Treasures of Egypt
Cairo, Luxor, Aswan & Nile Cruise plus Sharm el Sheikh optional extension
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Once again, Friendly Planet is defying skyrocketing travel prices to bring you a fantastic, truly first class Egypt vacation deal fit for a pharaoh. You'll see the famous Sphinx & Pyramids at Giza, the temples at Luxor & Edfu, King Tut's tomb, Old Cairo & much more. Plus, enjoy 7 nights on a luxury cruise on the Nile aboard the 5-star M/S Tulip cruise ship! Roundtrip flights, transfers, touring, and many meals are also part of this fabulous vacation package. But, hurry to reserve your spot on tour as space is limited and sure to sell out quickly!
Itinerary at a Glance
Day 2: Cairo. Arrival in Cairo, where East and West come together in a wonderful and chaotic mix of old and new. You'll be met by our representatives and transferred to your centrally located 5-star hotel overlooking the Nile.
Enjoy time to explore Cairo independently or rest from your flight and enjoy the facilities at your hotel. This evening, join your fellow travelers for an optional dinner at the Felafel Restaurant ($65). Accommodations: Cairo Sheraton on Jan & Feb, 2011 departures, Ramses Hilton on all others.
Day 3: Cairo, Pyramids & Sphinx. This morning, after a well deserved rest and breakfast, your guide will escort you on a fascinating tour of the most famous of all sites in Egypt—the Pyramids at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo. These monuments have stood for 46 centuries.
The oldest and biggest of the three, the Pyramid of Cheops, was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, and was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World—the only one still in existence. The Great Pyramid contains nearly 6 million tons of rock and was originally covered with smooth casing stones, fit together with stunning precision.
Nearby, the Sphinx, a feline character with the body of a lion and the face of Khufu (Cheops in Greek) is 50 meters long and 22 meters high. Carved from a single stone, it lies just before the Pyramids, and even today its meaning and origin remain shrouded in mystery.
Your next stop is Old Cairo, where you'll see the Alabaster Mosque and the Citadel of Saladin, built on the remains of a Crusader-style fortress. Continue to the world-famous Khan El Khalili bazaars, where the sights, sounds, spices and exotic clothing and jewelry, hand-hammered copper, ceramic ware and other treasures await your deft bargaining to win them at astounding prices. Breakfast provided.
Day 4: Cairo & Aswan. This morning, you'll take a short flight to Aswan, the gateway to Africa for the ancient Egyptians. Originally called "Sain" from "sanite", the red granite extracted form its quarries, Aswan became a hub of trade in spices, leather, ivory, fruit, grains, baskets and mummified and living crocodiles.
After lunch aboard your cruise ship, enjoy a tour by felucca (a small, swift Egyptian sailboat) around Elephantine Island, once the center of modern Aswan. As you sail, you'll see the magnificent Botanical Gardens of Lord Kitchener and the Aga Khan Mausoleum.
Later, set out on today's included sightseeing tour of the highlights of Aswan, including the High Dam, which controls the Nile and is a major source of hydroelectric power in Egypt. Also, visit the granite quarries where a huge, cracked obelisk will clearly demonstrate how the giant stones were carved from rock. Accommodations: M/S Tulip. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 5: Aswan, Kom Ombo & Edfu plus Abu Simbel optional tour. After breakfast this morning, take advantage of a special optional tour to Abu Simbel, the site of the Great Temple of Ramses II and one of the most magnificent of all temples in Egypt.
Abu Simbel Optional Tour is $265/person, if reserved and prepaid. Space is limited and we cannot guarantee availability once you arrive in Egypt, so we strongly recommend booking in advance.In the afternoon, sail north to Kom Ombo, where in ancient times sacred crocodiles basked in the sun on the river bank. Your sightseeing begins at the Temple of Kom Ombo, shared by the two gods Sobek and Haroeris. The building has a unique double design, with two symmetrical sides (inluding courts, halls, sanctuaries and rooms) honoring the two gods. These Ptolemaic temples overlook the Nile and feature fascinating drawings on the walls, including detailed drawings of surgical instruments. Board your ship and continue sailing north toward Edfu. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 6: Edfu, Esna & Luxor. Enjoy a full day at leisure aboard the ship as you make your way back to Luxor via the Esna Lock. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 7: Luxor. Luxor was the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, the great capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom, and the city of the God Amon-Ra.
In 1580 BC, Pharoah Ahmos drove the invading Hyksos from Lower Egypt, and Luxor gained in stature and wealth, becoming a grand city of luxurious palaces, huge temples, large gardens, as well as an important diplomatic and trade center of the ancient world.
Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open air museum". The ruins of the Karnak and Luxor temple complexes stand within the modern city, and across the Nile River lie the monuments, temples and tombs on the West Bank Necropolis, including the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.
After breakfast, disembark and board your touring coach to visit the West Bank of the Nile and the Valley of the Kings. For nearly 500 years (16th–11th century B.C.), pharaohs and powerful nobles were buried here, in at least 63 royal tombs that were hewn into walls of the valley, some into the sheer rock.
