See the pyramids, sail the Nile, experience ancient Egypt. This fascinating land, where the sand meets the sea, won’t disappoint.
Day 1: Australia – Egypt
Salaam Alaikum! Welcome to Egypt. You’ll be met at the airport and taken to your hotel near the Great Pyramids of Giza.
A buzzing metropolis, home to at least 19 million people, Cairo gives you a great feel for Egyptian streetlife. It’s busy – almost frantic – and among the hustle and bustle, it’s an exciting blend of old world and new. Arabs call this city Umm al-Dunya (the mother of the world). There are many beautiful mosques to visit, like the Mohammed Ali Mosque in the Citadel. Or head to the oldest part of Cairo, the Babylon Fortress, to see ancient ruins. For stunning panoramic views of the capital, go up the 187-metre-high Cairo Tower.
Try some street food – lamb shawarma, anyone? – or get a taste of Egyptian street life by visiting a cafe. Sit in an ahwa and sip traditional mint tea. The shisha pipe can be found in many ahwas and restaurants across Cairo.
Day 2: Cairo – Alexandria
Prepare to be spellbound by the ancient wonders of the Pharaohs.
This morning we’ll drive out to Giza, home to perhaps the greatest iconic structures ever created by man – the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Instantly familiar, yet retaining a mystique and power, getting up close to these incredible pharaonic tombs is captivating.
There are over 100 pyramids in Egypt but the Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, is a defining symbol of Egypt. With a height of 146.5 metres, it’s the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one still standing. For an additional charge, you may be able to go inside the Great Pyramid, although occasionally it may be closed to visitors.
We’ll then drive to the port city of Alexandria along what is known as the desert road. Enroute, your guide will take you on a tour of the city known as Wadi El Natrun. The area was once very important to the ancient Egyptians as the area was rich in the salts needed for the mummification process.
On the way we’ll visit one of the Monasteries of Wadi El Natrun, if open for visiting. The monasteries here and in the surrounding region are some of the earliest Christian monasteries in the world.
Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria has a rich history. After all, it was founded by Alexander the Great. Its wide waterfront promenade, known as the corniche, is one of its best known symbols and interesting to stroll through, with restaurants, casinos, historical sites and markets to see on this 15km stretch. B
Day 3: Alexandria
We’ll take a morning tour of this city, known for its broad beaches and seafront corniche dotted with sun loungers and cafes.
Then we’ll delve into the Catacombs. Heading underground, you’ll get to view the largest known Roman burial site in Egypt, complete with burial chambers, labyrinth alleyways and entertaining rooms for families coming to visit the dead.
The crypts are 20 metres below street level and date back to the Greco Roman period. What likely started as a small family tomb grew into a large number of graves that could accommodate more than 300 bodies. The tombs are organised around a central spiral staircase that leads down through several levels.
Then we’ll visit the city’s oasis of calm, Al Montazah Palace and Gardens. Montazah Gardens is home to two palaces, one built in 1892 and another in 1932 by King Fuad I, and acres of picturesque gardens. The sprawling gardens are located along the shoreline and flow from splendidly landscaped gardens into great beaches.
From one side, you can see the seemingly-endless Mediterranean Sea, from the other, see the city’s charming harbour and skyline. B
OPTIONAL TOUR – ALEXANDRIA – CITADEL OF QAITBAY
Day 4: Alexandria – El Alamein – Cairo – Aswan
Today we’ll visit the Commonwealth War Graves of El Alamein. It is here where two extended battles were fought during World War II. The first began on the 1st July 1942 and lasted for 27 days, ending as a stalemate. After three months of holding back the enemy, the allies launched a second attack which lasted for 13 days. The importance of El Alamein was highlighted by Winston Churchill, who said “Before Alamein we never had a victory”.
We’ll then drive back to Cairo and you can take this time to relax, or purchase some supplies before boarding an overnight sleeper train to Aswan. It’s approximately a 13 hour journey.
Notes: The two-berth cabins are comfortable and air-conditioned. All bedding is provided onboard by the porter. Western-style toilets are located in each carriage, but we recommend bringing additional toilet paper. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. An included dinner and breakfast are served on board. You may want to purchase something extra beforehand to supplement your meal, particularly if you’re a vegetarian as only a single type of meal is served for dinner, which always includes meat. In rare circumstances you may be paired in your cabin with a group member of the opposite sex, depending on the group configuration. On other occasions, you might be sharing with another traveler of the same sex who may not be part of our group, again determined by the group configuration. B, L, D
Day 5: Aswan
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas: welcome to Aswan, Egypt’s southernmost city. Its easy-going charm is due in no small part to its large Nubian population.
The city is Egypt’s southern gateway to Africa and an important market town, so take time here to check out one of the country’s best bazaars.
