Day 1: Depart U.S. for Cairo, Egypt
Day 2: Arrive Cairo We arrive in the Egyptian capital and transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, we have no group activities or meals planned.
Day 3: Cairo After this morning’s briefing about the journey ahead, we set out on a full day of touring. We begin at the acclaimed Egyptian Museum, the world’s greatest repository of ancient relics. Then we visit the medieval Citadel of Saladin fortification overlooking Old Cairo; inside we enter the alabaster Mosque of Mohamed Ali, modeled after Istanbul’s iconic Blue Mosque. Tonight, we enjoy a reception at our hotel before heading out for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. B,L,D
Day 4: Cairo/Giza Plateau We begin today’s exploration at the open-air museum at Memphis, Egypt’s first capital believed to be some 5,000 years old. After viewing the statuary here, we continue on to the necropolis at Sakkara, the vast burial ground for Memphis, with various pyramids (including the famous Step Pyramid) and decorated chambers. This all sets the stage for our next stop: the Giza Plateau and the Pyramids of Egypt, including the Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Cheops), the wonders of antiquity that have drawn visitors for millennia. Here, too, we encounter the enigmatic Sphinx, whose leonine body and human face were carved from a single piece of limestone. B,L
Day 5: Old Cairo This morning we encounter Old Cairo, the district where Egypt’s early capital cities once rose. We visit the 5th-century St. Sergius Church, the Coptic church of el-Muallaqa, and Ben Ezra Synagogue, built in 882. Then we visit Khan el Khalili Bazaar, Old Cairo’s bustling souk, where we have lunch at a local restaurant. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure before dinner tonight at our hotel. B,L,D
Day 6: Cairo/Abu Simbel/Aswan Very early this morning we fly to Aswan, where we connect with our flight to Abu Simbel. Here, on the west bank of Lake Nasser, we visit the two massive rock temples guarded by statues of Ramses II and his wife Nefertari, featuring incredibly well-preserved murals within. Carved into a mountainside between 1264-1244 BCE, in 1968 the temples were moved stone by stone to their current location; otherwise, they would have been flooded and submerged by the creation of Lake Nasser. After touring this UNESCO site, we return to the airport for the flight back to Aswan, where we have lunch at a local restaurant then check in at our hotel. We dine tonight at our hotel. B,L,D
Day 7: Aswan Today we see the Aswan High Dam, considered a marvel of engineering when completed in 1965 to control Nile flooding. Then we tour the Temples of Philae, in antiquity a pilgrimage site for the cult of Isis and one of ancient Nubia’s – and now Egypt’s – most important temple complexes. Built between 380 and 362 BCE on a small island in the Nile, Philae, like Abu Simbel, was relocated to save it from flooding; its current island site closely resembles the original. We move on to lunch at a local restaurant then this afternoon encounter the Nile from a different perspective, as we board small feluccas, replicas of ancient Nile sailboats. Sailing along the Nile, we pass by the Botanical Gardens on Kitchener’s Island and see Elephantine Island, with its huge granite rocks. Mid-afternoon we return to our hotel; dinner tonight is on our own. B,L
Day 8: Aswan/Luxor En route by motorcoach to Luxor today, we stop first to visit Kom Ombo, an ancient Nile town with an unusual double temple dedicated to two sets of gods: Sobek and Horus the Elder. Continuing on while enjoying our boxed lunch, we travel to Edfu to tour the Temple of Horus, Egypt’s best-preserved ancient temple, thanks to its having been buried by desert sands for millennia. Late this afternoon we reach Luxor and our hotel, where we dine together tonight. B,L,D
Day 9: Luxor We begin our discovery of Luxor, the world’s “greatest open-air museum,” whose vast temple complexes, tombs, and statues dating from 2755 BCE represent the pinnacle of early Egyptian architecture and design. Known in antiquity as Thebes, capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom, the archaeological site sits close to the Nile within the modern city of Luxor. Our touring begins on the West Bank, where we see the Collossi of Memnon, the two massive 64-foot-high statues of Amenhotep III that once guarded the gates of his own tomb. Then we visit the Valley of the Kings, with its 34 royal tombs; we enter several to see the magnificent, still vivid murals that adorn the tombs’ walls. We also tour the stunning Temple of Hatshepsut, dedicated to one of the few female pharaohs, dramatically nestled into the surrounding rock. After we return to our hotel late this afternoon, dinner tonight is on our own. B,L
Day 10: Luxor This morning we tour the East Bank, home of Karnak, the greatest temple complex of them all, whose ruins stretch for more than a mile. Built over a period of 1,500 years, Karnak boasts a breadth and diversity of structures not seen elsewhere. We explore Luxor Temple, whose builders included both Tutankhamun and Alexander the Great. Here, at the Great Court of Ramses II, we see the ancient obelisk whose twin presides over Place de la Concorde in Paris. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the Luxor Museum, displaying artifacts from the archeological site, two royal mummies, and items from the tomb of Tutankhamun, among other treasures. We dine together tonight at a local restaurant. B,L,D
Day 11: Luxor/Heliopolis We fly today to Cairo, where we transfer to our airport hotel. Tonight, we celebrate our Egyptian adventure at a farewell dinner at our hotel. B,D
Day 12: Depart for U.S. This morning we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the U.S. B
Please note: This trip involves considerable walking on uneven terrain and at sites of ancient ruins. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included