Discover the history and mythology of Egypt as you explore Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and the Nile
2018 departures: 6 May 2018; 9 September 2018; 7 October 2018; maximum group size of 12
Contact us for 2019 dates and availability.
If you’ve ever had a fascination in the ancient gods, goddesses and tombs of Egypt, this in-depth, off-the-beaten-track trip is for you. Beginning and ending in energetic Cairo, stop by the tombs of nobles in Aswan and Luxor, mingle with friendly Nubian locals, visit the rock temples of Abu Simbel and see the final resting place of Osiris – God of the Underworld – at the Abydos Temple. From the famous pyramids of Giza to the less-known Red and Bent Pyramids in Dashur, through the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis and along the winding Nile, your local guide Ahmed (a knowledgeable Egyptologist and history buff himself), will take you on a journey through Egypt’s incredible past, landscapes and mythology.
- Who better to take you on a journey through Egypt’s history than a born-and-bred local and qualified Egyptologist? Ahmed, your local leader, has worked registering hieroglyphic texts on the Pyramids of Giza plateau, and was an inspector in charge of the Cheops and Chephren’ s pyramid complex. Just tell us there aren’t some stories there!
- This trip packs an impressive number of highlights in without compromising on comfort and relaxation. A day spent among the incredible Pyramids of Giza is only the beginning.
- Karnak is one of the most fascinating temple complexes in the world; by exploring by horse-drawn carriage you’ll really feel like you’re stepping back in time.
- Visit the famed tomb of King Tutankhamun during free time at the Valley of the Kings.
- A four-night river cruise is the ideal way to experience the Nile. Rest and relax on the sundeck and in the pool while local riverside life streams by.
- Cairo’s Khan al-Khalili Bazaar is an essential Egyptian experience. You’ll have plenty of time to lose yourself in the colours and aromas of this fascinating marketplace.
- Enjoy a traditional dinner with a local family, a unique way to learn about life in Egypt while feasting on a home-cooked meal
Day 1: Cairo
Welcome to Egypt! When you arrive at Cairo International Airport, you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel.
Cairo is one of the great cities of antiquity and its history can perhaps be symbolised by two imposing landmarks – the Pyramids of Giza and the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. In your free time, get out and explore the busy streets of this city of contrasts.
Day 2: Cairo
After breakfast start your tour of the Pyramids. The Saqqara complex is located 30 kilometres south of Cairo city. The ancient burial ground is home to the world’s oldest step-shaped pyramid. Imhotep constructed the Pyramids for his king Djoser (c.2667-2648 BC) to help his soul ascend to the northern stars.
Drive on to Dahshur across the agricultural plains next to the Western Desert. The area features the famous Bent and Red Pyramids; with its smooth sides, the Red Pyramid marked an important departure from the step-shaped pyramids before it. You’ll visit both today.
Continue on to Memphis, which functioned as the ancient capital of Lower Egypt and of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. The modern towns of Dahshur and Saqqara lie within its administrative borders. (B)
Day 3: Aswan
Today will be another full day of sightseeing. Our first stop is 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, these pharaonic tombs are incredible to see up close. There’s the option of going inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops), although occasionally it may be closed to visitors.
Next visit the Egyptian Museum, home to one of the world’s great collections of ancient treasures. Your expert guide will take you through Egypt’s fascinating dynastic history. Afterwards you’ll have some free time to explore on your own. You may wish to visit the Royal Mummy Room (this is optional and at extra cost).
Return to your hotel, freshen up, pack your things and transfer to the station for your overnight train to Aswan. (B, D)
Day 4: Aswan
Today you will discover Elephantine Island, situated in the Nile River near Aswan. See the ancient Nilometre, once used to measure the water level of the river, and examine the Egyptian names inscribed into the granite rocks. The best part of visiting the island is walking through Nubian villages, admiring the colourful blue houses and waving hello to the friendly locals.
On the high cliffs opposite Aswan visit the Tombs of the Nobles, a cluster of graves cut into the western bank of the Nile, dating from the Old Kingdom onward.
In the evening you will be invited to visit a Nubian village and enjoy the warm hospitality (and cuisine) of these locals. It’s a unique experience to gain some insight into the daily life of the local people and the chance to become fully immersed in the local culture. (B, D)
Day 5: Aswan
Explore Aswan today, Egypt’s southernmost city. Its easy-going charm is due in no small part to its large Nubian population. You might like to visit the beautiful Temple of Isis that was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated on Philae Island. It’s a marvel of decorative pylons featuring some of Egypt’s finest carvings – definitely one of the real gems of Upper Egypt.
