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.
We begin our tour with one of the real highlights of any visit to Egypt, the Great 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 may 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, which displays on of the pharaoh’s funerary barges - it may just be the oldest boat in existence! (NB extra entrance fees apply for all of these sites/activities). After a quick lunch, we make our way 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 (Extra entrance charges apply). We overnight in Cairo.
This morning, we take a short flight to Aswan. 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. Spend time strolling up and down the broad Corniche watching the sailboats etch the sky with their tall masts or sitting in floating restaurants listening to Nubian music and eating freshly caught fish. After an orientation walk, we will board a local boat, known as a felucca. We enjoy a half day sail including lunch which is prepared on board by our crew. Sit back relax and enjoy the timeless Nile scenery. Our final stop is the home of our felucca captain and the largest of the Nile islands in this area, Elephantine Island. We take a walk through the village and fields to learn more about the life of the Nubian people, before enjoying a traditional dinner at a local home. We spend this evening in Aswan.
Early on the morning of Day 6 we travel by plane to the magnificent temple of Abu Simbel. It is hard to believe that this marvellous temple, built by Ramses II between 1274 and 1244BC, would now be under Lake Nasser if modern engineering had not been put to work. These are perhaps Egypt's most splendid temples! In the afternoon, we return to Aswan. You are free to explore the city's many bazaars, perhaps take a camel ride across the sands of the West Bank to the ruined Monastery of St Simeon, or learn more about the Nubian people at the modern and well laid out Nubian Museum. You may choose to have dinner at one of Aswan's many floating restaurants this evening. This evening is spent in Aswan.
We travel by private air conditioned van from Aswan to Luxor, making some interesting stops to break our journey. 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. 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. On arrival in Luxor this afternoon, we check-in to our hotel and after an orientation walk, the remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore. Why not head to the interesting Mummification museum, or take a horse and cariage to the wonderful temple of Karnak. Wander through the bazaar or just relax at a cafe with a small, strong local coffee.
An early start to our day as we undertake a visit to the exciting ancient sites located on Luxor's West Bank. We begin with the two mammoth statues of Amenophis II at the Colossi of Memnon. These statues used to stand at the front of a temple, which is no longer in existence. They were famous since Greek times as they used to make a unique "singing" noise. You can even see ancient graffiti discussing this on the statues, from travellers of old! Next stop is the famous Valley of the Kings. While the treasure has now all gone, the tombs contain the most incredible paintings of the life of their encumbent and stories from the Book of the Dead. There is also the option to visit the the Tomb of Tutankhamun, whose treasures you saw at the Egyptian Museum. We finish our tour with the spectacular temple of Queen Hatshepsut, a reminder of the power women held in the Ancient Kingdom. In the late afternoon, a short flight will return us to Cairo.
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 airport transfers and extra post-trip accommodation if you wish to extend your stay for a few more days. Please ask at the time of booking.