of monumental sculpture and architecture at Kom al-Dikka, where we will also see the ruins of the Roman amphitheater (the only one in Egypt). This afternoon we visit the architecturally stunning Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a recently completed modern interpretation of the famous ancient library. Here, in addition to the innovative building, are extraordinary documents and artifacts, and an excellent museum that displays finds made during the construction of the Library, including a superb mosaic. Return to our hotel and gather for dinner. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, February 22: Alexandria | Cairo
This morning we tour the impressive tombs in Alexandria, such as Kom el-Shuqafa, that reflect both Pharaonic and Roman architectural elements and painting styles; plus we see Pompey’s Pillar, a 3rd-century pink granite column set amid the remains of the acropolis of the Serapeum. At mid-day we drive to Cairo and check-in to our luxurious airport hotel, which features fully soundproofed rooms, direct access to Terminal 3 via footbridge, and a free shuttle to Terminal 2. Dinner is at the hotel. Overnight at the 5-star Le Méridien Cairo Airport hotel. (B,L,D)

Thursday, February 23: Fly home
Check out this morning and enter the airport to catch flights homeward.

 


For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884). To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

support Us

The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.