Day 1: Cairo - Arrivals, Welcome Dinner
On your arrival at the Cairo International Airport, you will be met by your guide, who'll assist you with getting your Egyptian visa, getting through immigration, customs and getting your luggage, and who will transfer you to the luxurious, brand new Hyatt Regency Hotel, located in the shadow of the great Giza Pyramids. This afternoon, there will be some time to rest after the long flight, enjoying the hotel's grounds and its photogenic gardens and pools with the pyramids view, before we meet for our festive welcome dinner in the evening.
Day 2: Cairo - Pyramids of Giza, Sphinx, Pyramid of Kephren
After breakfast, we'll begin our immersion in the ancient Egyptian culture and history, as we mount the stately camels for a ride on the Giza Plateau. We'll start our journey through the world's most ancient civilization with an in-depth tour of the only remaining monument of the original Ancient World's Seven Wonders. Accompanied by our archeologist guide, we'll take an extensive guided tour of the Pyramids of Giza and study the beauty and the science behind their guardian, the majestic Sphinx. We'll enter the elaborate passageways of the Pyramid of Kephren and explore its interior, and we'll end the day by examining the interiors of the Ido and Kar tombs.
Day 3: Cairo - Grand Egyptian Museum
This morning, we're in for a treat: an extensive visit to the newly opened and highly anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum. The museum is the world's largest archeological museum, housing the most complete collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. The magnificent building, triangular in shape and echoing the pyramids features translucent stone walls made of alabaster, and the main attraction is the full collection of the golden treasures of King Tutankhamun, with many pieces displayed for the first time. In the evening, we'll enjoy a home hosted, authentic Egyptian dinner, one of the many highlights of our Egyptian journey.
Day 4: Cairo - Saqqara Pyramids, Old Cairo, flight to Luxor
After checking out of the hotel this morning, we'll set out to visit Saqqara, the site of the oldest Egyptian pyramids, featuring the mysterious tombs hidden beneath the ancient heaped mounds. Our Egyptologist guide will help us understand their significance and decipher the stories told in the beautiful hieroglyphics lining their walls. We'll visit Titi's Pyramid and the Step Pyramid, the first freestanding stone buildings in history and the first pyramids ever built. After lunch, we'll stroll through the Old Cairo, enveloped in the mysterious scents and sounds of the East, as we explore the city's multi-cultural treasures of Jewish, Coptic Christian and Islamic monuments, including the Hanging Church, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, and the Abo Serga Church. In the late afternoon, we'll take a short flight to Luxor and check into our upscale hotel, beautifully located right on the banks of the Nile.
Day 5: Luxor
After all the excitement of Cairo, today we'll enjoy a more leisurely pace, as we slowly explore Luxor, the City of Palaces, which holds two thirds of the world's antiquity monuments, large Egyptian temples and vividly colorful ancient tombs. In the early morning, we'll have a rare opportunity to take an optional tour of Queen Nefertari’s tomb (additional cost). Later this morning, we'll take a walk through the city, stopping at several artisans' workshops and enjoying some excellent shopping and lunch at a local restaurant. We'll have some free time in the afternoon to enjoy the hotel's beautiful pool and its panoramic location on the Nile. In the evening, we will enjoy the highly evocative Sound and Light Show at the Temple of Karnak.
Day 6: Luxor - Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut's Temple, King Tut's Tomb
Today, we'll start the day by crossing the Nile River to the west bank's Valley of the Kings to visit the vividly painted tombs and temples carved out of rocky cliffs. We'll start with an in-depth tur of Queen Hatshepsut's Temple, built by her to honor her father, the god Amun. Then, we'll visit the fascinating Memnon Colossi, the famous King Tut's tomb and the colorful Ramses VI's tomb. Later, we'll board the Sonesta St. George I Nile Cruise, our home for the next 5 days. All cabins have large windows facing the Nile, and the ship is a floating boutique hotel with fine dining, nightly entertainment, a lounge, a sun deck, jacuzzi and a swimming pool. After lunch, we'll visit the Luxor Temple, one of the best preserved ancient temples in Egypt, with beautifully decorated columns, a large open court, a massive entrance façade and two seated statues of Ramses II.
Day 7: Nile Cruise - Karnak Temple
At dawn, we'll have the option to take a memorable Hot Air Balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings and along the banks of the Nile (additional cost). Then after breakfast, we'll visit the Karnak Temple, a vast, open-air museum made up of several temples dedicated to the god Amun and the largest ancient religious site in the world. As part of the monumental ancient city of Thebes, Karnak dates back to the Middle Kingdom, and it flourished during the Ptolemaic period, as the main place of worship of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Over thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling Karnak to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen anywhere else. In the afternoon, we'll continue sailing up the Nile towards Edfu, as we relax on the deck and watch the scenery unfolding along the banks of the Nile: the fertile lands, the mountains and the golden desert.
Day 8: Nile Cruise - Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo Temple
This morning, we'll tour the Edfu Temple, dedicated to the falcon god Horus whose divine marriage to Hathor is depicted on the temple's walls, along with important scenes and inscriptions of the Sacred Drama of the age-old conflict between the gods Horus and Seth. As we enjoy lunch onboard the ship, we'll be sailing towards Kom Ombo Temple, dedicated to two gods, the god Horus and the god Sobek. Originally built for god Horus, after the increasing number of crocodiles on the island, it was rededicated to god Sobek, a crocodile shaped god. An imaginary line divides the temple into two parts, each with its own entrance, hypostyle halls and chapels. In the evening, we'll join a traditional Galabiyah party onboard the ship, as we continue sailing south to Aswan.
Day 9: Nile Cruise - Aswan, Temple of Phalie
Today, we'll tour Aswan, a city known for centuries for its cataracts and as being the gateway to the South, along a trading route from the heart of Africa to Egypt. Aswan enjoys a pleasant climate, and the Nile here flows through granite rocks, with the golden desert sands with palm trees lining the banks. Our first stop will be the Temple of Phalie, considered the most beautiful temple in the Nile Valley and dedicated to the goddess Isis and the god Osiris. After the Aswan dam was built, the temple was flooded by the Nile, and it was moved to its new location on Agilika Island. We'll also visit the Unfinished Obelisk in its original location, in a granite quarry and the Al Tabia Mosque. In the afternoon, we'll cross the Nile in a traditional Long Felucca, a graceful Egyptian sailboat, to the botanical gardens, enjoying the gentle breezes and traditional songs along the way. We'll end the day with a visit to the Aswan Market, a colorful bazaar offering various Egyptian and African goods.
Day 10: Aswan - Abu Simbel - Cairo
After breakfast today, we'll check out of the Nile riverboat, and fly from Aswan to Abu Simbel in the region of Nubia and near the border with Sudan. Here, we'll visit the awe-inspiring Ramses II Temples, considered the most astonishing and sophisticated temples in all of Egypt. Originally carved out of a mountainside in the 13th century BC, the temples serve as a lasting monument to Pharaoh Ramses II and his queen Nefertari, and their huge external rock relief figures have become iconic. After an extensive tour of the site, we'll fly back to Cairo and check into the Le Méridien Cairo Airport Hotel. In the evening, we'll enjoy our farewell dinner, and share the best adventures and memories from our journey through Egypt.
Day 11: Cairo - Departures
Sadly, we must say our good-byes to the unforgettable Egypt today. After breakfast, we'll have individual airport transfers, according to our flight departure times, and if you are joining us for the post tour extension to Petra and the Jordan Highlights 2, we'll have an early morning airport transfer to the Cairo International Airport for the flight to Amman, Jordan.
Itinerary specifics subject to change.