This morning, following breakfast we meet our guides to begin out full day tour.
The Great Pyramids of Giza are the only present-day survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, built more than 4,500 years ago as giant tombs for the mummies of the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, who were a father, son and grandson. The pyramids are truly monumental in scale, with the largest, Khufu’s, constructed from over two million blocks. The pyramids were not built by slaves but by Egyptian peasants, whose labor in building the pyramids paid their taxes to the Pharaoh, who also fed, clothed and housed them.
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.
After, we enjoy lunch at Sakkara Palm Club. This restaurant has an enviable location, as the name suggests, overlooking the Sakkara pyramids. The dishes served are primarily from traditional Egyptian recipes, providing an authentic feel as you look out over the ancient monuments.
After lunch, we visit Sakkara, which 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.
Dinner tonight is on your own. (B/L)
Today, after breakfast, we set off for an incredible tour of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) Complex, which is a cultural hub and includes one of the largest museums in the world displaying the heritage of a single civilization. The Museum contains over 100,000 artifacts, reflecting Egypt’s past from prehistory until the Greek and Roman Periods. As you enter the museum, you can’t miss the colossal statue of King Ramses II, nor the 87 huge royal artifacts exhibited at the grand stairs. These stairs lead up to an impressive 28-meter-high glass facade overlooking the pyramids of Giza. The GEM also hosts over 5,000 artifacts from the tomb of the golden Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
Lunch today is included at Le Pacha 1901, which is one of Cairo’s landmark dining and entertainment venues. Originally a paddle boat from the turn of the century, Le Pacha was transformed into a nostalgic and magical location to reflect on Cairo’s glorious history.
In the evening, enjoy a unique cultural tour, which takes you from one end of the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar to the other, recalling a time when the area was the heart of the old walled city of Cairo.
The ancient thoroughfare, leading you along some of the most traditional parts of the bazaar where life has hardly changed for centuries, runs from the massive fortified Fotouh Gate to the beautifully-designed Zuweila gate. This stretch contains more listed buildings per meter than any other street in the world. In this part of the bazaar, where Egyptians themselves go to bargain for everyday items, your guide enthralls you with explanations of passing licorice-tea-sellers, spice markets with obscure roots and magical powders, black-swathed women, and brightly-painted donkey-carts overflowing with watermelons and mangos.
Continue on to El-Khayameyya Street. This portion of your walk, in the very oldest part of the Khan El-Khalili bazaar, is devoted to the workshops and stalls of traditional appliqué craftsmen. Their art, unique to Egypt in the Middle Eastern region, began as a means of decorating the brightly-colored hangings used to make traditional tents. These are now seen all over the country adorning temporary tents for weddings, funerals and festivals. Printed hangings in the same traditional designs are used nowadays for commercial purposes, but the craftsmen in El-Khayameyya continue to keep the old traditions alive.
We end our tour at Naguib Mahfouz Restaurant, which is named after the Nobel-prize-winning Egyptian author, Naguib Mahfouz. This restaurant lies in the very heart of the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar and offers a selection of chicken, meats and mouth-watering Middle Eastern mezzas (small appetizers). Please note that alcohol is not served here.
After we return to the Marriott for another restful sleep. (B/L/D)
This morning, following breakfast, we transfer to Cairo International Airport for the included flight to Luxor. Upon arrival we transfer to the Nile River, where we’ll check in to the 5-star deluxe Nile Adventurer cruise boat.
Lunch will be served on board in the main restaurant. After lunch, you will have the opportunity to visit Luxor Temple as well as the strikingly graceful Temple of Karnak. The temple of Karnak was known as Ipet-isu—or “most select of places”—by the ancient Egyptians. It is a city of temples built over 2,000 years and dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. This derelict place is still capable of overshadowing many wonders of the modern world and in its day must have been awe-inspiring.
Tonight, you will be greeted by your Boat Manager while you enjoy freshly prepared canapés with some complimentary Egyptian wine and local beer, followed by a gourmet dinner menu. (B/L/D)
After a delicious breakfast buffet on board, we’ll visit the West Bank of Luxor to explore the tombs in Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. At the Valley of the Queens, the highlight is visiting the beautiful tomb of Queen Nefertari, Ramses II’s beloved wife. It is said to be the finest tomb in Egypt, with vividly-colored work and a ceiling painted with stars, giving an idea of how other, now faded, tombs would have looked in their day.
Our morning visit also includes the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. And, on the way back to the river Nile, we will pass by the famed Colossi of Memnon, known in Ancient Greek times for their haunting voices at dawn.
Enjoy lunch on back on board the Nile Adventurer and an afternoon of sailing to relax. In the evening, a gourmet dinner will be served in the ship’s dining room. (B/L/D)
Enjoy breakfast on board, followed by a visit to the Temple of Edfu. Lunch will be served on board while cruising to Kom Ombo. After lunch, 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.
Return to your Nile Cruise boat where afternoon tea will be served in the lounge. You will also have the chance to take part in an Egyptian cooking demonstration while the boat is sailing to Aswan.
Tonight’s entertainment will be an “Egyptian Night” costume party for all guests, with a chance to dress up in traditional Egyptian “galabeyyas”. Dinner will be a lavish buffet of Egyptian specialties. (B/L/D)
A breakfast buffet will be served on board, after which you will have the morning at your leisure.
Enjoy lunch on board, followed by a short motorboat ride to visit the majestic Philae Temple on the Island of Agilika.
Next, we proceed to the Granite Quarries, which supplied the ancient Egyptians with most of the hard stone used in pyramids and temples, and still hold a huge unfinished obelisk. You will also have a chance take a ride on a felucca (a typical Egyptian sail boat) around Elephantine Island, Lord Kitchener’s Botanical Gardens, and the Agha Khan Mausoleum (weather permitting, life jackets will be provided).
Afternoon tea will be served in the lounge. Tonight’s farewell dinner will be a gala dinner, with white-gloved waiters serving gourmet cuisine. Enjoy a Folkloric show and a Dervish show after dinner. (B/L/D)
Aswan/Abu Simbel Temples/Cairo
Following breakfast on board cruise, disembark and transfer to Aswan airport for our 40-minute flight to Abu Simbel.
The two temples of Ramses II at Abu Simbel are each fronted by colossal statues up to 20 meters (66 feet) high, and are famed as the most impressive monuments remaining of Ancient Egypt. Recently, the temples were threatened by the waters of Lake Nasser, and with the help of a UNESCO campaign they were cut into blocks, raised piece by piece and reassembled in a new position higher up the hillside.
After our visit, we will return Aswan airport for our onward flight to Cairo. Upon arrival to Cairo, you will be met and assisted then transferred by your to your hotel. (B/L/D)