A private members-only tour with Ancient World Tours

This tour has now sold out.

If you would like to be added to the waiting list then please send your details to [email protected].

Escorted throughout by Dr Carl Graves, Director of the Egypt Exploration Society

‘Had any one ventured to inquire in so many words what brought us to Egypt, we should have replied: “Stress of weather”.’

A chance visit to Egypt in 1873 by Amelia Edwards changed the future of British Egyptology forever. Together with her companions, they sailed up to the Second Cataract in Nubia taking in the sights, sounds, and splendour of 19th century Egypt. Amelia wrote about her trip in a best-selling travelogue aptly titled A Thousand Miles up the Nile. In 1882, Amelia founded the Egypt Exploration Fund (now Society), an organisation that continues her mission to support and promote Egyptian cultural heritage today.

This tour will transport you back to Amelia’s famous narrative, visiting sites that she herself once explored. You will have the chance to walk in her footsteps (or close to them at least!) at sites like Philae, Elephantine, Giza, the streets of Medieval Cairo, and Abu Simbel – where Amelia’s group discovered a chapel dedicated to the god Thoth. 

You will need to use the following password to access the itinerary: Amelia

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact AWT directly. Please note that you must be a current Member of the Egypt Exploration Society in order to join this tour. If you're not yet a Member, then please consider joining/renewing online here: https://www.ees.ac.uk/membership 

ABE panel 2.jpg

‘Gertasseh, Nubia, January 1874’ by Amelia Edwards. Courtesy of the Peggy Joy Egyptology Library.


Day 1 - Thursday 8th February 2024 - To Cairo

We fly London Heathrow to Cairo and on arrival check in to the Meridien Hotel at Cairo Airport for one night on room and breakfast basis.

Day 2 - Friday 9th February - Cairo

“If there was nothing else to tempt the traveller to Cairo, the Boulak Museum would alone be worth the journey from Europe.”

We begin our journey by visiting the treasures of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. During her visit to Egypt, Amelia saw some of these items displayed at the Boulak Museum, once a short distance north on the banks of the river Nile. We will enjoy lunch at Al Azhar Park overlooking the historic centre of Medieval Cairo before flying to Aswan (ETD 18:45) to begin our southern journey.

At Aswan, we will transfer to the Movenpick Hotel located at the northern end of Elephantine Island for three nights on a bed and breakfast basis.  BL

Day 3 - Saturday 10th February - Aswan

“The Cataract, widening away reach after reach and studded with innumerable rocky islets, looked more like a lake than a river.”

On our first morning in the southern gateway to Egypt, we will take a private boat to the rocky islet of Sehel. Here we will explore some of the rock inscriptions carved there by ancient travellers also journeying up the Nile. These include the famous Famine Stela, a Ptolemaic text telling the story of a seven-year drought during the reign of Djoser (more than 2500 years earlier!). We return to the hotel for free time over the lunch period. In the afternoon we will journey to the south of Elephantine Island for a tour of the ancient settlement which commanded Egypt’s traditional southern border throughout the Pharaonic Period. Here, Amelia described finding ostraca as she explored the ruins dating from the Early Dynastic Period all the way until Late Antiquity. Today the site remains the focus for archaeological investigation by German and Swiss teams, and we will have chance to see the reconstructed temples of Satet and Khnum – two gods of the unique cataract region. B

This evening we will hear about Amelia’s personal life, before she visited Egypt, and what events may have led her to the Nile.

Day 4 - Sunday 11th February - Aswan

This morning we will visit the famed island temple of Philae.

“The approach by water is quite the most beautiful. Seen from the level of a small boat, the island, with its palms, its colonnades, its pylons, seems to rise out of the river like a mirage.”

Amelia visited the temple before its colourful decoration had been lost after the building of the low dam at Aswan or the eventual relocation of the temple in the 1960s. We will have chance to compare Amelia’s artwork to the temple today and reimagine the colours that she once saw.

In the afternoon, we will take a felucca to view the sites of first cataract region from the river and spot some of the rich flora and fauna of this area as the sun begins to set. B

“Meanwhile, the sun was fast sinking – the lights were crimsoning – the shadows were lengthening. All was silent; all was solitary. We listened, but could scarcely hear the murmur of the rapids.”

Day 5 - Monday 12th February - Boarding the Cruiser

“Egyptology, which has solved the enigma of the Sphinx, is powerless here. The obelisk of the quarry holds its secret safe, and holds it for ever.”

Before boarding the cruiser, we will have chance to visit the unfinished obelisk in the ancient quarries at Aswan. Thought to have been commissioned by the Pharaoh Hatshepsut, it would have been the largest in Egypt had it been erected. We will then board our cruiser for four nights on a full board basis. BLD

This evening we will hear about Amelia’s journey ‘A thousand miles up the Nile’ and relive it through her own paintings now kept in archives in London, Oxford, and the USA.

