Egypt’s Ancient Desert

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Explore the intriguing history of this ancient land while walking among the legendary pyramids and temples. Sail the famous Nile River on a four-night river cruise and take in the fascinating West Bank’s Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. Experience the stunning rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel. Take in Coptic Cairo and Khan El Khalili’s warren of shops.

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Egypt Luxury Tour Packages

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Price starts at 950.00 Land per person, per day, double occupancy.

TOUR LENGTH

11

Tour Highlights/Full Description

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  • Explore the intriguing history of this ancient land while walking among the legendary pyramids and temples
  • Travel the fabled Nile River on a four-night river cruise on the Oberoi Philae Nile Cruiser
  • Discover the West Bank’s Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, home to many of the tombs of the rulers and nobles from the New Kingdom
  • Encounter the stunning rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel that date back to the reign of King Ramses II
  • Venture into Cairo to discover the famous 4th and 5th century Suspended Church (Hanging Church),  the Synagogue of Ben Ezra, and Khan El Khalili’s warren of shops

 

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Day 1: Cairo, Egypt
Welcome to Egypt. Arrive at Cairo International Airport, where you are greeted and assisted through passport and customs formalities before transferring to your hotel. Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel

 

Day 2: Cairo
After breakfast, join your guide to begin your exploration of the fascinating Pyramids of Giza. The intriguing history of Egypt is powerfully evoked in the fabled pyramids. Rising from the desert, Khufu (Cheops), Khafra, and Menkaura symbolize the enigmatic tug of Egypt on our imaginations. The Great Pyramid of Cheops immortalizes the son of Sneferu and Hetepheres. Though little is known of this Pharaoh, his monument is the largest of the three. It is comprised of 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing an average of 2.5 tons. The Pyramid of Cheops is the oldest of the Giza Pyramid Complex, bordering El Giza, Egypt. It is also the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one to remain largely intact. There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished: the so-called Queen’s Chamber and King’s Chamber, which contains a granite sarcophagus. Finally, you enter the grand structure to experience the chamber of the kings. Visit the colossal statue of the Great Sphinx, which has stood guard over the pyramids for more than 4,500 years. Carved from an outcrop of rock, the Sphinx remains the ultimate symbol of Ancient Egypt with its lion’s body and a human head. The history and the lifestyle of ancient Egyptian pharaohs come alive before your eyes through the professional narrations of our specialist guide.  Enjoy lunch at 9 Pyramids Restaurant before moving to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). Grand Egyptian Museum is currently one of the most significant museum development projects in the world. Given the global interest in pharaonic history, Egyptians are eagerly anticipating the arrival of this new cultural destination in 2021. In February 2002, the foundation stone for the museum was laid. The land area is 470.974 m2, divided into a central museum and conference center building with an area of 133.282 m2, auxiliary facilities encompassing 34.014 m2, and landscaping covering some 303.678 m2. Return to your hotel. Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel (B, L)

 

Day 3: Cairo / Luxor
After breakfast, check out of your hotel, you are transferred to Cairo domestic airport for your flight to Luxor, once known as ancient Thebes. First, discover the West Bank of Luxor and begin with Ramesseum, a memorial or mortuary temple for Pharaoh Ramesses II. Ramesseum. The king called his temple “Temple of Millions of Years of User-Maat-Ra,” which was one of his titles that means ‘the Power of the Justice of Ra.’ The temple’s construction continued from the beginning of Ramses II’s reign until the 22nd year. But not long after the end of the New Kingdom, the king was stripped of its wealth by hungry citizens, and its buildings were used as quarries to construct other monuments. Tombs for major and minor court officials were put into its bedrock; small shrines were built from its stones, and a Christian church was built within the ruins. The entrance to the temple is a narrow doorway in the northeast corner of the enclosure wall. The huge First Pylon, now severely damaged, is 67 meters/220 feet wide and initially about 24 meters/79 feet high. Similar to the scenes of other monuments of Ramses II, those of the Ramesseum depict the wars of the king against the Hittites. The Tombs of the Nobles encompass several distinct areas on the West Bank. These areas are primarily set in five different regions. Further north is an area known as el-Tarif, where large, row tombs were dug during the late Second Intermediate Period and the early Middle Kingdom. Just south of el-Tarif is Dra Abu el-Naga is a hillside with about 80 numbered tombs. Most belonged to priests and officials of the 17th through 20th dynasties. Just southwest of Dra Abu el-Naga is an area called El-Assasif, where 40 tombs, mainly from the New Kingdom and later, are located. Just south of El-Assasif is El-Khokha, a hill with five Old Kingdom tombs and 53 numbered tombs from the 18th and 19th dynasties. Finally, directly west of El-Khokha is Sheikh Abd el-Qurna. This hill was named for a mythical Muslim sheikh and had 146 numbered tombs, most of which are from the 18th dynasty. Here, one finds some of the most beautiful private tombs on the West Bank. The name Madint Habu is commonly given to the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, an important New Kingdom period structure in the same name on the West Bank of Luxor in Egypt. Aside from its intrinsic size and architectural and artistic importance, the temple is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea Peoples during the reign of Ramesses III. Deir el-Medina is an ancient Egyptian village home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom period (ca. 1550–1080 BC). The settlement’s ancient name was Set Maat, “Place of Truth.” During the Christian era, the temple of Hathor was converted into a church from which the Arabic name Deir el-Medina (“the monastery of the town”) was derived. After your day’s exploration, you are transferred to your hotel. Sofitel Old Winter Palace Hotel (B)