On arrival, we’ll explore the beautiful Temple of Isis (the goddess of health, marriage and wisdom), which was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated on Philae Island in the 1960s. It’s a marvel of decorative pylons featuring some of Egypt’s finest carvings – definitely one of the real gems of Upper Egypt.
Afterward we will visit the excellent Nubian Museum, which showcases the history, art and culture of the Nubians. This city was once part of the ancient kingdom of Nubia and the museum does a wonderful job documenting the riches of this culture.
Then experience modern Nubian culture first-hand with a visit to Elephantine Island. On your visit you’ll join a Nubian family for dinner and experience true traditional Nubian hospitality. Here, you will encounter Nubian homes, traditional food and an unforgettable insight into the daily life of a Nubian. This is a rare and memorable experience, giving you the chance to become fully immersed in the local culture. B
Day 6: Aswan – Abu Simbel – Aswan – Nile Cruise
Today you will awake before sunrise for an early morning start. Sit back and relax as you drive to the ancient Abu Simbel temples, near the southern Egyptian border. You will have an early arrival into Abu Simbel to view one of the most incredible sights you will see. The two enormous sandstone structures were built in the 1200s BCE by Ramses II to serve as lasting monuments to himself and his favourite wife Nefertari. The larger temple, dedicated to three major Egyptian deities, features four large statues of Ramses II on its façade, while the smaller temple is dedicated to the goddess of love, Hathor, with statues designed to embody Nefertari.
Set on the banks of the artificial Lake Nasser, the structures were once in danger of being flooded with the construction of the Aswan High Dam but were saved via an extensive project to cut the temples into pieces and move them to higher ground, where they are seen today.
On our return to Aswan the rest of the day is free for you to make your own discoveries.
Later we’ll check in to our Nile cruise – our floating home for the next three nights.
Driving Duration: Approximately 8 hour round trip (with stops along the way) B, L, D
Please note that since the sailing distance between Aswan and Luxor is approximately 200kms, that it is typical for all cruises operated along the Nile to be docked for majority of the time to conduct sightseeing, with the sailing to occur of an evening. The vessel will be docked either in Aswan or Luxor. Depending on the time of year and number of vessels operating at the same time, you will also find that all vessels are docked beside one another, which is beyond our control.
To ensure that our customers have appropriate expectations prior to their journey, it is important not to compare this experience to that of a European River Cruise, which tend to cover a greater distance and on larger vessels. Instead, you will experience a Deluxe stay on-board your vessel, offering a great chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the banks of the Nile while you sit back and relax. Your cruise schedule will be provided once on-board.
OPTIONAL TOUR – OPTIONAL TOUR – ASWAN MARKET WALKING TOUR
Day 7: Nile Cruise
Enjoy the view of the Nile, the palms and the desert from your room. Enjoy cruising the Nile for three nights between Aswan and Luxor, with all the comforts you would expect from a five-star floating hotel.
Today we’ll journey ashore to visit Kom Ombo Temple. Dedicated to the gods Sobek and Haroeris, this unusual double temple was constructed during the Ptolemaic period, which lasted from 108 to 47 BC.
Set dramatically on the banks of the Nile, 47km north of Aswan and 168km south of Luxor, the soaring, chunky columns of the Great Temple of Kom Ombo are a magnificent sight as you arrive from the river.
The temple is well preserved, especially detail on the murals and columns. One unique engraving is thought to be among the first representations of medical and surgical instruments.
Today, Kom Ombo may be a sleepy agricultural backwater surrounded by sugar cane fields, but its prime position along the Nile once made it one of Upper Egypt’s most important centres. Wander through the temple’s colonnades, gazing up at scenes of kingly propaganda, and you’ll catch a feel of this glorious history for yourself.
Returning to the cruise boat, we’ll continue travelling upriver, with free time relaxing on the sundeck and taking in the surrounding sights, including lush riverbanks against a backdrop of desert hills. B, L, D
Day 8: Nile Cruise – Edfu
Today we’ll be moored near Edfu. This city is best known for its beautifully preserved temple dedicated to Horus, the falcon-headed god.
Disembark and discover the lively streets of Edfu town. Get acquainted with the bustling town centre and the bazaar.
Return to the boat for your final night aboard and make the most of the incredible views across one of the world’s greatest rivers.
As you explore further, you’ll discover endless reliefs – like the gods Horus and Thoth pouring sacred water over King Neos Dionysos – the library, a laboratory, and the holy sanctuary where a golden statue of Horus once stood. The sense of awe that comes from touring this temple is incredible. B, L, D
Day 9: Luxor
Our Nile cruise comes to an end in the open-air museum of Luxor – from the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of wonderfully-preserved reminders of the Pharaohs.
