Egypt – The Grand Tour

The Old Palaces in Cairo are a mixture of styles and an set of incredible places to visit that are passed over by most tourists

The Old Palaces in Cairo are a mixture of styles and an set of incredible places to visit that are passed over by most tourists

Egypt is one of those destinations that people love or hate, while it wasn’t my first visit that made me love it – I have come to do so, and have travelled there extensively. Sadly most people see the basic highlights in Cairo and the Nile .. many don’t make it as far as Abu Simbel, St Catherine or even Alexandria which would only add a day or so to the trip.In truth most people spend on average 10 days in Egypt where 14 or 21 woul be more appropriate to see the “major” highlights.

There is though a lot to see in Egypt, beyond Cairo, Alexandria and the main area that Nile Cruises ply. You have the desert Oasis in the Sahara, Diving and snorkeling along the Red Sea, the historical and desert sights of the Sinai, Lake Nasser and so much more in and around Cairo then most usually see. This programme takes in all of that and more.

The Dhabeya is an alternative way to cruise the Nile

The Dhabeya is an alternative way to cruise the Nile

The Grand Tour Of Egypt

45 Days, Cairo to Cairo

Visiting: Cairo, Giza, Saqquara, Memphis, Wadi El natrun, Alexandria, El Alemain, Siwa, Bahariya, Mushroom Desert, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga Oasis, Minieh, Beni Hassanm Tel El Amarna, Assuit, Luxor, Edfou, Kom Ombo, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Kasr Ibrim, Amada, Derr, Kalabasha, Marsa Alam, Fayoum Oasis, Ras Sudr, Sharm El Sheik, St Catherines, Mt Sinai, Dahab, Nuweiba, Taba and more 

Day 01: Arrival Cairo: We arrive late this morning into Cairo International Airport, where you will be met on arrival by one of our local representatives, and from where our tour begins, starting with a visit to the Phoaronic Village where we will get a colourful overview of much of what will be seen in the next few weeks, after which we will transfer to our hotel in Giza for Dinner and overnight.

Day 02: Full Day Cairo: Giza, Saqqara and Memphis: Today we have a full days touring of some of Cairos most impressive highlights. Following breakfast we head out to visit the Great Pyramids and the Sphinxs, the Step Pyramid and funerary complex of Saqqara and the museum and highlights of Memphis. Should time permit we may stop at a local carpet weaving school.

The Grand Pyramids of Giza

The Grand Pyramids of Giza

Day 03: Cairo to Alexandria via Wadi El Natrun: Today we depart Giza and head for the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, enroute visiting the sights of Wadi El Natrun, known for its Monasteries and frescos. This evening, time permitted, we will take a stroll along the Montazah Gardens viewing the palace from a distance and enjoying the Mediterranean air.

Day 04: Full Day Alexandria: We have a full day visiting the highlights of Alexandria today including Pompey’s Pillar the Roman Ruins and Amphitheatre being uncovered at Kom al-Dikka, the modern library of Alexandria, a drive along the foreshore and a look at the replica lighthouse and a visit the the Museum of Alexandria. This evening is free to enjoy the nightlife of this cosmopolitan city.

Day 05: Alexandria to Siwa via El Alemain: Leaving Alexandria early this morning we head to El Alemain – a site of contention during world war 2, where we will visit the Museum as well as the Commonwealth, German and Italian War Graves Sites. Afterwards we continue the long drive past the Egyptian Seaside resort town of Marsa Matrouh before heading inland to the Desert Oasis of Siwa.

Day 06: Siwa: We spend today visiting the highlights of this desert oasis city starting with the so called Mountain of the Death (Gebel el-Matwa), which features a large number of rock cut tombs that are dating back to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods (3rd century BCE – 2nd century CE), Cleopatra’s Bath, a swimming pool fed by a natural hot spring, the Temple of Amun (The temple of the Oracle) and other highlights.

