18774
Egypt
Egyptian Odyssey: Cairo, the Nile and Lake Nasser
Join an Egyptologist to gain an insider’s understanding of this mysterious nation, learning about iconic sites, ancient communities and hidden treasures.
Program No. 18774RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
4,622
Flights start at
FREE
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15 days
14 nights
37 meals
13 B 12 L 12 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight

Afternoon: Depart on overnight flights to Cairo.

DAY
2
Arrival in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo-Pyramids Hotel

Afternoon: Arrive in Cairo and transfer to the hotel.

Evening: Check in at the hotel.

DAY
3
Orientation, Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the Solar Boat
Cairo
B,L,D
Cairo-Pyramids Hotel

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Led by your Egyptologist, explore the most renowned sites of Egypt: the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Solar Boat Museum. The pyramids of Giza are perhaps the only true rival to the Great Sphinx when one thinks of ancient Egypt and its architecture. The Valley of Giza-- with its wonderful monuments-- is truly a marvel of architectural prowess. The three largest pyramids located in the valley consist of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Kafhre and the Pyramid of Menkaura. Each pyramid is a tomb dedicated to a different king of Egypt. We will continue on to the Solar Boat Museum. The significance of the buried boat is still debated. The Pyramid Texts clearly state that at the end of the pharaoh's life on Earth, his soul ascends to the heavens in the solar barque to join his father Re. The arguments are about whether this boat was purely symbolic - part of the burial goods - or whether it was actually used in the funeral procession to transport the body of the king by river to his pyramid complex. While some scholars claim that there is evidence that the boat has been in water, Zahi Hawass points out that shavings of cedar and acacia found in the pit during excavation, indicate that it was probably built close to where it was buried. While the boat is of the right dimensions to be suitable as a river craft, no mast was found with the components. End the morning with a wonderful opportunity to see the sites from a great panoramic view point and experience a unique short camel ride.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy a presentation by a scholar from Cairo University Giza which will deepen your understanding of Egypt. Afterward, enjoy some free time to explore on your own or to relax. Please note this presentation might take place the day of arrival.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Fly to Abu Simbel via Aswan, board your Lake Nasser Cruise
Lake Nasser Cruise
B,L,D
Steigenberger Omar El Khayam

Breakfast: Boxed breakfast from the hotel.

Morning: We will depart the hotel early and transfer by coach to the airport for the flight to Aswan. In Aswan, take a morning discovery to the Philae Temple. Philae Temple is an approximate Greek rendering of the local name "Pilak" known from hieroglyphic texts and which may be Nubian in origin. The ancient Egyptians saw in their name for Philae an etymology with the meaning "island of the time [of Ra]", i.e. creation, but the islands history is later than that. What we refer to today as Philae is the main temple complex relocated from that island, after the High Dam was built, to the island of Agilika. It was the center of the cult of the goddess Isis and her connection with Osiris, Horus, and the Kingship, during the Ptolemaic period of Egyptian History. Transfer by coach to the airport for flight to Abu Simbel. Upon arrival, we will transfer to board the ship. Please note the morning discovery might take place on another day subject to Egypt Air scheduling.

Lunch: On board.

Afternoon: Enjoy some time this afternoon at leisure to settle in. Led by your Egyptologist, discover the Temple of Abu Simbel. Abu Simbel was first reported by J. L. Burckhardt in 1813, when he came over the mountain and only saw the facade of the great temple as he was preparing to leave that area via the Nile. The two temples, that of Ramesses II primarily dedicated to Re-Harakhte, and that of his wife, Nefertari dedicated to Hathor, became a must see for Victorians visiting Egypt, even though it required a trip up the Nile, and often they were covered deeply in sand, as they were when Burckhardt found them.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: Join your group leader for a walk to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience in Egypt with a spectacular Sound and Light Show at Abu Simbel which will convey you to the time of the pharaohs.

DAY
5
Kasr Ibrim, Amada, Wadi El Seboua
Lake Nasser Cruise
B,L,D
Steigenberger Omar El Khayam

Activity note: Today's activities include climbing some steps and getting in and out of small boats to ferry across to the temples.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will cruise to Wadi Es-Seboua. The local population calls this vast stretch of water The Nubian Sea, with its shoreline offering timeless desert landscapes, hilly and rugged, or flat and sandy with clean freshwater beaches. We will continue cruising, and view Qasr Ibrim from the sun deck. Prior to the construction of the High Dam south of Aswan, Qasr Ibrim stood on the highest of three headlands on the east bank of the Nile some 70 meters above the River. Today, it is usually an island, though at times the lake has revealed a land bridge joining the island to the shore. Today, this complex is the last on Lake Nasser prior to Abu Simbel, but visitors may only gaze upon it from the comforts of a Lake Nasser Cruise boat, as it is no longer accessible to explore, however, the Egypt Exploration Society does continue work on the site, as they have since 1959. Qasr is Arabic for "fort," so in English its name means Fort of Ibrim. Its name is ultimately derived from its ancient Meroitic name, Pedeme. In classical texts it was called Primis and in Coptic, Phrim, which was corrupted to Ibrim in Arabic. The exact origin of the site is really not known, though it may have originally been built up during the Middle Kingdom when the 12th Dynasty kings were establishing control of the trade route along the Nile. However, the earliest archaeological evidence for the site dates to about 1000 BC, considerably after the end of the Middle Kingdom. Obviously, its site so high above the Nile was recognized for its strategic importance early on and in fact there were fights for its possession throughout the centuries and even into modern times.

