If you want to see the Egyptian Desert than look no further then this stunningly crafted tour. Experience desert oases's and 4x4 excursions as well as camping out under the very stars which light up the sky! Combine this with Egypt's other highlights such as the Pyramids of Giza, a felucca down the River Nile, Aswan and the Valley of the Kings and you really do have yourself quite some tour!
Day 1: Cairo. Cairo Welcome to Egypt! Once you have got your visa and met our representative, you will be transferred from the airport to our joining hotel in central Cairo. If you have arrived early or a day or two previously, today you will be free to explore the bustling heart of this fantastic city. If you’re not sure where to start, ask our representative who will be able to advise you on how to make the most of your time. Overnight Cairo.
Day 2: Cairo. In the morning you will meet your tour leader, who will complete a few formalities and brief you on the tour. The tour entrance fees and tipping kitty (which excludes the optional tip for your Tour Leader and driver) will be collected at this point before heading out for a day of sightseeing. Now it’s off to the Pyramids and famous Sphinx at Giza! One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramid of Cheops stood as the tallest, man-made structure for over 3800 years. That’s an impressive feat, especially when you consider that in order to have built it in the twenty years it took, 800 tonnes of stone would have to have been laid every day.
Most of it was locally quarried but to add to this jaw dropping achievement, the granite in the Kings Chamber came from Aswan which is more than 5000 miles away! Not bad, considering the construction was complete by 2560BC. We leave Giza and maybe visit the Papyrus Emporium where you can pick up some authentic papyrus. Next we visit Saqqara, the necropolis or burial ground for the Ancient Capital of Memphis which is approximately 10.5 square kilometres. Here we find Djoser’s step pyramid, so called due to its rectangular base. Djoser is a well-known Pharaoh of the Third Dynasty of Egypt and rightly so: his was the first of the Pyramids. Later today, having had dinner, we board an overnight train to Aswan (optional sleeper cabin upgrade is available). Overnight – Cairo. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Bahariyya Oasis. Today we head for adventure and into the Desert west of Cairo. Tonight we will stay in a hotel at the Bahariyya Oasis but before then take the opportunity to explore and relax as the sun sets over the incredible desert landscape. The Oasis is a set in a large depression sunk into the surrounding hills. Once an important agricultural centre known for its wine production that supplied as far afield as Rome, it is still a fertile area well known for its date palms. Contemporary interest concerns the many archaeological discoveries of recent years that have earned the Oasis the title of ‘Valley of the Golden Mummies’ as well as a reputation for being a valuable source of information for the region’s history. Overnight – Bahariyya. Includes: (B, D).
Day 4: White Desert. This morning we get to know Bahariyya a little better, exploring a ruined temple and a settlement that dates back to the 17th Dynasty. Next we head to the White Desert in 4x4 vehicles, visiting some fantastic sites along the way. Crystal Mountain is a large, quartz rock formation: more like a ridge, it sparkles in the sunlight and is made all the more mesmerising by its desert surroundings.
Other features on this part of our journey include Tombs of the Nobles, the Temple of Alexander the Great and the Black Desert where little black, volcanic stones adorn mountains leaving the landscape looking charred and other worldly. We continue into the White Desert, an expanse of land that is characterised by a plethora of white rock formations worn by desert winds into weird shapes that, like clouds in the sky, allow your imagination to impress visual meaning on them. Tonight we will camp under the stars and as the sunsets, witness the subtle shift of colour from white through pinks and oranges to moon lit opaque. (Overnight – White Desert camping). Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 5: Dakhla. This morning we will journey to the Farafra Oasis and visit a local artist and sculptor at the Badr Museum. All materials used are locally sourced natural minerals and coloured sands and will give an insight into customs of the area. Moving on towards Dakhla Oasis we visit Al Qasr, an abandoned, high walled, medieval city. Explore the labyrinth of streets lined with mud brick buildings, some of which have inscribed lintels detailing the owner along with a quote from the Quran. Other features include an olive press, the mosque and a school.
