Our representative will meet and assist you when you arrive at Cairo International Airport. He will help you handle all your procedures through passport control, customs formalities, and in the luggage area. Following this. You will be driven to your 5-star hotel in a private air-conditioned vehicle for drop-off. Overnight in Cairo.
This morning a private van will transport you to Giza, the home of some of the world’s most iconic sights. Approach the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx by camel, with panoramic views of the dunes. Instantly familiar yet retaining a mystique and power, getting up close to these incredible pharaonic tombs is amazing. Explore the structures that have stood tall for 4,500 years, and for an additional charge you may be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu, (although occasionally it may be closed to visitors). The inside thoroughfares of the Pyramids are very small and very warm, so for those suffering from claustrophobia, it is not recommended. Please note that you will be required to walk around the Pyramids complex. It can be very hot in the summer months, so be prepared for little shade and pack appropriate clothing, sun protection, and carry lots of water. Afterward, make your way to the Egyptian Museum, home to one of the world’s great collections of antiquities. Wander the treasure-filled halls of the museum, and make sure to check out the Mummies Hall (optional) for a close encounter with some of the country’s most important queens and pharaohs. Later in the evening, meet your leader and travel to Giza station, where you will board a sleeper train to Aswan (approximately 13 hours). Bedding and air-conditioning are provided.
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. Today is a free day to take the opportunity to see such Aswan sites as the unfinished obelisk or the High Dam. The Nubian Bazaar is necessary, while the excellent Nubian Museum is top of many visitors’ lists. Highly recommended is the beautiful Temple of Isis (the Goddess of health, marriage, and wisdom) that was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated on Philae Island. It is a marvel of decorative pylons featuring some of Egypt’s finest carvings – definitely one of the real gems of Upper Egypt. The evening sound and light show at Philae Temple is a beautiful experience – well worth the 100 Egyptian pounds. The waterfront promenade, or Aswan’s ‘corniche’, runs alongside one of Nile’s most appealing stretches and is the perfect place to stop for a mint tea. This evening you will experience the modern Nubian culture first-hand with a visit to a nearby village. You will join a local Nubian family for dinner and get an unforgettable insight into the daily life of the local people. This is a rare and memorable experience, giving you the chance to become fully immersed in the local culture.
Today perhaps head out of Aswan and visit stunning Abu Simbel this morning. With the four gargantuan statues of Ramses guarding the Great Temple, carved directly out of the mountain on the west bank of the Nile, this is one of Egypt’s most memorable sights. Please note this optional activity has a very early start (but it is totally worth it). You can get there by a 40-minute flight, or by the cheaper option of renting a minivan with a group and leaving very early (flights do not operate daily). The journey by land is 3 hours each way, with an early departure from Aswan between 5 am and 6 am. Otherwise, you could take a sailboat ride around the islands in a traditional felucca, stopping off at the botanical gardens on Kitchener’s Island. Alternatively, take a camel ride to the Monastery of St Simeon, an abandoned 7th-century fortress monastery located in the desert on the Nile’s west bank. Your tour leader will be on hand to help you arrange any excursions. Alternatively, you may prefer to simply relax and take in the beauty of the Nile, or do some shopping in the friendly bazaar.
Board a felucca and spend a day out on the river, watching rural Egyptian daily life play out on the banks, then spend a night under the stars. Your Nubian sailing crew provides all the meals, which are hearty and delicious. Being a traditional wooden boat with broad canvas sails. Your felucca offers some shade and protection from the elements. However, there is no cabin or enclosed section. Nonetheless, watching the sun setting across the Nile in the evening is a sight you will not forget. This is the absolute highlight of the trip for many.
After fare welling your felucca crew. Take a private van to the open-air museum of Luxor (approximately 3.5 hours). From the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings. Luxor is full of wonderfully preserved reminders of the Pharaohs. On the way, there is the option to visit either the unique mirror-image design of the Temple of Kom Ombo or the beautifully preserved Temple of Edfu, also dedicated to Horus, the falcon-headed god. Today you will explore the magnificent Karnak Temple, which is perhaps the most impressive of all the ancient Pharoahs’ monumental works. One of the world’s most celebrated temple complexes. Karnak is a house of the gods built over 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 will be free to relax. Shop in the bazaar (open until quite late) or perhaps experience the atmosphere of a local teahouse.
Today you will hop in a private minivan and discover some of the many wonders of ancient Thebes. Your first stop is the Colossi of Memnon, two 17-meter-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. Hop onto donkeys (in the winter months of October to May only) for a ride of a different kind, through local villages and fields of sugar cane (approximately 30 minutes). Continue to the spectacular royal burial site of the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the arid hills here are over 60 richly decorated tombs of pharaohs. With your leader. Explore this sprawling and spectacular place. That is where the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (16th to 11th century BC) secretly interred for all eternity. Your group leader will explain the history and legends of these remarkable people, their funerary rites, and the significance of the many paintings and hieroglyphics. Also, join a local family for lunch to try some tasty traditional home cooking. The rest of your afternoon is free to explore. The Luxor Museum is a great place to visit in your free time. Alternatively, hire a bicycle and venture into the countryside. For a more upscale experience. Check out the Winter Palace. A lovely five-star historical building with wonderful views over the Nile – a great place for a refreshing cocktail. Catch an overnight sleeper train from Luxor to Cairo (approximately 10 hours).
Arrive in Cairo. For your comfort and convenience, day rooms are provided on this day until noon. For luggage storage and an opportunity to have a shower and freshen up. Once settled, consider joining the rest of the group for a farewell breakfast. Otherwise, there are no activities planned for this day. You are free to depart at any time after the early-morning arrival. However, please do not arrange departing flights before 3 pm in case of any travel delays or bad traffic.
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