Discover Egypt and the Nile ValleyItinerary
Day 1: En Route from U.S.
Day 2: Arrive Cairo, Egypt
Welcome to Cairo—Egypt's buzzing capital city of over 22 million residents. Settle into your first-class accommodations to refresh and enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure. Awake tomorrow to the extraordinary views of the pyramids outside your room.
Overnight: Marriott Mena House
Day 3: Cairo / Giza
This morning, enjoy an up-close visit to the iconic Great Pyramid—the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. See the Great Sphinx, impressively carved from a single mass of limestone.
After lunch, tour the newly opened Grand Egyptian Museum—the largest archaeological museum in the world. This structure is a state-of-the-art, glass and concrete space that takes guests on a chronological journey of four eras: pre-dynastic and Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, and Greco-Roman.
The new museum displays for the first time the full collection of artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun, including the gold mask and sarcophagus, jewels, throne and chariots, all fully restored. The exhibition delves deeper into King Tut's lifestyle with displays on what he ate and how he dressed. Once thought to be a lost cause, conservationists created a new restoration technique to bring back to life Tutankhamun's intricate sandals, which date back more than 3,500 years.
Overnight: Marriott Mena House (B,L,D)
Day 4: Cairo / Memphis / Cairo
After breakfast, set out for a short drive to the ancient city of Memphis, dating from around 3,100 BC. It's the legendary city of King Menes—who united upper and lower Egypt and controlled the land and water routes between the two. This area features approximately 19 miles of necropolises, including Sakkara—host to the kings of the 1st and 2nd Dynasty—with the oldest known of Egypt's 107 pyramids.
Ascend to the medieval Citadel of Cairo for lunch overlooking the city, then continue to the imposing Mosque of Sultan Hassan. Next, visit some of Cairo's ancient Coptic churches and learn more about this minority ethnoreligious group. Then stroll through one of the largest bazaars in the Middle East—Khan El-Khalili. Founded in the 14th century, this lively market (or souk) is a labyrinth of vendors selling colorful fresh spices, traditional foods and fabrics, and baubles and trinkets. Beyond the bustling crowds, glimpse the unique archways and vaulted ceilings designed in original Mamluk-style architecture—Islamic art that became prevalent during the Mamluk Dynasty.
Overnight: Marriott Mena House (B,L)
Day 5: Cairo / Flight to Sohag / Abydos / Luxor
After a boxed breakfast, check out of the Mena House and transfer to Cairo Airport to board a flight to the city of Sohag. A short drive brings us to the ancient city of Abydos, which boasts some of the finest carvings and colors in all of Egypt. Wander the halls of the impressive Temple of Seti I, which was dedicated to the god of the underworld, Osiris. Also on display is the Abydos King List — a carved list of the names of 76 former kings of ancient Egypt.
Next, a drive from Abydos to Luxor provides the unique opportunity to observe daily life in rural Egypt. Upon arrival, check in to the elegant Sofitel Winter Palace.
Overnight: Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor (B,L,D)
Day 6: Luxor
Today, travel across the Nile to the west bank of Luxor. At the famous Valley of the Kings—designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978—descend into the elaborately decorated tombs of Egypt's most influential rulers, including Tutankhamun.
Next, admire the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, one of the few female pharaohs. This grand temple, framed by massive limestone cliffs, is notable for its precise architectural features.
After lunch, return to the hotel for free time to have a beverage on the terrace or stroll the tranquil gardens.
Tonight, explore the majestic Luxor Temple and enjoy its illuminated beauty. The impressive temple, around 850 feet long and about 213 feet across from the front, is located in the center of the city and was buried for centuries before its full excavation was completed in 1960. Enjoy the special opportunity to admire this structure by night, when dramatic lighting enhances its intricacies.
This evening dinner is at leisure. Choose from tempting dining options, including the two restaurants of the Winter Palace, or savor a unique barbecue dinner outside in the gardens that features a buffet and scrumptious meat kebabs served at your table.
Overnight: Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor (B,L)
Day 7: Luxor / Esna – Embarkation
Luxor, part of the city of Thebes, was an important political and religious center. Covering 200 acres of the city's east bank is the Karnak Temple Complex, one of the most important places of worship during the New Kingdom. This site is a fusion of stone structures, including an avenue of human-headed sphinxes, grand pylons, and towering obelisks, which experienced various phases of construction and restoration over a nearly 2,000-year period.
A short drive to Esna brings you to your sailing vessel and home-away-from-home for the following four days. After a relaxing lunch, settle into your stateroom and spend time lounging on the sun deck as you watch the peaceful scenery go by. Join fellow travelers for dinner this evening.
