Don't miss this one-of-a-kind tour of Aswan and the Upper Nile Valley.
January 29, 2018 to February 10, 2018.
Day 1 January 29, 2018 Welcome to Cairo:
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel - the beautiful and central Ramses Hilton hotel - directly across the motorway from Cairo's Egyptian Museum. For those who arrive early, you can choose to relax and sip a cocktail in the lounge - or there will be an optional visit ($30US) to see a fascinating glimpse of modern Cairo: El Seed's mural - the
stunning work of a French Tunisian artist that covers almost 50 buildings and is only visible from a certain point of the Mokattam Mountain. This Cairo excursion will also venture behind the famous Zabbalin village (of the famous garbage collectors of Cairo) to see the amazing
monastery of Saint Simon the Tanner - a vast open space lying in the bosom of the hills, with dramatic coloured carvings all over the mountain.
The tour will officially begin in early evening with a celebratory welcome reception and introductions at the hotel. After the reception, Gayle will present a brief introduction on the importance of the South in Egyptian history and the idea of borders.
Overnight Cairo, Ramses Hilton, Cairo
Day 2 January 30, 2018 Egyptian Museum & Egyptian Museum of Civilization:
After breakfast, we will set off to visit the Egyptian Museum, home to many of the greatest treasures of ancient history. In addition to reviewing the stunning highlights, including Tutankhamen's golden mask, the stunning colossi of Amenhotep III, and exquisite statues of the Old Kingdom, Gayle will guide you through some of its often overlooked treasures. Rooms of exquisite tomb models, ornate coffins, animal mummies - and strange and ancient curiosities will come alive with Gayle's insight and stories. You will also have the option of visiting the two rooms of fascinating royal mummies (added cost 100EGP) - a must in the company of a worldrenowned mummy expert. Gayle certainly knows these fine individuals well - and will ensure a meaningful encounter with greatness.
In the afternoon we will visit Cairo's newly opened Egyptian Museum of Civilization -- the first museum of civilization in the Arab world. The collection aims to present a comprehensive view of Egyptian civilization from prehistory to the present day, taking a multidisciplinary thematic approach designed to highlight Egypt's tangible and intangible heritage. Its main goal is to
'share knowledge', to connect with the surrounding Egyptian society and to offer international visitors a richer and deeper insight into the meaning of Egyptian culture through the ages.
Overnight Cairo, Ramses Hilton, B
Day 3 January 31, 2018 The Giza Plateau - Overlooked Old Kingdom wonders:
Bright and early after breakfast, we will set off on our private bus to Giza. The last surviving of the Seven Wonders of the world, the Great Pyramid of Giza is perhaps the most famous tourist site in the world. Yet for those who have been there a few times, the Giza plateau has other rich wonders to explore beyond Khufu and Khafre's great works and the Sphinx. Today, we will focus on Menkaure's pyramid and temple, and venture inside if it is open. Gayle will also take you off the beaten track to visit newly opened Old Kingdom tombs, queen's pyramids and other unique features of this small stretch of sacred desert ground - that has been the site of pilgrimages for millennia. We will stop for lunch in Giza (not included) - with views of the Sphinx.
In the afternoon we will return to the hotel for rest and relaxation - a chance to contemplate the wonders of the morning. Late afternoon or early evening Gayle will give an optional 20 minute
talk on Upper Egypt - in preparation for tomorrow's activities.
Overnight Ramses Hilton, B
Day 4 February 1, 2018 - Moalla, Armant, Tod & El Kab:
After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport to catch our morning flight to Luxor. In Luxor we will board our air-conditioned coach to enjoy a scenic overland journey to Aswan, stopping at some rare and exquisite sites along the way.
First we will stop at Armant - or ancient 'Hermonthis' - the seat of a sun cult and a crowning place of kings. The war god Montu was worshiped here in hawk-headed human form and also in his epiphany, the bull Buchis. Armant was probably the original home of the rulers of Thebes who reunited Egypt after the First Intermediate Period. Excavations (1929-38) uncovered the Bucheum (the necropolis of the mummified Buchis bulls), cemeteries of various periods from the predynastic downward, and part of the town area, including the temple of Montu. We will also stop further up the road at Tod, site of an ancient town and temple to the god Montu. (Building here can be traced back to Userkaf in the 6th Dynasty - but also shows the work of Middle Kingdom rulers Nebhepetre Montuhotep II and Senwosret III.
