Immerse yourself in the art, archaeology, language and culture of ancient and modern Egypt on a wondrous journey of discovery through 4,500 years of history.
In the company of Egyptologist Dr Melanie Pitkin, visit the major sites of Giza, Luxor and Abu Simbel, and explore the lesser-known wonders of Middle Egypt, including Faiyum, Amarna and Abydos. Gain special behind-the-scenes access to museums and dig sites led by international teams of archaeologists.
Enjoy a cruise up the Nile into New Kingdom and Ptolemaic history, and in Cairo, get to know the artisanal crafts that have kept Egyptian culture alive for nearly five millennia.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Arrive in Cairo on suggested flights and make your own way to the hotel. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements including travel insurance (a condition of travel), private hotel transfer, accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
At 18:00, attend a welcome briefing and talk by your tour leader Melanie Pitkin, followed by dinner with Melanie and fellow tour members.
Today, discover Cairo with a special tour of the highlights of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. Housing a large collection of antiquities from all periods of Egyptian history, the museum includes finds from recent discoveries in Egypt to the spectacular burial assemblage of Yuya and Thuya.
After lunch, visit the Monastery of Saint Simon, also known as the Cave Church of the Zabbaleen. Located in the Mokattam Mountain, this impressive monastery is one of the largest churches in Egypt.
This morning, explore the outdoor museum at Memphis, the first capital city of Egypt, including its colossal statue of King Ramesses II.
Continue to Saqqara to explore the tombs of Mereruka and Kagemni, the Unas Causeway, Serapeum and the Step Pyramid of Djoser. The Step Pyramid, designed for King Djoser in the 27th century BC by his polymath vizier Imhotep, is the oldest extant pyramid in Egypt. Also, explore the New Kingdom tombs including those of Horemheb and Maya.
Then, visit the Bent and Red Pyramids in Dahshur before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon. Enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure.
After breakfast, explore the Museum of Islamic Art, containing thousands of ceramics, textiles, and artefacts rendered in crystal, glass, metal and plaster, from all over the Islamic world. Visit the Mosque of Mohammad Ali, a Khedivate-era mosque and one of the capital’s landmarks; the Ibn Tulun Mosque, the largest and oldest in Cairo; and the Gayer-Anderson Museum, with an unmatched collection of traditional Egyptian interior furnishings.
Then, enjoy an afternoon in Coptic Cairo. Discover the distinctive form of Christianity with its own language, rites and culture stretching back to the 1st century AD and gain a glimpse into the thousand-year-old Jewish heritage of Cairo.
In the evening, visit the Khan el-Khalili souk, one of the country’s most lively bazaars, in which goldsmiths, lampmakers, cobblers and coffee sellers still ply their trade. Then, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
In the morning, visit the Manial Palace, a beautiful palace constructed by Prince Mohammed Ali Tewfik between 1899 and 1929. The palace evinces the complex identity of this period in Egypt’s history in its mixture of Rococo, Art Nouveau, Ottoman, Moorish and Persian architectural styles.
Continue to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, opened in 2017, which displays a wealth of art and artefacts, and traces the history of Egypt from the archaic period through the pharaonic dynasties, Coptic and Islamic Egypt right up to the modern day. Take the opportunity to visit the mummified bodies of some of ancient Egypt’s most well-known kings and queens, including Hatshepsut, Seti I and Ramesses II.
In the afternoon, discover the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza (due to open by mid-2024), designed to be the largest archaeological museum in the world with an impressive new dedicated display for King Tutankhamun.
Enjoy the morning at leisure at the hotel, which offers a panoramic view of the pyramids of the Giza Plateau.
Then, after a talk by Melanie, explore the mighty Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, three generations of 26th century BC rulers, and the Great Sphinx. Also visit the mastaba tombs of the Old Kingdom officials.
Depart Giza and travel south into the lesser-visited region of Middle Egypt, a gentle stretch of the Nile Valley which lies between Cairo in the north and Luxor in the south. Visit the archaeological site of Karanis near the Faiyum, the site of ancient Crocodilopolis.
In the afternoon, explore Beni Hasan, an ancient Egyptian cemetery site located south of
modern-day Minya. Walk up the hill to visit the rock-cut tombs of regional governors, surrounded by detailed painted scenes on the walls, and enjoy panoramic views of the Nile Valley.
Today, discover the archaeological site of Tell el-Amarna, the ruins of the city built in the reign of Akhenaten, and enjoy specialist talks by members of the Amarna Project’s archaeological team or the local inspectorate. During his 17-year rule in the mid-14th century BC, King Akhenaten shifted his capital to Amarna, instituted religious reforms to centralise worship on the solar deity Aten rather than the pantheon of various gods and pioneered a distinctive elongated but somewhat informal artistic style.
In the afternoon, visit the catacombs of Tuna el-Gebel, the largest known Greco-Roman necropolis in Egypt, and the tomb of the High Priest Petosiris.
Depart Minya and travel south to Abydos. Explore what is one of the world’s most significant ancient cities, home of the Great Osiris Temple and the Temple of Seti I, containing the famous Abydos King List, the chronological record of kings from the 1st to the 19th Dynasties which still provides the basis for our understanding of pharaonic Egypt.
