President’s Pick Egypt Days of History

President's Picks | Big Five Tours

“Egypt is being reborn. With the recent royal parade of the pharaohs from their ancient resting place to their new home at the highly anticipated Museum of Egyptian Civilization, and all the exciting new artifacts being discovered, it is clear that a new day is rising for Egypt.  And we are eager to help you explore all that is new in this ancient land.”

Ashish Sanghrajka

While the world has been changing, we have been exploring.

 

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President’s Picks

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Egypt

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TOUR LENGTH

11

Tour Highlights/Full Description

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  • Explore Egypt’s stunning ancient pyramids from the fabled Pyramids of Giza to Dahshur’s Bent Pyramid
  • Take in the amazing new Grand Egyptian Museum, one of the largest museum projects in the world, and savor a special tour at the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization
  • Discover the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens
  • Enjoy a trip on the Nile in ride in a traditional felucca sailboat
  • Visit the largest necropolis in the country at Saqqara in the heart of a desert plateau, spreading out over five miles

Day 1: Cairo, Egypt
Welcome to Egypt.  Arrive at Cairo International Airport, where you are welcomes and assisted with passport and customs formalities. Then, you are transferred to your accommodation where the remained of the evening is at leisure. Four Seasons First Residence Hotel

Day 2: Cairo
After breakfast, you join your guide to begin your exploration of the fabled Pyramids of Giza. Nothing evokes the long and intriguing history of Egypt as powerfully as the pyramids. Rising from the desert, Khufu (Cheops), Khafra and Menkaura seem to symbolize the enigmatic tug of Egypt in our imaginations. The Great Pyramid of Cheops immortalizes the son of Sneferu and Hetepheres, although little is known of this pharaoh. The oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Pyramid Complex bordering what is now El Giza, it is the only one to remain largely intact with three known chambers. This monument is comprised of 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing an average of 2.5 tons.

Enter the great pyramid to visit the chamber of the king. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock that the pyramid was built upon but was unfinished. The so-called Queen’s Chamber and King’s Chamber, which contains a granite sarcophagus, are higher up within the pyramid structure.

Visit the colossal statue of the Great Sphinx, which has stood guard over the pyramids for more than 4,500 years. Carved from an outcrop of rock, the Sphinx remains the ultimate symbol of ancient Egypt with its lion’s body and human head. The history and the lifestyle of ancient Egyptian pharaohs come alive through the skilled narrations of your specialist guide.

Enjoy lunch before you explore the amazing new the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), currently one of the largest museum development projects in the world. (Please note: GEM is slated to open in late 2021.)  In February 2002, the foundation stone of the museum was laid, and an international architectural competition was launched to design the largest Museum of Egyptology in the world. The site is 470.974 m2, which is divided into the main museum and the conference center with an area 133.282 m2. GEM houses about 100,000 ancient artifacts, 4,549 of which are from the tomb of the famous King Tutankhamun. This is the first time in history that the complete collection of the famous King Tut is on display in one place along with artifacts dating from pre-historic times through millennia of pharaonic civilization to the ancient Greek and Roman periods of Egyptian history. Return to your hotel. Four Seasons First Residence Hotel (B,L)

Day 3: Cairo / Luxor
After breakfast, check out of your hotel, you are transferred to Cairo domestic airport for your flight to Luxor, once known as ancient Thebes. Arrive at Luxor domestic airport, where you are transferred to the Temple of Karnak, the largest temple in the world! The complex contains a group of temples such as the Great Temple of Amon Ra, Temple of Khonso, Ipt Temple, Temple of Ptah, Temple of Montho and Temple of the God Osiris. A 20-meter/66-foot  high, mud brick enclosure wall surrounds all the buildings. This great Temple of Amon Ra was known during the Middle Kingdom period as Ipt-Swt, which means the Selected Spot. It was also called Pr-Imn, the House of Amon.

