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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

EGYPT

Splendour on the Nile
A country of mythological proportion and one whose ancient civilization dates back as far as any that the world has seen, Egypt is a land of mystical beauty and incomparable legacy.

We tour the world-famous historic highlights, like the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, now symbols of the country's mystery and glory, the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, which allows incredible opportunities for close-up exploration inside pyramid tombs, the colossal, 1,500-year-old Karnak Temple, with its tremendous pylon gateway near the Avenue of 1,000 Sphinxes that originally ran all the way to Luxor temple, and the bounties of the world's longest river; the Nile.

Donkey-rides on stony pathways, camel treks through the desert and street tours by horse-drawn carriage add an element of authenticity to the experience as we explore the ancient past and contemporary faces of this first-rate destination.
GALLERY
ITINERARY
Day 1 • Arrive in Cairo
Today we arrive in Cairo.

Al-Qahira, literally "The Vanquisher" or "The Conqueror", is the capital of Egypt and the second largest city in the Muslim World, the Arab world and Africa and the 17th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life.

Overnight in Cairo.
Meal plan: Dinner
Day 2 • Cairo: Memphis & Saqqara, Great Pyramids & the Sphinx
We have an early start for a full-day day of sightseeing. We first travel to Memphis and Saqqara, chronologically the two most important sites in all of Egypt. Memphis was the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom (ca 2700-2180 BC), and Saqqara was used as a burial place for residents of Memphis including kings, princes and nobles. Our drive this morning takes us through the suburbs of Giza, past some small, colourful villages and plantations in the fertile Nile Valley. At the ancient city of Memphis we will see several statues in a garden-like setting, including the colossal statue of Rameses the Great.

From Memphis we travel a short distance to Saqqara, the ancient burial site. On the site, considered by many archaeologists to be one of the world's most important excavations, is the Step Pyramid, constructed by Imhotep in the 27th century BC. The pyramid began as a simple mastaba, or long, flat tomb building. Over the course of time, Imhotep added to this mastaba five times -- the pyramid eventually measured 62m (203 feet) in height!

After lunch we pay a visit to the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. Impressive in their grandeur, the pyramids are estimated to have been constructed over a period of 20 years using more than 100,000 labourers each year. The Great Pyramid of Cheops, constructed from over two million stone blocks, is 135m (443 feet) high! You may enter one of the pyramids through a long, narrow passageway and explore the deep inner chambers (extra fee applicable - ask your Tour Leader).

Later we visit the Sphinx. This feline-human was named by the Greeks because it resembled the mythical winged monster with a woman's head and lion's body. Legend has it that this "Sphinx" proposed a riddle to the Thebans and killed all who could not guess the correct answer! The Sphinx was carved from one solid piece of limestone and measures 50m (164 feet) in length and 22m (72 feet) in height.

Overnight in Cairo.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 3 • Cairo: Museum of Egyptian Antiquities & Coptic Cairo
This morning we visit the famous Museum of Egyptian Antiquities,* where we see some of Egypt's most beloved treasures. Among the 100,000 pieces housed on the museum's two floors is the famous exhibit of Tutankhamun whose tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. The tomb and treasures of this young Pharaoh, modest by Pharaonic Egyptian standards, is perhaps the best preserved of the discovered tombs. We also see archaeological relics from the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom and Greco-Roman periods. Our tour today is fully guided by our English-speaking guide. We also allow some time for you to explore the treasures on your own (Mummies Room extra fee: ask your Tour Leader for the current rate).

This afternoon we drive through the neat, tree-lined streets of the Garden City area to Coptic Cairo, the centre of Christianity in Cairo. We will walk the cobblestone streets and stop at a few of the churches, including that of Saint Sergius whose is presumed to have been the spot where the Holy Family lived during their flight into Egypt. The present building dates from the 11th century. As we stroll along we will come to the recently restored Synagogue of Ben Ezra, the oldest Jewish synagogue in Egypt. Despite the 45 Jewish families that remain in Cairo, the synagogue is no longer operational.

* A new museum is being built, though the opening date is as yet unclear (projected 'partial' opening in December 2018). As the move takes place, some items may not be on display in either location. Once the museum opens, it will become a part of this itinerary.

Overnight in Cairo.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 4 • Cairo - Fly to Aswan - The High Dam & Unfinished Obelisk
Another early start for our flight to Aswan in Upper Egypt.* Aswan is Egypt's sunniest southern city and an ancient frontier town. Small enough to walk around and graced with the most beautiful setting on the Nile, the pace of life in Aswan is slow and relaxing.