Lunch: On board.

Afternoon: We will take a tender to explore the Temple of Amada, which includes important historical inscriptions and is significant as the oldest of the Lake Nasser temples. One inscription carved on a stela on the rear wall of the sanctuary in the third year of Amenhotep II describes an Egyptian military campaign into Asia, and his bringing back the bodies of rebel chieftains to hang on the walls of Thebes and one on the prow of his ship sailing through Nubia as a warning. Another, carved on a stela on the northern side of the entrance doorway describes a Libyan invasion of Egypt in the fourth year of Merenptah, the son of Ramesses II.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Temple of Wadi El Seboua , Temple of Kalabsha, and Aswan
Lake Nasser Cruise
B,L,D
Steigenberger Omar El Khayam

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: Lake Nasser, the worlds largest man-made lake, is approximately 310 miles in length (1550 square miles) and, in places, can reach a depth of 600 feet. The lake was created in the 1960s when the world famous High Dam was built. It is named for Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of Egypt from 1956-1970. The southern third of the lake is in Sudan and is called Lake Nubia. We will cruise to Wadi Es-Seboua. The local population calls this vast stretch of water The Nubian Sea, with its shoreline offering timeless desert landscapes, hilly and rugged, or flat and sandy with clean freshwater beaches.

Lunch: Onboard.

Afternoon: We will cruise to Kalabsha. Kalabsha Temple originally built at Kalabsha (Talmis) was moved to its present location at New Kalabsha (Chellal) in 1970, together with other monuments from Nubia, the sandstone edifice was built by the Roman Emperor Octavius Augustus (30 to 14 BC) and dedicated to the fertility and Nubian Solar deity known as Mandulis (Merwel who was the Nubian counterpart of Horus). Please note the Temple of Kalabsha exploration might take place on the following another day.

Dinner: Onboard.

Evening: At leisure as we cruise to Aswan.

DAY
7
Aswan, The Unfinished Obelisk and Philae Temple
Nile River Cruise
B,L,D
Steigenberger Minerva

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will disembark and depart by coach with luggage for The High Dam of Egypt. Located near Aswan, the world famous High Dam was an engineering miracle when it was built in the 1960s. It contains 18 times the material used in the Great Pyramid of Cheops. The Dam is 11,811 feet long, 3215 feet thick at the base and and 364 feet tall. Today it provides irrigation and electricity for the whole of Egypt and, together with the old Aswan Dam built by the British between 1898 and 1902`, 6km down river, wonderful views for visitors. From the top of the two Mile long High Dam you can gaze across Lake Nassar, the huge reservoir created when it was built, to Kalabsha temple in the south and the huge power station to the north. Continue your morning with a discovery of the unfinished Obelisk, located in the Northern Quarry, and laying where a crack was discovered as it was being hewn from the rock. Possibly intended as a companion to the Lateran Obelisk, originally at Karnak, but now in Rome, it would have weighed over 2.3 million pounds and would have been the worlds largest piece of stone ever handled. However, a crack in the stone occurred, which caused it to be abandoned. Tools left by its builders have given us much insight into how such work was performed. The site has recently been renovated and equipped with tourist facilities. Nearby is the Fatimid Cemetery. Afterward, we will depart by coach to embark the ship.

Lunch: On board.

Afternoon: Enjoy some time this afternoon at leisure. We will depart by coach for the Nubia Museum. The Nubia Museum harbors the history of the "Land of Gold" as the word 'nubia' in the hieroglyphic language of ancient Egypt means the "Land of Gold." Hence, this land, over times, was abounding in monumental treasures. The museum hosts 3,000 monumental pieces. All pieces exhibited in the museum reflect the character of the Nubia over history and display how it merged with the Islamic civilization on one hand and the mother civilization of Egypt on the other. Spend part of the afternoon enjoying a uniquely Egyptian sailing experience on the Nile. Stop at Elephantine Island the largest of the Aswan area islands, and is one of the most ancient sites in Egypt, with artifacts dating to predynastic periods. This is probably due to its location at the first Cataract of the Nile, which provided a natural boundary between Egypt and Nubia. As an island, it was also easily defensible. In fact, the ancient town located in the southern part of the island was also a fortress through much of it's history. At one time, there was a bridge from the mainland to the island. Kitchener's Island is a botanical garden, filled with exotic plants and trees imported from all over the world. It is a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon in the shade. The island must be reached by boat, and is located on the other side of Elephantine Island from Aswan. The Island was given to Lord Kitchener for his campaigns in the Sudan, and he moved their and created his garden, importing plants and trees from all over the world.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Kom Ombo & Edfu
Nile River Cruise
B,L,D
Steigenberger Minerva

Activity note: Today's activities include walking around historic sites and a ride on horse drawn carriages (this could be substituted by bus ride). The terrain is uneven and there are up to 25 steps to climb at the entrance and ten at the exit. It could take up to two hours standing at each site in hot conditions and under the sun with no shade. The total amount of walking today could be up to one and a half miles round trip from the car park.