Day 07: Siwa to Bahariya: We leave Siwa Oasis behind today and drive for around 6 hours in 4wd vehicles to Bahariya, along the way we will make stops to view the desert landscapes. Once in Bahariya you have the remainder of the day free to relax or maybe sample one of the Oasis’s famous hot springs

Day 08: The Mushroom Desert: With your 4X4 car visit the crystal mountain. Continue to Aquabat the magic spring, the big Valley, el Santa and at the end of the say we’ll reach the fascinating Mashrum Desert (the new desert), night under tents in the New Desert.

Day 09: Mushroom Desert to Dakhla via Farafra: Breakfast in the mushroom desert, and enjoying a walk in the old white desert, continue to Farafara, lunch and visit Farafara mud brick museum built by the local artist Badr. Continue to Dakhla for overnight.

Day 10: Dakhla to Kharga: Tour around Dakhla, visiting the Roman temple Deir El Hagar in its serene surroundings and the Roman burial ground Mezzawaqqah, , mut and el Quasr. Travel to Kharga Oasis and overnight.

Day 11: Kharga to Minieh: Take in the local sights at Kharga Oasis, visiting Qasr el Labeka – a Roman fortress on the old caravan route, and the oasis’ ethnic museum. Then see the Roman Temple of Hibis as well as the early Christian cemetery “El Bagawat” with its chapels painted with murals, nearby. Drive to Minieh for overnight.

Day 12: Beni Hassan and Tel El Amarna: Today we spend time exploring the ancient tombs of Beni Hassan and the Ancient Capital of Akhenaton – Tel El Amarna, returning to overnight in Minieh (Minya).

Day 13: Minieh to Assuit: We leave Minieh today visiting the ancient ruins and tombs at Tunal El Gabel, and travel to Assuit where we visit the Burnt monastery at Ashmounein, one of the resting places of the holy family.

Day 14: Assuit to Luxor: Today we travel to Luxor, eroute visiting the Monastary of El Moharak, and the incredible ancient , and well preserved ruins at Dendra and Abydos – which boast some of the best preserved hieroglyphs on any open air monument.

The Great Hypostyle Hall

The Great Hypostyle Hall

Day 15: Luxor: We have a full day of touring in Luxor ahead starting with a tour through the Temple of Luxor, one of the two major temple complexes in the city, followed by a visit to the Luxor Museum and an early evening or late afternoon tour of the Temple of Karnak, the second major temple. (Optionally start this morning with a fantastic Hot Air Balloon ride over Luxor and the Nile)

Day 16: Luxor: Today we visit some more of the fascinating sights around Luxor starting with a visit to the Valley of the Kings where you will have a chance to inspect up to three of the many tombs in the region, we also suggest that if you haven’t pre-included a visit to King Tutankhamuns tomb that you purchase this on the day. After our visitto the Valley of the Kings we swing via the Colossi of Memnon enroute to the Temple of Hatchesput, one of Egypts few female ruling pharohs. Tonight is spent onboard our cruise vessel as it makes its way through the locks at Esna and journeys towards Edfou.

Day 17: The Nile, Edfou: By the time you wake this morning we should either be docked, or nearly docked, at the city of Edfou, where we will take a ride by horse carriage to see the major site of the region Horomoheb Temple, dedicated to the Falcon headed god Horus. After our visit we return to our cruise ship for lunch and the remainder of the afternoon is spent enjoying the life on the river.

Day 18: The Nile, Kom Ombo: Much of today is spent at ease aboard the cruise ship watching life on the Nile slowly drift past us, in the late afternoon though we will pull into Kom Ombo where perched on the hillside overlooking the township is the Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to the Crocodile headed god Sobek, here we will take the chance to explore the temple, see the mummified crocodiles and enjoy the waterfront before our cruise departs for the overnight voyage to Aswan.

Day 19: Aswan: We arrive into Aswan this morning and have a leisurely day of exploration taking in the old souks, the Museum (time permitting) and enjoy Dinner at a traditional Nubian Restaurant.

Day 20: Aswan: Today we explore the highlights of Aswan departing to visit the High Dam, one of the modern colossul building projects, the island Temple of Philae and returning to the Cataracts in the afternoon for High Tea at the Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha Christie wrote the infamous “Death on the Nile”.

