“Egypt isn’t a historic country, Egypt came first, then came the history.” – Najeeb Mahfous, Egyptian writer
Egypt is the motherland of the world. The history of ancient Egypt spans the period from the early prehistoric settlements of the northern Nile valley to the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. The Pharaonic period, when Egypt was ruled by a pharaoh, is dated from the 32nd century BC, when Upper and Lower Egypt were unified, until the country fell under Macedonian rule in 332 BC.
Egypt is not just the Pyramids, temples and tombs, Egypt is its people, the farmers in their villages along the banks of the Nile. The busy streets of the crazy Cairo, the friendly Nubian people, one of the oldest existing races on earth, located in southern Egypt with their colorful houses.
Our goal on this Egyptian adventure is connect you not just with Egypt’s history and its awe-inspiring sights, but with its people, the delicious food of the country plus we aim to spoil you a bit.
All lodging is luxury boutique or historic 4 – 5 star hotels. Of course, you cannot travel to Egypt without sailing down the Nile River, watching the countryside passing by, so we’ll spend few nights on the Nile sailing in a luxury private sailboat. This type of smaller classic boat called a Dahabeya will allow us to get closer to the Nile giving us the opportunity to be more connected to nature, the life and people of its banks as we access points not available to bigger cruise ships. We’ll sail like the Victorians used to back in the day of the grand tour.
Our guides on this tour are an Egyptian couple, both of whom are Egyptologists. Sameh hails from Upper Egypt and Mariam his partner from Lower Egypt. Their love unified again the two sections of Egypt thus repeating history. Egyptian history is not just a subject they studied at school, but it runs in their blood to keep reminding them of who they are and what Egyptian culture has offered to the humanity. They will go out of their way to make your journey an unforgettable authentic experience.
The trip doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, Saturday November 4, but if you’re traveling across an ocean to get to Egypt, you may want to consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and get acclimated to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, just let us know and we’ll get you booked into our hotel for Friday night.
Fly into Cairo – a representative with our sign will be waiting for you to assist you through immigration and customs formalities and then drive you to our Cairo hotel, the 5-Star Mena House hotel which boasts an incredible view of the Pyramids of Giza.
Cairo is the largest city in Middle East, one of the ten largest in the world, with a population of 20 million. We’ll tackle Cairo later. Today, relax in your beautiful hotel. We’ll join up tonight for a lovely dinner together.
After breakfast, we’ll go for a journey back in time to the Pyramids of Giza. The Great pyramid, built to be the tomb of King Khufu, is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and considered the greatest man-made construction on earth. It was built using over 2.3 million blocks of limestone weighing 6 million tons. That much stone could build a wall around the country of France 3 feet high!
After an amazing lunch with a breathtaking view at the 9 Pyramids lounge we’ll visit the GEM – Grand Egyptian Museum, the newest and one of the biggest museums in the world where we’ll view the amazing golden mask of King Tut Ankh Amon.
We’ll also visit a Papyrus gallery where we’ll learn how the Egyptians made the first paper in history from papyrus reeds.
Back to our hotel by the late afternoon to relax and enjoy the sunset over the Pyramids before we head out for dinner at Felfela. Opened in 1959 in downtownCairo. Felfela offers completely authentic Egyptian food at its best. The falafel and meze are award-winning!
This morning, we’ll take a short flight to Luxor, also known as Thebes – the capital of ancient Egyptian Empire. Luxor is home to a third of the ancient monuments of the world. Here, we’ll visit the Karnak Temple, the largest religious building in the world on an area of 62 acres. It took over 2,000 years to build the temple and was dedicated to the Egyptian deity Amon, revered as king of the gods
We’ll also visit the temple of Luxor, built by two pharaohs – Amenhotep III of 14th century BC and King Ramsiss the great.
A cartouch, is an oval shaped name plate engraved in hieroglyphs made famous by the Pharaohs. You too can be like a Cleopatra and get your name engraved on a gold or silver cartouch when we visit the jewelry shop in Luxor that specializes in them. A perfect souvenir from your time in Egypt.
After our morning touring, we enjoy lunch at Sofra Restaurant, one of the classic restaurants in Luxor situated in a house dating back to 1930 with most its original design intact. Then, we’ll cross the Nile to the west bank of Luxor to check into our lovely boutique hotel near the Valley of the Kings, Al Moudira.
This evening we’ll take our repas in another boutique hotel, the Marsam hotel, which is owned by Sheikh Ali, who started this location as a meeting place for Egyptologists and artists from around the world.
Early this morning, we have the option of a hot air balloon ride over the west bank of Luxor to appreciate the sunrise view while flying over the mountains of the Valley of Kings with the monuments below us.