This afternoon, you are transferred to your hotel. After some time to relax, you set out this evening to visit the East Bank, Luxor Temple and Luxor museum. The temple of Luxor is close to the Nile and parallel with the riverbank. King Amenhotep III, who reigned during 1390-53 BC, built this beautiful temple and dedicated it to Amon-Re, king of the gods, his consort Mut, and their son Khons. This temple has been in almost continuous use as a place of worship up to the present day. It was completed by Tutankhamun and Horemheb and added to by Ramses II. Towards the rear is a granite shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great. Luxor Museum is located in the city of Luxor and stands on the corniche overlooking the west bank of the River Nile, in the central part of the city. Inaugurated in 1975, the museum is housed in a small, purpose-built building with the range of artifacts on display far more restricted than the country’s main collections in the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo. This was deliberate since the museum prides itself on the quality of the pieces it has, the uncluttered way in which they are displayed, and clear multilingual labeling. Return to your hotel. Sofitel Old Winter Palace  Hotel (B)

Day 4: Luxor
After breakfast, you meet your Egyptologist guide in the lobby to begin your day discovering the Valley of the Kings that encompasses the East Valley, where you can find most of the tombs of the New Kingdom Pharaohs, and the West Valley, which has only one tomb open to the public, and that is the tomb of Ay, who succeeded Tutankhamun to the Egyptian throne.

Tutankhamun was buried in a tomb that was unusually small considering his status. His death may have occurred unexpectedly, before the completion of a grander royal tomb, so that his mummy was buried in a tomb intended for someone else. This would have preserved the observance of the customary 70 days between death and burial. King Tutankhamun’s mummy still rests in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings. On November 4, 2007, 85 years to the day after Carter’s discovery, the 19-year-old pharaoh went on display in his underground tomb at Luxor when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its golden sarcophagus to a climate-controlled glass box. The case was designed to prevent the heightened rate of decomposition caused by the humidity and warmth from tourists visiting the tomb.

The Valley of the Queens  is located near the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile across from Luxor. This barren area in the western hills was chosen due to its relative isolation and proximity to the capital. The kings of the 18th dynasty, instead of the traditional building of pyramids as burial chambers, perhaps because of their vulnerability to tomb robbers, chose to be buried in rock-cut tombs.

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut of 18th Dynasty was built just north of the Middle Kingdom Temple of Mentuhotep Nebhepetre in the bay of cliffs, known as Deir el-Bahri. In ancient times, the temple was called Djeser-djeseru, meaning the ’sacred of sacreds’. It was undoubtedly influenced by the style of the earlier temple at Deir el-Bahri, and Hatshepsut, who chose to site her temple in a valley sacred to the Theban Goddess of the West, but more importantly it was on a direct axis with Karnak Temple.

The Colossi of Memnon are a pair of huge, ruined statues, around 17 meters/56 feet high, that once stood at the entrance gate of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, though very little of the original temple remains today. They were cut from two massive granite blocks from quarries near Cairo and carved to represent the pharaoh Amenhotep III of Dynasty XVIII.  Sofitel Old Winter Palace  Hotel (B)

Day 5: Luxor
After breakfast, join your guide to discover more sights of the West Bank of Luxor including Ramessum, King Ramses II called his temple “The Temple of Millions of Years of User-Maat-Ra,”  which was one of his titles that means ‘the Power of the Justice of Ra’. Work in the temple continued from the beginning of the reign of Ramses II until the 22nd year of his reign. But not long after the end of the New Kingdom, the Ramesseum was stripped of its wealth by hungry citizens, and its buildings were used as quarries for the construction of other monuments.  Tombs for major and minor court officials were put into the bedrock beneath it. Small shrines built from its stones and a Christian church was built within the ruins.

Today, the entrance to the temple is a narrow doorway in the northeast corner of the enclosure wall. The huge First Pylon, now badly damaged, is 67 meters/220 feet wide and originally about 24 meters/79 feet high. Similar to the scenes of other monuments of Ramses II , those of the Ramesseum depict the wars of the king against the Hittites.

Tombs of the Nobles encompass comprise distinct areas on the West Bank at modern Luxor, primarily in five different regions. Farther north is an area known as el-Tarif, where large row tombs were dug during the late Second Intermediate Period and early Middle Kingdom. Just south of el-Tarif is Dra Abu el-Naga, a hillside with about 80 numbered tombs,  most belonging to priests and officials of the 17th through 20th dynasties, including some rulers of the 17th Dynasty. Just southwest of Dra Abu el-Naga is an area called El-Assasif, where there are 40 tombs, mostly from the New Kingdom and later. Just south of El-Assasif is El-Khokha, a hill with five Old Kingdom tombs and 53 numbered tombs from the 18th and 19th dynasties. Directly west of El-Khokha is Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, named for a mythical Muslim sheikh, and has 146 numbered tombs, most from the 18th Dynasty. Here one finds some of the most beautiful private tombs on the West Bank.