Day 6 - Tuesday 13th February - Lake Nasser Cruise

“If the decorative work in the chamber of the Cæsars was anything like the decorative work in the Temple of Kalabsheh, then the taste thereof was of the vilest. Such a masquerade of deities; such striped and spotted and cross-barred robes; such outrageous head-dresses; such crude and violent colouring, we have never seen the like of.”

This morning we will visit the temple of Kalabsha, a large Ptolemaic and Roman building dedicated to the Nubian god Mandulis. The temple was relocated here in the 1960s along with other monuments also visited by Amelia, including Gerf Hussein and the kiosk of Qertassi. Though Amelia was not a fan of later ancient Egyptian art, the reliefs preserved here are among some of the most important for understanding the history of Nubia during the Graeco-Roman age. In the afternoon we will take in the scenery of Lake Nubia from the cruiser on our journey to Wadi es Seboua – a landscape completely transformed since Amelia’s visit in 1874. BLD

Day 7 - Wednesday 14th February - Lake Nasser Cruise

‘”We come one afternoon to Wady Sabooah, where there is a solitary Temple drowned in sand. It was approached once by an avenue of sphinxes and standing colossi, now shattered and buried.”

Today we will visit the rock-cut temple of Wadi es Seboua and the nearby Temple of Dakka, both visited by Amelia before their relocation in the 1960s. Her paintings of these temples give a sense of their original location and state of preservation. We will then travel to New Amada where the temples of Amada and Derr can now be found. BLD

Day 8 - Thursday 15th February - Lake Nasser Cruise

“At Ibrim – a sort of ruined Ehrenbreitstein on the top of a grand precipice overhanging the river – we touched for only a few minutes, in order to buy a very small shaggy sheep which had been brought down to the landing-place for sale.”

This morning, unlike Amelia, we will see the ancient fortress of Qasr Ibrim from the cruiser. Once the site of a garrison town and cathedral perched high atop a peak of the eastern desert, today Qasr Ibrim is a small island threatened by the waters of Lake Nubia. This afternoon we will reach our ultimate goal in Nubia, the rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel where Amelia and ‘The Painter’ made a major discovery on 15th February 1874 – 150 years ago exactly! BLD

“Pray come immediately I have found the entrance to a tomb. Please send some sandwiches.”

In the evening we will have a chance to watch the sound and light show projected onto the temples.

Day 9 - Friday 16th February - To Cairo

Today we will leave our cruiser and head back to Aswan via the western desert road with lunch boxes. From Aswan Airport we take an afternoon flight to Cairo. On arrival we will take our transfer and check-in to Steigenberger Hotel Giza for four nights bed and breakfast. BL

Day 10 - Saturday 17th February - Medieval Cairo

“To remember in what order the present travellers saw these things would now be impossible; for they lived in a dream, and were at first too bewildered to catalogue their impressions very methodically.”

Today we will retrace Amelia’s steps through the Medieval streets of Cairo. Travelling between the fortified gates of Bab el-Futuh and Bab Zuweila we will explore the historic Fatimid palace district of the Bayn al-Qasrayn seeing the impressive mosques and monuments along the way. Following lunch at Al-Azhar Park, we can continue our walk through historic Cairo from the Citadel of Saladin through Darb el-Ahmar, back to Bab Zuweila. BL

This evening, Carl will talk about Amelia’s legacy at the Egypt Exploration Society and how she founded it in 1882.

Day 11 - Sunday 18th February - Grand Egyptian Museum

If open, we will spend the day exploring the new Grand Egyptian Museum where many of Egypt’s greatest ancient artefacts are now displayed. Your entry ticket will cover all halls and you will be able to have refreshment breaks in the Museum. This is your chance to spend a day choosing your own route but most of all it will be time to view the wonderful new setting for the Tutankhamun collection. B

Note: If the Grand Egyptian Museum is not open by February 2024, then we will instead visit the archaeological site of Saqqara, a place Amelia visited with her travelling companions.

Day 12 - Monday 19th February - The Great Pyramid

“The last [excursion] one makes before leaving, is to Ghizeh.”

Our final morning in Egypt, like Amelia, will be spent visiting the Giza Plateau to see the Great Pyramid of Khufu, and those of his successors, Khafre and Menkaure.

“It is only in approaching them, and observing how they grow with every foot of the road, that one begins to feel they are not so familiar after all.”

We will enjoy the panoramic view of the Plateau from the 9 Pyramids Lounge over lunch before returning to the hotel for a leisurely afternoon of packing. BL

Day 13 - Tuesday 20th February 2024 - Home

This morning we take our private transfer to Cairo Airport for our homebound flights. B

For every booking on this tour a donation to the EES is included.

This tour has now sold out. If you would like to be added to the waiting list then please send your details to [email protected]