AIA Tours: land

Absolute Egypt 2020

Tour Dates: January 18-February 3, 2020 OR February 15-March 2, 2020 (sold out) (17 days)

Tour Leader(s): Stephen Harvey ,

with 3 nights aboard the 33-suite, 5-star Sonesta Star Goddess

Offering two 2020 departures (17 days each)
January 18 – February 3, 2020 (Sold Out) or
February 15 – March 2, 2020
with optional, 5-day, post-tour extension to Jordan

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

“I enjoyed everything. Best tour I have ever taken. Accommodations and food were all excellent. The scheduling was excellent and worked perfect for me. I like to be kept busy and see as much as possible, which we did. I have no criticism.” – Willow, Washington

Highlights include:

  • Traveling with Egyptologist Stephen Harvey plus a wonderful local Egyptologist guide and an excellent trip manager, who have been working together for years and have received excellent reviews;
  • The exclusivity of a maximum of just twelve participants plus your triad of leaders;
  • A 15-night itinerary, longer than most Egypt tours, so that your pace is in-depth and not rushed;
  • The best accommodations:
    • Pyramid-view rooms at the 5-star Mena House hotel in Giza for four nights to start your trip;
    • Three nights in Luxor at the 5-star Old Winter Palace in Luxury Garden rooms, which are quieter and larger than the Standard Nile-view rooms;
    • Huge suites (over 400 square feet) with private balconies aboard the 33-suite, 5-star for three nights cruising the Nile;
    • Spacious rooms with great views of the 5-star Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan hotel for three nights;
    • In the middle of the trip you stay one night at the best available hotel in Abydos so that you can explore two less-visited and fabulous sites, Abydos and Dendara;
  • Special meetings with excavators and conservators, including behind-the-scenes visits, when possible.

Please join our small group of just 12 travelers plus our expert leaders on either our January 26th or February 23rd departure. It will be an enjoyable, fascinating, and unforgettable adventure!


Main Tour Pricing per person (15 nights):
Double Occupancy (9-12 participants) – $10,995
Double Occupancy (7 to 8 participants) – $11,695
Single Supplement* – $2,545
With fewer than 8 participants, a small group surcharge may be added.

Extension Price per person (4 nights):
Double Occupancy (5 or more participants) – $3,695
Single Supplement* – $975
With fewer than 5 participants, a small group surcharge may be added.

* Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required (limited availability).

Ramesseum columns. Image © R.T. Nielsen

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


Day 1: January 18, 2020 or February 15, 2020: Depart Home
Day 2: Sunday, January 19 or February 16: Arrive Cairo, Egypt | Private transfer to hotel in Giza | Welcome dinner
Day 3:  Giza Plateau
Day 4: Cairo | Egyptian Museum | Mosque of Ibn Tulun | Gayer-Anderson Museum
Day 5: Saqqara |  PM at leisure
Day 6: Fly to Luxor | Karnak | Luxor Temple
Day 7: Luxor | Valley of the Kings | Deir el Bahari | Luxor
Day 8: Luxor | Valley of the Queens | Deir el Medina | Luxor Museum
Day 9: Luxor | Dendara | Abydos
Day 10: Abydos | Luxor | Embarkation | PM at leisure
Day 11: Nile Cruising | Esna
Day 12: Esna | Edfu | Kom Ombo
Day 13: Aswan | Disembarkation | Philae | Nubia Museum
Day 14:  Elephantine Island | Aswan
Day 15: Day at leisure in Aswan
Day 16: Aswan | Fly to Abu Simbel | Fly to Cairo | Farewell dinner
Day 17: Monday, February 3 or March 2, 2020: Cairo | Fly home OR begin post-trip extension to Jordan

Optional Post-Tour Extension to JORDAN

Day 1: February 3 or March 2, 2020: Cairo | Fly to Amman, Jordan | Jordan Archaeological Museum | Amman city tour | ACOR
Day 2:  Jerash | Ajloun Castle | Amman
Day 3: Mt. Nebo | Madaba | Lunch at a local home | Um er-Rasas | Petra
Day 4: Petra
Day 5: February 7 or March 6: Petra | Wadi Rum | Amman | Fly Home

View Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Saturday, January 18, 2020 or February 15, 2020: Depart Home

