Egypt Tour (12-22 October 2023)
- Pyramids and Pharaohs
- Sphinx and Sunsets
- Chaotic Cairo and Bustling Bazaars
- Gold and Glory
- Museums and Mosques
- Camels and Kings
- Abu Simbel and Nubian sailors
- Hidden Tombs and Hot Air Balloons
- Nile and Nefertiti
- And a Boy Named Tut…
- Learn the story behind the story
- 11 days exploring Egypt
- A Bucket-List Trip You’ll Never Forget
Day 1 - Arrival Day (no meals included today)
We’ll arrive at Cairo Airport. You’ll be met at the airport by our Egyptian guides, who will guide you through the visa process and transport you to the hotel in Giza, right next to the Pyramids! We’ll all meet at the hotel and if you arrive early enough, we’ll have dinner together. If you want to come in a day early or stay a day later, we can arrange extra nights at the hotel.
Day 2 - Pyramids and Pharaohs: Giza and the Sphinx (B, L)
We’re going to the Pyramids! After breakfast, we’re embarking on a half-day tour of the three famed pyramids of Giza. We’ll head straight for the Great Pyramid so you can go inside to the burial chamber of Cheops. The Great Pyramid is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. You will get to touch stones carved by people living over 4,000 years ago! We’ll walk around the complex to see the other Pyramids, including the Queen’s pyramids. While we walk, we’ll learn about the funeral ceremonial traditions for Pharaohs.
If you want to take a short camel ride for a photo of yourself on a camel with the Pyramids in the background, we can do that! We’ll also take a group photo in front of the Pyramids at a breathtaking overlook. This is where everyone gets those hilarious photos of themselves jumping over, leaning on, and balancing the Pyramids. We’ll show you how!
We didn’t forget the Sphinx, the iconic, mysterious symbol of Egypt. We’ll spend time exploring the complex around the Sphinx and take advantage of the viewpoints. You’ve got to get a photo of yourself “kissing” the Sphinx. We want to see those on everyone’s Instagram!
After a delicious lunch, we’re heading back to the hotel to relax. The rest of the afternoon is yours. Don’t get too comfy, though. We’ll head back to the Giza complex for a 2-hour sunset camel experience near the Pyramids. We’ll ride out onto the dunes, then enjoy tea served Bedouin – style around a campfire as we watch the final rays of the sun caress the monoliths. Imagine what travelers thought as they saw these beacons in the moonlight…oh—you don’t have to imagine! You’ll see it for yourself.
Day 3 - Saqqara and Dahshur (B, L)
After breakfast, we’re off to Saqqara: the vast, ancient burial ground that served as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. We’ll explore the famous Step Pyramid complex of Zoser. Next, we’ll go to Dahshur to see the Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid. When we’re done, you’ll have a better understanding of the trial and error that lead to building the Great Pyramids, as these are the precursors. After all of the walking, we’ll enjoy a wonderful Egyptian-style lunch at a local restaurant.
Later, if you aren’t too tired for an optional activity, you can have dinner overlooking the Sphinx, then walk across the street to take in the laser light show at the Pyramids (yes, it’s worth it! It’s a fantastic show and costs approx. $20). We can also go to a local Egyptian clothing store where you can buy authentic, good quality Egyptian pants, shirts, dresses, and more.
Day 4 - Islamic Day Tour (B, L)
Today we’ll tour Islamic Cairo, starting with the citadel, dating back to the 12th century. Inside are the Mosques of Mohamed Ali (the Alabaster Mosque), and of Al Nassar ibn Qalaounn. We’ll then visit Sultan Hassan Mosque, and Al Rifaie Mosque. Have your video ready to record, because we’ll hear the muezzin sing the adhan, or call to prayer. It’s beautiful to hear and watch.
We’ll stop at the most famous green zone in Cairo, Al Azhar Park, for lunch in a unique restaurant in a beautiful park overlooking the city.
