A Modern Tour of an Ancient Civilisation
Duration: 10 days
Highlights: Cairo - Luxor - Cairo
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Day 1 - Arrive Cairo
Upon arrival at Cairo International Airport, you are met by your Tour Coordinator who assists you with immigration and obtaining your luggage. You are then transferred by air-conditioned vehicle to your centrally-located hotel where you are assisted with check in.
Overnight: The Four Seasons
Day 2 - Cairo
After breakfast at your hotel you are introduced to your Egyptologist to begin your exploration of the country. Start with a visit to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. Exhibiting over 120,000 objects in its 107 halls, the Museum of Antiquities boasts the world’s greatest collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts. Venture into the fascinating Mummies Room within the museum, housing eleven royal kings and queens of ancient Egypt, including the Great Ramses II; Egypt’s longest ruling pharaoh.
Enjoy lunch at the Naguib Mahfouz Restaurant at the heart of the Khan El Khalili Bazaar and after, visit the bazaar itself, reputed to be the largest bazaar in the Middle East. Originally founded as a watering stop for caravanserai in the 14th century, the bazaar has now grown to vast proportions. Wander through the labyrinth of narrow streets to find workshops and stalls selling all manner of things from woodwork and glassware to leather goods and perfumes.
Finally visit the restored historic house of Bayt Al-Suhaymi, the best example of a private house from seventeenth-century Egypt. Built in 1648 and extended in 1796, the building gives an insight into how people used to live during the Ottoman period, as well as demonstrating a lot about the art of the period. You’ll notice that the house is built around a sahn, in the center of which is a small garden with plants and palm trees. From here several of the fine mashrabiya windows in the house can be seen.
A dinner reservation has been made for you at Bait Al-Suhaymi.
Overnight: The Four Seasons
Meal Plan: B,L,D
Day 3 - Cairo
After breakfast, your day begins with a visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza which are the only present-day survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, built over 4,500 years ago as giant tombs for the mummies of the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, who were father, son and grandson. The pyramids are truly monumental in scale, with the largest, Khufu's, constructed from over two million blocks.
Nearby sits the enigmatic Sphinx with the body of a lion and the face of a man wearing a royal head cloth, which workers may have based on King Khafre to guard his enormous funerary monument. About a thousand years after the Sphinx was built, it was covered in sand until a young prince had a dream in which the Sphinx told him that if he cleared the sand away, he would become Pharaoh. This story is told on the Dream Stela that was placed between the Sphinx's paws by King Tuthmose IV.
Next your Egyptologist explains about the city that developed near the Pyramids to provide homes and shops for the construction workers. It is important to note that these were workers and not slaves - they were fed and watered well to ensure they had the strength to carry out heavy manual labour and they did not pay taxes. As workers, they were entitled to tombs near the King’s pyramid if they were to die at Giza. Recently, those tombs have been excavated and on a private tour, led by Dr Zahi Hawass (the archaeologist who led the original excavation) you get to discover them. No other guests will be visiting the tombs at the same time, making this a truly exclusive experience.
Lunch is served at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, visit the pyramids of Sakkara. Sakkara is the former necropolis (cemetery) for the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis and the place where the very first pyramids were built as tombs for kings. Instead of the smooth sides featured on other pyramids, the pyramids here feature six steps on the outside, representing the pharaoh's stepladder to heaven. Discover the famous Step Pyramid of King Zoser, the first pyramid ever built and the world's oldest freestanding stone structure. Admire the beautiful tomb art at Sakkara, which gives great insight into the lives of the ancient Egyptians.
Overnight: The Four Seasons
Meal Plan: B,L
Day 4 - Luxor
After a buffet breakfast at your hotel, transfer by private air-conditioned car to Cairo Airport to take your domestic flight to Luxor. Upon arrival at Luxor Airport transfer by private air-conditioned car to the Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau. Here you are welcomed by the reception staff.
Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau is a stunning dahabiya (traditional Egyptian sailing boat), available only for private charter.
Lunch is served on board and this afternoon you visit to the East Bank of the Valley of the Kings, with a choice of three of the below:
- Karnak Temple: Visit the Temple of Karnak, built more than a thousand years ago by generations of Pharaohs. The great Hypostyle Hall is an incredible forest of giant pillars, covering an area larger than the whole of Notre Dame Cathedral.