Day 2: Sunday, January 19 or February 16: Arrive Cairo, Egypt | Private transfer to hotel in Giza | Welcome dinner
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). This evening we gather for a welcome reception and dinner with your three expert trip leaders: AIA lecturer, Egyptology guide, and Trip Manager. Overnight at the 5-star Marriott Mena House hotel in Pyramid View rooms for four nights. (R,D)

Day 3: Giza Plateau
Spend the morning exploring the Giza Plateau, including the Great Pyramid of Khufu; Solar Boat Museum; 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, where the balance of the afternoon is at leisure to relax and enjoy the pool. Gather for dinner at the Mena House hotel this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 4: Cairo: Egyptian Museum, Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Gayer-Anderson Museum
Spend the morning at the Egyptian Museum, which houses the celebrated treasures of Tutankhamen and the Royal Mummy Room. After lunch overlooking the Nile we visit two major Islamic sites: the 9th-century mosque of Ibn Tulun (both Cairo’s largest mosque in terms of land area and its oldest mosque in its original form) and the adjacent Gayer-Anderson Museum (a superb example of 17th-century domestic architecture with a vast collection of furniture, carpets, curios, and other objects). Return to the Mena House hotel this evening for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 5: Saqqara | PM at leisure
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; and 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) ­

Day 6: Fly to Luxor | Karnak | Luxor Temple
Take an early morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Luxor. 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 archaeological site. Our visit will include Karnak’s Open Air Museum, which has on display many newly reconstructed buildings. Check-in to our elegant, historic hotel on the east bank of the Nile and enjoy lunch and then time at leisure to relax and enjoy the gardens and pool. Before dinner we visit the adjacent Luxor Temple, which is illuminated to striking effect. Overnight at the 5-star Sofitel Old Winter Palace hotel in quiet Luxury Garden view rooms for three nights. (B,L,D)

Day 7: Luxor | Valley of the Kings | Deir el Bahari | Luxor
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 our hotel on the east bank of the Nile for time at leisure. Gather this evening for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 8: Luxor | Valley of the Queens | Deir el Medina | Luxor Museum
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. We return to the Nile’s east bank and visit the small, but excellent, Luxor Museum. Return to our hotel and gather for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 9: Dendara | Abydos
We set out on a drive through the countryside with boxed lunches to visit two of Egypt’s most spectacular and under-visited sites. Our first visit is to the Temple of Hathor at Dendara, which has recently been extensively restored, revealing its startlingly well-preserved painted astronomical ceiling and reliefs. After checking into our simple but conveniently-located hotel, we will visit the archaeological site at Abydos. AIA study leader Stephen Harvey will share his experiences working there over the past 25 years, including information about exciting recent discoveries. Return to our hotel and gather for dinner this evening. Overnight at the House of Life Abydos hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 10: Abydos | Luxor | Embarkation | PM at leisure
Early risers may join Steve Harvey to visit Abydos’s spectacularly painted temple of Ramesses II, with scenes of the Battle of Qadesh. After breakfast, we drive back to Luxor, embark our deluxe Nile riverboat, and enjoy lunch and the afternoon at leisure. Overnight aboard the 5-star Sonesta Star Goddess for three nights. (B,L,D)

Day 11: Nile Cruising | Esna
Enjoy a full day for relaxing, lectures, and discussions aboard our luxurious riverboat with 33 suites, all with private balconies. We cruise the Nile admiring timeless scenes, pass through the Esna Lock, and dock for the night at Esna. (B,L,D)

Day 12: Esna | Edfu | Kom Ombo
This morning we cruise to Edfu, where we will visit the Temple of Horus, the best-preserved temple on the Nile. (Recent excavations have also revealed the earlier history of the town.) Continue cruising for most of the day, disembarking once for a short walk to visit the twin Temples of Sobek and Horus at Kom Ombo, including a visit to the magnificent (though small), new Crocodile Museum. Dock for the night at Kom Ombo. (B,L,D)

Day 13: Aswan | Disembarkation | Philae | Nubia Museum
After breakfast, disembark our Nile riverboat at Aswan and visit an ancient granite quarry with an unfinished obelisk, before taking 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 later for dinner. Overnight in the Nile wing of the 5-star Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan hotel for three nights. (B,L,D)

Day 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 later for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 15: Day at leisure in Aswan
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 Steve Harvey and our local Egyptologist guide. (B,L,D)

