Among the most striking features of early-Egyptian painting are a subject's eyes: never painted looking straight out at the viewer, but rather in profile, looking to one side or the other. Were those eyes looking at what has already happened or what is to come? Geographically and geopolitically pivotal, Egypt is at the crossroads of preserving the past and looking toward the future. At this unique moment in the continuum of Egypt's history, explore one of the world's most storied cultures through its historical, artistic and political perspectives, spanning ancient civilization to the present day. With a team that includes Los Angeles Times deputy editor Scott Kraft, an Egyptologist guide and guest speakers along the way, gain insight that will be informed by everything from the Great Wonders of the World and countless UNESCO World Heritage sites to explorations of post-Arab Spring contemporary life. As you immerse yourself in this stunning culture, discover the wonders, both grand and intimate, and ponder the delicate balance of honoring what came before while also looking toward what's next.
Nov 11-21, 2019
Step inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Meet with members of a Nubian family in Aswan.
Visit the ancient temples in Abu Simbel, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sail around Elphantine island on feluccas before embarking on your Nile river cruise.
Arrive in Cairo on individual flights, and transfer to your hotel near Giza.
This morning, visit the ancient burial ground complex of Sakkara, site of the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, as well as the Step Pyramid and pyramid of Unas. Then venture underground to the Serapeum of Sakkara, the magnificent burial site of the sacred Apis bulls. This evening, gather for a welcome reception and panel to hear social and political perspectives of Egyptian women, followed by a welcome dinner at your hotel. (B, R, D)
Drive to the Giza plateau to view its three pyramids, including the Great Pyramid, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the Great Sphinx. You will have the opportunity to step inside the Great Pyramid in addition to approaching all three pyramids from the back to get a unique vantage point. Then visit the Khufu ship (known as the solar boat), an intact full-size vessel that dates to fourth-dynasty pharaoh Khufu, also known as Cheops. This evening is yours at leisure. (B, L)
This morning, transfer to the Cairo airport for an internal flight to Abu Simbel. Though your time in Abu Simbel will be brief, viewing the Abu Simbel temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an opportunity that cannot be missed. The two temples — the Great Sun Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Queen Nefertari — are considered the masterpieces of ancient Egypt. These temples were moved from the water at Abu Simbel in the 1960s, when the construction of the Aswan High Dam (which you will visit on a subsequent day) in the 1960s threatened to submerge the temples. Transfer back to the airport for a brief flight to Aswan. Check in to the renowned Cataract Hotel and enjoy high tea on the terrace at sunset before an evening at leisure. (B, Tea)
After breakfast at the hotel, take a wooden sailing boat called a felucca around Elephantine Island, which was the crossroads of ancient trading routes from Lower Egypt, the Western Desert and India. Stroll through the botanical gardens, home to more than 400 species of subtropical vegetation. Then continue your sail to the nearby Nubian Village, where you will be welcomed into the home of a local family for a cup of tea to learn about Nubian culture, which predates dynastic Egypt. Then transfer to the MS Tulip for lunch and embarkation. Later this afternoon, pay a visit to the Nubia Museum, which is dedicated to the origins, history and present of this indigenous culture and part of the UNESCO international campaign to preserve cultural artifacts that otherwise would have been destroyed due to flooding. Return to your ship for dinner and overnight stay. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, journey to the rescued Philae Temple, honoring Isis, the goddess of fertility. Then juxtapose visits to the Aswan High Dam — completed in the 1960s as a way to control flooding from the Nile and provide water storage for irrigation and and hydroelectricity — and the unfinished obelisk, estimated to be more than 3,500 years old. Set sail at lunchtime as you begin your journey up the Nile. As the sun sets this evening, visit the Temple of Kom Ombo. This rare double temple was designed to be shared by the gods Sobek and Haeroris. This evening, participate in an onboard lecture that will help contextualize the massive impact of the Aswan High Dam construction on Egypt in the 1960s. Then enjoy dinner on your ship as you sail toward Edfu. (B, L, D)
Today, horse-drawn carriages — calèches — bring you to one of the best-preserved shrines and the second-largest temple in Egypt — the Horus Temple of Edfu. The construction of this temple, which combined Egyptian and Greek influences, began in 237 BC and wasn't completed until almost 180 years later. The main building features Hypostyle Hall, the entrance to which — amazingly — still retains some pigment of its original reliefs. This evening, sail toward Esna, arriving in Luxor for an overnight stay on your ship. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark from your ship to explore the west bank of the Nile. Your first stop will be to the Valley of the Kings, the stunning royal burial ground for almost 500 years, during the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties. In nearby Deir el-Bahri, visit the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, one of the most striking monuments in Egypt, celebrating the historic female ruler who posed as male to ascend the throne. Then view the Medinet Habu, a well-preserved temple on the west bank. It is remarkable for the amount of its original pigment still visible, and it is best-known for its inscribed reliefs of the battle of the "Sea Peoples." Explore the ruins of the village of Deir el-Bahri, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the artisans worked on the royal tombs during the New Kingdom era. This afternoon, check in to your Luxor hotel. The rest of the day is yours at leisure to explore the Luxor Open Air Market — souk — or for individual pursuits. (B, L)
Today is devoted to the temples of the Nile's east bank. The largest of Luxor's temples, Karnak, was one of the most sacred sites in ancient Egypt. It marked the ascendancy of Thebes (present-day Luxor) as the capital of the New Kingdom, with construction beginning in the 16th century BC but continuing under myriad pharaohs, all of whom incorporated their own design influences into the original structure. You will also view the Temple of Amun. Dedicated to the ancient Egyptian god of sun and air, it has the distinction of being the largest place of worship ever constructed. This evening, experience the beauty of Luxor Temple at night, followed by a festive reception and dinner. (B, R, D)
Before departing Luxor, explore the beautifully curated Luxor Museum, which overlooks the Nile. Though small, the museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts, including the royal mummies of Ahmose I and Ramses I, which were added in 2004. After a short flight to Cairo, check in to your hotel. This afternoon, participate in a panel discussion moderated by your L.A. Times journalist as you consider Egypt’s place in, and influence on, the world stage moving forward. This evening is yours at leisure to unwind or explore Cairo on your own. (B)
Depart on individual flights home or onward. Complimentary airport shuttles depart hourly. (B)