After lunch, we’ll move inside the walls of Old Coptic Cairo to learn about Christian heritage. We’ll tour the churches associated with the Fortress of Babylon. Highlights include:
The famous Hanging Church, built atop the gatehouse of the Roman-built Babylon Fortress. Its nave is suspended over a passageway, giving the church the impression of hanging in mid-air. It is also known as the site of several apparitions of Mary. The ceiling is built of vaulted timber, intended to resemble Noah’s Ark. The marble pulpit is supported by 13 marble columns, representing Jesus and his 12 disciples. One is painted black, portraying Judas’ betrayal, and another is gray, representing Thomas’ doubt. 110 beautiful religious icons are on display within the walls.
We’ll also visit the oldest church inside Coptic Cairo’s walls—the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (also called Abu Serga), where Jesus, Mary, and Joseph hid from King Herod when Jesus was a baby. It is believed that Joseph, who was a carpenter, helped to build the Babylon Fortress. We’ll also see one of the few round churches, the beautiful Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, built on the northern watchtower of the Babylon Fortress.
We’ll need an early night, because tomorrow we head for the Nile!
Day 5 – Luxor and Karnack (B, L, D)
4:00 am hurts! We’re flying to Luxor, where we’ve got a 5-star cruise ship waiting to take us gently down the Nile—and the airfare to/from the Nile Cruise is included in this trip! We’ll check in, refresh, and have lunch. Then, our first stop is the beautiful Luxor Temple, which has been used as a place of worship right up until present day. The Temple was built by Amenhotep III (1390-52 BC) and completed by King Tutankhamen (1336-27 BC). Several Pharaohs added to it, including Ramses II. A thousand years later, a shrine was dedicated to Alexander the Great (332-305 BC). We can still see the colossal Colonnade Hall, with 28 twenty-one-foot-high columns, undertaken by Tutankhamen around 1330 BC. Think about that…you are going to touch the stones that King Tut touched, over 3300 years ago.
Can we top Luxor? Let’s explore the magnificent Karnak Temple, which is possibly the most impressive of all the ancient Pharaohs’ monumental works. It’s one of the world’s most celebrated temple complexes, taking over 200 years to build. It was known as the “Chosen of Places.” Your jaw will drop as we walk the Avenue of Sphinxes, and the Great Temple of Amun, ponder the Obelisks of Queen Hatshepsut and Tutomosis III, and the stunning Temple of Amon, adorned with lotus and papyrus.
After our dinner on the ship, we’ll go back out for a special treat. We’re going on a city tour of Luxor at night by horse-drawn carriage. We’ll get to see the local people, their homes, markets, and street life. This isn’t the tourist area; it’s real Egyptian life, and you get to take a peek into it.
Day 6 – Luxor (B, L, D)
It’s another early morning. We’re starting at 4:30 am for a sunrise Hot Air Balloon ride over Luxor. We’ll see the lush green of the Nile Valley starkly contrasted with the red dunes of the desert, ringed by mountains riddled with tombs, and we’ll see the many Temples of the area. We’ll hear children laughing as they get ready for school or a day of play, and the soft calls of livestock as they are fed. After we gently land in a nearby field, we’ll head back to the boat for breakfast.
After we’ve eaten, it’s on to the royal burial site of the Valley of the Kings. The tombs of more than 60 pharaohs are buried under the arid hills, richly decorated with reliefs and paintings. We’ll walk down the richly decorated passageways of several Pharaohs, marveling at the intricate hieroglyphs adorning every space possible. We all know that King Tut’s tomb is the highlight here, and we’ve included the ticket to see the Boy King and his hastily prepared tomb.
We’ll end our day in the magnificent Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, a stunning colonnaded building in a spectacular natural amphitheater, soaring over the Nile Valley, proving her importance among the ancestors. Then it’s back to the boat for lunch (yes, it’s only lunchtime!). You’ve got a well-deserved afternoon off. We’ll sail to Esna while you nap on the sundeck before afternoon tea and a delicious dinner.
