FOUR sits down with Archaeological Paths’ Founder and CEO, Gregory Poplawski, to find out more…
Can you give us a brief overview of the company, its history, and what it offers?
We founded Archaeological Paths for people passionate about archaeology and travelling, not as a standard tourist agency that organises classic tours. Since our establishment, we have wanted to see the boldest sightseeing dreams come true and combine them with experiences exceeding our tour guests’ expectations. During the tours, our guests and VIPs visit many places typically closed to the public and have an opportunity to meet world-renowned experts.
Apart from our dedication and endless fascination in crafting utterly luxurious travel experiences, we have expanded our mission and made a real difference in the world of science and archaeology. We sponsor excavations, restorations, and other groundbreaking projects. We are also involved in a wide variety of activities, from publishing books and producing documentaries to organising world lecture tours, conferences, and exhibitions.
Tell us more about Egypt through your eyes – it is already a popular tourist destination, but what are the truly special (possibly undiscovered) aspects that make it a must-visit destination?
Egypt is one of the cradles of civilisation, and therefore, there is a lot you may see there. However, not all the places are available to the public. Therefore, we open the entire Giza Plateau just for our tour guests and provide them with exclusive access to the Great Pyramid of Khufu. We open two additional chambers closed to the public – the Queen’s and Subterranean Chambers. Moreover, our tour guests are accompanied inside by an Egyptology Expert who explains what they currently see – other tourists do not have such a possibility.
Our tours are made special because we open up places closed to the public exclusively for our guests. For example, you can stand between the paws of the Great Sphinx while an Egyptology Expert reads the hieroglyphs out loud for you. You can walk around the Sphinx and look up at its tail, whereas other tourists can only see the Sphinx from a viewing platform. You can also visit the Tombs of Pyramid Builders and find out how the pyramids were built or enter the Temple of Khonsu, which is off-limits to the public. You can even visit Tel el-Amarna, the former capital of Egypt which was founded by the rebellious pharaoh who introduced monotheism in the 14th century BC. Or you go to the Southern parts of Upper Egypt and explore unique temples even savvy tourists do not go to see.
All in all, we provide our guests with unique sightseeing possibilities of the iconic sites and places closed to the public; organise meetings with Egyptology Experts, including the most famous archaeologist in the world – Dr Zahi Hawass; and combine all of that with cultural experiences.
We believe Egypt is very special. Many Egyptologists assume that even 80% of all Egypt’s treasures are still buried under the sand. Therefore, there are numerous ongoing excavation works in Egypt. If there is a new finding, we also surprise our tour guests. On the 13th of September 2021, a day before the grand opening of the ancient King Djoser’s Southern Tomb, Dr Mostafa Wazir, Egypt’s Head of Antiquities, and Dr Khaled El-Anany, Minister of Tourism, invited our guests to a private opening of the tomb and a new tourist site in Saqqara.
What about the food scene – what can travellers expect and look forward to?
The travellers will have a wide variety of choices – from authentic dishes prepared at the most exquisite restaurants to homemade local treats and memorable gourmet meals served in the Presidential Residences. They will see how homemade Egyptian bread is prepared, which will later be served to their table.
The travellers will be introduced to the unique flavours of Egypt and taste the best traditional meals and desserts because we believe that one of the best ways to get to know a country is through its cuisine and the diverse world of exceptional dining experiences.
What are the best times of year to visit Egypt?
The best time to travel to Egypt is between September and May. That is when we organise our tours. During those months the weather is sunny and perfect for sightseeing. If you prefer cooler months, then we recommend travelling during the winter months, from November to February. Then, you can expect an average temperature to be between 65 and 75°F.
Tell us a bit more about your most exciting and sought-after tours?
All our tours offer private entrances closed to the public and experiences unavailable to anyone else, along with all the highlights you should see in Egypt. Depending on your focus and length of stay, we can provide you with different experiences. You can delve into the Egyptian culture, meet one of Egypt’s most recognisable contemporary painters and learn how to make Egyptian meals on the Inside Egypt tour, or follow the footsteps of King Tut and Cleopatra to places connected with their life and heritage. You can see the Best of Egypt and its iconic sites on a 7-day adventure or spend 20 days on a Long Nile Cruise and Lake Nasser tour.
Still, I believe that I have to mention our flagship 14-day experience – The Royal Egypt Tour. The Royal Tour not only gives you a possibility to have an insight into Egypt’s full history, but it also allows you to visit all the highlights of this magnificent place. This includes visiting Saqqara, Memphis and Dashour; Giza Plateau and Sphinx; Cairo Museum; Saladin’s Citadel; Luxor and Karnak temples; Valley of the Kings; Edfu and Kom Ombo temples; Aswan; Abu Simbel as well as Hatchepsut Temple, just to name a few.