After a stop for lunch (cost not included) in Luxor, we will head south and visit Mo'alla, the site of two very important First Intermediate Tombs. Desolate and windswept in the desert cliff of the River Nile's East Bank, about 32km south of Luxor Mo'alla is a provincial cemetery where we will explore the great tombs of Ankhtifi and, if possible, Sobekhotep.
As Great Overlord of the Nomes of Edfu and Hierakonpolis, and Overseer of Priests, Ankhtifi was the governor of several districts between Edfu and Armant. His wonderfully decorated tomb shows many interesting and important painted scenes which give us glimpses into the complicated political events in the obscure First Intermediate Period. A few metres to the north of Ankhtifi's tomb is the smaller tomb-chapel of Sobekhotep, another First Intermediate Period official. It is roughly cut and not so well preserved as its neighbour, but has a few interesting scenes.
Finally we will stop at the ancient site of El Kab - divided into Nekheb El Kab on the east bank of the Nile and the older Nekhen, now known as Kom el Ahmar (the Red Mound) on the opposite bank. Both sites were religious centers that date from the pre-Dynastic period to Roman times. In the cliff necropolis, the New Kingdom tombs of Ahmose sa Ibana, Panehsy, and Setau are filled with beautiful, interesting paintings, and historically important inscriptions. Close by in the desert are unusual small temples to the goddess Nekbet and the god Thoth.
After a very full day of Upper Egypt touring, we will check into our hotel - the Basma, and enjoy a relaxed evening.
Overnight Basma Hotel similar, B
Day 5 February 2, 2018 - Exploring Elephantine Island:
After breakfast we will cross the Nile to spend a leisurely morning of exploration on the rich island of Elephantine. This was the original 'border town' between Egypt and the Nubian lands to the south and in ancient times was an important strategic position both for the defense of the border and as a trading route. The island has been inhabited from the Early Dynastic Period through Roman times until the present day. It is one of the few real 'tells' in Egypt, with thousands of years of mud-brick walls superimposed, one on the other, telling the stories of ancient lives. Elephantine's ancient name was 'abu' or 'yebu', which means elephant and may have been derived from the shape of the smooth grey boulders which surround the island, looking like elephants in the water, or from the ivory that came to the island in trade from farther
The largest surviving structure today is the Temple of the ram-headed creator-god Khnum, at the southern end of the island, dating from New Kingdom to Roman times. In the Middle Kingdom, many officials, such as the local governors Sarenput I and Heqaib III, dedicated lifesize granite statues in a small shrine dedicated to their famous ancestors. Further north on the island is the site of a small restored Temple of Satis the protectress of the cataract, her consort Khnum, and her daughter, Anuket, built in the time of Hatshepsut and Tuthmose III. The reconstruction of the Satis temples by the German Archaeological Institute has been sensitively done, with the few reliefs supplemented by drawn elements. The most important structure to emerge from the excavations is an Early Dynstic Satet shrine, whose remains can be seen in a crypt-like area below the reconstructed temple. We'll try to visit the two Nilometers at Elephantine Island. We will also visit the recently reopened museum on Elephantine, with its extraordinary statues and coffins, and the gilded cartonnage of a mummified ram dedicated to Khnum. If it's open, we will consider a lovely tea at the beautiful glass floor restaurant of the Movenpick hotel on Elephantine - to quench our thirst after a busy day of discovery.
Overnight Basma hotel, Aswan, B.
Day 6 February 3, 2017 - Qubbet el Hawa & Traditional Nubian village:
After breakfast, we will take a boat trip to visit the rock-cut tombs of Qubbet el Hawa-- enjoying the ibis birds and exotic flora along the way. Cut into the high cliffs across the river from the modern city of Aswan, Qubbet el Hawa is the site of an elite Old and Middle Kingdom cemetery. You'll enjoy breathtaking vistas as you explore the seldom-visited tombs of the high officials - a real off-the-beaten track experience. Autobiographies carved into their facades provide fascinating details of the lives of these men, several of whom led trading and military expeditions south into Nubia. In particular, we will visit the tomb of Harkhuf, famous for his expedition for the young King Pepy, who was overjoyed at Harkhuf's gift of an exotic dancing man from the forests of Central Africa. We will also see the rock-cut tomb of Heka-ib and Sirenput, governors of Elephantine - along with some early Christian rock-cut chapels.
