AWT have obtained special permits from the Ministry of Antiquities for this tour, allowing exclusive access for a number of monuments on the itinerary. Highlights of the trip include entry to the Step Pyramid, the Second Dynasty tomb of Ninetjer and a visit to South Saqqara to view the latest work of the French Archaeological Mission. During our week we will enter as many Mastabas as possible.
- Saturday 10th October 2020
We take our direct flight from Heathrow to Cairo, where on arrival we check in to the Steigenberger Pyramids Hotel at Giza. We are based here for seven nights on room and breakfast basis.
- Sunday 11th October – Saqqara – an overview
After a leisurely breakfast we head to Saqqara for our first visit. Colin will lead us around the site to acquaint us with the vast area that we will be exploring over the coming week. We start at the Imhotep Museum before entering the Step Pyramid enclosure through the iconic hall of columns, providing a chance to view not only the Step Pyramid but also the Jubilee Court and the Serdab. After leaving the Step Pyramid, we will walk along the Unas causeway, examining some of the lesser known features including the dry moat and get our first taste of the little understood early dynastic royal tombs. We have time to enter the Tomb of Maia believed to be wet-nurse to the infant Tutankhamun. After lunch we return to the hotel and this afternoon Colin will give a talk on plans for the week.
- Monday 12th October – Tombs of Saqqara
Today we plan entry to the beautiful Old Kingdom mastaba tombs. Among those we visit will be the most famous: Mereruka, Kagemni, Ptahhotep and Mehu with their wonderful reliefs. We also look at some lesser known and rarely visited mastaba tombs. We have tickets for entry to the subterranean galleries of the Serapeum, the vast tombs of the Apis Bulls who lived from the twenty-sixth Dynasty to the Ptolemaic Period. Finally to the New Kingdom Tombs of Horemheb, who served as army general before becoming Pharaoh and Maya, Head of the Treasury in the time of Tutankhamun. We have a break midday for a relaxing local lunch.
- Tuesday 13th October – South Saqqara
We have a special permit today for a rare visit to South Saqqara. Travelling in four-wheel drive vehicles we travel to the Mastabat Faroun, the vast burial structure of King Shepseskaf of the Fourth Dynasty. We look at the pyramids of the late Fifth and Sixth Dynasties including that of Pepy II and look at the latest excavations of the French Archaeological Mission of Saqqara. We have a picnic lunch and then continue our four-wheel drive explorations of the area, travelling to Abu Sir where we find the pyramids of Sahure and Niuserre.
- Wednesday 14th October – Step Pyramid
A morning dedicated to Pyramids. Today we will visit the Pyramid of Unas and the Pyramid of Teti to take a look at Pyramid Texts. Next a private AWT event as we have a special permit to enter Djoser’s Step Pyramid where we will see the burial chamber of the King. After a break for lunch we return to the hotel
- Thursday 15th October – Giza
This morning we make the short journey to the pyramids on the Giza Plateau and explore the site including the causeways, mastaba tombs, the Sphinx and the Valley Temple. Time to enter the Great Pyramid for those who wish and also the boat museum. A look at the great Sphinx where Colin will give us his theories on the site while we investigate some other little explored areas. We return to the hotel at lunchtime and have a lecture later in the day.
- Friday 16th October – Ninetjer
We return to Saqqara on our last day for a rare opportunity to visit one of the least understood and arguably most important tombs at Saqqara. AWT have obtained a special permit to enter the underground Tomb of Ninetjer, the third King of the Second Dynasty. One of two Second Dynasty gallery tombs in this part of Saqqara, these are the first royal tombs not to be built at Abydos and hint at important changes in thinking at this early stage in the Pharaonic period. Ninetjer’s tomb is close to the Unas causeway and Colin will lead us through the passageways and chambers explaining why he thinks this little understood tomb is so important. We travel back to our hotel at lunchtime and the rest of the day is at leisure.
- Saturday 17th October – Home
This morning we take our private transfer to Cairo Airport for our homebound flights.
Tour Expert Colin Reader
As an engineering geologist, Colin Reader was first attracted to Ancient Egypt as a result of the controversy over the age of the Great Sphinx. That initial interest led him to research the geology of Egypt and the way that features of the landscape, such as the Nile and the Red Sea Hills, evolved. For four years he undertook geological mapping with the Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project and following this has been exploring the way in which landscape has influenced the earliest phases of development at Saqqara. Colin’s background make him the perfect expert for this tour.
B = Breakfast BL = Breakfast and Lunch BD = Breakfast and Dinner BLD = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner