You are welcome to arrive in Cairo at any time, as today is a designated arrival day with no planned activities. Please note that there will be an important welcome meeting this evening at our joining hotel. Please check the hotel notice board for more information on the location of this meeting or ask at reception. Please bring your passport and travel insurance documents to this meeting, as you will be required to fill out some important pre-trip admin document.Your tipping kitty will be collected as this time (please refer to the "tipping" section of these notes for more information). After learning more about our tour and plans for the following day, you are welcome to join our leader and your travelling companions for an optional dinner nearby. If you arrive early there are plenty of things to see and do in this amazing city. Visit the Saladin Citadel of Cairo one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, or to really get a feel for the place, get lost in the bazaars and join the locals for a coffee in a local cafe. If this is your first visit to Cairo, we highly recommend that you book an airport transfer (please refer to the joining instructions section of tour dossier for more information).
Begin the day with one of the real highlights of any visit to Egypt, a visit to the three pyramids of Giza. While once located in remote desert, they now touch the suburbs of modern Cairo. No matter how many photos or documentaries you have seen, your first glimpse of these marvels of the ancient world will take your breath away. As a qualified Egyptologist, your tour leader is able to expertly explain the facts and myths behind these three mammoth works of art. You will also visit the mysterious Sphinx with its lion’s body and man’s face. Time permitting there might be the chance to see inside one of the two smaller pyramids, take a ride around the pyramids on camel back or visit the fascinating Solar Boat Museum with displays on one of the pharaoh’s funerary barges - it may just be the oldest boat in existence! (NB. Extra entrance fees apply to all of these sites/activities) There will be time to grab a quick lunch before our afternoon visit to the Egyptian Museum. With over 10,000 pieces from every period of Egyptian history, including the treasures from the tomb of Tutankhamun, the display can be a bit daunting. Your Tour Leader will direct you to the most important and magnificent items. There is also plenty of free time for you to explore on your own, including a chance to visit the famed Mummy Room where you can view the ancient remains of some of Egypt’s most important rulers. (NB. Extra entrance charges apply) In the evening we transfer to the railway station to board our overnight train to Aswan. Accommodation on the sleeper train is in comfortable twin-share bunk-bed compartments with lockable doors. The beds convert into seats when not in use and luggage is stored under the bottom bunk. Bedding is provided and there is a small wash basin with soap and a towel provided. Shared toilet facilities are at the end of each carriage. A simple “airline style” dinner is provided, but most guests prefer to eat before boarding the train. Non Alcoholic drinks are available to purchase and there is a bar car for socialising. In the morning you will be brought a simple continental style breakfast around two hours before arrival. Overnight on sleeper train. Estimated Travel Time: Cairo to Aswan, 12hrs (overnight train)
Our train is due to arrive in Aswan early in the morning, but as ever, we should be prepared for "Egypt time"! Aswan has a distinctively African feel to it. Small enough to walk around and graced with the most beautiful setting on the Nile, the pace of life is slow and relaxing. Enjoy some free time in the morning to perhaps browse in the souk, full of the scent and colour of spices, perfumes, scarves and baskets or take a walk along the Nileside corniche and admire the scenery. In the afternoon we board a local boat known as a felucca, to explore this area of the Nile from the water. Crossing to the West Bank, we visit a Nubian village, where we'll take a walk around the community before enjoy a traditional dinner at a local home. If you have purchased the Temple of Abu Simbel Overland Theme Pack, you will visit the temple on Day 4. Leaving Aswan at around 4am you travel deep into the desert to the site of these enormous temples, on the shores of Lake Nasser. You can spend around two hours at the temples and then return to Aswan by about 2pm. The round trip drive is around 5 hours.
Today board our feluccas to spend the day out on the river and a night under the stars. All meals are provided by our Nubian crew. Drinks, including beer, wine, water and soft drinks are available for you to purchase. Feluccas are very basic traditional Nile sailboats and make for an extremely relaxing and enjoyable way to travel down the river. You sleep on the deck of the boat (mattresses and blankets are provided, but if you prefer something between you and the blankets, you will need a sleep sheet/sleeping bag liner of your own). Please note that the Felucca itself does not have toilets or showers, however we will have access to a private support boat, travelling in close proximity to our Felucca. This support boat is equipped with toilets and a shower (please bring a towel) and and an area to eat your meals, leaving you stress free to enjoy this tranquil and traditional experience on the Nile. Overnight on board our felucca.