After lunch, we will enjoy a scenic ride up the Nile to visit Sahel and the picturesque Nubian village "Gharb el Saheyl". Sahel was a hardship posting for New Kingdom officials who watched the narrow waterways for contraband and spent their long hours engraving images and prayers on the granite boulders. For the adventurous we will climb up to see the Djoser Famine Inscription. Explore the traditional Nubian houses. Try some local fare (optional) - and browse for beautiful Nubian handicrafts created by local craftsmen and women.
Overnight Basma hotel, Aswan, B
Day 7 February 4, 2017 - Gebel El Silsila:
Today we journey 65 kilometres downstream to Gebel el Silsila - the domain of Sobek, god of the crocodiles and controller of the waters. You will marvel at the high sandstone cliffs on either side of the narrowing Nile. Gebel el Silsila was used as a major quarry site on both sides of the Nile from at least the 18th Dynasty to Greco-Roman times, and not so long ago, the sandstone for the Esna barrage was also quarried here. Gebel el Silsila is famous for its New Kingdom stela and cenotaphs. Forty-two rock-cut tombs and a shrine decorated with a winged sun disc have in recent years been found here. The discovery of this necropolis, the burial ground of men, women and children from the New Kingdom, proves that Gebel el-Silsila in Upper Egypt was not just a quarry site for the kingdom's temples and tombs but also a bustling population centre. We will visit rock-cut shrines of Horemheb, Khaemwase and Ramesside governors. Many of the talatat used by Akhenaten were quarried from here, and used in buildings at Luxor and Amarna. We can visit a rock-cut stela from the early part of Akhenaten's reign which shows the king offering to Amun.
Overnight Basma hotel, Aswan, B
Day 8 February 5, 2018 - An inspiring half day on Philae Island:
Today we will fall under the spell of Isis as we spend a half day exploring her beautiful Philae temple complex on Agilika island. The last functioning pagan temple in Egypt, this is where the last known hieroglyphic writing was discovered - and the temple whose doors were officially closed in the 5th century AD by the Roman Emperor Justinian, as the power of Christianity took hold across the region. To avoid destruction from rising Nile waters with the construction of the new dam, the entire temple was dismantled and moved to this location in the 1970s. Philae's cult status dates back to the New Kingdom, when Biga Island was identified as one of the burial places of Osiris - and the first piece of land to emerge from the primordial waters of Chaos. Since Biga was forbidden to all but the priesthood, however, so public festivities centred upon neighbouring Philae, which was known originally as the "Island from the Time of Re". Although it includes a mammisi of Nectanebo and fragments from the Nubian kings, most of the existing Temple of Isis was constructed over some six hundred years by Ptolemaic and Roman rulers who sought to identify themselves with the Osirian myth and the cult of Isis. At Philae, you will appreciate the exquisite fusion of Ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman architecture; the temple complex harmonizes perfectly with its setting, sculpted pillars and pylons gleaming white or mellow gold against Mediterranean-blue water and black Nilotic rock. Highlights include the kiosk of Trajan, the mammisi, the hypostyle hall, shrine of Hathor, and the gate of Hadrian.
In the evening we will walk from our hotel to visit the nearby Nubian Museum. Completed in 1997, the Nubian Museum is dedicated to the history of Nubia, the area that stretches from Aswan through Northern Sudan. Designed as an innovative interpretation of traditional Nubian architecture, the museum won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2001. The museum is organized along a chronological path illustrating the development of the region from prehistory up to the present through art and artifacts. In addition, the museum boasts beautiful gardens and life-size models showing traditional Nubian customs as well as a permanent exhibit documenting international efforts, carried out during the construction of the Aswan Dam, to rescue the ancient monuments of Nubia from the waters of Lake Nasser.
