Summary : The Nile is Egypt, and along its banks you will discover the symbols of cultures that have captivated travelers for thousands of years. Egypt—where scientists, oracles and priests scanned the night sky, watched the fertile river and feared the barren desert that enveloped their land. Explore in depth the great sites of Egypt, from the Pyramids and Sphinx to the Valley of the Kings and Abu Simbel. See the monuments and art that have made Ancient Egypt a subject of fascination for millennia, and learn about contemporary life. From the great Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx, built some 4,500 years ago, to Karnak Temple in Luxor, added to by successive pharaohs over a 2,000-year span, to monumental Abu Simbel, built into a hill by Ramses II, to colorful artwork, you cannot fail to be moved by the things you see. This journey also includes access to difficult-to-visit sites.
Activities : Child-Friendly, Culture, Photography
$8,480 to $11,680
Fly overnight to Cairo, Egypt.
Arrive in Cairo and transfer to the Nile Ritz-Carlton, your home for the next two nights. The hotel has a prime location along the Nile in the heart of this great city, and your room will face the Nile (with the Pyramids visible in the distance, weather permitting).
This morning, you will tour the Egyptian Museum, which holds an almost endless collection of some of the greatest masterpieces ever crafted, including the treasures of Tutankhamun, the brightly painted limestone sculptures of Prince Rahotep and Princess Nofret, and the bizarre relief of Akhenaten. You’ll also see mummies of some of Egypt’s pharaohs.
Lunch is included at a local restaurant. This afternoon, explore Old Cairo, founded by the Romans long before the modern city arose. It’s known for its Coptic churches, including the 4th century “Hanging Church” and the Church of Abu Serga, which stands on the spot where the Holy Family is said to have rested. Then stroll through winding streets to the 1,000-year-old Ben Ezra Synagogue.
This evening, enjoy festive welcome drinks and dinner at your hotel.
This morning, board your private charter flight to Luxor, in Upper Egypt. You’ll then visit Karnak Temple, where for 2,000 years some 30 pharaohs added their own monuments and shrines. Karnak’s scale is vast. The 134 columns of the great hall create a forest of stone 70 feet high, while the towering obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut shadows the rear of the temple. The reliefs and carvings, created by some of Ancient Egypt’s finest artisans, are dramatic.
Embark Oberoi Philae, your home for the next six nights, in time for lunch.
Explore exquisite Luxor Temple, on the banks of the Nile. The temple is guarded by massive statues of Ramses II, and has magnificent pylons, columns and statues. It has been a place of worship for millennia, as attested to by the mosque that was built atop the site. In the late afternoon, continue to the Luxor Museum, which contains some of Egypt’s finest statuary, beautifully lit and displayed. Return to the ship for the evening.
This morning explore Luxor’s fabled West Bank. After stopping to see the Colossus of Memnon, travel through the desert to the Valley of the Kings. For four centuries, this area served as the burial ground for Egypt’s greatest pharaohs. Although not all the tombs are always open, there will be many to choose from, including those of Tutankhamon and Seti I (which require special permits, which will be obtained for you). Continue to the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Ramses II, whose toppled statue inspired Shelley’s poem Ozymandias.
Have lunch at a restaurant on Luxor’s West Bank, then continue your explorations. Special arrangements have been made to visit one of the most remarkable tombs of all—that of Nefertari, located in the Valley of the Queens. The tomb paintings are in vivid colors, show Nefertari’s beauty, and depict her journey to the afterlife. After your visit continue to the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, which lies in a dramatic setting beneath sandstone cliffs, and which contains wonderful interior reliefs that tell the story of the Queen’s expedition to the land of Punt.
This morning drive northward to visit the beautifully preserved temple of Dendera. It was constructed during the time of the Roman emperors, and the reliefs on the temple walls depict the empress Cleopatra. Also of note are the dramatic columns topped with images of the cow-headed goddess of love, Hathor.
Return to Luxor and in the afternoon sail south to Esna, transiting the Esna Lock. Life along the banks of the Nile is very much in the traditional manner, and you’re afforded a glimpse into Egyptian life through the centuries.
This morning visit Temple of Khnum at Esna. The part you can explore is small, in contrast to many of the other sites you visit, since much of the temple complex lies beneath the contemporary town of Esna and has not been excavated. The base of the temple sits well below street level, showing how much silt was deposited by the Nile’s annual floods. Explore the town of Esna on foot, to get a glimpse of small-town life in Egypt.
Continue sailing southward to the town of Edfu, and in the late afternoon visit Edfu Temple to view what’s considered to be the best-preserved monument of the Ancient World: the temple of Horus, the falcon god. Because the roof is intact, the play of light and shadow is much as it must have been during Ptolemaic times. The art and architecture here are extraordinary, and the statue of the god Horus as a falcon is iconic.