Our felucca journey concludes at the town of Kom Ombo where we visit the famous Kom Ombo Temple. In a scenic location, right on the banks of the Nile, Kom Ombo was dedicated to the Crocodile God and you can still view the remains of an ancient mummified crocodile, which was worshipped here thousands of years ago. We travel by private bus to Luxor, stopping on route at the town of Edfu to explore it's fascinating temple. In the middle of a bustling village, Edfu Temple is the most completely preserved temple in all of Egypt. On arrival in Luxor this afternoon, we check-in to our hotel and the remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore. Why not hire a horse and carriage (calèche) and take yourself off for an orientation tour. Perhaps take a wander through the bazaar or just relax at a cafe with a small, strong local coffee. On Day 7 it's time to cross to the West Bank and travel by "Egyptian Mercedes", otherwise known as a donkey! Be amazed at the mammoth eighteen-metre high Colossi of Memnon, which are all that remain of an ancient temple. Descend down the narrow rock-hewn corridors and experience the magnificent decoration and design of the tombs of the Pharaohs at the Valley of the Kings. Testament to the power of the queens in ancient Egypt, the impressive Funerary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut seems to rise out of the surrounding limestone outcrops. Enjoy your free time, exploring all Luxor has to offer. Karnak Temple was the centre of all religious life in ancient Egypt. Built and extended by successive generations of rulers, you can't help but be awed by the massive columns and painted hieroglyphs. Luxor temple, located near the Nile and right in the centre of downtown Luxor is spectacularly lit in the evenings and well worth a visit. Choose to learn all there is to know about the ancient art of embalming by exploring the world's only Mummification Museum, and the small but beautifully presented Luxor Museum, is also well worth a visit. Estimated Travel Time: Kom Ombo to Luxor, 4 hrs (private van)
Today is a full travel day. After an early breakfast we will transfer by private minibus to Dakhla where we spend tonight. Dakhla is one of the five oases situated in the Western Desert and is considered to be one of the most beautiful. It has a population of approximately 70,000 people spread out over 14 different villages, each with individual local identities and traditions. Wander the narrow alleyways of the atmospheric ancient mud citadel or head off on camel back and watch the sunset over the dunes. You might choose to sooth your travel weary bones with a soak in one of the local hot springs. Overnight in Dakhla. Estimated Travel Time: Luxor to Dakhla, 8 hrs (private van)
Start your morning with a visit to the old village of Al-Qasr. Located some 20km north of Dakhla, little has changed in this traditional village since medieval times. Wander the old area of town of traditional mud brick houses and winding alleyways. In the afternoon, we head to Farafra where we will transfer to 4x4 vehicles for the drive to the White Desert, a paradise for the amateur geologists amongst us with its impressive limestone formations shaped like giant mushrooms or animals. We spend the night here, camping out in the wild amidst the dramatic landscape. Facilities at our campsite are very basic. We sleep in a large communal tent and enjoy a local dinner cooked over the fire by our local hosts. Mattresses and bedding are provided but it is a good idea to bring your own sleep sheet/sleeping bag liner. Bathroom facilities are your closest rock, back to nature - your Tour Leader will explain a little about how to be environmentally responsible when living outdoors in the desert! Soap and water will be provided. Overnight in the White Desert (camping). Estimated Travel Time: Dakhla to Farafra, 4hrs (private van) Farafra to White Desert Camp, 3hrs (4x4 vehicle)
Following an enjoyable desert breakfast we will pack up camp and get ready to explore the desert and its oases. We head to El Bahariya, an oasis covering over 2,000 square km. Today is a long day's drive, but there are many options for the following day for exploring the area. Why not take a jeep ride, enjoying lunch in the desert en route, before visiting Bawiti, the largest village in the Bahariya Oasis. Bawiti is a beautiful town with coloured houses and is famous for the discovery of the "Valley of the Golden Mummies". Soak up the history of the Bahariya Oasis, famous for its monuments dating back to the New Kingdom and Roman times. You might choose to visit the valley of the Golden Mummies, the local museum, the English Mountain or even take a dip in one of the many hot springs. Overnight in Bahariya (2 nights). Estimated Travel Time: Farafra to Bahariya, 9 hrs
Today we will drive west by 4x4 jeep, heading to the desert oasis of Siwa. This is a real excursion into the desert, taking time to explore small villages and lakes seemingly in the middle of nowhere along the way. We enjoy a picnic lunch en route. The possibility of having to push our jeeps out of sand bogs just adds to the adventure! With its extraordinarily lush vegetation and relaxed pace, Siwa seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of Egyptian cities. On Day 13, we explore the vast, maze-like ruins of the mud brick fort that overlooks Siwa old town. A short bike tour takes us out to the fascinating Mountain of the Dead and the mysterious sixth century BC Temple of the Oracle. Perhaps you'd like to take a dip in Cleopatra's bath? (NB. Entrance fees to sites are not included). In the afternoon, head out on an optional hot springs and dunes drive or take a trip by donkey cart out to a small village and enjoy a perfect desert sunset. Estimated Travel Time: Bahariyya to Siwa Oasis, 7 hrs
Today we will transfer by public bus along the coastal road to Alexandria. Alexandria is spread along the Mediterranean Sea and is a little European in feeling, with its trams, cafes and an amazing sense of history. On Day 15 we explore the catacombs of Kom Ash-Shuqqafa, the largest Roman burial site in Egypt, the famous Graeco-Roman Museum, Pompey's Pillar and Fort Quaitbey. During your free time, why not visit the newly built Bibliotheca Alexandrina, inspired by the original great library of Alexandria, built to hold over eight million books. Don't miss the chance to dine at one of the many wonderful seafood restaurants, reputed to be the best in Egypt. Estimated Travel Time: Siwa to Alexandria, 8 hrs
This morning we travel by private van back to Cairo where this amazing adventure comes to an end. Our expected arrival time is around noon and you are free to depart any time after that. If you are leaving Egypt today, we recommend that you do not book a flight departing before 3pm in the afternoon. We are able to organise extra post-trip accommodation if you wish to extend your stay for a few more days. Please ask at the time of booking. Estimated Travel Time: Alexandria to Cairo, 4 hrs