The rest of your day will be free to wander. The Nubian Bazaar is a must, while the excellent Nubian Museum is recommended by many. 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. Watch the waterfront come alive at dusk, as families are out strolling, socialising and relaxing along the corniche. (B)
Day 6: Nile Cruise
This morning take a short flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel, where you’ll explore some magnificent temples. Built by Ramses II, Abu Simbel was once the gateway to Egypt for Southern African, its imposing facade clearly marking the Pharaoh’s land.
With the four gargantuan statues of Ramses guarding the Great Temple, this is one of Egypt’s most memorable sights. Return from Abu Simbel and transfer to meet your Nile cruise boat. Enjoy a fantastic mix of relaxation and organised sightseeing on an iconic Nile River cruise to Luxor. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Nile Cruise
The morning finds you moored near Komombo. This morning take a short walk around the Temple of Sobek (the crocodile-headed god). Sitting picturesquely on the river’s edge, the temple provides an interesting insight into the Greco-Roman period.
Later visit the temple of Edfu, a beautifully preserved temple dedicated to Horus, the falcon-headed god. Disembark and explore the temple, then get acquainted with the lively town centre. Returning to the cruise boat, continue travelling upriver, relaxing on the sundeck and taking in the surrounding sights – desert hills forming a backdrop to lush riverbanks, fishermen casting their nets and farmers working the land. (B, L, D)
Day 8: Nile Cruise
Today there is plenty of time to relax and take in the sights along the nile. You will arrive into Luxor late this afternoon. (B, L, D)
Day 9: Luxor
This morning, disembark the cruise boat and check into your hotel. Later in the day, travel on to Karnak, one of the world’s most celebrated temple complexes which was built over a period of some 200 years. A guided tour of the temple will reveal its finest sections.
After, you will be taken on a guided tour of the Luxor temple. The temple is dedicated to the Gods Amun, Mut, and Khonsu and was the focus of one of the most important religious festivals in ancient Egypt – the annual Opet Festival
For the rest of the afternoon and evening you are free to relax, shop in the bazaar (open until quite late) or perhaps experience the atmosphere of a local tea house. (B)
Day 10: Luxor
Rise early this morning and head into the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the arid hills here are over 60 tombs of pharaohs, many richly decorated with reliefs and paintings. Tutankhamun’s final resting place is also located here, and you’ll have free time to visit it. Your guide will explain the funerary rites of the ancient Egyptians and significance of the many paintings and hieroglyphics. You’ll visit three royal tombs and then continue to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, set in a spectacular natural amphitheatre. Your final stop is the Colossi of Memnon – giant statues that were once part of an impressive colonnade.
Later in the day, visit the West Bank of Luxor, home to the Medinet Habu Temple. Dating back to the New Kingdom, it was one of the earliest temples where the ancient Egyptian god Amun was worshiped. (B)
Day 11: Luxor
Today, drive north of Luxor to the Abydos Temple, the place where Osiris – God of the Underworld – is believed to be buried. The temple was built by King Seti I, probably one of the least known pharaohs of the New Kingdom period. Despite this fact, Abydos is among the best preserved and most impressive religious structures in all of Egypt.
Later we also visit Dandera and the Temple of Hathor, located approximately 60km north of Luxor. Dandera was an ancient healing centre, similar to a Greek Asklepion or the Catholic Lourdes.
The temple has retained much of its colour and also contains one of the most facinatiing roof chapels dedicated to Osiris with signs of the zodiac on the upper part of the temple. (B)
Day 12: Cairo
Visit Deir al-Medina, an ancient village located on the West Bank of Luxor. During the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom period, it housed the artisans and workmen who built and decorated the royal tombs of the nearby Valley of the Kings. The workers also built their own – much smaller – tombs in the area.
Another remarkable site on the West Bank are Luxor’s own 400 Tombs of the Nobles. The inscriptions inside the tombs are taken from the Book of the Dead in order to guide the nobles through to the afterlife. Later in the day, transfer to the airport and take a short flight back to Cairo with your group. (B)
Day 13: Cairo
Today visit The Mosque and Madrasa of Sultan Hassan, considered to be Cairo’s finest examples of early Mamluk architecture and among the most iconic monuments in the Islamic world. We will also visit the Citadel and Mohamed Ali Mosque.
In the afternoon we have a chance for some last minute shopping.
This evening, share an authentic Egyptian meal with a local family. You’ll be invited into their home to talk, eat and learn how to make traditional Egyptian dishes. This is a truly special experience and is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip. (B, D)
Day 14: Cairo
Your trip comes to an end today after breakfast. (B)
13 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners
Plane, Private aircon bus, Riverboat, Sleeper train
Cruise ship (3 nights), Hotel (9 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Images courtesy of Intrepid Group