- Luxor Temple: Visit the strikingly graceful Temple of Luxor dedicated to the god Amun and which was once connected to Karnak via the Avenue of Sphinxes, almost three kilometers in length. Built by Amenhotep III in 1380 BC, the site was added to by later pharaohs. The temple enjoyed many celebrations, the most important being the Festival of Opet which lasted almost a month.
- Luxor Museum: Visit the informative and entertaining Luxor Museum. Displays of pottery, jewelry, furniture, statues and stelae were created by the Brooklyn Museum of New York. They include a carefully selected assortment of items from the Theban temples and necropolis. There are a number of exhibits from Tutankhamun, including a cow-goddess head from his tomb on the first floor and his funerary boats on the second floor. However, some of the real attractions include a statue of Tuthmosis III (circa 1436 BC) on the first floor, and 283 sandstone blocks arranged as a wall from the ninth pylon of the Karnak Temple.
- Sound & Light Show in Karnak Temple: Attend the Sound and Light Show at Karnak Temple, a fascinating walking tour through the history of the world’s largest-ever temple complex, narrated by the voices of the pharaohs. Shadows play off the enormous columns in the grand Hypostyle Hall, creating a mysterious effect.
Both afternoon tea and dinner are served on board.
Overnight: Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau in Luxor.
Meal Plan: B,L,D
Day 5 - West Bank of Luxor
After breakfast on board continue exploring the Valley of the Kings, a vast City of the Dead where magnificent tombs were carved into the desert rocks, decorated richly and filled with treasures for the afterlife by generations of Pharaohs.
Visit the West Bank, with a choice of three from the below:
- Valley of the Queens: There are between 75 and 80 tombs in the Valley of the Queens, or Biban al-Harim. These belong to Queens of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties. It is called the Place of Beauty by Egyptians and is where the Pharaohs’ wives and children were buried.
- Hatshepsut Temple: Rising out of the desert plain in a series of brilliant white terraces, the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut merges with the sheer limestone cliffs that surround it. Forming a natural rock amphitheater, the temple was an important religious and funerary site.
- Valley of Workers (Deir El Medina): Visit the remains of the self-contained village on the West Bank where the workmen who built the kings’ and queens’ tombs lived in mud brick houses with their families. The site gives archeologists a view of how urban people lived in ancient Egypt. You can also visit the tombs that the workmen created for themselves. Nearby is the Temple of Deir El Medina, from Ptolemaic times.
- Tombs of the Nobles: On the West Bank sit 400 tombs of Theban aristocrats, some of which you can enter. The tomb walls were white-washed and painted with murals of the nobles’ daily lives, making them quite different from royal tombs, where relief work focused on judgment and resurrection. Since the tombs were not sealed, some have deteriorated.
- Medinet Habu: The magnificent Medinet Habu is a series of temples built by the Pharaoh Ramses III (1182-1151 BC) and second only to Karnak Temple in size and complexity. The most impressive is the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III, decorated with relief work depicting his many military victories. With its massive mud brick enclosure that held storehouses, workshops, administrative offices and residences of priests and officials, Medinet Habu grew into a city that maintained its population well into Coptic times.
- Ramesseum Temple: The Ramesseum, the Mortuary Temple of Ramses II, was built early in the great pharaoh’s reign and was 20 years in the making. Here you’ll see the broken, awesome Colossus of Ramses II, a 1000-ton statue in which the fingers alone are over one meter long; it inspired the famous poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley. This great temple reportedly rivaled the wonders of Ramses II’s temple at Abu Simbel.
Lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are provided on board whilst you sail to Esna.
Overnight: Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau in Esna.
Meal Plan: B,L,D
Day 6 - Edfu Temple
Enjoy breakfast and lunch on board as you sail to Edfu.
Upon arrival, explore the extraordinary Temple of Horus. Despite being built by the Greeks, this impressive structure is the largest and most complete preserved Pharaonic temple in Egypt.
Afternoon tea and dinner are provided on board as you continue sailing to Kom Ombo.
Overnight: Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau in Kom Ombo.
Meal Plan: B,L,D
Day 7 - Kom Ombo
Following breakfast, visit the Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to the crocodile-god Sobek. The temple stands at a bend in the Nile where in ancient times sacred crocodiles basked in the sun on the riverbank.
Sail on to Aswan as you tuck into lunch on board.
You have the choice of two of the below visits in Aswan.
- Philae Temple: According to the Ancient Egyptians, the goddess Isis traveled all over Egypt gathering her husband Osiris’s remains after he was cut to pieces by his evil brother. On Philae Island, where she found his heart, the Egyptians built a sacred temple to Isis, goddess of purity, sexuality, nature and protection. During the building of the High Dam, Philae Island was submerged by water, so UNESCO helped transport the temple complex to nearby Agilika Island, where you see it today.