 

Day 4: Nile River Cruise
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and transfer to your Nile River cruise ship. Settle in, relax and enjoy lunch on board. Today you visit the Karnak temples and Luxor temples on the East Bank. The temple of Luxor is close to the Nile River and parallel with the riverbank. King Amenhotep III, who reigned during 1390-53 BC, built this beautiful temple and dedicated it to Amon-Re, king of the gods, his consort Mut, and their son Khons. This temple has been in almost continuous use as a place of worship up to the present day. It was completed by Tutankhamun and Horemheb and added to by Ramses II. Towards the rear is a granite shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great. Then on to the Temple of Karnak, the largest temple in the world! The complex contains a group of temples such as the Great Temple of Amon Ra, Temple of Khonso, Ipt Temple, Temple of Ptah, Temple of Montho, and Temple of the God Osiris. A 20-meter/66-foot high, mud brick enclosure wall surrounds all the buildings. This great Temple of Amon Ra was known during the Middle Kingdom period as Ipt-Swt, meaning the Selected Spot. It was also called Pr-Imn, the House of Amon. The name Al-Karnak in Arabic was derived from Karnak, which means fortified village. Oberoi Philae Nile Cruiser (B, L, D)

 

Day 5: Nile River Cruise
Today you uncover the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the temple of Queen Hatshepsut at El-Deir El-Bahari, and the Colossi of Memnon. The Valley of the Kings consists of the East Valley, where you find most of the tombs of the New Kingdom Pharaohs, and the West Valley, which has only one tomb open to the public, the tomb of Ay, who succeeded Tutankhamun to the Egyptian throne. The temple of Queen Hatshepsut of Dynasty XVIII was built just north of the Middle Kingdom temple of Mentuhotep Nebhepetre in the bay of cliffs known as Deir el-Bahri. In ancient times the temple was called Djeser-djeseru, meaning the ’sacred of sacreds.’ The style of the earlier temple undoubtedly influenced it at Deir el-Bahri, and Hatshepsut chose to site her temple in a valley sacred to the Theban Goddess of the West. Still, more importantly, it was on a direct axis with Karnak Temple. The Colossi of Memnon are two giant ruined statues, around 17m high, once stood at the entrance gate of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, though very little of the temple behind them remains today. They were cut from two massive granite blocks, brought from quarries near Cairo, and carved to represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III of Dynasty XVIII. The Valley of the Queens is located near the Valley of the Kings, on the Nile west bank across the Thebes (modern Luxor). A barren area in the western hills, chosen for its relative isolation and proximity to the capital. Kings of the 18th dynasty, instead of the traditional building of pyramids as burial chambers (perhaps because of their vulnerability to tomb robbers), now chose to be buried in rock-cut tombs. Sail on to Esna. Oberoi Philae Nile Cruiser (B, L, D)

 

Day 6: Nile River Cruise
Enjoy breakfast on board as you sail to Edfu to visit the Temple of Horus. The site of Edfu was known as Wetjeset-hor, its classical name Apollinopolis Magna, the place where the God Horus was worshipped and where the battle between Horus and his traditional enemy Seth in ancient mythology took place. It is the most well-preserved temple and the only one known to have been completed. The huge Ptolemaic temple, built from sandstone blocks, was constructed over a smaller earlier temple, oriented east to west, towards the river.
Sail to Kom Ombo to encounter a temple shared by two gods Sobek & Haeroris, in Kom Ombo. The Temple of Kom Ombo stands on the East Bank of the Nile, about four kilometers/almost 2.5 miles from town. It was dedicated to two Gods, Horus and Sobek. It was mainly dedicated to the God Sobek, the crocodile God, together with his wife in the form of the Goddess Hathor. The temple is of Greco-Roman structure, dating back to 119 BC, when Ptolemy VI, who started the construction, built it out of limestone. Overnight in Kom Ombo. Oberoi Philae Nile Cruiser (B, L, D)

 

Day 7: Nile River Cruise
This morning you sail to Aswan to discover the High Dam and the Temple of Philae. The Temple of Isis in Philae is one of the most remarkable temples in Egypt, and it occupies about a quarter of the island. The main temple on the island has vast, complete pylons and beautiful scenes built in the style of the New Kingdom, with other elements, which appear in the Greco-Roman period, such as the Mamisi (the House of the divine birth of Horus) and a Nilometer. Unfortunately, it was submerged after the first Aswan dam was built in 1906. The High Dam of Aswan was one of the most significant achievements of the last century in Egypt, a symbol of the New Era of the Revolution of 1952. It provided Egypt with water and electricity and secured the country from the risk of the destructive inundation of the River Nile. Visit the botanical garden by felucca boat. Oberoi Philae Nile Cruiser (B, L, D)