Day 21: Abu Simbel: This morning we fly further South to the Egyption border town of Abu Simbel where we visit the incredible Temples of Ramses and Nefertari. We board our Lake Nasser Cruise today and enjoy a candlelight dinner onboard.

The Temple of Ramses at Abu Simbel

The Temple of Ramses at Abu Simbel

Day 22: Kasr Ibrim: Those who would like to watch the spectacular sunrise at Abu Simbel, may enjoy an early morning visit to the temples (entrance ticket is not included). Morning at leisure. Lunch will be served while sailing to Kasr Ibrim. Arrival at Kasr Ibrim. Tour conducted from the ship’s sundeck as entrance to the site is not permitted. Dinner and overnight on board.

Day 23: Amada & Derr: Sailing to Amada. Morning visit to the temple of Amada and Derr as well as the tomb of Penout, viceroy of Nubia. Lunch will be served while sailing to Wadi El Seboua. Afternoon visit to Wadi El Seboua, the temple of Dakka and temple of Meharakka. Dinner and overnight aboard at Wadi El Seboua.

Day 24: Kalabasha to Aswan: Sail to Aswan and cocktail while crossing of the Tropic of Cancer. Lunch served on board. Visit the Kalabsha temple, Beit El Wali, and the Kiosk of Kertassi. Dinner and overnight aboard in Aswan.

Day 25: Aswan: We disembark from our cruise this morning and Enjoy the highlights of the Cataracts, taking around the waters of the Nile on a felucca as we visit Elephantine Island and Garden Island. This afternoon we take a camel trek across the dunes of the West Bank to view the ruined fortress of St Simeon and to visit a traditional Nubian Village.

Day 26: Aswan to Marsa Alam: We have some free time in Aswan this morning for those that may want to grab any last minute items from the bazaars and souks before we head overland to the emerging resort town of Marsa Alam

Day 27: Marsa Alam: Today we have a full day of snorkelling in the incredinbly clear waters of Marsa Alam, taking you to one of the best “Aqua life”spots where one can see everything from Sea Turtles to Dugons, and other sea-life such as octopi and crocodilefish. For those less interested in the sea and more interested in History you can always take a trip inland to see the Emerald Mines or Temple of Seti I.

Day 28: Marsa Alam to Cairo: We leave Marsa Alam today for Cairo, where we have time at leisure – a perfect opportunity for those that may want more time at the National Museum then the group will allow on the day we visit it, or perhaps a chance to go and see the traditional camel markets of Birquesh to the north of the city.

Day 29: Cairo: Having returned to Cairo we set out today to visit some of the highlights of downtown starting with a visit to the incredible Cairo Museum, including entry to the Mummy Exhibits, where (should the dates match) you will also be able to look at the treasures of King Tut’s tomb. Afterwards we head out via the Heliopolis to visit Saladins Mosque which towers over the city and explore the Khak Al-Khalili, the most renowned bazaar in Egypt.

Day 30: Fayoum: Travelling today from Cairo to enjoy El Fayoum famous sites. From Cairo to Fayoum is about 95 km. We will start with The Water Wheels which are said to be running since the Ptolemaic era. Then enjoy Lake Qaroun where you can see different kinds of birds. Qaroun Lake is considered the oldest natural lakes in the world, the third largest lake in Egypt and the rest of Lake Old Moerisi. You will have lunch at a good quality restaurant. Then onto Wadi Al Rian Water Falls. Wadi El Rayan is a natural depression located in the western desert, 42m below sea level which consists of two lakes connected by Egypt’s only waterfalls, formed in 1970 by an overflow of drainage water from the farmlands in Fayoum. After that enjoy Medinet Madi (Ancient City Uncovered) which dates back to the third pharaonic dynasty built by Amenemhet III and completed Amenemhet IV. Then continue your tour to Wadi Hitan (Valley of the Whales). Overnight Camping at Wadi Hitan.