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: Admire the well preserved Kom Ombo Temple. Built during the Ptolemaic Dynasty in the second century BC. Several hundred crocodile mummies were uncovered during initial excavations.

Lunch: On board.

Afternoon: Discover Edfu, another prominent Ptolemaic period temple. Dedicated to the Falcon God Horus, the Temple of Edfu is one of the largest temples in Egypt.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Valley of the Queens and Hatshepsut Temple
Nile River Cruise
B,L,D
Steigenberger Minerva

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: Enjoy a presentation titled, "The Ongoing New Discoveries and Digs in Egypt" led by a professor. Afterward, led by your Egyptologist, discover the West Bank Valley of the Queens and Hatshepsut temple.

Lunch: On board.

Afternoon: Later in the afternoon, we will explore the Luxor Museum of Archaeology led by your Egyptologist. Following the visits, we will return to the ship by motor coach.

Dinner: On board.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Luxor Valley of the Kings,Howard Carter House&Luxor Library
Luxor
B,L,D
Winter Palace Pavilion

Breakfast: On board.

Morning: We will disembark early to explore the sites of the west bank of Luxor. Led by your Egyptologist discover the Valley of the Kings, and the King Tot Tomb. On the west bank of Luxor there had been royal burials since around 2100 BC, however it was the pharaohs of the New Kingdom period (1550–1069 BC) who chose this isolated valley dominated by the pyramid-shaped mountain peak of Al-Qurn (The Horn). Once called the Great Necropolis of Millions of Years of Pharaoh, or the Place of Truth, the Valley of the Kings has 63 magnificent royal tombs, each quite different from the other. The tombs have suffered greatly from treasure hunters, floods and, in recent years, from modern day pollution: The Egyptian belief that "To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again" is certainly carried out in the building of the tombs. Later this morning, discover what may simply have been the luck of the draw, but no one has probably furthered the interests of Egyptology, and indeed the world's archaeological focus on Egypt more than Howard Carter. His discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun has inspired almost a century of books and media attention for this greatest of all living museums we call Egypt.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy a presentation titled, "The Opet Festival and the Ongoing Restoration Work of Luxor" led by a professor from the Luxor Library.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Karnak and Luxor Temples
Luxor
B,L,D
Winter Palace Pavilion

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Led by your Egyptologist spend the morning exploring Karnak. This vast complex was built and enlarged over a thirteen hundred year period. Although badly ruined, no site in Egypt is more impressive than Karnak. It is the largest temple complex ever built by man, and represents the combined achievement of many generations of ancient builders. The Temple of Karnak is actually three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples located about three kilometers north of Luxor, Egypt situated on 100 ha (247 acres) of land. Karnak is actually the sites modern name. Its ancient name was Ipet-isut, meaning "The Most Select (or Sacred) of Places".

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon at leisure.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Transfer to Cairo / The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
Cairo
B,L,D
Conrad Cairo

Activity note: This day includes a flight and a very early start. The drive from the hotel to the airport will take at least one hour by air conditioned motor coach through traffic in Cairo. In Luxor, there is less traffic and shorter distance to drive.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will transfer to the airport for a flight from Cairo to Luxor.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: The Egyptian Museum is situated at Tahrir square in Cairo. It was built during the reign of Khedive Abbass Helmi II in 1897, and opened on November 15, 1902. With 107 halls it is the larges Museum in the whole of Egypt .A hall for the royal mummies was opened at the museum, housing eleven kings and queens including Ramesess II. The King Tut treasures including his god-like golden mask, still fascinates us to this very day. Afterwards, transfer by coach to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Discovering Coptic Cairo / Historic Cairo
Cairo
B,L,D
Conrad Cairo

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Explore the oldest part of the city, Coptic Cairo — Masr al-Qadima. It is believed that there was a settlement here as early as the sixth-century B.C. Later, the Romans built a fortress here known today as "Babylon." Some of these Roman walls still exist. Visit The Hanging Church — "El Muallaqa" — the most famous Coptic Christian church in Cairo, and Abu Serga, the church of St Sergius that is considered to be Cairo's oldest church, dating from the fourth century. Visit Ben Ezra, Egypt's oldest synagogue.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy some free time.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Exploring Islamic Cairo
Cairo
B,L,D
Conrad Cairo

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: In Islamic Cairo, discover the mosques of Sultan Hassan, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture built in the 14th century; al-Rifai, housing the tombs of kings; and Ibn Tulun, the largest mosque of the city.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy some free time.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Depart very early in the morning for return flights.