The area has fascinated and attracted outsiders since at least Roman times (one tomb contains graffiti from visitors in 278 B.C.).
Archaeologists and Egyptologists have labored here since the eighteenth century, continually uncovering more long-lost chambers, including the famous tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.
Next, you'll visit the Colossi of Memnon, two massive seated statues depicting Amenhotep III that are 3,400 years old. The colossi stand about 60 ft tall and weigh about 700 tons each, made from quartzite sandstone quarried near Cairo over 400 miles away. Continue to the impressive Deir El Bahari mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, an architectural wonder built into a looming cliff face.
Tonight, join an optional excursion to a spectacular Sound and Light Show at the Karnak Temple ($39 per person). Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 8: Luxor & Esna. This morning; head to the East Bank of the Nile to visit the Temple of Karnak, one of the most overwhelming monuments of the Pharaonic legacy, and the Luxor Temple, strikingly graceful and added to over the centuries by Tutankhamun, Ramses II, Alexander the Great, and others. Sail to Esna. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 9: Esna & Edfu. Today, your cruise ship sails from Esna to Edfu. As you travel south, you will have an opportunity to view rural life in Egypt. The crops, methods of farming, animals and irrigation systems have changed little from 4,000 years ago. Here you best appreciate the fascinating contrast of ancient and modern ways of life, which coexist in Egypt and make it one of the world's most interesting of travel destinations.
Arrive at Edfu and proceed to the Temple of Edfu, the second largest temple in Egypt (after Karnak) and one of the best preserved. The temple, dedicated to the falcon god Horus, was built in the Ptolemaic period between 237 and 57 BCE. The inscriptions on its walls provide important information on language, myth and religion during the Greco-Roman period in ancient Egypt. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 10: Philae & Aswan. All the fantastic facilities of the ms Tulip are available to you as you spend a day sailing toward Aswan and enjoying the glories of the Nile!
In the early evening, join an optional tour to the Philae Temple which for centuries was the holiest site for Isis worshippers. The temple was officially closed down in the 6th century A.D. by the Byzantine emperor Justinian and was the last pagan temple to exist in the Mediterranean world. After the construction of the Aswan Dam, the half-submerged temple complex was completely dismantled and rebuilt to the original orientation on the nearby island of Agilika, which rises higher from the water and has been reshaped and landscaped to resemble the original Philae. Metal pylons on the old island of Philae can still be seen rising from the water to the south of Agilika ($50 per person). Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 11: Aswan & Cairo. Disembark today and transfer to the airport for your flight to Cairo. After you arrive in Cairo, visit the Egyptian Museum, where you'll see, among other treasures, the priceless antiquities of Tutankhamun's tomb. Evening at leisure. Accommodations: Cairo Sheraton on Jan & Feb, 2011 departures, Ramses Hilton on all others. Breakfast provided.
Day 12: Cairo/USA. Today you'll be escorted to the airport as you bid farewell to Cairo and board your return flight to the USA. Or take advantage of your already-included international airfare and join our optional extension to Sharm el Sheikh. Breakfast provided.
Sharm el Sheikh Optional Extension
Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare...
Day 12: Cairo & Sharm el Sheikh. Today you'll be escorted to the airport for your flight to Sharm el Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula on the shores of the Red Sea.
Though little more than a fishing village a few decades ago, Sharm el Sheikh is today a trendy resort town, popular for its beautiful beaches, dramatic landscapes and temperate climate.
But it's most famous for its spectacular scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities, with some 250 different coral reefs, a thousand species of colorful fish, and clear warm water. On land, you'll find upscale resorts, colorful handicraft stands of the local Bedouin, and a lively nightlife. Your hotel is ideally located near the beach and other attractions.
The balance of the day is at leisure to enjoy the facilities of your hotel and the surroundings. Accommodations: Coral Sea Holiday Village. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 13: Sharm el Sheikh. The day is at leisure to relax in the beautiful area. Or you may choose one of the many optional activities offered locally. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 14: Sharm el Sheikh & Cairo. Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Cairo. Upon arrival, you will be transfered to your hotel. Enjoy your last day in Cairo for shopping and independent exploration. Accommodations: Cairo Sheraton on Jan & Feb, 2011 departures, Ramses Hilton on all others. Breakfast provided.
Day 15: Cairo/USA. Today you'll be escorted to the airport as you bid farewell to Cairo and board your return flight to the USA.
Discounted Optional Tours Package
To take full advantage of your visit to Egypt, we offer several optional tours to other "must see" sites. These are not "seat in coach" tours that pick up passengers in various hotels. All the optional tours are operated for Friendly Planet groups only.
Optional Tours Package includes:
- Dinner at Felafel Restaurant at the Ramses Hilton
- Sound & Light Show at Karnak Temple
- Half-day guided tour of the Philae Temple
These optional tours are available for the special package price of $145/person when booked and prepaid prior to departure. When purchased individually in Egypt, these tours cost $154 per person. We regret that we cannot accept bookings for the pre-paid optional tours package within 75 days from departure or after final payment has been received.