On arrival we'll take a trip to the the High Dam of Aswan. Constructed between 1960 and 1971, the High Dam collects and stores water over a number of years so that the annual Nile flood can be controlled. From here we will have a panoramic view of Aswan to the north and Lake Nasser to the south.

On our way back to town, we'll visit the 'Unfinished Obelisk'. The obelisk's creators began to carve it directly out of bedrock, but cracks appeared in the granite and the project was abandoned. The bottom side of the obelisk is still attached to the bedrock. The unfinished obelisk offers unusual insights into ancient Egyptian stone-working techniques, with marks from workers' tools still clearly visible as well as ochre-coloured lines marking where they were working.

You'll have some well-deserved time this afternoon for relaxation and independent exploration.

* NOTE: The actual order of our Aswan area sightseeing may vary depending on incoming flight schedules and other logisitical considerations.

Overnight in Aswan.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 5 • Aswan: San Simeon Monastery & Felucca Sail
This morning we will take a private boat across the River Nile to the west bank. From here we travel by camel across the sandy desert to the Christian Monastery of St Simeon. Before we begin this easy trek our Tour Leader and camel trainer will teach you the technique of riding a camel. This is a journey that can be undertaken by anyone at any age (one rider per camel). Our trek is about 45 minutes to the monastery, and then 15 minutes back to the riverbank. Those who prefer not to ride can travel by open truck to the monastery and meet up with the group there.

Dating from the 6th century, and in use until the 13th century, the Monastery of St Simeon is one of the best-preserved Christian sites in Egypt. Inside we will see the chapel, living quarters, kitchen and dining areas, wine press, bake area and storerooms. On our tour we will also see the remains of some Coptic frescoes -- depictions of Christ and saints as well as many geometric patterns.

We then return to the banks of the Nile and re-board our boat and ride among the islands dotting the Nile. Up the hill, above the river, is the Mausoleum of the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismailis, a Shi'ite sect based principally in India but with followers around the world. The tomb is an elegant pink granite structure of late 1950 origin.

The main island in the middle of the Nile is called Elephantine Island because many of the rocks look like elephants bathing in the Nile. On the west side of the river is the beautiful Kitchener's Island, where we will have time to stroll through the rich botanical gardens with trees, plants, and bushes.

Later this afternoon we have a leisurely sail on a felucca, a traditional sailing vessel used for centuries for carrying goods and passengers along the Nile.

Overnight in Aswan.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 6 • Aswan: Abu Simbel & Nile Cruise Embarkation
A pre-dawn departure by road (+/- 3 hours, each way)* takes us south from Aswan across the Western Desert to Nubia, or the "Land of the Gold". Our destination this morning is the impressive Abu Simbel -- the imposing rock temples of Rameses II and his queen, Nefertari.

We have a guided tour of this site, including the interior of the colossal temples. The Temple of Rameses II, with its immense statues of the Pharaoh seated on his throne, is one of the classic images of the power of the Pharaohs. Inside the temple you will see well-preserved wall decorations and several murals. There is a wonderful relief of Rameses presenting captives to various gods, including himself! We also gain insight into the reconstruction process by visiting the interior of the artificial mountain. Return by road to Aswan where we check-in to our Nile River cruise in time for lunch on board.

Later this afternoon we will attend the Sound & Light Show at Philae Temple. The temple is situated on an island, and we have to take a boat to get to the site. It is a good idea to have a small flashlight with you.

* We choose to travel by road instead of flying as the schedules tend to be rather restrictive and not allow enough time at the site (much time is taken up by check-in, security, boarding, transferring etc). Driving frees us from this inconvenience and adds flexibility, plus allows us to see the High Dam en route. Departing very early ensures that we are at the site at the optimal time for photography; later in the morning, shadows fall across the temple making
conditions less than ideal.

Overnight Nile Cruise.
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 7 • Nile Cruise: Kom Ombo
This morning is free for optional activities: ie Nubian Village visit, Nubian Museum, Philae Temple-by-day (these activites are all around US$25-30 per person, payable locally).

