You’ll get an early start as we ride across the desert to Luxor, the modern city that straddles the Nile and was once the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes. Inhabited since about 3200 BC, it is still defined by its antique treasures, which include the temples of Karnak and Luxor, and the vast Necropolis of Thebes. Together, they comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you will see them all today, with an expert Egyptologist to guide you.
As you approach Luxor you will enter the Necropolis and explore its most famous section, the Valley of the Kings. Here, for some 500 years, more than 60 pharaohs' temples and burial chambers were cut deep into imposing rock cliffs, decorated with elaborate hieroglyphics, and filled with treasures and royal household implements. You’ll enter some of these magnificent tombs, including those of the powerful King Ramses and the famous boy-king Tutankhamun. You’ll also visit the Valley of the Queens, where archaeologists have unearthed more than 90 tombs of pharaohs’ wives and children.
Perhaps the most beautiful monument of all is the elegant Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri. Carved directly into a rock cliff, it is flanked by symmetrical, colonnaded wings and entered via a long, terraced processional walkway. Hatshepsut was Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh, whose mostly peaceful rule was characterized by prosperity, prolific building, and the establishment of new trade routes. She is considered one of Egypt’s most successful rulers. Leaving the Necropolis you’ll stop at the famous Colossi of Memnon, two gigantic sandstone statues that served as sentries before the (now destroyed) tomb of Amenhotep III. Legend has ascribed oracular powers to them and they have been known to emit a curious whistling or moaning sound under certain conditions. After lunch, check into your hotel for a respite before dinner. Afterward, your tour continues in grand style.
Achieve another travel milestone this evening when you explore the Temple of Karnak, the world’s second-largest religious structure. Built over 2,000 years, it is still being excavated and of its four known sections, only one is open to the public and that alone encompasses some 61 acres of temples, avenues, obelisks, pylons, sanctuaries, lakes and more. Among its highlights is the Great Hypostyle Hall, supported by a forest of 134 79-foot-high columns set in 16 rows.
Learn the history of Karnak, and the fascinating legends of the kings, queens, gods, and goddesses it was dedicated to, at tonight's spectacular Sound & Light show. You’ll wander among the beautifully illuminated temple grounds and then sit beside the sacred lake as the past comes alive through light, music, story and imagery.
- Guided tour of the Valley of Kings and Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
- Visit the Temple of Karnak
- Karnak Sound & Light show
Breakfast, lunch & dinner