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. 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. Please refer to the optional activities listed in the dossier .If you want 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 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. 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. An option on Day 4 is a very early start to head out to the magnificent temple of Abu Simbel. 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. There is also the option to fly to the Temples. Please ask your tour leader for more information on both of these options.
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 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 a the town of Kom Ombo from where we travel by private bus on to Luxor. Then we will have the possibility to visit the Planeterra Foundation community library. Supported by G Adventures, this project provides affordable early childhood education for local people, as well as adult literacy classes. Feel free to bring along a donation, such as books in both English and Arabic to help grow their library resources. On arrival in Luxor this afternoon, we will 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 by the mammoth eighteen-metre high, Colossi of Memnon, which are all that remain of an ancient temple. Descend 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 right out of the surrounding limestone outcrops. Spend this afternoon exploring more of what 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. *If you have pre-booked the Valley of the Kings Hot Air Balloon Ride you will be flying on Day 7. In the evening we board our sleeper train to Cairo. Overnight in Luxor (Day 6). Overnight on board sleeper train (Day 7). Estimated travel times: Kom Ombo to Luxor, 2.5hrs (private van); Luxor to Cairo, 9hrs (overnight train)
After checking-in to our hotel, we head off to explore Islamic Cairo on foot. Let your leader take you down bustling alleyways where life has changed little and streets are still named after their ancient crafts.Don't miss the chance to visit a mosque and learn more about Egypt's principal religion. We will also explore the Cairo citadel, home to the rulers of Egypt for almost nine hundred years. Afterwards, why not take the chance to try a local lunch - Egyptian pizza is always a favourite! In the afternoon, wander the alleyways of Khan El Khalili Bazaar, legendary for fine brassware, copper, perfumes, leather, silver, gold, antiques and more. You are sure to find a little something to take home!
Time for rest and relaxation by the beach. This getaway provides the perfect place, with plenty of time for snorkelling in the Red Sea, swimming or just relaxing on the beach. Two nights in a beachside hotel. *Note: This itinerary previously visited Mt Sinai and St Catherine's Monastery. Due to current safety concerns, these activities have been removed.*
After spending the morning at our beach hotel, this afternoon we board a ferry to cross the Gulf of Aqaba to Jordan. The ferry is simple but does have air-conditioning and airline style seats. Upon entering the ferry, you will be given a Jordanian arrival card to fill out and hand in with your passports to the ferry's immigration official. You will receive a receipt (in Arabic) in return. When you disembark the ferry, it is a very short bus ride to the Arrivals Hall where your passports will be stamped and waiting for you. You will not be accompanied by your Egyptian tour leader for this short journey, but upon arrival at the terminal building in Jordan, your Jordanian tour leader will be there to meet and assist you through the customs and immigration procedures. Please note that there is only one daily ferry from Nuweiba to Aqaba. This ferry has no set schedule and is extremely erratic, as it waits in Jordan until it is full and then makes the crossing to Egypt to collect us and return to Jordan. While experience has shown us the time that it usually departs, it is not unknown for the ferry to be delayed sometimes up to 3-4 hours. While we will do our best to keep you comfortable during this time, we do ask our clients to please keep in mind that the ferry is a public service and therefore out of G Adventures' control.Your tour leader will collect 50 Egyptian pounds from each client to pay your Egyptian departure tax at the ferry terminal. Estimated travel times: Ferry terminal waiting time, up to 3-4 hrs; Nuweiba to Aqaba, 1.5 hrs (ferry)
The morning is free to explore Aqaba and its beaches. Around noon we will set off for the drive to Wadi Rum. Blessed with some of the most spectacular desert scenery in the world, Wadi Rum is home to the nomadic Bedouin people. We head deep into the desert by 4x4 to arrive at our tented home for the night, where we will enjoy a traditional meal and learn more about this ancient culture. Our camp at Wadi Rum is basic but comfortable. We sleep on beds in one long goathair tent, which is divided by blankets into twin-share “rooms” for privacy. A bottom sheet and blanket is provided but most people prefer to bring along a travel sleep sheet/sleeping bag liner. Bathroom facilities are shared and unisex and located around 20m from the camp. Although the way is lit by lanterns, it is a good idea to have a torch/flashlight with you. There is a large, central tent that is traditionally decorated and perfect for relaxing or escaping the cold nights in winter. Our dinner is cooked in traditional fashion, with the meat and vegetables cooked in an underground oven. Soft drinks and water are available for purchase. Please note that for religious reasons no alcohol is permitted at the camp. We spend the evening sitting under the stars, around the fire, listening to stories from our Bedouin hosts. If we are really lucky they may bring the drums out for some music. Overnight in Wadi Rum (desert camp). Estimated travel time: Aqaba to Wadi Rum, 1 hr
After breakfast at our Wadi Rum camp, we set off for Petra. En route, we will spend some time at Little Petra (Bayda), before heading to our hotel in Wadi Musa, our base for the next two nights. The ancient Nabatean city of Petra is one of the Middle East's most spectacular sites. Explore the imposing façades of its great buildings and tombs. Upon arrival at the site, you will begin an unforgettable walk through the narrow cannon, which forms the dramatic entrance to the city (the siq) until you round the final corner and are greeted by the unforgettable view of the extraordinary façade of the Treasury building. Our guide will give a brief history of this city that the Nabateans carved from the living rock of the surrounding mountains. The site is large, but you can set your own pace depending on the weather and the interests of the group. We return to our hotel in Petra town (Wadi Musa). Why not ask your guide about some local options for dinner this evening. Overnight Wadi Musa (Petra township; 2 nights). Estimated travel time: Wadi Rum to Petra, 2 hrs
Today we drive by way of the panoramic King's Highway, stopping at Shobak Castle, one of Jordan's most significant and impressive historical sites. We follow this with a visit to Kerak Castle, the largest Islamic castle in Jordan. Mount Nebo is the highest peak in the Moabit range and a centre for pilgrimages since the earliest Christian times, as the possible location of Moses' death. The town of Madaba is home to some of the finest Byzantine mosaics in the world including the famous sixth century mosaic map of Palestine. Estimated travel time: Petra to Madaba, 10hrs (including stops)
Enjoy a lie-in this morning, as we set off around mid-morning for the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is actually a lake, without any from of life whatsoever. The water is so dense that it is practically impossible to sink, being five to ten times as salty as regular sea water. We spend the morning at one of the resorts, which provide access to the beach with plenty of time for swimming (or floating!). While swimming, cover yourself with the Sea's mud, which is reputed to have special healing powers, and don't forget to take a photo of yourself reading a book while you float! You will notice that the salt penetrates any cuts on your body and has an unusual smell but there are showers to wash off under. Afterwards, relax under an umbrella next to one of the fresh water swimming pools. After lunch we travel onwards to Amman, Jordan's friendly and modern capital. Estimated travel time: Amman to Dead Sea, 4 hrs (return)
You are free to depart at any time today. Please note that check-out time from the hotel is normally mid-morning, but luggage storage facilities are available. 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.