Day 31: Fayoum to Cairo: After breakfast, early morning visit Wadi Hitan or Valley of the Whales is located in the Protected Area of Wadi El Rayan and it was designated by UNISCO as a world Heritage Site in recognition of the 40 million year –old whale skeletons found there. On the way visit Mudawara Mountain. After that transfer to Qasr Qaroun about 55 km North West of Fayoum City. It consists of the well-preserved temple and remains of the Graeco Roman City of Dinysios. Then onto Karanis which is the ruin of an old city. That city contains a number of monuments, dating from the Roman, Coptic and Early Islamic. Back to Cairo via the el Lahoun Pyramids for overnight.

Day 32: Cairo: We start today with a visit to what is commonly called “Old Cairo”or “Coptic Cairo” to visit the Hanging Church, Ben Ezra Synagogue, Church of St. Barbara, Church of Abu Serga. Afterwards we head out to visit the palaces of Cairo including the Muhammad Ali Palace with its magnificent pools, the Abdeen Palace with a host of gifts given to Mubarak over the years and much more.

Day 33: Cairo to Ras Sudr: The Sinai Peninsula marks the last leg of our journey, leaving Cairo today for Ras Sudr, visiting the ancient Turquise mines of Serabit al-khadim and the nearby temple, Eyoun Moussa – the place where Moses called water forth from the desert and the incredible Forest of Pillars.

Day 34: Ras Sudr to Sharm El Sheik: Today is spent travelling overlands through the Sinai Desert and mountains to the coastal resort city of Sharm El Sheik.

Day 35: Sharm El Sheik: Today we spend some time snorkelling at some of Sharm El Sheiks most incredible reefs, some of the best in this area of the world. Or for those with their diving licenses you may want to take a dive to the wreck of the Thistlegorm or another of the vessels to be found in the local area.

Saint Catherine's Monastery

Saint Catherine’s Monastery

Day 36: Sharm El Sheikl to St. Catherines: We leave Sharm El Sheik today traversing the Nabq Protectorate, one of the best nature preserves in Egypt, visiting the desert oasis of Ain Khodra and the incredible Wadi Ghazala enroute. Checking into our hotel this afternoon it is suggested you try and get some sleep for in the mid evening from around 7pm we will begin our trek to the summit of Mt Sinai.

Day 37: Mt Sinai & St Catherine: Having journeyed up Mt Sinai last night we are at the summit this morning to watch the Sunrise over the mountains and Sinai Penninsula, a truly unforgettable experience. Following the Sunrise we descend the mountain and visit one of the holy places of Egypt – the fortress like Saint Catherines Monastary. The rest of the day is then free for sleep and recovery from a rather extended two days of travel.

Day 38: St Catherine to Dahab: We leave the heart of the Sinai today for the coast, travelling through the incredible desert landscape to the Seaside Resort town of Dahab, where this afternoon you can spend some time walking along the promenade, enjoying a cool drink at a seaside bar, or even go diving if you are feeling more adventurous.

Day 39: Dahab: Today we join up with a traditional Bedouin guide who will take us on a safari through their traditional desert ranges by Camel Back, or for those that are less adventurous – by jeep safari.

Day 40: Dahab to Nuweiba: We leave for Nuweiba today actually travelling north of our destination to start visiting Taba where we take a motorboat across to Pharoh’s Island to visit the fort of Saladin. Afterwards returning south to Nuweiba for overnight.

Day 41: Nuweiba: Nuweiba and surrounds are on todays sights. Starting with a trip out to the incredible Coloured Canyon, the White Canyon, Ain Hudra and the palm filled oases of Ain Al-Fuertega.

Day 42: Nuweiba to Cairo: Today is spent in transit as we travel from Nuweiba back to Cairo, passing the Suez Canal and returning to Egypts Capital in the late evening.

Passing by the Suez Canal

Passing by the Suez Canal

Day 44: Cairo: This morning we head out to visit the Pyramids of Dashur including the Red, Bent and Black Pyramids, returning to Cairo in the afternoon to get in any last minute shopping or sightseeing before heading out for our farewell dinner in Giza.

Day 45: Departure: Today is free until your departure flight home, if in the afternoon perhaps take a trip this morning to Al Azhar Park for lunch and a bit of cityscape viewing.

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