Rising early, we’ll discover some of the many wonders of ancient Thebes. Our first step is the Colossi of Memnon, two 17-metre-high statues on Luxor’s west bank. Carved from granite blocks, they represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and were once part of an impressive colonnade.
We’ll continue onto the spectacular royal burial site of the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the arid hills here are over 60 tombs of pharaohs, many richly decorated with reliefs and paintings. With your leader, explore this sprawling and spectacular place, where the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (16th to 11th century BC) were secretly interred for all eternity, and where discoveries are still being made.
Your guide will explain the history and legends of these remarkable people, their funerary rites, and the significance of the many paintings and hieroglyphics, still well preserved in the deepest tombs. You will visit three of the most interesting royal tombs and then continue to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, a stunning colonnaded building set against high cliffs that create a spectacular natural amphitheatre. One of Egypt’s greatest queens, she built this temple to prove her importance – the scale and elegance of her temple certainly proves a point!
You will explore the magnificent Karnak Temple, which is perhaps the most impressive of all the ancient Pharaohs’ monumental works. One of the world’s most celebrated temple complexes, Karnak is a house of the gods built over a period of some 200 years. Your guided tour of this vast temple of impressive pylons, obelisks and chapels will reveal its finest sections, such as the Avenue of Sphinxes and the Great Temple of Amun. The rest of the day is free for you to relax, shop in the excellent bazaar or perhaps experience the atmosphere of a local teahouse.
The afternoon is yours to explore. Perhaps you’d like to shop in the market or visit the world’s first Mummification Museum to discover the secrets of pharaonic preservation.
Today, remains of this vast complex include the colossal Great Colonnade Hall, almost 61 metres long, with 28 columns that are 21 feet high. Many of the temple’s sidewalls were torn down after the time of the pharaohs and recycled for building materials. B
OPTIONAL TOUR – HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE OVER WEST BANK
Please note – you can also do this tour the following day.
OPTIONAL TOUR – LUXOR TEMPLE
Day 10: Luxor – Hurghada
Today we’ll farewell the Nile and drive east to the beachside town of Hurghada. The green Nile valley is soon left behind you as we head into the barren Eastern Desert. Passing through rocky hills, the glittering waters of the Red Sea soon come into view and the rugged bulk of the Sinai Peninsula looms through the haze on the opposite shore.
A vibrant beach resort, Hurghada is by no means a typical adventure destination. Known for its underwater reefs and marine life, it’s a popular diving destination. After checking into your hotel, take a walking tour with your guide to get your bearings, and check out some of the local restaurants and eateries.
You will have the remainder of the evening at leisure, plus enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner tonight in your hotel. B, D
Day 11: Hurghada
Today is a free day to relax in this Red Sea beachside town. You may like to take the optional private snorkelling boat trip. B, D
Day 12: Hurghada – Cairo
Today we’ll leave Hurghada and take the short flight back to Cairo.
On our return to Cairo, we’ll make our way to the Khan El Khalili bazaar, a memorable shopping experience in the historic centre of Islamic Cairo. Even if you are not looking to buy, take a walk through the winding alleys of this labyrinth district – you’ll feel like you stepped back in time to an old Arab souk. Selling handicrafts, delicious spices, fabrics and clothes, it’s been a shopping district for thousands of years. B
OPTIONAL TOUR – PRIVATE SNORKELING BOAT TRIP INCLUDING LUNCH
Day 13: Cairo
The morning is yours to relax or explore at your own pace.
After lunch, we’ll head to the Egyptian Museum, one of the world’s greatest museums. Home to over 12,000 ancient Egyptian antiquities exhibiting many of the region’s treasures, your expert guide will take you through Egypt’s rich and fascinating dynastic history.
You will then have some free time to explore on your own or you may wish to visit the Royal Mummy Room (optional and at extra cost).
Afterwards, we’ll return to the hotel. Feel free to rest up, or you may choose to experience the Cairo sound and light show. B
OPTIONAL TOUR – PYRAMIDS LIGHT & SOUND SHOW
Day 14: Cairo – Australia
Unfortunately, today marks the end of your incredible tour through Egypt. At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight home. We hope you’ve enjoyed this extraordinary journey. B
Day 15: Arrive Australia
Arrive home today with memories to last a lifetime.
Excluded from the package price:
Note About Tipping
A friendly reminder that tipping is not included in your package. At the commencement of your tour you will be asked to provide tipping to your guide towards a ‘kitty’, which is then used towards the guide tipping for the services of helpers, hotel staff, restaurants and airport porterage. We suggest USD$5 (AUD$7 approx) per person per day towards the kitty. Please note that this tipping is not for the guide, merely for the guide to tip the services of the driver and local workers during your tour. While not made compulsory, if you choose not to contribute to the kitty it means that the guide is tipping for these services out of their own pocket. Your cooperation in this instance is most appreciated.