However, in saying the above, I would like to focus on why this tour is unique. First of all, you travel with one of the best Egyptology Experts in Egypt. Their extensive knowledge, experience, and passion for history and archaeology will make your journey extraordinary. They will not only show you places, but they will also provide you with many different historical and cultural aspects, show and explain how various places were built and what impact the Egyptians had on their life and history. For example, you visit the site of Deir el-Medina, where you get to know more about the everyday life of people who built the Valley of the Kings and Queens.
What is more, we give you access to places that are not otherwise open to the public. Can you imagine that you can have the entire Giza Plateau and Khufu’s Pyramid just to yourself? It is as if you closed the whole of Time’s Square in New York during the festive season for a group of tourists so they could admire this place exclusively. You have a chance to explore the 7th Wonder of the Ancient World without anyone rushing you, and you can enter all 3 chambers in the Great Pyramid: King’s Chamber, Queen’s Chamber and Subterranean Chamber. Our guests can stand between the paws of the Great Sphinx where they meet Dr Zahi Hawass, one of the most famous archaeologists in the world, walk around one of the most iconic symbols of Egypt, and see its tail. During the tour, our group also visits the Luxor Temple outside opening hours. We also visit an active archaeological site of the Tombs of the Pyramid Builders with Dr Hawass, who tells us first-hand about this magnificent discovery.
During the tour, we also meet Dr Mostafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, who is responsible for all the archaeological sites in Egypt. He meets our guests at the Karnak Temple complex and introduces them to the newest discoveries made in Egypt.
Last but not least, we enrich our guests’ experience of Egypt by meeting with a Surprise VIP Guest – it can be a world-renowned scholar, museum director, high-profile minister, or even a member of a former presidential family. Throughout the tour, you stay in the finest and historic 5-star hotels, sail on a luxury Nile cruise ship, dine on delicious local cuisine and embrace the unique Egyptian culture. We want to make sure that with us, you will experience Egypt like no one else!
What is it about Archaeological Paths that sets it apart? Why is it the best tour partner in its region?
Archaeological Paths not only provides their guests with luxurious travel experiences with world-renowned experts, many attractions, and surprises, but we also make sure that everything is top-notch and well-executed. We are the only company in the world personally recommended by the late First Lady of Egypt – Madam Jehan Sadat.
Moreover, Archaeological Paths sponsors A Secret Voyage and The Legend of Tutankhamun, the most exclusive books on ancient Egypt, written by Dr Zahi Hawass. One of these publications was gifted to the US President, Barack Obama. In 2018, Archaeological Paths gained exclusive rights to promote its in-depth tours at King Tut’s exhibition housed in Los Angeles. We are also an official partner of Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club.
We pair our travel experiences with supporting the preservation of places we visit so that they remain vibrant and intact for generations to come. We sponsor research and support local charity programs. By travelling with us, our guests support Egypt and make a difference in the world.
Lastly, we are very proud to be recognised by our guests with travel awards from Trip Advisor. For a few years in a row, we have been awarded for our involvement in preparing and organising top-class tours. That is something of which we are proud.
You offer tailor-made tours – could you provide more details on this?
Since our establishment, Archaeological Paths has organised many tours and expeditions with outstanding experts in the fields of science and archaeology. What is more, we have organised many private tours for the world’s most renowned figures, including presidents and Hollywood stars. We carefully design each tour to give our guests a one-of-a-kind experience and full insight into the country’s history and culture.
Our company can open the iconic or unavailable places and combine visiting them with special meetings with world-renowned figures. For us, the sky is the limit. To prepare the best tailor-made tour, we always discuss all the details with our clients to make the boldest dreams come true.
Above health and safety measures, what else do you think is most important to guests when they select travel destinations?
First of all, a journey to a different country or place should provide you with life-long, unforgettable memories that you can share with your friends and family. You travel because you have a dream, and different people have different dreams. Thus, we enhance the travel experience and go far beyond.
Our company always takes care of all aspects of travel, and we are there each step of the way. Since travelling should involve delving in-depth into what the destination is about, knowing more about the country’s history, tasting outstanding and authentic cuisine, and embracing the culture as well as enjoying the best hotels, we always aim to provide all of this and much more.
What memories and emotions do you hope travellers will leave the country with, and how are these fostered during their experience with Archaeological Paths?
All our guests leave the Land of the Pharaohs with unforgettable memories, having visited places unavailable to anyone else and experiencing something they could not have with anyone else. We make everything happen with seamless effort and ensure they enjoy their journey. To describe how our previous tour guests react when we talk to them about their experience during the tour, I may only quote one sentence all guests always say: “It was a tour of a lifetime.”
To find out more, visit Archaeological Paths’ website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.