Madint Habu is the name commonly given to the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, an important New Kingdom period structure in the location of the same name on the West Bank of Luxor. Aside from its intrinsic size, architectural and artistic importance, the temple is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea Peoples during the reign of Ramesses III.

Deir el-Medina is an ancient Egyptian village, home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings from the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom period (ca. 1550–1080 BC). The settlement’s ancient name was Set Maat, “The Place of Truth”. Workmen who lived there were called “Servants in the Place of Truth.” During the Christian era, the Temple of Hathor was converted into a Church from which the Arabic name Deir el-Medina (“the monastery of the town”) is derived. Sofitel Old Winter Palace  Hotel (B)

Day 6: Luxor / Aswan
Following breakfast, check out of your hotel. Meet your driver who will transfer you by car to Aswan. Along the way, you stop to visit Edfu Temple and Kom Ombo Temple. You enjoy a box lunch. The Temple of Horus at Edfu is the most well-preserved and the only one we know to have been completed. Built from sandstone blocks the huge Ptolemaic temple was constructed over the site of a smaller earlier temple, oriented east to west, towards the river.

Visit the temple shared by two gods Sobek and Haeroris in Kom Ombo. The temple of Kom Ombo stands on the east bank of the Nile next to the river. It was dedicated to two gods Horus and Sobek, mainly dedicated to the God Sobek, the crocodile God, together with his wife, in the form of the Goddess Hathor. The temple is of Greco-Roman structure, dating back to the year 119 BC, when Ptolemy VI, who started the construction, built it out of limestone.

This afternoon you are transferred to your hotel for check in.  Later, enjoy a traditional felucca ride on the Nile. These traditional sailboats offer a relaxing felucca ride perfect for catching the breeze or a grand sunset.  The felucca has remained over the centuries the primary transportation of the Nile. Its ancient form still graces the river as it has done since the time of the pharaohs. Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel (B)

Day 7: Aswan
After breakfast, meet your Egyptologist guide and set out on your exploration beginning with the Temple of Isis in Philae, one of the greatest temples in Egypt and occupies about a quarter of the island. It is the main temple on the island, with its huge, complete pylons and beautiful scenes. The temple is built in the same style as those of the New Kingdom with some elements, which that appeared in the Greco-Roman period. The temple was submerged with the construction of the first Aswan dam in 1906. The High Dam of Aswan is one of the most important achievements of the in the last century in Egypt and was a symbol of the New Era of the Revolution of 1952. It provided Egypt with water and electricity and secured the country of the risk of the destructive inundation of the River Nile. See the Unfinished Obelisk as it lies in its original location in a granite quarry in Aswan. Some 42 meters/138 feet long, it was probably abandoned when some cracks appeared in the rock during its construction. Had this obelisk been completed, it would have been the heaviest obelisk ever cut in ancient Egypt, weighing nearly 1.100 tons! It is believed that it was constructed and abandoned during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut during the 18th Dynasty.

This afternoon tour the Nobles Tombs, Kalabsha Temple and the Nubian village. The village is located on an island that was first was called Khnum, but since the Greek times it has been known as Elephantine Island. It is famous for its Nubian villages, who were the ancient inhabitants of this region.

The riverscape of Aswan is dominated by the sand-covered hills of the West Bank which are strewn with rock-cut tombs of high-status officials of the Old and Middle Kingdom. At the crest of the hill is the domed tomb of a Muslim prophet which gives the hill its local name, Qubbet el-Hawa or ‘Dome of the Winds’. At the northern end of the tomb area and a steep climb up several flights of stone steps is the upper level of the cemetery where some six or seven tombs open to visitors. These ancient tombs are roughly cut from the natural rock. They are not well preserved but still well worth seeing. Tombs of this period are usually inaccessible in most places south of Cairo and these show fine examples of hieroglyphic texts detailing the careers of their owners as well as scenes of daily life in the earlier periods. Many of the tombs are linked together as family members added their own chambers. Kalabsha  temple was situated on the west bank of the Nile River, in Nubia, and was originally built around 30 BC during the early Roman era. Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel (B)