Overnight Basma hotel, Aswan, B
Day 9 February 6, 2018 - Board Nile River Boat - Cruise to the Roman Temple of Kalabsha:
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and transfer to our beautiful five-star Steigenberger Nile cruise ship, the Omar el Khayam, upon which we will voyage downstream to Lake Nasser. Once on board, we set sail to Kalabsha to visit the Temple. Kalabsha Temple --ancient Talmis-- was built over an earlier New Kingdom site during the Roman Period for Caesar Augustus. It was dedicated to Isis, Osiris and Horus-Mandulis, who was the Roman aspect of the Nubian solar god, Merwel. This is perhaps the finest example of a freestanding temple in Nubia and is constructed from sandstone blocks. The temple was built in the traditional Egyptian style The Holy of Holies was in the farthest room, which was later used as a Christian church. Augustus is depicted on the walls offering to Mandulis. There is a passage surrounding the inner temple building similar to other Ptolemaic temples. Kalabsha Temple complex is among the most important of the salvaged monuments on Lake Nasser. The island also preserves, Ramesses II's rock-cut shrine of Beit el-Wali, parts of his temple of Gerf Hussein, and the exquisite Kiosk of Qertassi as well as prehistorical rock engravings. Sail to Wadi es Sabua for overnight.
Overnight Omar el Khayam Cruise ship, Wadi es Sabua, B, L, D
Day 10 February 7, 2018 - Wadi es Sabua & the New Kingdom Amada Temple:
This morning we visit Wadi es Sabua - or 'Valley of the Lions' (so-called because of the sphinx lined approach to the temple forecourts). It is the site of two New Kingdom Egyptian temples, including one speos temple constructed by the Ramesses II. The first temple was built by the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep III and subsequently restored by Ramesses II. In its first stage, this temple "consisted of a rock-cut sanctuary fronted by a brick-built pylon, a court and a hall, partly painted with wall paintings." The temple was perhaps dedicated to one of the local Nubian forms of Horus, but his representations were altered to Amun at a later point in time. The second larger temple was known as "Ramesses beloved of Amon in the field of Amun" was used as a quay or resting place for boats during its descent of the Nile. As we have lunch on board, we sail to Amada, where we will disembark in the afternoon to explore. Though small, Amada Temple contains some important historical inscriptions and elegant images. Amada is the oldest of the Lake Nasser temples. An inscription carved on a stela on the rear wall of the sanctuary in the third year of Amenhotep II describes an Egyptian military campaign into Asia, and his bringing back the bodies of rebel chieftains to hang on the walls of Thebes --and one on the prow of his ship sailing through Nubia as a warning. Another, carved on a stela on the northern side of the entrance doorway describes the Libyan invasion of Egypt in the fourth year of Merenptah, the son of Ramesses II. This temple was dedicated to Amun-Re and Re- Horakhty. It was originally built on the orders of Tuthmosis III and his son, Amenhotep II but the hypostyle hall was a later addition by Tuthmosis IV. Seti I had a hand in some small additions, such as a large pylon with a sandstone gateway abutting against the hypostyle hall, along with other 19th Dynasty rulers including his son, Ramesses II.
Overnight Omar el Khayam Cruise ship, Amada, B, L, D
Day 11 February 8, 2018 - Kasr Ibrim - and the Great Rock Cut Temples of Abu Simbel:
Early in the morning we sail to Kasr Ibrim, the fortress site originally built up during the Middle Kingdom when the 12th Dynasty kings were establishing control of the trade route along the Nile. The earliest archaeological evidence for the site dates to about 1000 BC, considerably after the end of the the Middle Kingdom. We will sail by the island and view it from the sun deck, as we are not permitted to disembark to visit due to ongoing archaeological work. High above the Nile, this island was recognized for its strategic importance early on; there were many battles for its possession throughout the centuries, even into modern times.
Finally we will arrive at the highlight of the cruise - Abu Simbel, widely considered the most magnificent temple in Egypt. Built by the greatest of the pharaohs, Ramses II, these huge rockcut temples marked the southern boundary of the Egyptian Empire with Nubia at the peak of its power during the New Kingdom. They were meant to convey the power of Egypt's rulers to anyone who laid eyes upon them.