Next up is Deir al-Haggar or ‘the Monastery of Stone’, a Roman Temple that was once known as Setweh or ‘place of coming home’. Reliefs and wall paintings depict the members of the Theban triad to whom the temple was dedicated and pigeon houses and other ruins hint at the ancient civilisation that worshipped here. We will enjoy a dip in the local, mineral rich hot springs and end the day ready to relax at the oasis hotel in Dakhla. (Overnight – Dakhla - oasis hotel). Includes: (B, L).
Day 6: Luxor. Departing Dakhla, we begin our exit of the desert region with a visit to Kharga Oasis. Here we check out the Temple of Hibis (exterior only) and visit the 4th century, mud brick necropolis of Al-Bagawat, one of the oldest Christian graveyards in the world with over 260 tombs and 120 chapels spread out over the hillside. After lunch we continue on to Luxor for the night. Overnight – Luxor. Includes: (B, L).
Day 7: Aswan. We will return but today we leave Luxor and head south to Aswan on the River Nile. Formerly known as Swenet, in reverence of the Egyptian Goddess, it was the first town in the country. Having checked into the hotel and freshened up, we visit the High Dam. We then hop aboard a boat to visit Agilika Island and the Philae Temple which was built for the goddess Isis over an 18 year period from 380BC. Later in the day, take the opportunity to relax and unwind or why not investigate the shopping opportunities of the local souks and markets. Overnight – Aswan). Includes: (B).
Day 8: Felucca (Aswan-Kom Ombo). Days 8-9: On the morning of Day 8 there is an optional trip (by air) to Abu Simbel where you will find two unbelievably huge temples carved in to the rock face. Built during the reign of King Ramesses ll, the magnificent monuments were actually relocated in full in 1968 when Lake Nasser was created. Marvel at the sheer scale of the construction as the benign image of King Ramesses ll stares out over you into the desert – to call it impressive would be something of an understatement! We regroup and embark on a two night felucca cruise up the Nile, headed for Kom Ombo.
A felucca is a traditional sail boat which holds 5-10 people: they have been in use on the Nile since the times of the Pharaohs. We will visit the Temple of Kom Ombo but en route will visit other places of interest and make plenty of stops for a swim and/or toilet break (there are no toilets on board). This really is a wonderful part of your adventure but the timing and therefore the number of stops is, of course, dependent on the winds so please bear this in mind. You can buy drinks on board; there are cushions for comfort and a canopy to protect you from the sun. As dusk approaches, the feluccas moor up on the riverside and we relax and look forward to a night sleeping under the stars. You’ll need to bring a sleeping bag and towel for this part of the tour.
On Day 9, simply sit back and enjoy the serenity of quietly gliding upstream, close to the water or maybe have a swim or bathe in the sun? A stop will be made at the Temple of Kom Ombo. (Overnight (2) – Felucca / Cruise) (B2, L2, D2) If you are unable to swim, do make your tour leader aware before departing and remember to pack a day bag because your main luggage will be stored beneath the deck. For those that have booked on the 5* Nile Cruiser, you will be given details of your departure in Cairo but the cruise is 3 nights departing either Day 7 or Day 8.
Day 10: Luxor. We disembark the felucca at Kom Ombo and head for Edfu and the Temple of Horus. The temple is one of the last monumental temples built on such a scale and it was constructed in reverence of Horus, one of the most important Egyptian deities. You will see the deity symbolised in the statue of a bird within the grounds. It is excellently preserved and provides a real insight to the architecture of the time. We board the bus again and join a police convoy for drive north to Luxor, the 4000 year old home of the legendary Valley of the Kings and Temple of Karnak. Once we arrive, you can chose to rest up and relax or there is an optional visit to Luxor Temple in the evening which is impressive as it is lit up making for a very evocative mood (this is payable locally). Overnight Luxor. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Overnight Train (Luxor-Cairo). There is a unique opportunity to take an optional Balloon flight over the Valley of the Kings this morning. Starting early to avoid the midday sun, we will regroup for our visit to the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank. Don’t forget to take some water – we will depart after an early breakfast but the West Bank gets hot quickly. As we approach the West Bank you’ll see the huge Colossi of Memnon towering 18m high. Then it’s on to the World Heritage Site of the Valley of the Kings, home of the tombs of Ramses ll and the famous King Tutankhamen.