Continue to Dendera to see the impressive Hathor Temple, one of the best preserved in all of Egypt, before arriving in Luxor in the late afternoon.
After a morning talk, begin your exploration of Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes and capital of Egypt during most of the Middle and New Kingdom periods, with a visit to Luxor Museum, housing a large display of objects from the Theban region and the famous statue of Thutmose III.
Then, discover the Colossi of Memnon with its two large statues of the King Amenhotep III. Visit the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses II, known as the Ramesseum, with the famous fallen colossus, before continuing to the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu.
This morning, check out of the hotel and visit Deir el-Medina, the workers’ village where the craftsmen who constructed these royal tombs lived. The most significant village of its kind ever discovered, Deir el-Medina provides a unique glimpse into the life of relatively ordinary ancient Egyptians. See the imposing Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s powerful female ruler from the 15th century BC.
Then, board our elegant cruise ship and enjoy lunch on board before exploring the Temples of Karnak and Luxor, cultic centres for the gods Amun, Mut and Khonsu and important sites for the annual Opet Festival which celebrated these gods, and often the site of the coronation of the king.
In the morning, visit some of the most celebrated sites of New Kingdom Egypt in the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Nobles.
Then, depart Luxor and sail south up the Nile River towards Aswan. The longest river in Africa (and arguably the world), the Nile has been the lifeblood of Egypt for as long as humans have inhabited the land. So few are the alternative sources of water in Egypt that the ancient Egyptians divided their country into two parts: the ‘Black Land’ of fertile soils on the banks of the river, and the ‘Red Land’ of uninhabitable desert wastes that comprise the remainder of the country. Even today, about 95 per cent of Egypt’s population live on the banks of the Nile.
Tracing the Nile up its sinuous course, visit Edfu, site of the Hellenistic Temple of Horus built between 237 and 57 BC, the most well-preserved temple of its kind still extant.
Then, see the unique Temple of Kom Ombo, a ‘double-temple’ perfectly symmetrical along its main axis, with each half dedicated to a different set of gods. The north is dedicated to Horus the falcon god, deity of the sky and hunting, while the southern half is sacred to the crocodile-headed Sobek, the god of the Nile’s fertility.
Arrive in Aswan in the morning and travel via the colossal 1960s engineering marvel of the Aswan High Dam to Philae. Discover the double-colonnaded Temple of Isis, built on the banks of the Nile by Pharaoh Nectanebo I in the mid-4th century BC and still elegantly presiding over the river’s gentle flow.
Then, explore Elephantine Island and take a felucca (a traditional wooden sailing boat) to the Botanical Garden on El Nabatat Island.
In the morning, disembark the ship and discover the unfinished obelisk of Hatshepsut. Commissioned by Hatshepsut in the 15th century BC, the obelisk, which would have been by far the largest ever constructed, was being carved out of a natural granite outcropping when cracks developed and the project was abandoned. It remains there still, a work of art forever half-emerged from nature, even after 3,500 years.
Continue to the Nubian Museum, whose collection focuses on the relationship between ancient Egypt and its fertile but restive southern neighbour Nubia.
Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon to enjoy Aswan at your own pace.
After a morning talk by Melanie, visit the archaeological site of the nobles’ tombs at Qubbet el-Hawa. Gain special access to current excavations underway in the area, including by the Spanish, German and British teams.
Then, visit a traditional Nubian village to acquaint yourself with the distinctive culture of southern Upper Egypt.
Check out of the hotel and transfer to Aswan Airport for a flight to Abu Simbel (Economy class flight included in tour price).
Arrive in Abu Simbel and transfer to the Temples of Abu Simbel. These two imposing temples were originally carved into a rocky promontory during the 13th century BC to honour King Ramesses II, so-called conqueror of the Hittites in the Battle of Kadesh, and his Queen Nefertari. In one of the 20th century’s great feats of engineering, the temples were dismantled and shifted, piece by piece, across 200 metres to their present location to make way for the flooding of their original site during the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s.
Then, return to Abu Simbel airport for an afternoon flight to Cairo (Economy class flight included in tour price).
Begin the day with a heritage walking tour of Islamic Cairo before enjoying some time at leisure to further explore the city at your own pace and have the opportunity to return to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.
Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner with Melanie and fellow travellers.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
For those returning home today, make your way to the airport for suggested flights to Australia or New Zealand. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour, private airport transfers and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Final payment due
20 September 2024
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including drinks with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Nile River cruise from Luxor to Aswan
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Economy class flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel (baggage allowance 23kg)
- Economy class flight from Abu Simbel to Cairo (baggage allowance 23kg)
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Egyptologist Melanie Pitkin
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Airport porterage
- Visa for Egypt
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, minibar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Cairo – Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah*****
Giza – Marriott Mena House*****
Minya – Holy Family Hotel****
Luxor – Steigenberger Nile Palace*****
Nile River Cruise – Sonesta Nile Goddess****+
Aswan – Movenpick Resort*****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Tour code: AG2417
Fitness level: Above Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.
Suggested airline: Emirates/Qatar Airways
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders require a tourist visa for Egypt. An e-visa can be obtained online prior to departure or a visa on arrival can also be obtained.
Download booking form here.