Around lunchtime, our ship departs and makes its first stop at the Temple of Kom Ombo. In ancient times, Kom Ombo was strategically important as a trading town on the caravan route from Nubia to Cairo. Kom Ombo, actually two temples in one, is dedicated dually to Haroeris (Horus) and Sobek, respectively the god of the sky and the crocodile-headed god. Here we are able to see the remains of a mummified crocodile. Crocodiles no longer exist in the Egyptian part of the River Nile, but in Pharaonic times they lived here in great numbers and were worshipped as gods!

Overnight on Nile cruise.
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 8 • Nile Cruise: Karnak Temple
This morning we visit one of the most fantastic archaeological sites in the world: Karnak Temple.

Karnak was built, added to, dismantled, restored, enlarged and decorated during its colourful history of over 1,500 years. At certain points in Egyptian history, this temple was the most important in all of Egypt. When we arrive at the temple you will be awed by the grandeur of the tremendous pylon gateway and the Avenue of 1,000 Sphinxes that originally ran all the way to the Nile and Luxor Temple! We will have a guided tour of the complex, massive by any standard.

During free time this afternoon, we suggest a visit to the excellent Luxor Museum and / or Luxor Temple.

Overnight on Nile cruise (docked at Luxor). NTS cruise (or similar).
Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 9 • Luxor: Cruise Disembarkation - Karnak Temple & Luxor Temple
Today we disembark our cruise and proceed to Karnak Temple for a guided visit.

Karnak was built, added to, dismantled, restored, enlarged and decorated during its colourful history of over 1,500 years. At certain points in Egyptian history, this temple was the most important in all of Egypt. When we arrive at the temple you will be awed by the grandeur of the tremendous pylon gateway and the Avenue of 1,000 Sphinxes that originally ran all the way to the Nile and Luxor Temple! We will have a guided tour of the complex, massive by any
standard.

After our visit, we check-in to our Luxor hotel and enjoy a break before our evening visit to Luxor Temple. The temple was dedicated to the Theban Triad of Amun, Mut, and Chons and was built during the New Kingdom, the focus of the annual Opet Festival, in which a cult statue of Amun was paraded down the Nile from nearby Karnak Temple to stay there for a while, with his consort Mut, in a celebration of fertility. Luxor temple is considered one of the largest ancient Egyptian temple complexes situated on the eastern bank of the river Nile. At the entrance is a huge tower built by King Ramses II.

Overnight in Luxor.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 10 • Luxor: Valley of the Kings
Early this morning we cross the River Nile by boat to the West Bank where the wealth of antiquities is outstanding. On the other side we will meet our transport for our excursion into the Valley of the Kings.

Once in the isolated valley, dominated by large pyramid-shaped mountains, we will have a guided tour of three of the many tombs that are here.* The valley was the burial ground for kings throughout the New Kingdom. Note that some of the tombs have steep stairways and all are quite dark inside (you might find a pocket flashlight useful).

We then proceed to the funerary temple of Queen Hatshepsut -- the first woman to rule as pharaoh! We have a tour of this impressive complex, discovered in the mid-19th century and still under restoration.

After our tour we return by bus through the countryside back to the river and the East Bank.

Tonight you may choose to visit the Sound and Light show at Karnak Temple (optional).

* We do not include the tomb of King Tut, as it is very small and not very interesting, relatively speaking, but we allow time for you to see it if you wish (separate ticket).

Overnight in Luxor.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 11 • Luxor - Cairo
Today we fly back to Cairo and proceed to Islamic Cairo where we will tour the Citadel, begun by Saladin in the 12th century. Today the Citadel's buildings are mainly from the Ottoman period, and are truly grand. From the Citadel, actually a complex of three mosques and four museums, we enjoy an amazing view of Cairo spread beneath the hilltop. Here we will see the fabulous Mosque of Mohammed Ali, also known as the "Alabaster Mosque."

Overnight in Cairo-Heliopolis. Novotel Airport (or similar).
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 12 • Departure
Departure from Cairo.

RHLAH S'IDAH!
Meal plan: Breakfast

For detailed itinerary (PDF), click here
For hotel samples, click here
INCLUSIONS
  • Breakfast and dinner are included daily; all meals on the cruise
  • All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary
  • Gratuities for drivers, restaurant staff, porters, local guides
  • Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving/departing on tour dates
EXCLUSIONS
  • Tour Leader gratuities, most lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international (if applicable) and domestic air taxes, visa fees, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'
  • Airport transfers for Land Only customers
  • Optional trip cancellation insurance
  • Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, not included meals, and visas
OUT FACTOR
Though homosexuality is not explicitly outlawed in Egypt, most of the population agrees that it is not acceptable. That said, many gay tourists travel to Egypt and there is an underground "scene" just about everywhere.