Day 16: Aswan | Fly to Abu Simbel | Fly to Cairo | Farewell dinner
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 and, most importantly, direct access to Terminal 3 via footbridge. This evening we gather for a farewell reception and dinner at our hotel hosted by our triad of leaders. Overnight at the 5-star Le Méridien Cairo Airport. (B,L,R,D)

Day 17: Monday February 3 or March 2, 2020:
Cairo | Fly home OR begin post-trip extension to Jordan
Check out this morning and enter the airport to catch flights homeward, or begin your post-trip extension to Jordan. (B)


Optional Post-Tour Extension
Jordan – February 3-7, 2020 or March 2-6, 2020
Jordan is home to great cultural wonders, warm and hospitable people, and stunning desert and mountain landscapes. On this four-night itinerary you will explore superb ancient and early Christian sites, as well as the modern Arab city of Amman. Enjoy fine accommodations and meals, plus travel and learn with AIA lecturer/host Stephen Harvey (with 5 or more participants) and an excellent local guide, making this an exceptional opportunity to witness some of Jordan’s greatest highlights.

Day 1: February 3 or March 2, 2020: Cairo | Fly to Amman, Jordan | The Jordan Museum | Amman city tour | ACOR
Take a group flight (time TBD) from Cairo to Amman, where we are met at the airport (AMM). First we explore The Jordan Museum, which provides an introduction to the people and cultures of Jordan throughout all periods of the country’s history, including archaeological material. Then we set out on a city tour, starting at the Citadel, visiting the 8th-century Omayyad Palace; the Temple of Hercules, which was dedicated to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd century; a small Byzantine church; and the old Roman city’s restored odeon and its theater, which seated 6,000 people. Before dinner this evening, and schedule permitting, visit the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) for a private tour with its Director. Overnight at the 5-star Intercontinental Jordan Hotel for two nights. (L,D)

Day 2: Jerash | Ajloun Castle | Amman
Begin today with a drive to the impressive Roman city of Jerash, nestled in a green, fertile valley. Stroll along the city’s colonnaded streets and through ancient marketplaces, and visit imposing theaters sitting beside Roman, Christian, and Muslim houses of worship. Continue on to one of the best-preserved examples of medieval Arab military architecture in the Near East, the spectacular, 12th-century Ajloun Castle. Return to Amman in time for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 3: Mt. Nebo | Madaba | Lunch at a local home | Um er-Rasas | Petra
After breakfast, depart for Mt. Nebo, from where we will have a clear view of the surrounding terrain, including the mountains of Moab, Jerusalem, and Judea. Continue on to Madaba, which has been inhabited for about 4,000 years and contains the most impressive work of art to survive from the mid-6th century: a mosaic map of the ancient Holy Land, the oldest one in existence, located in St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church. Visit the site’s ruins of the 6th-century basilica, the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, and the monastery; as well as the Church of Saints Lot and Procopius, Martyrs, which contains a masterpiece of the Madaba School of mosaics. After a cooking demonstration and lunch at a local home we set out for Petra, stopping along the way to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Um er-Rasas, a walled site with several well-preserved churches and mosaics. Arrive in Petra, check-in to our hotel, and gather for dinner this evening. Overnight at the 5-star Mövenpick Resort Petra for two nights. (B,L,D)

Day 4: Petra
Early this morning we will walk about a mile through the siq (gorge) that takes us into (and, later, out of) the splendid Nabataean capital city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our first view of the rose-red city of Petra, carved almost 2,500 years ago, is the dazzling Al-Khasneh Farun (Treasury). From there we walk along the Streets of Façades and view the magnificent tombs, theater, markets, Petra Church (with its glorious mosaics), and Great Temple. Late this afternoon we visit the small site museum and then return to our hotel, where we dine tonight. (B,L,D)

Day 5: February 7 or March 6: Wadi Rum | Amman | Fly Home
Depart Petra early this morning, driving through Wadi Rum Protected Area, which is a mixed natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage site. Wadi Rum’s desert landscape varies from narrow gorges to natural arches and towering cliffs, and 12,000 years of human occupation are evidenced by petroglyphs and archaeological ruins. After a simple, traditional lunch served in the shade of a Bedouin tent, we drive to Amman and enjoy dinner. Private transfers to the airport (AMM) late this evening and tomorrow are provided to catch independent flights homeward. Overnight at the 5-star Intercontinental Jordan Hotel. (B,L,D)


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).

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.