Egypt - The Land of the Pharaohs and Pyramids…Tombs and Temples…a place of ancient mystery and modern fascination. See Cairo and behold such iconic symbols as the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza. Cruise past 5,000 years of history from Aswan floating by magnificent temples to the banks of the fabled city of Luxor where you will be captivated by the legendary Valley of the Kings. Egypt is like having an enormous outdoor museum all to yourself!
Day 1 - Depart for Cairo, Egypt
Travel to your airport and board your overnight flight to Cairo for your tour of Egypt and cruise along the Nile River. Few countries in the world can equal Egypt’s wealth of ancient tombs and temples, the relics of the Pharaonic culture that stretches back 5,000 years.
Day 2 - Arrive Cairo
Welcome to Cairo, the largest city in Africa where ancient culture and modern-day life intertwine seamlessly. You will be immersed in the friendly Egyptian culture when you arrive as they have been greeting visitors for centuries. Upon arrival, you will meet your tour director and check into your hotel. Tonight we will meet for a welcome dinner. (D)
Day 3 - The Great Pyramids and Giza
After breakfast, we depart for the Giza Plateau where we will see the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the adjoining funerary complex with our local tour guide, that is also a professional Egyptologist. The Pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is the only one that has survived. Standing in front of them, you will be amazed that they are that big! Our tour continues as we head to see the iconic Great Sphinx that gazes serenely down the valley. Most Egyptologists agree that the Sphinx is an image of Khafre, the builder of the second pyramid. Depending on what pyramid is open at the time of our visit, we will go into one of them for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Afterward, enjoy lunch on your own. This afternoon you may want to visit the National Museum of Egyptian Culture or explore the famous souk, the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, the oldest market in the Middle East where you can shop for inexpensive Egyptian gifts and sip on traditional coffee at the famous Al fishawy coffee shop founded in 1769. This evening we join our fellow travelers for dinner. (B,D)
Day 4 - Cairo Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) and Saqqara
After breakfast, we head to the Grand Egyptian Museum scheduled to open in late 2023. It is the new crown jewel of Egypt and one of the largest and most modern museums in the world. Great masterpieces of Egyptian art will be displayed including more than 100,000 ancient artifacts, 4,549 of which will be from the tomb of King Tutankhamun.
After lunch, we travel to Saqqara to see the Step Pyramid of the Pharaoh Zoser. At the time this pyramid was constructed it was a revolutionary design, one that pre-dates and inspired the building of the pyramids at Giza. Here you will also see brightly painted mastaba tombs of Old Kingdom nobles, including the color tomb of Meri, the Vizier to Pharoah Teti of the sixth dynasty.
This evening dinner is on your own. After dinner, you may want to head back out to the pyramids for the Sound and Light Show. (B,L)
Day 5 - Cairo - Aswan
After breakfast, we fly to Aswan located in Upper Egypt, a small city of colorful souks, felucca cruises, and golden desert sands. Aswan’s quarries were used to construct many ancient temples that we will see on our Egyptian travels that include the temples of Philae, Luxor, and Karnak.
Our tour begins after meeting our local guide that is a trained Egyptologist. Our first stop will be the Aswan High Dam, an engineering marvel of the modern world. It was built to irrigate Egypt’s farmland in years when the Nile River was low. It displaced more than 100,000 people and included the relocation of the Abu Simbel temple of Ramses II and the temples of Philae in Aswan.
On our next excursion, we will board a boat and cruise to nearby Agilikia Island to tour the Temple of Philae, dedicated to Isis, Osiris, and Horus. It was built during the reign of Ptolemy II during Egypt’s Greco-Roman Period. The walls of this temple tell the story of Isis bringing Osiris back to life and giving birth to their son, Horus.
To end the day, we will walk with our guide through the colorful local market and stop at a perfume shop to learn about Frankincense and other natural remedies.
Tonight dinner is on your own. TOD suggests that passengers make plans with the local tour director to book the Sound and Light Show at the Temple of Philae where the legends and ancient mysteries are revealed as you walk through this temple in the majesty of the multimedia sound and light show. (B,L)
Day 6 - Embark on Your Nile Cruise
After breakfast, we have plenty of time to explore Aswan on our own. You may want to take the ferry to Elephantine Island to explore the temple dedicated to Khnum, and on the way, walk through the Nubian villages of Siou and Koti. Another option is to shop in the souk. You may want to plan a visit to the Old Cataract Hotel, located in the center of town. This iconic resort is where Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel, Death on the Nile. For garden lovers, take a felucca ride to Lord Kitchener’s Island to tour the botanical gardens he established in 1899.
To get off the beaten track, head to the Kalabsha temple located on an island in the center of Lake Nasser, adjacent to the Aswan High Dam. You will have to take a motorboat to get there and back. Kalabsha, built by Roman Emperor Augustus, has beautiful reliefs and an impressive view of Lake Nasser.
***You may also decide to take a day trip to Abu Simbel, the world-famous temples built by Ramses II that celebrate his victory of Kadesh. There is also a smaller temple built to honor his wife, Queen Nefertari. The optional excursions to Abu Simbel must be booked prior to your U.S. departure.