Set in the barren cliffs of the Valley, the tombs are decorated with religious images and text. Get transported back in time as you witness the cunning architecture of the ancients that allowed royalty to be buried with their treasures without fear of being plundered by thieves. Explore some of the tombs before heading on to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. One of the most successful, long reigning Pharoahs, Hatshepsut (or ‘Foremost of noteable Ladies’) established trade networks, instigated much construction and ordered many expeditions, one of which resulted in the first noted attempts to transplant foreign trees. Her temple is one the most photographed monuments in Egypt.
After lunch we head to Karnak, a complex that is considered to be the largest ancient religious site in the world. It consists of temples, chapels and other buildings, erected in worship of the Theban gods and set apart from similar sites particularly by the period over which it developed – approximately between 2050 and 30 BC. After the Pyramids at Giza, this is the most visited and arguably impressive site Egypt has to offer. This evening we embark on an overnight train ride to Cairo (optional sleeper cabin upgrade is available). Remember to stock up on water and snacks for the journey before our departure to the railway station. Overnight – train. Includes: (B).
Day 12: Cairo. We arrive in Cairo and check in to the hotel. This afternoon we visit the Egyptian Museum where you will find treasures abound in one of the most impressive collections in the world. Highlights of the 120, 000 odd pieces include 9 royal mummies (including that of Queen Hatshepsut) and the Gold Mask of King Tutankhamen that he wore upon his burial and is said to actually represent his true identity. As we approach the end of the tour you are free now to relax or hunt down some last minute souvenirs, perhaps at Khan el-Khalili, the local bazaar. Lose yourself in the sights, scents and sounds for the final few hours. Overnight Cairo. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Cairo. Your tour officially finishes after breakfast when you are free to check out of the hotel and get transferred to the airport. Please note, entrance fees, the tipping kitty and optional activities purchased in Egypt are payable in Egyptian Pounds (EGP) only. A note on travelling the Western Desert Exploring the Western Desert is a great opportunity to get off the beaten track and discover parts of Egypt that will make your trip that much more special. Camping under the star drenched desert sky is an incredible experience but obviously basic, as are the 2 star, rustic hotels in Bahariyya, Dakhla, and Kharga.
Toilet facilities in this area can be basic and the choice of food at local restaurants and shops limited. It is possible that our experienced driver/cook and tour leader will cook up a tasty dinner - let’s hope so, it’s a real treat! Off road touring can be rough and bumpy by nature and sections of the terrain maybe uneven and dotted with rocky outcrops. The vehicles we use whilst travelling off road are typically strong recognised makes such as 4 x 4 Jeeps, Land Cruisers and modified Land Rovers. Take care, most vehicles are not fitted with passenger restraints and although this absolutely normal for locals, it may take a little getting used to. When travelling longer distances on better roads 12 – 28 seat buses or 4 x 4’s with lap belt passenger restraints are used. Please also note that this tour is opertaed in conjuction with another company. Includes: (B).
Visa Information: All travellers to Egypt must have at least a single entry Eyptian visa prior to entrance (please also ensure your passport is valid for 6 months after your return date). In some cases it's possible to obtain visas on arrival in Egypt, at a cost of $15USD but to be sure and avoid lengthy ques we advise you organise them in advance of your departure. In addition, all visitors going on to travel in Jordan and then returning to Egypt after must obtain a multi entry visa which, actually has be obtained prior to arrival in Egypt at a cost of $29USD.
This is very important to organise, but if you do forget there is a final option of obtaining 2 single entry visas on arrival in Egpyt instead. You must at least get these as no visas can be obtained in Jordan to get back into Egypt! Once you have obtained your visas simply place them in your passport for your arrival/s. Finally, some passport holders and in particular South African passport holders are actually obliged to obtain an Egyptian visa prior to their departure. Failure to do so will result in them being denied boarding by their carrier. Please also note, visa procurement is the responsibility of the passenger and not Nomadic.
Also see tour packages in:
Africa Egypt Local Culture Cultural Journey