Day 7 – Edfu and Kom Ombo (B, L, D)
After a good night’s sleep and a filling breakfast, we’ll ride carriages to Edfu, where we’ll visit the Temple of Horus. This is probably the best-preserved temple in the country. You’ll feel dwarfed next to soaring sandstone walls, covered in relief carvings and hieroglyphics. 32 columns, each richly decorated, ring the colossal courtyard of the Grand Temple entranceway. The market outside the Temple gate is the best (and cheapest!) place to buy fun Egyptian costumes for your friends back home!
We’ll sail to Kom Ombo while we are eating lunch. This is a magnificent double temple set dramatically on the banks of the Nile, shared by the Gods Sobek and Haroeris. Hieroglyph panels depict medical procedures as well as telling the story of good and evil. Surgical tools were discovered here, and we’ll see if we can figure out what they are for! We’ll also visit the adjacent Crocodile Museum, home to some of the 300 Nile Crocodile mummies discovered nearby.
During dinner, we’ll sail to Aswan, where we’ll spend the night.
Day 8 – Abu Simbel and Felucca ride (B, L, D)
It’s another early morning, but once again, you won’t mind the alarm clock. We’re going to Abu Simbel! These magnificent temples were built by King Ramesses II. At the time, this was the southern frontier of pharaonic Egypt, facing Nubia. Carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the Nile, Ramesses II carved one temple for himself and dedicated it to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakkhte. It was designed so precisely that on two days of the year, 22 Feb and 22 Oct, the first rays of the morning sun penetrate the entire length of the temple to illuminate the shrine in the innermost sanctuary. The smaller temple is dedicated to the love of his life, Queen Nefertiti.
In the 1960’s, the construction of the Aswan High Dam threatened to submerge this treasure under the waters of Lake Nassar. From 1963 to 1968, a workforce and team of international engineers and scientists disassembled both temples and perfectly reconstructed them on high ground. Imagine the geometry and calculus necessary to ensure that the sunbeams still illuminated the shrine!
After our return, we’ll have time to nap. Again, don’t sleep too long! We’re going to watch the sunset from the Nile on a Nubian felucca, a traditional sailboat, then return to the ship for dinner.
Day 9 - Aswan, Obelisks, and Isis (B, L)
After breakfast, we’ll take a motorboat through the crystal blue waters to the Temple of Philae, dedicated to the goddess Isis. Thousands of pilgrims traveled here yearly in ancient times. This beautiful temple was also disassembled from a low spot and reassembled on the island before being flooded by Lake Nassar.
Next, we’ll hike up to the Unfinished Obelisk, which was ordered by the longest reigning female Pharaoh, Queen Hatshepsut, whose temple we explored in Luxor. The Obelisk was carved straight out of the bedrock but was abandoned when large cracks were discovered on the sides. We can still see the stone-cutting techniques and tools used by the skilled ancient Egyptian workers. Grab a rock and try your hand at carving stone!
After lunch, we’ll head to the airport for our flight back to Cairo, where we’ll check into one of the most beautiful hotels in Cairo for our last two nights.
Day 10 - Egyptian Museum and National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (B, L)
After breakfast, our private tour of the Egyptian Museum awaits. Built in 1891, it is home to more than 165,000 artifacts, including the jaw-dropping golden treasures of King Tutankhamen and the Royal Mummies. Many of the treasures have been moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum, but we’ll be able to see many antiquities relating to our tours of temples and sites.
After lunch, we’ll go to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. This new museum is the first museum in the Arab world focusing on the earliest civilization in history – the ancient Egyptian civilization. You’ll see an overview of all the different historical periods, giving you the opportunity to visually see the timeline you’ve experienced over the past week.