 

Day 8: Aswan
This morning join your guide for a special tour in Aswan to see Noble’s tombs, Kalabsha Temple, Nubian village, and the International Museum of Nubia, dedicated to Nubian culture. The Nubian Village is located on an island. The origin of the name of the island remains a mystery. First, it was called Khnum (khnemu), but it has been known as the Elephantine Island since the Greek era. Some historians suggest the name came from an elephant market there, while others say it was named for large boulders in the river near the island that resembled bathing elephants. The island is also famous for its Nubian villages. Nubians are the ancient inhabitants of this region.  The riverscape of Aswan is dominated by the sand-covered hills of the West Bank, which is strewn with rock-cut tombs of high-status officials of the Old and Middle Kingdom. At the crest of the hill is the domed tomb of a Muslim prophet which gives the hill its local name, Qubbet el-Hawa or ‘Dome of the Winds.’ At the northern end of the tomb area and a steep climb up several flights of stone steps leads to the cemetery’s upper level, some six or seven tombs are open to visitors. The guide will usually begin at the southern end of the upper level, where the most exciting tombs can be seen. These ancient tombs are roughly cut from the natural rock, and though they are not as well preserved as some of those to be visited in the Luxor or Cairo areas, they are well worth seeing. Tombs of this period are usually relatively inaccessible in most places south of Cairo. They offer fine examples of hieroglyphic texts detailing their owners’ careers and scenes of daily life in the earlier periods. Many of the tombs are linked together as family members added their chambers. Kalabsha Temple was situated on the West Bank of the Nile River in Nubia and was initially built around 30 BC during the early Roman era. While the temple was constructed in Augustus’s reign, the temple was never finished. The temple was a tribute to Mandulis (Merul), a Lower Nubian sun god. It was constructed over an earlier sanctuary of Amenhotep II. Due to the quantities of material recovered from tombs, temples, and settlements, UNESCO was encouraged in the 1980s to plan a new Nubian Museum in Aswan where the objects could be stored and exhibited. However, it was universally felt that they should be kept as close as possible to their principal places of origin. Nearly twelve years later, the museum became a reality and opened its doors in November 1997. It was designed by the late Egyptian architect Mahmoud al-Hakim, and Mexican architect Pedro Vasquez Ramirez designed the museum’s interior display. After the tour, you will be transferred to your hotel. Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel (B,L,D)

 

Day 9: Aswan / Abu Simbel / Cairo
Today to take a morning flight to Abu Simbel and, upon arrival, start your tour by visiting the temple of Ramses II & Queen Nefertari. The temples of Abu Simbel are among the most interesting pharaonic temples. Located close to the southern border with Sudan, it is 280 km south of Aswan and consists of two rock-cut temples, both dating back to the reign of King Ramses II (1290-1223 BC). Unfortunately, these unique temples suffered from the rising water of Lake Nasser while the High Dam was being built. They serve as a lasting monument to king Ramesses II. His wife Nefertari and children can be seen in smaller figures by his feet, considered to be of lesser importance and not given the same scale position. This commemorates his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir. The relocation of the temples was necessary, or they would have been submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam. The project was carried out as part of the UNESCO Nubian Salvage Campaign. Later, return to Cairo on an afternoon flight and check into your hotel. Four Seasons Nile Plaza hotel. (B)

 

Day 10: Cairo
After breakfast, meet your Egyptologist guide for a special tour at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC), which houses the world’s most extraordinary collection of pharaonic treasures. Take in the highlights, including the famed Tutankhamen Collection of golden treasures part of the museum’s expansive collections. Early in 2021, the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade moved 22 mummies to NMEC, including 18 kings and four queens, from the Egyptian Museum, which immediately became a notable historic event. Your guide will take you through the museum, sharing the history and importance of the artifacts and mummies. You continue to discover cultural landmarks that span three millennia of Egyptian history. Begin with the Citadel, commanding a complete view of the city. Completed in 1183, the Citadel was surrounded by sturdy walls and towers to withstand attacks from Christian crusaders. Inside, you shall see the lavishly decorated Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali. Continue to Coptic Cairo, where you visit the famous Suspended Church (Hanging Church), dating back to the late 4th and early 5th century. This Basilica was named “Al-Mu’allaqah” because it was built atop the south gate of the Fortress of Babylon. Next, continue to the Church of St. Sergius, a 5th century Coptic Church. Built on the cave, the Basilica is where the Holy Family stayed and is regarded by visitors as a source of blessing. As you stroll along, you come to the recently restored Synagogue of Ben Ezra, which marks the place where Moses was saved from the water by the daughter of the Pharaoh and is the oldest Jewish synagogue in Egypt built in 882 AC. Then stroll with your guide through the Khan El Khalili, a bustling warren of shops where you can bargain for rugs, copper and leather crafts, perfumes, and other goods both exotic and familiar. Then return to your hotel for the remainder of the evening at leisure. Four Seasons Nile Plaza (B)

 

Day 11: Cairo / Depart
After breakfast, you are transferred to Cairo International Airport for your flight home.

Land price, per person, double occupancy: Price starts from US$950 per person per day.

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