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). Please note that this is a Basics level tour. It is designed for 18-39 year olds who want to choose the activities they would like to participate in, rather than have them included as part of the tour price. As a result, entrance fees are not included. Please note "guided walk" means the services of a guide are provided, and transport to the site, but entrance fees, where applicable, are extra. Please refer to the optional activity section of these notes for approximate prices. To help you plan your budget, the activities most travellers choose to do are marked with an astrix *.
After breakfast, we will check-out of our hotel and store our luggage in our vehicle, ready to head to the station to catch tonight's overnight train later in the evening. The day starts with a half-day guided tour to the Great Three Pyramids in Giza (NB entrance fees not included), which belonged to the Kings of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, Cheops, Chephren & Mykerionos, and the Sphinx, the huge guard of the Funeral Complex decorated with the King Chephren's face and the body of a lion. You will have the option to take a unique camel ride at the Pyramids. We head back into the city centre where you will have the chance to grab some lunch. Why not go local with a couple of falafel sandwiches, or take the chance to find out what kushari tastes like. After lunch we head to the Egyptian Museum for a guided tour (NB entrance fees not included). 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. Our accommodation on the train will be in regular airline style seating. The seats are comfortable and resemble business class airline seats. The lights stay on all night in the carriage, so you may wish to being an eye-mask and ear plugs with you. The toilets are at the end of each carriage. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board. The journey from Cairo to Aswan usually takes around 12 hours. Overnight on the overnight train (airline-style seats). Estimated Travel Time: Cairo to Aswan, 12 hrs
Our train is due to arrive in Aswan early in the morning, but as ever we should be prepared for "Egypt time"! Beautiful Aswan has a distinctively African feel to it. Small enough to walk around and graced with the most beautiful setting right on the banks of the Nile, the pace of life is slow and relaxing. This evening we head over to Elephantine Island where our local friend will take us on a walk around his village before enjoying a traditional dinner at a local home. This is an unmissable experience - a great chance to find out more about life in this fascinating culture, as well as partaking in a delicious home cooked meal. In the meantime there is much to keep you occupied in Aswan. Explore the souk, full of the scent and colour of spices, perfumes, scarves and baskets or perhaps visit the modern Nubian Museum to learn more about Aswan's local people. Hire a local captain and take a ride to Kitchener Island. Named after the British general Horatio Kitchener, the island is known for its botanical garden and the exotic plants he planted there 100 years ago, and which continue to flourish today. Cross by local ferry to the opposite shore (west bank), where the cliffs are peppered with tombs of the local Pharaonic-era nobles and dignitaries. There are usually camel owners waiting here who will be only too happy to take you on a tour to the ruins of the sixth century Coptic monastery of St. Simeon. Upriver the hilltop is crowned with the beautiful tomb of Mohammed Shah Aga Khan, who died in 1957. It is known locally as the Tomb of the Aga Khan. Aswan was the source of marble extraction for much of ancient Egypt's grand buildings. Close to town, in one of these ancient quarries lies a gigantic unfinished Obelisk half cut out of the local stone. Just to the south of this, two Graco-Roman sarcophagi and an unfinished colossus remain half buried in the sand. It is possible to take a half-day tour to visit the Unfinished Obelisk, the High Dam and the island Temple of Philae. Ask your tour leader for more details. 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. Overnight in Aswan (2 nights).
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 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 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 there is the chance to visit the famous Kom Ombo Temple (entry fee not included). 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 will travel on by private bus to Luxor, stopping on the way at the town of Edfu. In the middle of a bustling village, Edfu Temple is the most completely preserved temple in all of Egypt and thus fascinating to wander through (entrance fee not included). On arrival in Luxor this afternoon, we check-in to our hotel and the remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore. While in Luxor, why not ride a bike or catch one of the numerous taxis to the impressive Temple of Karnak - 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. You can’t miss Luxor temple, located near the Nile and right in the centre of downtown Luxor, it is beautifully lit up at night. Why not find out all there is to know about the ancient art of embalming with a visit to the world's only Mummification Museum or head into Luxor’s bustling bazaar to search out a bargain. The Luxor Museum is a small but beautifully presented exhibition of some of this region’s treasures. On Day 7 your time is your own to make the most of what Luxor has to offer. Why not 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.(Please refer to the optional activities section of these notes for more approximate costs on this optional excursion) In the evening of Day 7, we catch an overnight seater train back to Cairo. Overnight in Luxor on Day 6 and on board the overnight train on Day 7. Estimated Travel Time: Luxor to Cairo, 9.5hrs (overnight train, airline style seats)
Our tour finishes on arrival at Cairo train station at approximately 8am. Please be aware that delays on overnight trains do quite often occur, so please do not book any onward flights before mid-afternoon today. 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.