- Unfinished Obelisk: Visit this massive obelisk, which was abandoned in Aswan’s Northern Quarry when a crack was found as it was being carved from the red granite. Tools left behind show how builders accomplished such great work.
- Kalabsha Temple: The Temple of Kalabsha (also Temple of Mandulis) is an Ancient Egyptian temple that was originally located at Bab al-Kalabsha (Gate of Kalabsha), approximately 50 kilometers south of Aswan. The temple was situated on the west bank of the Nile River, in Nubia and was originally built around 30 BC during the early Roman era.
Afternoon tea and dinner are served on board.
Overnight: Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau in Aswan.
Meal Plan: B,L,D
Day 8 - Luxor- Cairo
Check out after breakfast and transfer to the airport where you board your return flight to Cairo via Aswan.
Upon arrival you are met and transferred privately to your hotel.
Dinner tonight is at one of Egypt’s finest restaurants on the River Nile; Pier 88 Nile River offers Italian fine dining set within the renowned Imperial Boat, on the banks of the river. Chef Giorgio Diana has received two Michelin stars for his Mediterranean menus which mix the traditional with the contemporary. The set menus with wine pairings provide a creative tasting that really spoil the senses.
Overnight: The Four Seasons Hotel.
Meal Plan: B,L,D
Day 9 - Cairo
After breakfast at hotel, your final day begins with a shopping experience in Egypt’s finest galleries.
You will have time to visit three of the below galleries in Cairo, depending on your interests.
Mounaya Gallery: Mounaya gallery displays an array of hand-made accessories, clothes, shoes, purses and more. Many of the items on sale here have been made by people under social confines, such as refugees and inmates. For those who are big on their brands, designer products are also available.
Gallery Alef: This hidden treasure is located on a quiet, tree-lined residential street in Zamalek, the fashionable island enclave of downtown Cairo. Gallery Alef is the brainchild of Naguiba Meyassar and her Paris museum-trained daughter, Louila Damerji. The shop sprawls over seven showrooms and 3,700 square feet of floor space and is ideal for anyone with an eye for high culture and regal luxury. Sheers and linens, cotton velvets, cotton satins and handwoven moiré, all made from the best Egyptian cottons, fill every corner of the cutting room.
Fair Trade Egypt: Located just off 26th of July Street, Fair Trade Egypt was opened in 1998 and is a great place to pick up quality souvenirs. It supports 34 artisan groups throughout Egypt and offers everything from glazed pottery to textiles, leather purses to traditional Egyptian dolls. Since it serves the Fair-Trade office as well as a store, you can also meet the staff, should you wish.
Azza Fahmy Jewellery: Azza Fahmy jewellery preserves techniques that were used thousands of years ago. Every piece is uniquely and intricately handcrafted. Here, the craftsman like to incorporate different cultures into wearable art and each piece of jewellery revolves around a central inspirational motif or poem that carries a personal message to its wearer.
Shahira Mehrez Gallery: Owned and run by Ms. Mehrez herself who began collecting peasant dresses from all over Egypt as a teenager. She started selling them in her apartment nine years ago and hence the business began. Her store now has the largest selection of such garments in Cairo. On display, you’ll find long, colourful dresses from the Nile Delta, heavy, black antique dresses from Sinai and Siwan dresses with their distinctive mother-of-pearl buttons.
Enjoy lunch at Crimson Bar and Grill is accompanied by the most impressive sunset over the River Nile. The name of the restaurant and the colours of the interior are influenced by and blended with the warm hues that drench the venue whenever the sun is setting. Food is both Mediterranean and American themed and the expertly-mixed cocktails are a refreshing way to end the day.
Transfer back to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight: The Four Seasons Hotel
Meal Plan: B,L
Day 10 - Depart Cairo
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and then transfer with your Tour Coordinator to Cairo Airport for your departure flight.
Note: The House of Cooking is an add on, or can replace the shopping day and lunch.
Join an expert chef for a cooking lesson at the House of Cooking. Learn about the variety of spices used in Moroccan cooking and the different ways of preparing Moroccan dishes. You’ll even learn generic knife skills other important cooking tips and techniques. Under the guidance of your professional, prepare a traditional starter, main and dessert before sitting down to savor the flavors of your creations.
Meal Plan: B