The great statues of Ramses and his wife Nefertari that adorn their facades are awe-inspiring -- and the four statues guarding the doorway to the larger of these temples are the largest sculptures that survive from the Pharaonic era. It is certain,
based upon the extensive art work throughout the interior of the Great Temple, that the structures were created, at least in part, to celebrate Ramesses' victory over the
Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE. The temples took twenty years to create and are dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakty, Ptah, and the deified Ramesses II (The
Great Temple) and the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari, Ramesses' Great Royal Wife (The Small Temple). While many people think that the name, Abu Simbel, was site's name in antiquity, this is not so. Swiss explorer Burckhardt was led to the site by a boy named Abu Simbel in 1813 CE -- and the site was then named after him. Burckhardt, however, was unable to uncover the temple which was buried in sand up to the necks of
the grand colossi; he later mentioned this experience to his friend and fellow explorer Giovanni Belzoni who ultimately uncovered and first excavated at Abu Simbel in 1817.
Overnight Omar el Khayam Cruise ship, Abu Simbel, B, L, D
Day 12 February 9, 2018 - Aswan high dam and farewell dinner:
This morning we disembark from our cruise ship after breakfast and take a final side trip to visit the Aswan high dam, an engineering marvel that changed the course of life along the Nile. We will also see the great unfinished obelisk of Hatshepsut and the granite quarries. Later this afternoon or evening we will plan a farewell dinner at a local Aswan restaurant to share our final hours of great company and camaraderie and reflect on all the wonders we have seen.
Overnight Basma hotel, Aswan, B, D
Day 13 February 10, 2018 - End of Tour:
After a final breakfast at the hotel, check out to connect to your flight home. Or continue on with us on our special in-depth Luxor 5 day extension. B
Join Gayle on Hidden Thebes - the 5 Night Luxor Extension staying at the
Steigenberger Nile Palace - $925USD pp/DBL contact us for details.
Tour cost $3595 PP USD based on twin share. Single surcharge $695.
Non-Refundable Deposit of $300USD to confirm your spot if you book by May
15. As of May 16 deposit is $500USD per person. Final payment due Nov 29,17
Gayle Gibson is a respected Canadian Egyptologist and a Departmental
Associate at the Royal Ontario Museum. She worked for over 20 years as
a popular teacher, lecturer and Egypt specialist at the ROM and appears
frequently on television as a "guest expert". Her main enthusiasm as an
Egyptologist is for mummies and their coffins. It was Ms. Gibson who was
largely responsible for correctly identifying Pharaoh Ramses I among the
mysterious mummies at the old Niagara museum.. and getting him on
the road home to Luxor, after centuries away from Egypt.
Ramy Darwish is our certified tour guide. As a leader in his field, he
has been the preferred guide for such prestigious tour companies as,
Abercrombie and Kent, Vantage Deluxe World Travel and Scenic Tours. An
Egyptology graduate from Helwan University and a consummate professional, he has led tours for 20 years through Egypt, as well as Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Helpful, attentive and highly knowledgeable, Ramy possesses excellent people skills combined with a contagious passion for Egyptian history. He received rave reviews on our 2016 Undiscovered Egypt Tour.
- 03 nights accommodation in Cairo at Ramses Hilton BB Basis.
- 06 nights accommodation in Aswan at Basma Hotel BB Basis.
- 03 nights accommodation on board of M/S Steigenberger Omar El Khayam all meals
- All transfers throughout with air conditioned private bus
- All tours as per the above itinerary - Please note entry to pyramids and other sites will be
subject to availability.
- Flight Cairo Luxor
- Service charge and taxes
- Gayle Gibson your Canadian Egyptologist guide
- Ramy Darwish our local Egyptian Egyptologist guide
- Tips for porters
Price does not include:
- International airfare,
- Egyptian Entry visa - $25USD cash on arrival
- Optional tours
- Tips for guides and bus driver
- Beverages with meals
- meals not listed above
- All items not mentioned above
61 days or more deposit is non refundable
60 - 31 days prior to departure 50% is non refundable
30 days or less prior to departure 100% non refundable
Max Group Size:
Price: $3,595USD per person based on twin share. Single supplement $695USD. Non refundable deposit of $300USD if book before May 15. $500USD non refundable deposit as of May 16.