After breakfast we’ll check out of our hotel, so we can discover the vivid colors of the tombs of the Valley of the Kings. Here is where most of the famous pharaohs are buried such as Ramsiss II and Tut Ankh Amon. There are a total of 63 tombs discovered here, most of them royal. ‘
The main industry in the west bank of Luxor is sculpture. The ancestors of the locals who built the temples and colored their tombs still possess the same skills. So, we’ll be going to see one of the Alabaster galleries where we can watch how a craftsman, by only using his simple tools, can transform a block of alabaster into a beautiful vase.
Then we’ll head over to Queen Hatshipsut’s temple. Queen Hatshipsut was one of the strongest and most important women in history. She ruled Egypt during the 15th century BC yet dressed and ruled as a man. We simply must make a stop for photos before leaving by the huge colossi of Memnon.
By late afternoon it is time to catch our luxurious Dahabiya sailboat. The enterprise is owned by an Egyptian Captain and his partner, a lovely lady from Germany. We’ll set our sails heading upstream to El-Hegz while we have our lunch as the scenery of the Nile Valley passes by us. This afternoon will be saved for unpacking, resting and reading before nightfall when we’ll enjoy cocktails star gazing and dinner served onboard.
After breakfast on the boat, we’ll cruise to El-Kab, once the capital of Upper Egypt before unification. Here we’ll visit the tombs of the governors of the ancient city, some of the most ancient ruins in all of Egypt, cut into the mountain rocks.
Back onboard we’ll savor our mid-day meal while sailing to Edfu. Here we’ll catch a horse and carriage to visit the Edfu temple, the second largest and the best-preserved temple in Egypt. Modern Edfu, the northern-most city of Aswan state, is famous for growing sugar cane. It’s necessary to grow quite a lot because the Egyptians have a serious sweet tooth!
Tonight, we’ll have the pleasure of a Nile-side BBQ dinner on Fawaza Island where we’ll anchor for the evening.
After breakfast, we’ll sail to El Ramadi Island where we’ll relish a real Egyptian experience by visiting a working farmer’s village. We’ll even have a chance to meet the villagers and help them bake their traditional bread. This village is known for its sugar cane, banana and hibiscus.
Lunch while under sail to Djebel Al-Silsila on the west bank of the Nile where we’ll see the chapel of King Hormohep. This chapel dates back to the 14th century BC and hosts seven shrines dedicated to seven local deities. This place was also the main quarry for the sandstone which built the Egyptian temples.
Back aboard our floating home we’ll sail on enjoying a delightful dinner onboard.
Coffee and breakfast will be taken this morning while sailing to Kom Ombo. This temple dates back to the Ptolomic era, 2nd century BC. This unique temple was dedicated to two gods, the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Haroeris. The temple stands on a promontory at a bend in the Nile, where in ancient times sacred crocodiles basked in the sun on the banks of the river.
Get ready this afternoon for a refreshing swim in the Nile (it’s safe!). After, we’ll sail to Aswan while enjoying our lunch. Time to relax, read and nap this afternoon. Dinner onboard and overnight in Aswan city.
This morning we’ll say goodbye to our amazing crew after a fantastic and relaxing ride. We’ll drive for 3.5 hours south to see the Abu Simbel temple, one of the most impressive buildings not just in Egypt but the whole world. Abu Simbel was cut into the rock mountain out of a single piece of rock, its facade decorated with four statues of King Ramesses.
Back in Aswan city we’ll check into the legendary Old Cataract hotel. This is where King Fouad once entertained, and Agatha Christie sipped cocktails and stayed for an entire year in 1937 while she wrote “Death on the Nile”.
The majestic hotel sits on a pink granite cliff overlooking the world’s longest river. This ravishing and iconic place had a fabled guest list of royals and dignitaries. This is where we’ll enjoy our lunch, as well as time to lay by the pool and rest before we meet again for afternoon tea before watching the sun go down.
This evening, we’re going to visit a Nubian village. The Nubians are natives of southern Egypt and possibly the kindest of all the Egyptian tribes. Here, we’ll have a meal in a Nubian home owned by Ola, a friend of our guides and a single mother supporting herself and her family on her own. She opens her home to guests introducing them the Nubian culture and Nubian food as well as the opportunity for an encounter with the locals. After dinner we’ll dance with the kids in the village accompanied by Nubian drums.
Overnight back at the hotel.
After breakfast, we’ll explore one of the most stunning temples in Egypt, the Philae temple, built on an island which witnessed the love story of the goddess Isis and her husband Osiris. The temple dates back to the 3rd century BC during the Ptolomic era.
