Egypt and the Ancient Nile RiverItinerary
Day 1: En Route from U.S.
Day 2: Arrive in Cairo, Egypt
Welcome to Cairo—Egypt's buzzing capital city with more than 22 million residents. Settle into your first-class accommodations to refresh and enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure.
Overnight: Marriott Mena House
Day 3: Cairo / Giza
After breakfast, visit the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza (the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) and the Great Sphinx, impressively carved from a single mass of limestone. Absorb the profound existence of these structures before touring 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 / Flight to Luxor
Today, take a brief flight to Luxor to explore the Karnak and Luxor Temples.
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.
Check in to the elegant Sofitel Winter Palace, then enjoy lunch followed by free time to have a beverage on the terrace or stroll the tranquil gardens.
Largely built by the New Kingdom pharaohs Amenhotep III and Ramses II, the Luxor Temple is a striking monument with large amounts of structure, statuary, and relief carvings still intact. 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 (B,L)
Day 5: Luxor / Esna – Embarkation
After breakfast and check out, 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.
A short drive to Esna brings you to your sailing vessel and home-away-from-home for three nights. 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 6: Nile River / Edfu
Continue the journey to 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.
Gather for a special barbecue dinner this evening on a nearby island.
Overnight: Dahabiya (B,L,D)
Day 7: Nile River / Kom Ombo / 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 sail to Aswan, and partake in a final gala dinner on board.
Overnight: Dahabiya (B,L,D)
Day 8: Aswan – Disembarkation
After breakfast and disembarkation, take a motorboat ride to the island of Agilkia, site of the temples of Philae. The most famous temple is often referred to as the Temple of Isis and was completed around 690 BCE. Marvel at the abundance of hieroglyphs at Philae, as these are believed to be the last written by the ancient Egyptians.
Lunch today is served at a Nubian guest house. Enjoy traditional Nubian cuisine in a peaceful setting overlooking the deep blue waters of Lake Nasser and the surrounding scenery.
This evening, enjoy browsing and bargaining at Aswan Market, a central feature of the city. Colorful Egyptian and African goods are on display, including souvenirs, spices, handicrafts, and clothing.
Tonight and tomorrow night relax and restore at a beautiful, five-star luxury hotel on the banks of the river Nile. This stylish property boasts Moorish arches, plush Persian carpets, hand-carved furnishings and a notable guest list of famous names. Two such inspired guests—Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie—have suites named for them here.
Overnight: Sofitel Legend Cataract Aswan (B,L)
Day 9: 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. Feel like an archaeologist surveying a site for treasures. This is the oldest inhabited part of Aswan and provides an escape from the modern city with layers of ruins and a small museum.
The remainder of the day is at leisure to take advantage of the extensive amenities at the Cataract, including an infinity pool and full-service spa (additional fees apply), or to further explore Aswan on your own.
Tonight enjoy a farewell reception with your fellow travelers and celebrate this memorable, whirlwind Egypt adventure.
Overnight: Sofitel Legend Cataract Aswan (B,L,R)
Day 10: Aswan / Flight to Cairo
This morning is free to enjoy at leisure before flying to Cairo to begin the return journey home. A day room is available until departure.
Day Room: Le Meridien Cairo Airport (B)
Day 11: 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, R = Reception)
Activities are generally not very strenuous, but there is a considerable amount of walking—on uneven surfaces such as gravel, sand, and stone—climbing stairways, and standing for long periods of time. Guests should be able to walk more than a mile 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.