As an obvious visitor, you are likely to get plenty of commercial offers - "Want to try Egyptian banana?" - though such offers are best left alone, as authorities take a dim view of such things. As a "gay group", we are unlikely to attract any unusual or negative attention, provided we remember where we are and respect local sensibilities.
PLEASE NOTE
This itinerary is correct at time of publishing. For a more detailed itinerary, download a PDF here. We reserve the right to make changes as necessary due to reasons beyond our control. For booking terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Terms.
click here toBOOK NOW
TRIP NOTES
Group size
Maximum 18 plus Tour Leader
Staff & Support
Tour Leader, driver(s), and local step-on guides at various locations.
Accommodation
Hotel accommodation used on tour is on average, 4-star (some 5-star). Most properties have outdoor swimming pools. Single rooms are limited and possibly smaller than twins. The cruise vessel is very comfortable with full air-conditioning, twin-berth, outside cabins with en suite bath/toilet.
Transport & travel conditions
Over two weeks we travel by bus, felucca sailboat, luxury cruise boat, plane, donkey, and camel. Distances covered are not great and roads are generally good, despite the traffic. Our rating "Level 2" on this tour refers to its ambitious nature, full days, early starts, and plenty of time spent on your feet. Many sites visited are LARGE; surfaces are uneven and sloped, and stairs will factor into our visits. Heat can also be a factor in some locations which can, over time, cause fatigue. This is not an 'easy' tour; if you are unsteady or slow on your feet, rely heavily on a cane or any other mobility aid, or tire easily, we regret that this tour would not be suitable. Though baggage handling is available throughout, you must still be able to fully manage yourself and your things, especially at airports. Though Egypt has enjoyed a prolonged period of stability and our tours are operating on a "business as usual" basis, we encourage all travellers (as we do for any destination) to review online government advisories that provide guidance on, among other things, issues concerning security. We are presently very confident that your journey will be problem-free, and want to ensure that you feel likewise before choosing to join this trip.
Weather/seasonality
The most popular time for Egypt is fall/winter/early spring when temperatures are much more comfortable than the period May-September.

The following is a sampling of our preferred properties in some of the locations visited on this tour and is meant to be indicative only. Hotel properties are not confirmed until 30-60 days before trip date. You can click on the hotel photo to view the official hotel website (if available). For sample hotels in other locations on this tour, please contact us.

Le Meridien Pyramids


Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Cairo
Country: Egypt

Offering pyramid views, this high-end hotel is 2 km from The Great Pyramid at Giza, The Grand Egyptian Museum and the Great Sphinx of Giza. Featuring views of the pyramids, the sophisticated rooms offer free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and desks.

Click here to visit hotel website

Movenpick Resort Aswan


Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Aswan
Country: Egypt

A 14-minute walk from Elephantine Island, this upscale resort hotel overlooking the River Nile is 2 km from Nubia Museum and 3 km from the ancient Unfinished Obelisk museum. The airy, elegant rooms with Egyptian-inspired decor feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, work desks, and minibars, as well as tea and coffeemaking facilities.

Click here to visit hotel website

Sonesta St George


Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Luxor
Country: Egypt

Welcome to five-star splendor on the banks of the Nile in a city of ancient pharaonic treasures, the Sonesta St. George Hotel Luxor redefines magnificent contemporary style. The hotel is luxurious, sophisticated and above all, elegant.

Come and enjoy a sweeping terrace with majestic views of the Nile, a grand entrance of polished marble and handsomely appointed furnishings with exquisite detail, a sumptuous health spa, an array of fine dining choices and every amenity to please the most discerning traveler. With the mystical Nile just a whisper away and the temples of Luxor and Karnak preserved in time, experience a city of fascinating antiquity and indulge in the rich splendor of the Sonesta St. George Hotel Luxor.

Click here to visit hotel website

Sonesta Nile Cruises


Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Luxor
Country: Egypt

This elegant Nile Cruise features deluxe accommodation with broad panoramic views, bathrooms with full-size bathtubs, Elevator on board and all modern conveniences. Enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool, experience the exciting nightlife in the ship’s discotheque or a relaxing massage treatment at the spa. Elegant amenities on the Nile Goddess cruise ship are delivered with deluxe touch of hospitality.

Click here to visit hotel website