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. 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. Unfortunately there are quite a number of scams and rackets waiting to greet new arrivals, and they begin at the airport.
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. Later, we visit a Nubian village, where we'll take a walk around the community before enjoy a traditional dinner at a local home. Overnight in Aswan.
This morning, there is the option to make 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. In the afternoon we will check-in to our Nile cruise boat, your home for the next three days. Our cruise boat is modern and comes prepared with everything you need for an enjoyable few nights on the Nile. The cabins are twin-share and comfortably equipped with air-conditioning and full ensuite bathrooms. There is a dining room and a very small gym. The entire top deck of the boat is for lounging, swimming in the rooftop pool or just relaxing and watching life on the Nile go by. The ship actually covers remarkably little distance as all ships must, by law, dock each evening. It is more in line with a "floating hotel" than a traditional cruise. We spend this evening docked in Aswan. Following breakfast on Day 5, we disembark and start the day with a visit to the temple of Kom Ombo, a temple dedicated to Sobek the Crocodile god and which still contains an ancient mummified crocodile! After returning to our boat, we take our lunch and continue sailing. In the afternoon, we will have another excursion in Edfu, travelling by horse-drawn buggy to visit the well preserved Temple of Horus. We spend the evening of day 5 docked at Edfu. Day 6 sees us relaxing and enjoying the Nile scenery, as we sail towards Luxor, our port for this evening, our final night on board.
Rising early, this morning we will take donkeys over to the west bank to visit the incomparable Valley of the Kings, the burial site of many Pharaohs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The valley contains sixty-two tombs, virtually all of which were robbed in antiquity. Only the tomb of Tutankhamen escaped pillage. After its excavation in the 1920s, the treasures of Tutankhamen were placed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. On our return, we will check in to our hotel for the evening. The remainder of the day is yours to discover the area. Luxor is a great city to explore on foot, stroll along the Nile Corniche, or unlock the secrets of the Pharaonic mummies in the world's first mummification musuem. On Day 8, enjoy a free day to explore Luxor. In the evening we catch an overnight sleeper train back to Cairo. Overnight in Luxor (Day 7) and sleeper train (Day 8). Estimated Travel Time: Luxor to Cairo, 9.5hrs (sleeper train)
Enjoy a guided walk through Islamic Cairo. We begin our morning with a visit to the Cairo citadel. Learn all about the fascinating history of this citadel built around 1176 and the centre of Egyptian government until the 1860s. We Enter a mosque and take the chance to learn more about the principal religion of modern Egypt. We visit the back streets of Cairo where little has changed for hundreds of years, before ending up in the amazing Khan al-Khalili markets to try out your bargaining skills and perhaps have a cup of coffee in one of the famous old cafes. Please note, as we arrive at our Cairo hotel before hotel check in time, you may not be able to make use of your room until after our Islamic Cairo walk. Overnight in Cairo.
We transfer by private bus to the town of St. Catherine, our base for climbing Mount Sinai. Depending on the season, and group preferences, you may choose to climb the mountain this afternoon to catch the sunset, or if you like, you can be woken at around 2am to head to the summit for a fantastic and most unique sunrise experience. Not a problem if you are not up for a hike, you can also choose to relax and enjoy the hotel facilities at your leisure. Overnight in St. Catherine. Estimated Travel Time: Cairo to St Catherine 7 hrs
Those who are returning from a sunrise climb of Mount Sinai will be transferred back to our hotel in town for breakfast and to collect any non-climbers in the group. We then set off on a visit to the Monastery of St Catherine, the smallest diocese and oldest Christian monastery still in use in the world. It houses not only a rich collection of icons and precious manuscripts but also the only existing relative of Moses' biblical burning bush! We then transfer to the village of Dahab for two nights of relaxation. After all of our travels, it is time for a bit of rest and relaxation by the beach. Our getaway provides the perfect place, with plenty of time for snorkelling in the Red Sea, swimming, or just relaxing on the beach. Overnight at Dahab (2 nights). Estimated Travel Time: St Catherine to the Red Sea, 2.5 hrs
Today is a travel day as we return to Cairo in our private minibus. An optional farewell dinner and show on one of Cairo’s famous floating restaurants is available and highly recommended as a great way to round off your visit. Overnight in Cairo. Estimated Travel Time: Red Sea to Cairo, 8 hrs
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.