Lear left England at the beginning of December 1853, reaching Cairo on the 18 December, where he intended to wait for the arrival of William Holman Hunt (1827-1910). However he developed a fever and decided that he would leave at once for the Upper Nile and Egypt. He visited the island of Philae where he stayed for ten days and on 8 February began the return journey down the Nile by boat, reaching Luxor after a week. At Luxor he spent ten days exploring Karnak and the ruins of Thebes, finally reaching Cairo on 16 March 1854, where he met up with Hunt, who was preparing to leave for Palestine with Thomas Seddon. Lear returned again to Egypt in 1866.