Arrive Cairo, Egypt
Arrive in Cairo, capital of Egypt, where you are met by your A&K representative and transferred to your historic hotel with fantastic views of the pyramids.
Cairo | Ancient Treasures
This morning, visit the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, home to the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including treasures from Tutankhamun and items dating to 4000 BC. During your visit, view its famed Mummy Room, featuring the remains of ancient Egypt’s pharaohs and nobility, including Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs. After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy your afternoon at leisure.
Giza | The Pyramids & the Sphinx
Drive to Sakkara, site of hundreds of tombs and 14 pyramids, including the Step Pyramid of Djoser. Later, tour the Giza Plateau, site of the pyramids of Mycerinus and Chefren as well as the Great Pyramid. Built in the Fourth Dynasty (approximately 2690 BC), it is the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Explore the interior of one of these legendary pyramids and visit the tombs of the pyramid builders, the workmen that actually built the great monuments. Ride Like a Local on camel back, then visit the Solar Boat Museum — site of Cheops’ funerary boat — and the Great Sphinx.
Luxor | | Karnak & the Valley of the Kings
Fly to Luxor and journey to the Temple of Karnak. Walk through the Great Hypostyle Hall, with its expertly aligned columns. Board award-winning Sanctuary ‘Sun Boat IV’ and enjoy lunch on board. Afterward, disembark to explore the west bank of the Nile and the Necropolis of Thebes, and continue to the Valley of the Kings, burial ground of the pharaohs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a period of 500 years beginning in the 16th century BC, tombs were built along this valley for pharaohs and nobles, including that of “the boy king,” Tutankhamun. Found in 1922 by British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter, the tomb of Tutankhamun is yours to discover, as you set foot inside its 35-century-old walls. Also visit the tomb of Seti I, the father of Ramses II, one of the best-preserved tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Later, stop at the lovely Temple of Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt’s first female pharaoh and regarded today as one of its most successful. Also, enjoy a photo stop at the Colossi of Memnon.
Cruising the Nile | Luxor to Esna
Journey once more to the east bank of the Nile, this time visiting the city of Thebes and the striking Temple of Luxor. Behold the three large statues of Ramses II along the front of the temple pylons; the Courtyard of Ramses II behind the East Tower; and the Colonnade of Amenhotep III, with its 14 papyrus-headed columns, some fully 50 feet in height. This afternoon, sail to Esna and visit the Temple of Khnum and marvel at its soaring columns.
Cruising the Nile | Edfu to Kom Ombo
Cruise to Edfu to view the Temple of Horus, falcon-headed god of the sky. Built in 230 BC by Ptolemy III and once buried in sand and debris, this stunningly well-preserved and colorful structure reveals what temple worship in ancient Egypt was like. Join your chef back on board for a local cooking lesson. Later, disembark at Kom Ombo (hill of gold) to visit the Greco-Roman temple dedicated to Haroeris (the sun god) and Sobek (the crocodile god), who was considered by some ancient Egyptians to be the creator of the world. While there, view the mummified remains of several crocodiles that once basked along the ancient Nile shore, just as their descendants do today.
Aswan | Majestic Philae
Cruise to Aswan and ride a motorized boat to Philae Temple on the island of Agilika. This sacred complex was dedicated to the goddess Isis and reflects a fusion of three great civilizations — Egyptian, Greek and Roman. The temple was dismantled, and then painstakingly reassembled when the Aswan High Dam was constructed. Built in the 1960s, the dam spans the Nile River, more than two miles across and incorporating 16 times the amount of material that went into the Great Pyramid at Giza. It provides irrigation and hydro-electric power to much of Egypt, and the reservoir that formed behind it, Lake Nasser, is 340 miles long. Proceed to the impressive granite quarries and site of the Unfinished Obelisk. Illustrating the skills of Egypt’s stonemasons, this monolith is one-third taller than any other ancient Egyptian obelisk. Later, Ride Like a Local around the Aswan islands in a felucca, weather permitting.
Abu Simbel | Temples of Ramses II & Nefertari
Today, bid farewell to Sanctuary ‘Sun Boat IV,’ disembarking to fly to Abu Simbel. There, discover the commanding twin temples of Ramses II and his wife, Queen Nefertari. The former’s façade is dominated by four statues of the pharaoh, each nearly 70 feet tall. Perhaps even more impressive, this entire site was disassembled and moved here to save it from the floodwaters caused by the Aswan High Dam. Return to Cairo for an afternoon at leisure.
Cairo | Islamic Cairo & Bustling Souks
This morning, explore the Mosque and Madrasa of Sultan Hassan, built in AD 1356 and among the finest examples of early Mamluk architecture. Next, walk from the twin-towered Bab el-Foutouh, a fortified gate in Cairo’s Old City walls, to Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, one of the city’s major souks (open-air marketplaces). Browse the tightly packed stalls displaying everything from spices and leather goods to jewelry and vegetables, all on a street that has hardly changed for centuries. Bargaining is expected, so prepare to negotiate. After lunch, choose to visit Coptic Cairo or return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and depart.