March 2–15, 2024

Your guide
H. Rafael Chacón
University of Montana professor

$7,194 (double occupancy); $8,592 (single); includes airfare

Sign up

Never been to Egypt? Neither has your expert guide, who is looking forward to shedding a sense of impostor syndrome. “I’ve been a fan of Egypt since I was 9,” H. Rafael Chacón says. “It has that impact on so many people. It’s part of our cultural landscape. When I finally get there, it’ll feel like I’ve arrived at a place I’ve known and appreciated for a long time.” Working with Smithsonian Journeys, he developed an itinerary that includes the ancient Egypt you’ve read about — think the Pyramids and the Sphinx — along with lesser-known yet still-stunning sites, such as the fifth-century St. Sergius Church in Coptic Cairo and Deir el-Medina, the village that workers who built the Valley of the Kings tombs called home. Your own accommodations will be far nicer: You’ll stay in five-star hotels and take a three-day luxury cruise along the Nile River from Aswan to Luxor. 

About the guide: If you ever wonder about the design of a particular flag, don’t bother Googling. Just ask Chacón, who spent nearly a decade at the University of Chicago earning his doctorate in art history while doing a two-year stint as the Art Institute of Chicago’s Hispanic studies coordinator. He is one of the world’s leading vexillologists — that is, people who study flags. But it isn’t his only expertise. During his nearly 20 years as a professor of art history and criticism at the University of Montana, Chacón, now director of the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, taught a curriculum rich in ancient Egypt. 

Bring: Comfortable shoes. Buses aren’t allowed in old city centers, and you’ll have some uphill climbs to ruins. 

Watch for: The Grand Egyptian Museum just outside Cairo. It will be the largest archaeological complex in the world when it opens this fall after 18 years of construction. With a collection including the Khufu ship and more than 5,000 treasures from King Tut’s tomb, it’ll be worth the wait.