The ancient Egyptians used to extract the essence of the Lotus flower – the symbol of Upper Egypt and of love – and used that nectar for purification and as an offering to the gods. They used different type of essences for medical purposes, which we’ll learn about when we visit that essential oil gallery run by the local Nubians in Aswan.
Spices are also important in Aswan, so don’t forget to bring some home from Aswan market.
Today’s lunch will be at El Masry restaurant which offers a large range of traditional Egyptian food.
This afternoon we’ll fly back to Cairo where we’ll check into the Villa Belle Epoque Hotel located in the residential area of Maadi, popular with expats.
Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
After breakfast, our first stop on our Cairo tour will be Coptic Cairo, dating back to the 4th century AD. Here, we’ll visit the Hanging church that was built over the ruins of a Roman fortress. We will also get to see the crypt where baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary stayed for six months after they escaped from the Romans.
Then we’ll head to Islamic Cairo where we’ll visit the oldest mosque in Egypt dating back to the 9th century AD. The mosque of Ibn Tulun, the largest in Cairo, is where we can climb its minaret to enjoy a spectacular view of Cairo. Later, we’ll walk the streets to the Khan El-Khalili Bazar to buy some Egyptian souvenirs.
Lunch today will be at the Najeeb Mahfouz restaurant . The restaurant is a tribute to the Nobel Prize winner and Egyptian novelist of the same name
Time to head back to our hotel for relaxation and refreshments.
Our farewell dinner tonight will be at Abou El Sid Restaurant located in the island of Zamlek in the heart of one of the most luxurious areas in Cairo. Tonight, we’ll toast to 10 days of discovery as well as lasting friendships made.
Overnight at the hotel.
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Cairo airport. Those flying home will travel with wonderful memories of the journey of a lifetime. Those joining us for the Red Sea trip extension for 3 more days of relaxation and swimming in crystal clear waters will head to Sharm Elshekh, a short 1-hour flight.
Upon arrival in Sharm Elshekh, we’ll drive for approx. 1 hour to the small city of Dahab. Dahab, which means Gold in Arabic, is a true oasis in the desert of Sinai, the land of the prophets. Dahab is considered by the well-travelled to be Egyptian hipster paradise, an eclectic fusion of Bedouin and Rasta culture with an artsy beach atmosphere.
The Red Sea is well known for its crystal waters considered one of top places known for scuba diving and snorkeling. Here we’ll also be introduced to the Bedouin culture, native to the area.
Our hotel, the Dahab Paradise faces the gulf of Aquaba in the Red Sea. As you might expect from a place called paradise, it’s surrounded by the beach with mountains behind. It’s relaxing pool awaits right outside your bedroom door. Today’s agenda is a relaxing one. We’ll have lunch at our hotel while enjoying stunning views of the Red Sea.
Later, we’ll go on a stroll through the little town of Dahab to orient ourselves. We’ll check out the port and the lighthouse as well as the market and some good souvenir shops. The town is famous for seafood, so our dinner will be at one of the best local restaurants, Ali Baba. Back to hotel for star gazing around our swimming pool.
This morning after breakfast, we’ll head to our dive shop to get our snorkeling or scuba gear. (For an extra fee you can scuba dive even if you don’t have a PADI certificate. You can do an introductory dive with an instructor 1 on 1). At the shop we’ll gear up and head to the most popular diving spot in the area, the Blue Hole, one of only 2 blue holes in the world (the other one being in Belize). Later on, we’ll head for more snorkeling at a different spot called the Canyon.
After swimming we’ll head back to our hotel for lunch and perhaps a cocktail by the pool. This afternoon is for relaxation and recuperation.
This evening we have the pleasure of experiencing a Bedouin BBQ dinner, in a small valley away from the city by about 20 minutes. An outdoor spot will be arranged just for our group where there is no light pollution except candles placed in the rocks around our camp. We’ll revel in the night sky and thousands of stars above our heads. We’ll dine in Bedouin style on carpets placed on the ground with lots of comfortable pillows. Overnight back at the hotel.
This morning after breakfast, we’re going out to do more snorkeling at the Three Pools, another popular diving spot famous with its stunning coral and colorful fish. Or choose an alternate itinerary and go with our guide to visit St. Catherine’s Monastery built between 548-65, one of the oldest functioning monasteries in the world.
Today’s lunch of fish tajine will be cooked in Bedouin style and served seaside.
Back to hotel for a quick refreshment before heading out for another adventure.
We’ll take an exhilarating ATV ride through the mountains of Dahab to watch the sunset.
Back to the hotel to enjoy our final dinner together at our lovey hotel.
After breakfast we’ll check out of our hotel and drive to the Sharm El Sheikh Airport to fly back to Cairo Airport where you can catch your connections home.
Trip Cost: $6,795 USD
Red Sea Extension: $1,450 USD
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