The Crown Jewel of the Museum is the exquisite Mummies Hall. Designed to give visitors the feeling of strolling down the Valley of the Kings, you’ll see 20 Royal Mummies: 18 Kings including Seqenenre-Taa II, Amenhotep I, Thutmoses I, II, and III, and Ramesses II, III and IX. Queen Nefertari rests here, as does Queen Hapshepsut. This is a perfect way to end our tour of Egypt—by meeting the very people we’ve learned about.
This is our last night together. We’ll be finished with our tour early enough that we can all have dinner together to talk about our experiences. You might only get a nap before your flight, however, depending on your booking.
Day 11 – Departure
Most flights leave early in the morning (12:00-3:00 am), but you’ll have time for a good nap at an airport hotel. Whether you are flying home, joining us in Jordan, or continuing to another adventure, you’ll sadly wave goodbye to the land of Pharaohs and Pyramids, where you traveled through time to the beginning of civilization.
This trip tags perfectly with our Jordan Tour (23-30 October 2023), where you’ll see Jerash, swim in the Dead Sea, go 4-wheeling in Wadi Rum, stand in Moses’ footprints, and gasp at Petra among other incredible sights.
Price to be determined, $1000 refundable deposit required at booking
- Private professional Egyptian tour guide
- Eagle Eye Safaris photography guide
- Meet and assist at Cairo, Aswan, and Luxor airports, including hotel transfers
- 6 nights in Cairo, breakfast included
- Lunches during Cairo Day Tours
- Private Day tours and Entrance Fees to the sites mentioned, plus:
- Tour of the Great Pyramid
- Entry to the Mummies Hall at the Museum
- Entrance ticket for King Tut’s tomb
- 2-hour Sunset Camel ride
- Airfare to Luxor and from Aswan for the Nile cruise
- 4 nights full board Nile Cruise (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- Hot Air Balloon ride
- Felucca cruise
- Transportation on trip in a private van with a security guard
- Gratuities for security guard and driver (gratuities for guides not included)
- Bottled water in the vehicle
- Entry visa to Egypt ($25, cash only, USD)
- Optional tours/activities (ALL sites mentioned are included in the trip. Prices are typically $3-5 USD)
- Photography permits ($1-3 USD for some sites)
- Dinners in Cairo (6 nights)
- Drinks during meals (bottled water is provided in your rooms at the hotel and on the cruise, bottled water at meals must be purchased seperately)
- Gratuities (see the Gratuity Guidelines below)
- Personal purchases
- International Transportation
- Departure transfer to Cairo Airport is included as a group transfer on 6 only. Any single transfers or late transfers are an additional cost of approximately $50
- Anything not mentioned as included
Gratuity Guidelines (Tipping our local guides is mandatory. For everyone else, it is a personal choice. Our guidelines are suggestions, only. Please tip as you feel service warrants):
- Egyptian Guides (mandatory): $10 -20/day
- Restaurant servers: 10-15%
- Ship staff: $15-20/day (approx. $75-100; this is split between the entire ship staff)
- Felucca staff: $5-10; they will also have authentic handmade items for sale during the sunset cruise
- Hot Air Balloon captain: $10-20
- Egyptian people you request to photograph: $1
TOTAL GRATUITIES: $250 – 350
NOTE: Egyptians will hand out toilet paper and expect a tip at restrooms. It is not necessary to tip if you bring your own paper; otherwise, tip 1-2 Egyptian pounds. Please check the exchange rate. One pound is approximately .06c (16 pounds – $1 USD)
Additional Notes: There is an ATM at the hotel, and you can also use the ATM at the airport. Most vendors accept USD but your exchange rate will be better at an ATM. Please know the exchange rate for Egyptian Pounds before you arrive.
Bargaining is expected in Egypt. Start at about ½ the price and expect to pay 60-75% of the asking price. Walk away if you don’t like the price. The vendor will often follow you, dropping the price dramatically the closer you get to the van.
Egyptian cotton is now grown and milled in China. It is still amazingly soft, but no longer a bargain in Egypt.