Hidden away for a century in a small box, an archive of personal correspondence revealed an extraordinary journey on the Nile during the golden age of Egyptology. The letters, written by Ferdinand Platt, personal physician to the 8th Duke of Devonshire, chart a trip he took with the Duke and Duchess (and members of their circle) up the Nile and back in the winter of 1907-08. During their journey, they met many of the great archaeologists of the time, including George Reisner, Theodore Davis and Howard Carter, and experienced Egypt on the brink of modernity. Over a hundred years later, Toby Wilkinson and Platt’s great-nephew published the letters in their book Aristocrats and Archaeologists. In this trip, we will travel in the Edwardians’ footsteps, retracing their journey downriver from Aswan to Cairo. Whilst Egypt has been transformed in the century since, the ancient monuments still stand proud, timeless and unchanging.
Recommended reading list for this tour ‘Aristocrats and Archaeologists’, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt’ and ‘The Nile’. Toby Wilkinson’s newest book, ‘A World Beneath the Sands‘, will be published on 30 April this year and might provide interesting background reading. You will receive a complimentary copy of ‘Aristocrats and Archaeologists’ on completion of booking.
SORRY. ALL SINGLE CABINS NOW SOLD.
- Monday 5th April 2021
Fly London to Aswan via Cairo with EgyptAir. On arrival in Aswan we transfer to our luxury cruiser the SS Misr. This will be our home for the next twelve nights on full board basis.
- Tuesday 6th April – Temple of Isis
Today we visit the Temple of Philae built by Ptolemaic and Roman rulers to honour the cult of Isis and saved by UNESCO in the late 1970s when it became clear it would be lost for ever with the building of the new High Dam. We also visit the Open-Air Museum of the Unfinished Obelisk. We return to Misr for a relaxing lunch and later we visit the Nubia Museum displaying some wonderful pieces from nearby locations.
- Wednesday 7th April – Optional Abu Simbel
This morning, there is the chance to take an optional excursion, by road, to the great Sun Temple of Abu Simbel. This excursion involves a very early start and involves a four hour journey each way. You will have a guided tour of the two spectacular temples built by Ramesses II saved by UNESCO in the 1960s and now sited on the west bank of Lake Nasser. (Optional Excursion to Abu Simbel £155 per person). A leisurely morning if you decide not to visit Abu Simbel. This afternoon we sail for Kom Ombo famous for the Ptolemaic Temple of Haroeris and Sobek and situated high on the bank at a strategic bend in the river. We visit the temple before we sail on and moor for the night.
- Thursday 8th April – El Kab and Esna
We sail for El Kab where we enter the 18th Dynasty tombs of Ahmose and Pahery. We continue to the small Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotep III temple built for Hathor and Nekhebet. We arrive at Esna and we take the short walk from the quay to the Ptolemaic-Roman Temple dedicated to the ram-headed creator god Khnum. Much of the complex still lies hidden under the town but we can see a lovely Hypostyle Hall with 24 columns each with unique floral capitals. Plenty of time to search for the famous relief of Khnum at the potter’s wheel. We have a relaxing afternoon sailing and this evening we arrive in Luxor for overnight.
- Friday 9th April – Luxor
We visit the Valley of the Kings where we have entrance tickets to three of the tombs of your choice that are open on the day. On to the impressive Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. Here we see the remains of some highly coloured scenes and beautiful reliefs. Time to view the Colossi of Memnon before we return to the boat for lunch. This afternoon we plan visits to the temple of Amun at Karnak followed by Luxor Temple.
- Saturday 10th April – Dendera
We enjoy a peaceful morning sailing towards Qena and after lunch we travel by road to the Ptolemaic Temple of Dendera dedicated to the goddess Hathor. The columns and ceilings of this lovely temple are beautifully restored and cleaned. We return to the Misr late afternoon and overnight at Qena.
- Sunday 11th April – Mystical Abydos
Another splendid morning sailing as we head to Sohag. We pass through the swing bridge at Nag Hamadi before we arrive at the barrage where we continue through the great lock. This afternoon we disembark and take our coach to Abydos. Here we visit the magnificent temple of Seti I with the finest reliefs in Egypt carved into the walls of its shrines, including the famous ‘King List’. Time to view the intriguing Osireion before we return to our cruiser and continue sailing to Sohag where we moor for the night.
- Monday 12th April – Sailing
Today is a wonderfully relaxing day as we sail from Sohag to Tel El Amarna. Time to sit back and enjoy the scenes of daily life acted out on the banks of the river. The pace of life unchanged for centuries, we sail past villages and farmland all the while watching the birdlife on sand banks and islands. A day for binoculars, cameras and books.
- Tuesday 13th April – Tel el Amarna
An absolute highlight of any trip through Middle Egypt is the chance to explore Amarna, the amazing capital city of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti. We will visit the Royal Tomb for Akhenaten himself, the Northern Tombs, the central city, palaces, and the Great Temple of Aten. We spend the morning at this incredible site before returning to our cruiser for lunch. This afternoon we sail to Minya for overnight.
- Wednesday 14th April – Beni Hassan
This morning we head to the superbly decorated Middle Kingdom tombs of the local governors of Beni Hassan. Here we see the famous, vivid murals depicting daily life, hunts and wrestling scenes. The view from the tombs is memorable for showing the contrast between the fertile banks of the Nile and the desert that falls so close to the river. Returning to the boat for lunch we cruise towards the city of Beni Suef where we will overnight.
- Thursday 15th April – Meidum Pyramid
We begin our day exploring spectacular Meidum Pyramid rising above a hill of debris and the mud-brick mastabas nearby. There will be time to enter the pyramid for those who wish. Over lunch we sail on towards Cairo for our overnight mooring and final destination.
- Friday 16th April – Giza
After breakfast we head to the Giza Plateau and the Great Pyramid of Khufu along with Khafre and Menkaure as well as time to admire the mighty Sphinx. We return to the cruiser for lunch on board. Later we board our coach and head in to the city to view the amazing collection at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities or GEM Here we have a chance to look at artefacts from many of the sites visited over the last two weeks. This evening we have a farewell dinner and a chance to say goodbye to all the staff and friends on the SS Misr that has been our home for nearly two weeks.
- Saturday 17th April 2021 – Homeward Bound
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our EgyptAir flight to London arriving early afternoon.
Expert: Toby Wilkinson studied Egyptology at the University of Cambridge, graduating with a First Class Honours degree and winning the University’s Thomas Mulvey Prize. After completing his doctoral research at Christ’s College, Cambridge, he was elected to the college’s prestigious Lady Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellowship in Egyptology (previous holders of which include the eminent Egyptologists Harry Smith and Geoffrey Martin), which he held from 1993 to 1997.
Toby has excavated at the Egyptian sites of Buto and Memphis. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Egyptian History and has broadcast on radio and television in the UK and abroad, including BBC’s Horizon and Channel 4’s Private Lives of the Pharaohs, and was the consultant for the BBC’s award-winning documentary on the building of the Great Pyramid.
B = Breakfast BL = Breakfast and Lunch BD = Breakfast and Dinner BLD = Breakfast Lunch and Dinner