Dr Bill Manley is a best-selling author, Egyptologist and Coptic scholar, who taught at the University of Glasgow for over twenty years. He is now working with the Wadi C2 Archaeological Project, based in Luxor. Bill’s book Egyptian Art (2017) is part of Thames & Hudson’s prestigious World of Art series. His latest book The Oldest Book in the World (2023) garnered a 5-star review from The Wall Street Journal and will be presented to all passengers on this tour.
- Friday 20th October 2023 - To Cairo
We take our direct flight from Heathrow to Cairo and on arrival take our private transfer to the 5-star Crowne Plaza Hotel, West Cairo. We check in for four nights on room and breakfast basis.
- Saturday 21st October - The GEM, the Grand Egyptian Museum
A full day at the Grand Egyptian Museum allows plenty of time to view the galleries at leisure, and Bill will highlight some of the earliest and some of the finest examples of ancient writing. Lunch own arrangements at the Museum. (B)
- Sunday 22nd October - Mosques and Churches of Old Cairo
Our tour starts with a trip through Old Cairo. We visit the mosque and madrasa of Sultan al-Muayyad to appreciate its beautiful calligraphic decoration. We also visit some of the finest mosques from different periods, including Salah ad-Din’s famous Citadel—the most dramatic element of Cairo’s skyline. In the mediaeval capital, Fustat, we find the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, where we view the famous royal mummies of the New Kingdom. Later, we explore ‘Coptic Cairo’, including the ‘Hanging Church’ over the gatehouse of Babylon Fortress, the Church of St Sergius, and the Coptic Museum with its lovely collection of ancient and mediaeval Coptic manuscripts. During the day we will take lunch at the restaurant in Al-Azhar Park, with grand views across Africa’s greatest city. (BL)
- Monday 23rd October - Saqqara: the ‘Big Bang’ of Writing
We have a full day to explore the ancient royal cemetery at Saqqara, including sites that announced the arrival of writing as the world’s transformative new technology, such as the tomb of Ptahhotep, and the Pyramid of Unas We also visit the Step Pyramid Enclosure (with entry to the Step Pyramid of Djoser and the Southern Tomb), the exquisite Old Kingdom mastabas of Mehu and Kagemni, and from the New Kingdom the charming tomb of Tutankhamun’s wet nurse Maia, and the grandiose tomb of Horemheb. We also visit the spectacular Serapeum—the underground galleries of the Apis bull cemeteries. We break for lunch at the Sakkara Palm Club. (BL)
- Tuesday 24th October - Through the Valley of Natron to the City of Alexander
Today we travel with lunch boxes and drive to Alexandria via the ancient Coptic monasteries of Scetis in Wadi Natrun, home to many of the famous ‘Desert Fathers’. Our first stop will be the Monastery of Abba Bishoi, dating from the fourth century. Later, we arrive at the remains of the greatest pilgrimage site in antiquity—the ancient city of Martyrpolis, patronised by Constantine the Great and later emperors. In the late afternoon, we check in on room and breakfast basis for two nights at the 5-star deluxe Helnan Palestine Hotel beside the fairytale Montaza Royal Palace, one of Alexandria’s famous beautiful landmarks. (BL)
- Wednesday 25th October - Alexandria and its Library
We have a full day to explore this wonderful, historic city on the Mediterranean Sea. We will tour the stunning, modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina, with time to view and discuss the Manuscripts Museum and Antiquities Museum. Then we experience the ruling class of Egypt during the Roman Empire, at the beguiling burial catacombs of Kom el Shuqafa and also at the world famous theatre and lecture halls of Kom el-Dikka, the largest archaeological site in Alexandria. To complete our visit, we experience the Alexandria National Museum. During the day we will stop for a local lunch by your own arrangements. (B)
- Thursday 26th October - Stones of Rosetta
We leave Alexandria and drive to the mediaeval port city of Rashid, better known to history as Rosetta. Here we explore the Mameluke Citadel of Qaitbay, reputedly the site of the wondrous lighthouse and famously the find site of the Rosetta Stone, which we can learn about – but most impressive in itself as one of the great fortresses of all the Mediterranean coasts. We also have free time to experience this handsome seaside city with its restored Ottoman houses and the local museum of its colourful history, before we head back to Cairo. On arrival we check in to the Meridien Hotel at Cairo Airport for one night on room and breakfast basis. (B)
- Day 8 Friday 27th October - Home
After breakfast we transfer to the terminal for our direct flight to London arriving early afternoon. (B)
We can offer an optional trip to Giza to view the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. The group taking the excursion will leave the hotel after an early breakfast and travel to Giza with a local guide. You will return to the Meridien around lunchtime, and then transfer to the airport terminal for the afternoon direct flight to London. The cost of this optional excursion will be: £140. Please let us know at time of booking as we will need to book the correct flight home for you.
B = Breakfast BL = Breakfast and Lunch BD = Breakfast and Dinner BLD = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner