Special ValueThis tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.Overview
The timeless legacy of ancient Egypt – mysterious temples, elaborate hieroglyphics, and the legendary pyramids – has entranced visitors for generations. Smithsonian’s decades-long experience in Egypt opens doors to cross-cultural understanding not available to most travelers. Today, this access is more important than ever. Join us in 2014 to experience both ancient and contemporary Egypt and to feel the new energy emerging from a country discovering democracy.
This remarkable journey, for a small group of 16-24 travelers, showcases the superlative World Heritage sites in Cairo, Luxor, and Abu Simbel, and includes a cruise down the Nile River aboard a small luxury ship. We will visit Tahrir Square and meet with men and women who participated in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, and take part in a specially arranged discussion with Egyptian women to shed light on women’s issues in Egypt.
In Upper Egypt, we will continue to weave together ancient and contemporary Egypt as we explore the stunning monuments in Luxor, at Abu Simbel, and along the Nile. Throughout our journey, Egyptologist Heba Seoudi, a talented lecturer and native of Cairo, will enlighten and engage us with her knowledge and love of her country.Itinerary
Days 1-2 — Depart New York for Cairo on a group flight
Upon arrival the next day, transfer to the Sofitel Hotel in downtown Cairo. Gather this evening for an introductory lecture followed by a welcome dinner. (D)Day 3 — Cairo
Begin your Cairo
stay at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, a renowned repository of treasured artifacts from all over Egypt. After lunch at the Khan El Khalili Restaurant, enjoy a tour of Cairo’s most famed bazaar—Khan El Khalili. (B,L)Day 4 — Cairo
Today, gain insight into Cairo’s religious past and present on a tour of the “hanging church” (possibly the oldest Christian church in Egypt dating to around the 4th century), the Ibn Ezra synagogue, and the Alabaster Mosque, which was built for the 19th-century ruler Mohammed Ali Pasha. (B,L,D)Day 5 — Cairo and Luxor
For a fascinating perspective on the recent revolution in Egypt, return to the neighborhood of the Museum of Antiquities for a morning on the now famous Tahrir Square. Meet men and women who participated in the revolution as it unfolded January 25-February 11, 2011 and hear of their continued hopes and aspirations for their country. In the afternoon, board a flight to the ancient city of Thebes
, now known as Luxor
. Check into your hotel, then explore the beautiful Luxor Museum which possesses some of the most striking art and artifacts in all of Egypt. (B,L)Day 6 — West Bank
The pharaohs of the 18th dynasty concealed their burial sites in elaborate catacombs near Thebes
. Spend the morning on the Nile's West Bank among the painted tombs of the Valley of the Kings. Also visit the three-tiered temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt’s first female ruler. Veer off the beaten track to the Valley of Nobles, where lively depictions of everyday life provide an interesting contrast to the formal scenes found in the tombs of the pharaohs. Stop by the Colossi of Memnon then return to Luxor
and board the M.S. Tulip
, your home for the next four nights. After sundown, visit the imposing Temple of Luxor. (B,L,D)Day 7 — Luxor and Esna
At daybreak, enter the magnificent temple of Karnak and imagine its massive colonnades painted in garish colors and its halls filled with worshippers at festival time. Return to the M.S. Tulip
and glimpse village life on the Nile as you float south toward Esna
for the lock crossing. (B,L,D)Day 8 — Edfu and Kom Ombo
, view the Temple of Horus, where intricate carvings portray the legend of Horus, god of the sky, and his wife, Hathor. Cruise to Kom Ombo to visit the twin sanctuaries of Sobek and Haroeris, located high on a dune overlooking the river. (B,L,D)Day 9 — Aswan
Cruise onward to Aswan
, where spices, leather, ivory, and crocodiles were traded with the ancient African kingdoms of Kush (Nubia) and Axum. Visit the Nubia Museum of Aswan then board a felucca
, a traditional sailboat, and circle Elephantine Island. Conclude the day at the Philae Temple of Isis, transported to its present location when the Aswan Dam was built. (B,L,D)Day 10 — Abu Simbel and Cairo
Disembark the M.S. Tulip
and stop at a site overlooking the Aswan High Dam. Then fly to Abu Simbel
to visit the colossal temples of Ramses II and his queen, Nefertari. Carved out of a mountainside and carried uphill to save them from flooding from the Aswan dam, the temples are also a marvel of modern engineering. Return to Cairo by plane and check into the Meridien Pyramids hotel, which sits opposite the mighty Giza pyramids
. (B,L)Day 11 — Sakkara and Giza
Conclude your stay by traveling to the necropolis of Sakkara
. The most significant of its treasures is the step pyramid designed by Imhotep, reportedly the oldest stone building in the world. After lunch, experience the splendors of Giza
, including the great pyramids and the ever-mysterious Sphinx. At the Solar Boat Museum, see the phenomenal wooden vessel found buried at the base of the Great Pyramid which is thought to have ferried Cheops from Memphis 4,500 years ago. This evening at the hotel, participate in an engaging panel discussion about modern Egypt with Egyptian women. Celebrate your journey at a festive farewell reception and dinner. (B,L,D)Day 12 — Cairo and the U.S.
Depart Cairo for New York on your group flight. (B)Traveler Comment
"Now is the time to go to Egypt…..this vacation experience was an outstanding intellectual treasure, far beyond just standing before the engineering marvels of 5,000 years ago. Our guide wove together the fabric of facts about the kings, queens and pharaohs and their impacts on their people, and helped me understand the current and past economics, politics, culture and religion of Egypt."