This afternoon, we board our cruise ship for lunch while enjoying the view of the Nile River and the hustle and bustle of the along this timeless river. This evening we have dinner onboard. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Nile Cruise - Temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu
This morning we set sail for Kom Ombo and Edfu where we will meet our guide and tour these magnificent temples.
Kom Ombo was built in 332 BC during the Greco-Roman period and was dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god, and Horus, the falcon-headed god. This was Sobek’s main sanctuary where captive crocodiles were kept and many mummified, some of which can be seen in this temple today.
Our next stop is at the temple of Edfu with its magnificent entrance pylon that is completely covered with inscriptions. It is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt that was built during the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 237 and 57 BC. The entire temple’s corridors, Hypostyle Hall with 32 columns, ante-chambers, sanctuary, inner chambers, and outer walls are embellished with reliefs. This temple is dedicated to the god Horus. Near the temple is the Mammisi chapel or birth house dedicated to Bes, goddess of childbirth.
Dinner this evening is on board the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - Nile Cruise - Temples of Karnak and Luxor
Our journey continues on the mighty Nile River as we slowly cruise past the cultivated fields and small villages where time seems to stand still. We arrive in Luxor, once the capital of ancient Egypt, known as Thebes, the “City of 100 Gates.” It was the capital of ancient Egypt from the 12th dynasty through the 19th dynasty, and the hub for all political, religious, and military aspects of ancient Egypt. Today it is a treasure trove of temples and tombs, museums, and markets. The city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and has become known as the world’s greatest outdoor museum.
The first stop today is the grand temple of Amon at Karnak, this is the largest temple in all of Egypt, and the largest religious structure ever built. Karnak is not a single temple, but rather temples within temples and shrines within shrines. Built over a period of 2,000 years, and covering 200 acres, this temple is dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. The Hypostyle Hall at 54,000 square feet has 134 columns making it the largest room of any religious building in the world.
Our next stop is at the Temple of Luxor located in the heart of modern-day Luxor. This temple was started by Amenhotep III in 1390 BC and added to by various Phaorahs like Ramses II. In the Coptic Christian era, the Hypostyle Hall was converted into a Christian Church that can still be seen today. Eventually, the temple was covered over, and buried beneath the streets of Luxor. When the Mosque of Abu Haggag was erected over the buried temple, it was discovered and conservation of the Luxor Temple began. Today this 13th-century mosque can still be seen as part of the temple complex.
We will enjoy lunch on board the ship and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Tonight, a sit-down dinner aboard the ship is included. (B,L,D)
***For a special on your own excursion, ask your local tour director to book tickets for the Sound and Light Show at the Temple of Karnak. The narrative and illumination of the temple as you walk through it and end up at the Sacred Lake at night is a unique and unforgettable way to experience this historical site.
Day 9 - Valley of the Kings
After breakfast, we will meet our guide and journey across the Nile to the West Bank to the Valley of the Kings. This is the world-famous burial ground of the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. Here we will explore a series of tombs that are open to the public.
Our next stop is at the famous Valley of the Nobles where we will see the colorful tombs depicting how the common people lived that served the Pharaohs. We will also pass the worker’s village that depicts the ruins of the homes of the ancient workers that built the tombs and temples.
After our boxed lunch, we will tour the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, one of the most unusual and graceful temples in all of Egypt with color paintings on side chapels that tell of her expeditions to Punt. This beautiful temple is dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of love and beauty.
We will also stop for photo ops at the 64-foot-high Colossi of Memnon, the ruined statue of Pharoah Amenhotep III that stands in front of his ruined Mortuary Temple.
Late this afternoon, we will disembark from our cruise ship and check into a hotel. We will return to our cruise ship for dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 10 - Dendera, Egypt
After breakfast, we drive via motorcoach to the remote temple of Dendera, the best-preserved temple in Egypt. Dendera with its massive columned heads of the Hathor, the goddess of love and joy greets us. Dendera was constructed during the time of the Roman emperors and is known for its stunning reliefs that look as though they were painted yesterday. Many of the reliefs depict Queen Cleopatra and are unforgettable.
On our return to Luxor, we have the rest of the day at leisure to explore the lovely city of Luxor. Dinner is on your own. (B,L)
Day 11 - Luxor - Cairo
Today we say goodbye to Luxor and take our flight back to Cairo. The rest of the day is at your leisure and dinner is on your own. You may want to visit the Gayer-Anderson House Museum. These two houses belonged to an English officer that served as a doctor in Egypt beginning in 1907. In 1935, he began to furnish these two mansions in the Islamic-Arabic style of the 16th-17th centuries. Today the ornate rooms of this mansion are filled with rare artifacts, Persian rugs, paintings, rare furniture, and more, making it one of the best examples of domestic life in 17th-century Egypt. The rest of the day is free to explore on your own. You may want to explore the famous souk, the Khan el-Khalili for last-minute gifts and mementos. Tonight, celebrate a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers. (B,D)
Day 12 - Depart Cairo
Today we say goodbye to Egypt and head to the airport for our flight home. (B)