Overnight: Dahabiya (B,L,D)
Day 8: Nile River / El Kab / Edfu
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before setting out with your Egyptologist on a guided tour to El Kab, one of the oldest settlements of upper Egypt and now a famous necropolis with remarkable tombs of nobles and army generals.
Continue to the city of Edfu for a tour of the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus—the most complete and best-preserved temple in Egypt. Horus, the principal god of resurrection, is depicted in his role as avenger of his father, Osiris, who was murdered by his brother, Seth. Although construction of this temple was finished only a few decades before the rise of Antony and Cleopatra, its design reflects traditional pharaonic architecture.
For the remainder of the day, enjoy the plentiful amenities of the dahabiya. This evening, prepare to dine on a lavish buffet of Egyptian specialties presented with a performance of local music and dancing.
Overnight: Dahabiya (B,L,D)
Day 9: Edfu / Nile / Kom Ombo
After a leisurely morning sailing up the river, visit Gebel el-Silsila, an ancient quarry where the pharaohs excavated sandstone and limestone to build their temples. The site also houses numerous tombs dating back to the 18th Dynasty.
Gather for a special barbecue dinner this evening on a nearby island.
Overnight: Dahabiya (B,L,D)
Day 10: Kom Ombo / Nile / Aswan
Today, explore the unique Temple of Kom Ombo. Designed for and dedicated to two gods, Horus and Sobek (the ancient god of crocodiles), it's actually two temples in one. Captive crocodiles were once kept within the temple, and mummified crocodiles can be seen in the sanctuary today.
Now, there are no crocodiles north of the Aswan High Dam, but in ancient times a robust population lived in the Nile's waters. The ancient Egyptians believed that by worshipping Sobek they were protecting themselves from these predators.
Return to the dahabiya to cruise to Aswan, and partake in a final gala dinner on board.
Overnight: Dahabiya (B,L,D)
Day 11: Aswan – Disembarkation
Disembark after breakfast and travel to the Aswan High Dam for a look at contemporary Egyptian construction on a monumental scale. The dam sits 364-feet high with a volume of 57,940,000 cubic yards. The annual flooding of the Nile can now be controlled as the dam collects floodwaters, which can be released manually to maximize benefits for farmland, river flowage, and electric power.
Later, take a motorboat ride to the island of Agilkia, site of the temples of Philae. The most famous temple was dedicated to the goddess Isis and was constructed in the 6th century BCE. The site also features the last known inscription written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, dated to 394 CE.
Enjoy free time at the hotel to refresh and re-energize before setting out to stroll Aswan's famous market, Sharia as-Souq. Discover endless displays of aromatic flowers and spices, hand-crafted perfumes, colorful carpets, and other Egyptian and African goods.
Overnight: Sofitel Legend Cataract (B,L)
Day 12: Aswan
After breakfast at the hotel, head directly across the Nile to Elephantine Island, which was an important trading center. Today, it is the only ongoing excavation site that is open to tourists. Afterward, take a peaceful ride through one of the Nile's cataracts, a rocky passageway that prevented boats from sailing the river from Equatorial Africa to Egypt.
The remainder of the day is yours to partake in the amenities at the hotel or to explore Aswan on your own.
Overnight: Sofitel Legend Cataract (B,D)
Day 13: Aswan / Optional Abu Simbel Excursion / Flight to Cairo
After breakfast, guests joining the optional excursion will check out and transfer to Aswan International Airport for the brief flight to Abu Simbel. There, tour the impressive temples before flying to Aswan for a connecting flight to Cairo. (You may purchase this optional excursion in advance from our Guest Services team. We recommend you reserve early for best availability as space is limited.)
Remaining guests will enjoy leisure time at the property. Take advantage of the outdoor infinity pool overlooking the Nile River, re-energize in the modern fitness center, or enjoy tea al fresco at The Terrace with inspiring views of Temple of Khnum and Elephantine Island.
Later, transfer to the airport for a brief flight to Cairo for your final evening in Egypt, featuring a special farewell dinner with fellow travelers.
Overnight: Le Méridien Cairo Airport (B,L,D)
Day 14: Cairo / Depart for U.S.
Use the skybridge conveniently connecting the hotel to Terminal 3 of Cairo International Airport for flights home. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Activities are generally not very strenuous, but guests should be able to climb stairs, as well as stand and walk for long periods of time, sometimes on gravel, sand or stone. Guests should be able to walk 1.5 miles over uneven surfaces to be able to fully enjoy this program. Due to the nature of some structures, handrails may not be present, and facilities for people with disabilities are limited. Participation in itinerary activities is up to the individual.