This morning sail to Kom Ombo, strikingly set atop a hill overlooking the Nile. Built during the Ptolemaic era, it is unique in being dedicated to two gods—hawk-headed Haroeris and crocodile-headed Sobek. It is richly decorated, and even has a hieroglyphic calendar. Return to your ship and sail on towards Aswan.
Aswan occupies a glorious location on the Nile, backed by hills, with granite rocks protruding from the riverbed and sailboats (called feluccas) plying the water. It is just downstream of the northernmost Nile cataract, which historically made it a frontier town and a center for trading with Nubia. This morning visit the lovely temple of Philae, located on an island in the river and dedicated to the goddess Isis, and the quarries where the famous pink granite was mined, where there is an unfinished obelisk from ancient times. Visit the fine Nubian Museum this afternoon, have high tea and enjoy your view of the Nile at the legendary Old Cataract Hotel, and sail on a felucca (traditional sailboat). This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner aboard Oberoi Philae.
This morning stop at the Aswan High Dam, then take a private charter flight to Abu Simbel, where you'll visit the two great temples built by Ramses II. When the Nile was dammed at Aswan, the temples were disassembled and moved, block by massive block, to higher ground. Take a private flight to Cairo and transfer to the Mena House Hotel, located at the foot of the Pyramids. The Mena House was originally built in 1869 as a hunting lodge for the Khedive Ismail, and also accommodated guests at the opening of the Suez Canal. Your room has a view of the Pyramids from your balcony. The rest of the day is yours to explore the pyramids independently, shop, or relax by the pool. Dinner is at the hotel.
This morning, visit Saqqara to see the Step Pyramid of the pharaoh Zoser, a revolutionary design that initiated the art of pyramid-building. See some of Egypt’s most charming wall paintings and reliefs, showing scenes of harvesting, fishing, music making and dancing.
After lunch, explore the Pyramids and Sphinx. Among the seven wonders of the ancient world, only the Pyramids of Giza have survived. The magnificent Pyramid of Cheops was built from over two million blocks of stone and took tens of thousands of workers twenty years to build. Nearby is the great Sphinx, carved out of a single massive piece of stone, showing the Pharaoh Chefren’s head on the body of a lion. You’ll have the chance to go inside the Great Pyramid, following the narrow passageway of the Grand Gallery to the burial chamber of Cheops. See the Solar Boat, built about 2500 BC and rediscovered in 1954, and you'll have the chance to ride a camel if you wish.
Tonight return to the Pyramids for the renowned Sound & Light show. As lights and shadows play on these great monuments, the narrative recounts their history. Dinner this evening will be on your own. The Mena House has several excellent restaurants to choose from, or you may go out if you wish.
Cairo is a treasure trove of great Islamic architecture and art, and this morning you’ll explore some of its greatest monuments, including the Ottoman-era Muhammad Ali Mosque, completed in 1848. It occupies a commanding position overlooking Cairo from atop the Citadel, and its five domes can be seen throughout the city. Continue to the elegant Ibn Tulun Mosque, which dates originally from 879 and which has preserved much of its original design. Then visit one of Cairo’s jewels: the Gayer-Anderson Museum, a house built in the 16th and 17th centuries that between 1935 and 1942 was the home of a British military officer who collected furniture, carpets and other objects. Have lunch at a local restaurant, them explore the Khan el Khalili bazaar, a maze of streets with thousands of shops selling everything from filigreed silverwork to camel saddles! This evening gather for a farewell reception, followed by dinner at the Mena House.
Transfer to the airport for flights home, or to Jordan for an optional extension.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary: 12/9/2018, 2/3/2019
Lindblad-National Geographic Certified Photo Instructor:
On all departures, a certified photo instructor will be at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. Take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera—point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
Post-Voyage Extension: Jordan
Beginning in Amman, Jordan’s modern capital, step into the past at the Roman ruins of Jerash, where one hundred years of excavation have unearthed only 1% of the city. Continue to Petra, the Nabatean city whose iconic rose-hued facades are carved directly into sandstone cliffs. In Madaba see the remarkable 6th-century mosaic map. Visit the Dead Sea as well, with a chance to float in its waters. 6 Days from $2,790 per person (10/28/2018–2/3/2019); 6 Days from $3,240 (9/29/2019–3/15/2020).
Transfers between airport and ship if booked on group flights; accommodations in hotels as per itinerary; shipboard accommodations; photography permits as available (photography is not allowed in some of the tombs); certified photo instructor; Wi-Fi onboard ship and in some hotels; meals on land as per itinerary; meals and non-alcoholic beverages onboard ship; most gratuities; excursions and entrance fees as per itinerary; taxes and service charges. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; meals not indicated; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; passport and visa fees; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, Internet where not included, laundry, etc.; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © Wolfgang Kaehler