Enjoy Egypt's tourist trail encompassing all of the nations most loved sites before getting off the beaten track and discovering the ancestry of customs and traditions of the countries somewhat reclusive Berber and Libyan communities on this hugely engrossing tour. Whether it be visiting the Pyramids of Giza & the Valley of the Kings, sailing along the Nile, journeying to the Mediterranean coast at Alexandria or experiencing the amazing oasis at Siwa this tour is sure to fulfill your expectations and more. It really is a real chance to see raw Egypt at its best and get to know the people of this fabulous nation and because of this is certainly not an opportunity to be missed!
Day 1: 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 arrive early enough today, you are 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: Overnight Train (Cairo-Aswan). 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. Remember to have your bags packed because we will be travelling south to Aswan tonight.
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 2560 BC. 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). You will be able to stock up on water and snacks at the train station if you need to. Overnight – Train. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Aswan. Arriving in Aswan, we check into our hotel, relax a while and then freshen up ready for an excursion to Lake Nasser, the world’s largest artificial lake, and the High Dam which accounts for its creation. 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 380 BC. 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 4: Felucca (Aswan-Kom Ombo). Days 4-5: This morning 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!
If you opted to stop in Aswan, you won’t be at loss for things to do. Investigate the shoreline, go shopping or just relax for the morning. We regroup this afternoon to 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. (Overnight – 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 3 or Day 4.
Day 6: 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 7: Overnight Train (Luxor-Cairo). There is a chance to take an optional Balloon flight over the Valley of the Kings this morning. Starting early to avoid the midday sun, we regroup and visit 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 18 m 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 and is 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 board the train to return overnight to Cairo. Do remember to stock up on water and snacks for the journey. Overnight train. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Cairo. Having rested up, 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. After, you are free now to relax or shop for some souvenirs, perhaps at Khan el-Khalili, the local bazaar. If you feel you would like to get to know the city a little more, there is an optional Cairo city tour that is available locally. Overnight Cairo. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Siwa. This morning we head for the Mediterranean coast and a piece of more recent history, the World War ll cemeteries at El Alamein. We visit the Commonwealth cemetery and the Australian and New Zealand government funded memorials. There are also monuments for the Greek, South African, Indian and Canadian forces. After lunch we head for our destination today, Siwa. This evening we take a walk and there will be the opportunity to have dinner in a typical Siwan style restaurant. Overnight – Siwa. Includes: (B, L).
Day 10: Siwa. Historically part of Ancient Libya, Siwa is one of Egypt most remote settlements and is home to a vast Oasis whose verdant ground produces lush date palms and olive groves. This morning we hop on bicycles and take a ride through the plantations to visit some local sites. First up is the Temple of the Oracle which dates back to near 570 BC. Many have sought the advice of the Oracle throughout the ages and none more famous than Alexander the Great who yearned for confirmation that he was indeed the son of Zeus and the honourable ruler of Egypt.
We’ll never know the truth though since there is no record of the Oracle’s response! Nevertheless, the ruins of the temple are incredible and its position affords great views across the palm groves to the salt lakes. Pedalling on, we come to the Cleopatra Spring where we can enjoy a dip in the bubbling spring water. This afternoon you are free relax or go for a wander. This evening there is an optional sunset dinner and you can enjoy swimming and a campfire at the ‘Great Saltwater Lake’. Overnight – Siwa. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Siwa. This morning we visit the Mountain of the Dead, a conical mountain whose base is scattered with tombs dating from the 26th Dynasty and Roman and Greek times. The tombs have been robbed and reused over the centuries and many of them stand empty now. It is said that when the Arab invasion of Egypt was taking place, the incumbent King of Siwa threw the dead bodies into the springs to poison the enemy!
Next we head for Old Shali, a mud built city that had to be abandoned in 1926 after three days of heavy rain dissolved the kershef (basic cement formed of salt and clay) and destroyed many of the buildings! We’ll explore the cities corridors, mosques, homes and shops and enjoy the views of the surrounding oasis. This afternoon we set off into the 200 x 600 km Great Sand Sea that boasts 200 foot dunes in places. This Desert Safari is a fantastic experience made even better by a stop at an incredible natural spring fed lake set slap bang in the desert sands.
Our carriages are rugged 4x4 safari Jeeps that are well equipped for the shifting sandy terrain. En route we’ll also check out the site an ancient ocean where marine fossils can be found. Eventually we reach our home for the night, a farm in the middle of the sand dunes! Here you can enjoy a swim in the bubbling hot springs of Bir Wahed and have dinner as the sun sets over the quiet majesty of the Desert. (Overnight – Siwa) (B, D) Siwa jeep safari Something of an adrenaline rush, climbing the huge inclines and coming down the other side can be a hair raising experience.
The vehicles used are owned and driven by the members of the Siwan community for obvious reasons: they know the area and its history and have the essential experience of navigating through the shifting sands of the desert. The vehicles we use whilst travelling off road are strong and 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. We understand visitors’ reservations and so the choice to take part is entirely yours.
Day 12: Alexandria. This morning we make an early departure and drive along the north coast to the Mediterranean sea port of Marsa Matrouh. The city offers a lovely white sand beach and calm, clear waters that we will have time to appreciate as well as a Libyan souq (market) that we will be able to explore if open. Later in the day we drive onward to Alexandria. We’ll be on the road for approximately 9 hours today. Overnight – Alexandria. Includes: (B, L).
Day 13: Alexandria. Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria is Egypt’s second largest city and is well situated on the Mediterranean coast. Along the seafront you will find cafes, restaurants and souqs as well as ancient catacombs and relics. Following a morning of free time, the sightseeing gets underway with a visit to the Montazzah Palace, once home of King Farouk – the last monarch of the Mohamed Ali dynasty who abdicated and fled to Italy.
Next up is the Fort at Quat Bay, an impressive sandy castle overlooking the sea and then, towering 440 feet above the harbour, we visit Alexandria’s great lighthouse Pharos which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This evening take a tram ride downtown and explore the shops before enjoying a famous Alexandrian Fateer (Egyptian pizza) for dinner. Overnight – Alexandria. Includes: (B, D).
Day 14: Cairo. This morning we go underground to visit the Catacombs of Shouqafa, a huge necropolis that was discovered in 1900 and found to have been in active use between 1 and 4AD. View the reliefs depicting various myths and religious symbolism before returning to street level as we continue on to Pompeii’s Pillar, the tallest ancient memorial column in Egypt. After that we will visit the National Museum and the Library of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Having had our fill of sightseeing for the day, we will stop for lunch before driving back to Cairo. Overnight – Cairo. Includes: (B).
Day 15: Cairo. Your tour officially finishes after breakfast when you are free to check out of the hotel and get transferred to the airport. (B) Please note, entrance fees, the tipping kitty and optional activities purchased in Egypt are payable in Egyptian Pounds (EGP) only. Siwa was untouched by modern influence until very recently and only became accessible by car in the 1980’s when a road was built connecting it to Marsa Matrouh.
People in the area retain centuries old customs and therefore we ask that you be sensitive and respectful when visiting Siwa. The main way this can be done is by female travellers keeping legs and upper arms covered at all times as Siwan women are covered head to toe at all times with sheer black fabric covering their faces. Please also note that this tour is opertaed in conjuction with another company.
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, not ours.
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