One of my more intrepid ancestors, John Pendlebury, is probably smiling right now as I drift along the Nile – in a boat that’s a floating hotel with luxuries of which he’d surely approve.

He was a frequent visitor to Egypt during the 1930s. However, he also enjoyed his comforts at home. In one letter home he wrote: ‘A few idiotic luxuries; caviar, asparagus tips, pate de foie gras. These are the inessentials which make life worth living in a world of hard-boiled eggs and hacked meat.’

He’d certainly have been satisfied by the hearty and healthy food we enjoyed on the recently refurbished Sanctuary Nile Adventurer. It’s an elegant and luxurious ship. And with just 32 cabins and experienced Egyptologists on board it offers a wonderfully relaxed way to scratch the surface of the country’s 7,000-year heritage.

The Mail on Sunday's Sarah Siese enjoyed a four-night cruise on the Sanctuary Nile Adventurer. Pictured is the boat on the Nile

On Sunday, Sarah Siese of the Mail enjoyed a four-night cruise aboard Sanctuary Nile Adventurer. The boat that was on the Nile is shown in the picture.

Grand tour: Sarah described the food served on the ship as 'hearty and healthy'. Pictured is the dining deck

Grand Tour: Sarah described the food on board the ship’s dining room as “hearty, healthy”. The dining deck is shown in the picture.

My four-night cruise began with a stop in Edfu. It is said to have the most well-preserved temples in Egypt.

We sailed in port and were woken up by the muezzin. I then rode a horse-and-cart from the riverbank to get to the temple. Husain, the trap driver, and his pony Monica – who he jokes is ‘Ferrari number one’ – run the gauntlet of hawkers drawing in tourists with cries of ‘lovely-jumbly-scarf-one-dollar-one-dollar!’

The temple, which is located just over one mile away from the river’s edge, is nearly intact. It is like going back in time by walking in.

There’s a lovely lack of uniformity to the complex and a human side to its story that I adored – our guide, Mo, pointed out the ‘sloppy homework’ all over Edfu where the workmen hadn’t quite done their job properly. They are not being inept, this is a sign of rebellion and a minor insubordination.

It’s also proof that human nature never really changes.

More evidence of this can be found nearby where we’re shown signs of a huge scale, ancient perfume and embroidery business. It’s where traders sold their wares to the visitors of yesteryear who, even then, had to exit via the gift shop.

Treasure trove: Sarah visited the tomb of Tutankhamun, which is located in the Egyptian Museum in the heart of Cairo

Treasure chest: Sarah visited Tutankhamun’s Tomb in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

A highlight of Sarah's trip was a stop at the Temple of Edfu. 'Walking in is truly like stepping back in time,' she writes

Sarah’s highlight was stopping at Temple of Edfu. She writes, “Walking in feels like you’re stepping back in the past.” 

In a side room are ancient perfume recipes. The wall contains descriptions of more than 250 flowers, which were kept in underground alabaster bottles.

As a teenager, Frenchman attempted to read the hieroglyphs of the Napoleonic period. However, he only managed to recognize that the hieroglyphs were a mixture of Egyptian and Coptic languages. The discovery of the Rosetta Stone proved the master key and meant Mo could confidently point at the dash and horseshoe and tell me it is a number, ‘probably 11’.

Further down the Nile is the temple at Esna. There, 2000 years of silt have protected the temple. A relief of Ptolemy III depicts him killing his enemies, who offer their forgiveness.

Another relief shows the disliked Roman Emperor Augustus with six toes – again, an act of defiance as deformities were considered a curse, so the two fingers to Rome was as easy for Egyptians to read as a newspaper headline is for us.

My Egyptian adventure had its highlight, however, when I discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. His legend was reborn on November 4, 1922, when British archaeologist Howard Carter and his benefactor Lord Carnarvon discovered his tomb – an encounter that remains the most spectacular unearthing in the history of archaeology.

More than 10 years of meticulous excavation were required to uncover the Valley of the Kings. Four small chambers beneath the Valley of the Kings held more than 55,000 objects. They gave an incredible insight into the life of the ruler of ancient times, which continues to amaze the world.

A solid gold death mask was made, which was beaten and burnedished. It was then placed outside of the linen bandages that wrapped his entire body, over the head. 

So that Ba (the soul) could identify the mummified body, and allow it to be revived, it shows real facial features. It paints a picture of the era’s artistic mastery, revealing the great cosmopolitan wealth of the Egyptian empire and its royal treasures.

Sarah says Cairo, above, is a 'glorious whirl of colour and confusion and the ultimate mix of ancient and modern'

Sarah tells Sarah that Cairo is above a “glorious swirl of colour and confusion, and the ultimate mixture of modern and ancient.” 

All of a sudden, I’m swept up in dreamy wonderment and ponder what my life would look like as a tomb raider in 2021. This must have been in my genes.

I saw the treasures of Tutankhamun at the start of my holiday in Cairo, the city that’s a glorious whirl of colour and confusion and the ultimate mix of ancient and modern. For now, King Tut’s tomb and treasures remain in the old and overcrowded Egyptian Museum in the heart of the city. You can visit him in his stunning, delayed home at the Great Egyptian Museum if you are there late next year.

It’s set to be one of the biggest museums in the world, an architectural wonder of the modern age and a new showcase for the city. Better still, it’s set right alongside the pyramids, which you’ll be able to view through its vast, floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Travel Facts

Abercrombie & Kent offers seven nights to Egypt, with three in Cairo at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza on a B&B basis, including full-day visit to Cairo, and four nights on the Sanctuary Nile Adventurer, from £2,850pp based on two people sharing. Includes flights, accommodation and full-board while cruising in low season (