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 documents.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 late afternoon we board a local boat known as a felucca, to explore this area of the Nile from the water. Crossing to Elephantine Island, 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 12pm. The round trip drive is around 5-6 hours. With the rest of your day, it is possible to take a half day tour to visit the Unfinished Obelisk, the High Dam and the island Temple of Philae. You may like to visit the modern Nubian Museum to learn more about Aswan's local people. Ask your tour leader for more details. Overnight in Aswan (2 nights).
Today we board our felucca to spend the rest of 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). Please note that the Felucca itself does not have toilets or showers on board, however your group will be provided with a private support boat, travelling in close proximity to your 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 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 where we explore this wonderfully preserved temple, perhaps the most complete 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. There will be plenty of free time to explore 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. Included visit to a Planeterra-supported library and community education centre. Feel free t bring along books in English or Arabic to donate. *If you have pre-booked the Valley of the Kings Hot Air Balloon Ride you will be flying on Day 7. Overnight in Luxor (2 nights). Estimated Travel Time: Kom Ombo to Luxor, 4 hrs (private van)
After returning to Cairo by plane in the morning (timetable subject to change but we should arrive in Cairo no later than 12pm) your trip will end on arrival at Cairo International Airport. We are able to organise extra post-trip accommodation in Cairo if you wish to extend your stay for a few more days or perhaps head up to Alexandria on our Alexandria extension. Please ask at the time of booking. Estimated Travel Time: 1 hour