In the Footsteps of the Pharaohs
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Cairo, Egypt / GizaOctober 25 — October 27
Arrive in Cairo and transfer to the Four Seasons Cairo at First Residence with the rest of the day at leisure. Relax in your pyramid-view room, take a dip in the pool, or head to the spa for a rejuvenating massage.
The next day, embark on a full day of exploration in the company of an expert Egyptologist. Begin at the Giza Plateau, site of the pyramids of Mycerinus and Chefren, as well as the Great Pyramid. In the Solar Boat Museum view a “solar barge,” which was found buried near the tomb of the pharaoh and reconstructed from 1,224 small pieces. Gain exclusive access to the Sphinx and stand between the paws of this iconic monument for fantastic up-close photography. Return to the hotel for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner.
On Saturday, travel to the Dahshur area, the necropolis of the great capital city of Memphis. Here admire the finely detailed, colossal 120-ton statue of Ramses II, and the stunning 80-ton Alabaster Sphinx. Then explore nearby Saqqara to see the Step Pyramid—the oldest pyramid, and the first large limestone construction in the world. King Snefru also chose this area to build his tomb, known as the “bent pyramid,” due to the bottom being built at a 52 degree angle, while the top is a more gradual 43 degree angle—the change was made when the masonry threatened to collapse under its own weight. Next, view the Red Pyramid, the first true pyramid in Egypt, which the famous pyramids of Giza were modeled after. This evening, enjoy a dramatic sound and light show near the Sphinx.
Cairo / LuxorOctober 28
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for our short flight to Luxor. Upon arrival, check in to the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa. This afternoon, explore Luxor, the site of the ancient city of Thebes. Begin at the Temple of Karnak, featuring the Temple of Amun and the amazing Avenue of the Sphinx. Walk through the Great Hypostyle Hall; its expertly aligned columns, the largest of which is 80 feet high with a 33-foot circumference, are an amazing sight to behold. At the striking Temple of Luxor, view the three large statues of Ramses II along the front of the temple pylons; the Courtyard of Ramses II behind the East Tower; and the Colonnade of Amenhotep III, with its 14 papyrus-headed columns, some towering up to 50 feet in height.
Luxor / Embark Sonesta St. George IOctober 29
Today, visit the Temple of Hathor at Denderah, which is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt. View its massive stone roof, dark chambers, underground passages, and columns inscribed with hieroglyphs. Then, step aboard the Sonesta St. George I for lunch. The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy passing scenery and to take advantage of the ship’s many amenities.
Nile Cruise / EsnaOctober 30
Today, disembark on the west bank of the Nile to explore the Necropolis of Thebes, and continue to the Valley of the Kings, burial ground of the pharaohs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a period of 500 years, beginning in the 16th century BC, tombs were built along this valley for pharaohs and nobles, including that of “the boy king,” Tutankhamun. Found in 1922 by British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter, the tomb of Tutankhamun is yours to discover, as you set foot inside its 3,500-year-old walls. Make a stop at the lovely Temple of Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt’s first female pharaoh who is regarded today as one of its most successful. Also, enjoy a photo stop at the Colossi of Memnon.
Edfu / Kom OmboOctober 31
Cruise to Edfu to view the Temple of Horus, falcon-headed god of the sky. Built in 230 BC by Ptolemy III and once buried in sand and debris, this stunningly well-preserved and colorful structure reveals what temple worship in ancient Egypt was like.
After lunch on board, disembark at Kom Ombo (hill of gold) to visit the Greco-Roman temple dedicated to Haroeris (the sun god) and Sobek (the crocodile god), who was considered by some ancient Egyptians to be the creator of the world. While there, view the mummified remains of several crocodiles that once basked along the ancient Nile shore.
Nile Cruise / AswanNovember 1
Spend the morning cruising down the Nile, with lunch on board. Disembark in Aswan and ride a motorized boat to Philae Temple on the island of Agilika. This sacred complex was dedicated to the Goddess Isis and reflects a fusion of three great civilizations—Egyptian, Greek, and Roman. The temple was dismantled and painstakingly reassembled when the Aswan High Dam was constructed. Built in the 1960s, the dam spans the Nile River, more than two miles across. It provides irrigation and hydro-electric power to much of Egypt, and the reservoir that formed behind it, Lake Nasser, is 340 miles long. Proceed to the impressive granite quarries and site of the Unfinished Obelisk. Illustrating the skills of Egypt’s stonemasons, this monolith is one-third taller than any other ancient Egyptian obelisk.
Disembark / AswanNovember 2
This morning, bid farewell to the Sonesta St. George I and board a traditional felucca for a cruise around the Aswan Islands. Afterward check in to the Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel. In the afternoon, visit the Nubian Museum which contains thousands of artifacts spanning pre-historic to modern times.
Aswan / Abu Simbel / CairoNovember 3
After breakfast, board our flight to Abu Simbel. There, discover the commanding twin temples of Ramses II and his wife, Queen Nefertari. The former’s façade is dominated by four statues of the pharaoh, each nearly 70 feet tall. Perhaps even more impressive, this entire site was disassembled and moved here to save it from the floodwaters caused by the Aswan High Dam. In the afternoon, fly to Cairo and check in to the Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel. After a chance to settle in, join a local expert for a guided tour of the Egyptian Museum. This evening, gather for a special farewell dinner at the famous Naguib Mahfouz Café.
Cairo / DepartureNovember 4
Board your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.