Day 8: Aswan / Abu Simbel / Cairo
This morning you fly to Abu Simbel and begin by visiting the temple of Ramses II and Queen Nefertari. The temples of Abu Simbel are among the most interesting pharaonic temples. Located close to the southern border with the Sudan, it consists of two rock-cut temples, which date back to the reign of King Ramses II (1290-1223 BC). Unfortunately, these unique temples suffered from the raising water of Lake Nasser while the High Dam was being built. After the tour of Abu Simbel you are transferred by flight to Cairo, where on arrival you are met and transferred to your hotel.  Four Seasons First Residence Hotel (B)

Day 9: Cairo
After breakfast, set out to explore desert antiquities dating from the beginnings of a civilization that arose more than 5,000 years ago. In the company of your Egyptologist specialist guide, venture through the countryside to visit some of Egypt’s oldest sights. First, go Dahshur, a royal necropolis in the desert on the West Bank of the Nile about 40 kilometers/25 miles south of Cairo. It is known chiefly for several pyramids, two of which are among the oldest, largest and best preserved in Egypt, built from 2613–2589 BC. Building the Dahshur pyramids was an extremely important learning experience for the Egyptians as they transitioned from step-sided to smooth-sided pyramids before they could build the Great Pyramid of Giza. Two of the Dahshur pyramids, Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid, were constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu (2613-2589 BC).

Nearby, visit the necropolis at Saqqara, where King Zoser’s Step Pyramid was built to last ‘until the ends of time.’ This vast site in the heart of a desert plateau is the largest necropolis in Egypt. Extending for almost five miles, the complex forms a collection of pyramids, temples and tombs that is fundamental to understanding the history of Egypt. Four Seasons First Residence Hotel (B)

Day 10: Cairo
After breakfast meet your Egyptologist guide for a special tour at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) in Cairo. The museum houses the greatest collection of pharaonic treasures in the world, including the Hall of Royal Mummies, home to Egypt’s ancient royal mummies in a climate-controlled room.  Some were mummified more than 4,000 years ago. You see mummies including Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis and Ramses.

Your guide helps you explore the museum’s expansive collections of  artifacts, including the fabled Tutankhamen Collection of golden treasures.

Take in the cultural landmarks that span three millennium of Egyptian history, beginning with the citadel that commands a complete view of the city. Completed in 1183, the citadel was surrounded by sturdy walls and towers to withstand attacks from Christian crusaders. Inside, see the lavishly decorated alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali.

Continue to Coptic Cairo to visit the famous Suspended Church (Hanging Church), dating to the late 4th and early 5th century.  This basilica was named “Al-Mu’allaqah” because it was built atop the south gate of the Fortress of Babylon. Continue to the Church of St. Sergius, a fifth century Coptic Church.  This basilica is built on the cave in which the Holy Family stayed and is regarded by visitors as a source of blessing. You come to the recently restored Synagogue of Ben Ezra, which marks the place where Moses was saved by the water girl of pharaoh. This is the oldest Jewish synagogue in Egypt built in 882 AC. Then stroll with your guide through the Khan El Khalili, a bustling warren of shops where you can bargain for rugs, copper and leather crafts, perfumes and more.

Enjoy a performance of Tanoura, a traditional national dance in Egypt that first appeared in the 13th century.  Performed by men, it was thought to be a bridge to God. This form of Tanoura is distinguished by the use of multi-colored skirts.  In fact the etymology of the word has Arabic roots and is translated as a skirt. The basis of the dance is a counterclockwise circling of an artist. The dance carries a religious meaning, and  symbolizes, among other things, the rotation of the Earth around the sun. The traditional music of the dance also has Arabic motifs. Traditionally, music is played to the accompaniment of drums, flutes and tambourines. Four Seasons First Residence Hotel (B)

Day 11: Cairo / Depart
After breakfast, you are transferred to Cairo International Airport for your onward journey.(B)

Land per person, double occupancy: Price starts at US$800 per person, per day.

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