VISIT EGYPT LIKE A PHARAOH
In December 2018, a tremendous archaeological discovery was made in Egypt when the incredibly well-preserved, 4,400-year-old tomb of a royal priest was uncovered at Saqqara. Since it was unearthed, very few people have been able to look inside this ancient wonder, which is not yet open to the public. However, thanks to its links with the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the eminent Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawass, travellers with exclusive tour company Archaeological Paths are able to visit the tomb.
“Our guests can go to incredible places such as this, which are totally closed for others,” explains travel consultant Martin Panek. “We offer experiences that others cannot. This, in addition to our passion for history and travel, is one of the things that makes us unique among tour companies.”
Archaeological Paths organizes exclusive tours for groups and individuals – including Hollywood stars – led by world-renowned experts who provide a scholarly insight into a country’s history, culture and customs. The company specializes in Egyptian experiences, but with offices all over the world, it also organizes tours to other countries of archaeological and historical interest, such as Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and India. In addition, it sets up archaeological and scientific conferences, and produces documentary films.
The company promises all guests a completely personal, private experience, from the moment they arrive at the destination airport. “It goes without saying that you have full-time assistance on hand, and that you stay at the very best five-star hotels around the world, in absolute luxury,” says Martin. “For example, in Egypt, we stay in the shadow of the pyramids at Marriott Mena House Hotel, the former residence of Ismail Pasha (‘Ismail the Magnificent’). But we offer so much more. When you see the Great Sphinx of Giza, you arrive at sunrise, before all the other tourists are allowed in. So there is nobody there but you, and you can see exactly how it looked 4,000 years ago. You can stand in between its paws, which is not usually allowed – so you can look into the Great Sphinx’s face and see it smiling at you.”
The company’s Royal Tour is led by one of the world’s most famous archaeologists, Dr Zahi Hawass (pictured, right). “A few years ago, Dr Hawass discovered a site where the pyramid builders used to live, which entirely changed the established thinking about how the pyramids were built,” says Martin. “These people were not slaves, as believed, but free men – honoured to work for the pharaohs. Without doubt it has been the most important discovery in recent decades and it’s still an active excavation site where Archaeological Paths is the only company allowed to bring visitors there.”
Archaeological Paths’ guests can also visit the site where the Grand Egyptian Museum is currently being constructed at Giza. Martin says that when it opens in 2020, it will be the largest museum of its type in the world. It will house the full Tutankhamun collection, much of which has never been displayed before. “There were over 5,500 artefacts stored in this tomb, which was found intact,” says Martin. “Currently they are being photographed, researched and catalogued for the museum. But our guests can already go and see these artefacts, outside of their display cases. It’s something really new and special – both for us and for our guests.”