Programme 1: a 10-day whirlwind for the newcomer to Egypt who wants to combine the main highlights with some special places
Your itinerary comprises 2 days Cairo, 2 days Luxor, 3 days Western Desert, 3 days Aswan (including Abu Simbel and your departure back to Cairo).
the Pyramid Builders:
the highlight sites of the West Bank
spectacular desert tour! From your hotel in Luxor
and back to it, with visits to:
morning pick-up for your transfer to Aswan
early pick-up for your visit to the spectacular site
of Abu Simbel!
Programme 2: a 14-day extravaganza for the more experienced Egypt traveller
up in Cairo
up early to start our fabulous exploration of the
We visit the ancient sites of Bahariya Oasis, including the famous Golden Mummies and the very interesting and colourful tombs there. Another plunge in the healing pool and a night time stroll through the oasis town and into some of the nice shops there featuring local arts and crafts concludes our visit to Bahariya, and gets us ready for our next adventure...
We set off from Bahariya and drive through the splendid landscape of the Black Desert towards Crystal Mountain, where we can marvel at this natural phenomenon all made up of crystals, and pick up some for ourselves from the ground! Then it's on to the White Desert, with its fantastic calcite rock formations that make it seem like a giant sculptor just left his workroom for a second, only to return soon to finish these magnificent creations... we catch the sunset there, as we set up our camp in the middle of all this beauty. Next a delicious dinner cooked over a traditional wood fire, and we're ready to marvel at all the stars we can see, including the Milky Way!
After a nice breakfast and a quick wash in the White Desert, we move on to Farafra, where we only stop for a quick cup of tea in a local coffee shop (this oasis is a bit depressing, to be honest, and not home to any major or interesting sites) before moving on to Dakhla Oasis. On the way we have a simple lunch. Just before Dakhla we visit the site of the Muzawaka Tombs. The tombs themselves are unfortunately closed to the public, but the view from the hill top is stunning, and the guardians will show you some Roman mummies on the way up there. After this, we drive on to our simple but charming hotel in the lovely oasis of Dakhla, El Nogoom (The Stars).
We drive out to the fascinating site of Deir el Hagar (Monastery of the Stones) a charming temple of the Roman era, but built completely in the ancient Egyptian style. Marvel at the lovely colours on the pieces of plaster still left on the stones and the commanding view from the temple hill... on the drive over we pass through some really traditional parts of the oasis, an experience in itself. After Deir el Hagar we move on to Qasr, a fantastically preserved medieval fortified town where we can wander through the narrow streets, and see what life must have been like then... Then we drive back to Dakhla, and for those of us feeling adventurous, there is the opportunity to do a sunset camel ride. What better place to ride a camel than in the desert!
pamper day! But first, we need to do some work, so
we start early to view the spectacular ruins of the
6th dynasty tombs at Balat, proving that Dakhla was
an important site even as far back as that! Then on
to the quaint town of Bashendi, to see the Roman tombs
there and how one was converted in the middle ages
to house the remains of an Indian Muslim saint (Pasha
Hindi, therefore Bashendi).
After an early night after our treatments of the previous day, we make an early start from Dakhla, in order to view the fantastic sites of the next oasis, Kharga. There, we visit the Oases Museum which houses fantastic finds from all the Oases, one of the oldest and best-preserved early Christian cemeteries at Bagawat, and the best-preserved temple in all the Oases, at Hibis. After a quick stop at the outlet of the date plantations for which Kharga is rightly famous, and time-permitting, we will then drive on the oasis of Paris, to visit the site of Dush. Most tours don't make it this far, but it is a fantastic site with amazing views over the infamous Darb al Arbayin, the old caravan and slave-trading route from the Sudan. Seriously worth visiting! And then it's back to Luxor over the desert road... once there, we will take you to the Gezira Gardens Hotel, where you will check in for 4 nights. The Gezira Gardens is a lovely hotel situated on Luxor's West Bank, with its own pool and roof top terrace. You will stay in their lovely 'chalets', which are family units with bathrooms, kitchen, two bedrooms and a private balcony/terrace. The accommodation during this part of your trip is bed and breakfast, but on excursion days your other meals will be included as well.
we've had some heavy days at the end of the desert
tour, it is suggested that you take this day to lounge
and relax. Your hotel has a lovely pool area, and
you are very near to the Nile, so you could also consider
a felucca ride. If this is your first time in Luxor,
you could take in some of the historical highlights,
such as the Temples of Karnak and Luxor, as the rest
of the programme is based on the assumption that this
is not your first time here, and focuses on more special
and out of the way places.
outside of Luxor, about 20 minutes away, lies the
enchanting temple of Al Tod. It is very seldom visited
by tourists, and is therefore a haven of tranquillity
and peace. This sanctuary was dedicated to the god
Montu, the lord of war who held sway over this area
before Amun took over as main god. Signs of temple
activity on this site date back at least as far as
the 5th dynasty! The ancient docking stations for
the sacred barks, including the actual mooring posts,
and the via sacra leading up to it, are completely
intact, giving you a feel of the lost grandeur of
the place. A very special experience!
Let's leave this day open for discussion! There are so many great things you can see and do in Luxor, we'll just present you with options and decide together. One excursion you could consider is following the trail of the Ramessid monuments on the West Bank - the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple for Ramesses the Great, with the famous fallen colossus, then on to his father Seti's temple, and then his son's, to be followed after lunch with the fabulous site of Medinet Habu. Or, we could choose to see the tiny wonders on the West Bank, beautiful nobles' tombs, tiny hidden shrines, tucked-away temples. Or we could even leave Luxor altogether to go to the marvellous temples at Abydos and Denderah! Really, there is so much to choose from. And the choice is yours - as a group. And whichever one you choose, will be included in the price, so no worries about that.
We get up early to drive to Esna. There we will join the wonderfully atmospheric dahabeeya 'Cinderella' and embark our Dahabeeya Dream. All meals, coffee, tea and water are included on this stretch of the trip, and all cabins have private bathrooms fans. So while you sail down the Nile at the leisurely pace that the Victorians used to explore this wondrous country, you still have all the comforts and luxury of today. Best of both worlds, eh? Before setting off, we take an hour or two to explore the temple of Khnum at Esna and the winding streets behind the local souq, to have a look at the centuries-old oil-press that is still in use today, and perhaps to purchase some freshly-pressed, natural oils for ourselves. Also we'll have a quick look at the medieval rest stop for the camel caravans that arrived here from the Darb al Arbayin, the last stretches of which were guarded and the goods taxed at the fortress at Dush, which we visited during our desert tour. The Cinderella will set sail after this and your leisurely travel down the Nile begins. Lunch will be served on the upper deck (weather permitting) with time to relax and view life on the Nile as we sail towards Edfu. En-route we can make a brief stop for a tour of El Kab, the very ancient site of veneration of the vulture goddess Nekhbet, the lady who protects Upper Egypt. This out of the way site is very hard to get to, so grab this chance! It is also the home of the famous tomb of Ahmose, son of Ibana, a professional soldier who served during one of the most turbulent times in Egyptian history. A fascinating sight for any student of hieroglyphs!
The desert part of this trip is all-inclusive except for alcoholic beverages and drinks you have at the hotels when we are staying there. All else, transportation, explanations, tickets, hotels, desert camping, all meals, and soft drinks and water whilst on the road, is included. Travel insurance is your own responsibility. The other part of the trip is bed & breakfast except on excursion days, then everything is included during the excursion. On the Dahabeeya everything is included except for soft drinks and alcoholic beverages - also, please see our F.A.Q. Here...