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15 Day Tour of Egypt - Egypt Encompassed

The perfect tour to give you a great overview of classic Egypt, from pyramids to the Red Sea Coast, The River Nile to Mount Sinai - this tour really does pack a punch.

Cairo EgyptDay 1 - Cairo (joining day)
Your tour leader will usually hold a group meeting at approx. 6.00pm on Day 1 (check the notice board in the hotel reception for the exact time and location). Your tour leader will give a briefing about the tour, outline the plan for the next few days, answer any questions and collect your ‘Local Fund’ payment in full in US$ cash. Then there will usually be the option for everyone to go out for dinner and drinks to start to get to know one another. When you arrive in Cairo you are thrown headlong into the hustle and bustle of this wonderful city. As you wander the streets your senses will be assaulted on all levels – with cars
tooting, donkeys braying and the call to prayer; the mix of smells like the aroma from cooking pots and the scent of apple tobacco; the delicious taste of mint tea as you sit in a shaded café to relax; and the endless river of life that you can watch roll past you – women haggling in the bazaars, men talking whilst enjoying a traditional shisha pipe, cars vying for space on the crowded roads, camels ambling serenely along and children playing in the back streets.

Day 2 - Cairo
There are many things to do in Cairo, from visiting the fantastic Egyptian Museum to the bazaars of Khan el Khalili. Your Tour Leader will be able to make plenty of suggestions for your free time. You have an included visit to the amazing Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza. The Pyramids really do have to be seen to be believed! To get there we weave our way through the manic Cairo traffic, out into the suburbs and then, suddenly, there they are; huge majestic tombs rising out the desert, towering above the modern city of Cairo and an incredible testament to the immense achievements of the Ancient Egyptians. Built over five thousand years ago the Pyramids are the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that is still standing. We
explore the Pyramids and the sphinx with our Egyptologist guide who can explain all the mysteries surrounding their creation – were they built by aliens or are they aligned to the stars? Overnight train to Aswan. (B)

Days 3-4 - Aswan
Aswan is a busy Nubian town with a massive bazaar, plenty of free time for shopping and excursions. The pace of life is much slower than Cairo and the town is small enough to explore on foot. In Aswan the Nile is at its most picturesque with golden sand dunes coming right to the waters edge and scores of white sailed feluccas gliding around the islands. The bazaar runs the whole length of town and is crammed with shops and stalls selling everything imaginable - a great place to hone your haggling skills! To relax you can sit at one of the many cafes and enjoy a cup of sweet tea and a game of backgammon. Included in your local fund is a return journey and guided tour of the UNESCO rescued site of Abu Simbel – it’s colossal! Deep in the heart of the desert, miles from the nearest habitation is a gigantic monolith out of which are carved four colossal statues – each one the seated figure of Ramses II, one of Ancient Egypt’s greatest Pharaohs. Built in the 13th century BC, the temples remained totally hidden by sand until 1813, and were almost destined to be submerged again, 150 years later, by the rising waters of Lake Nasser – a man made lake formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam. Remarkably, a massive UNESCO project dismantled the entire temple and the cliff out of which it is carved, and reassembled it on higher ground redirecting the magnificent stare of Ramses II across Lake Nasser's blue waters. It is still possible to see just how close they came to
being submerged by the watermarks around the base of the statues. (Days 3-4 – B)

Days 5-7 - Felucca on the Nile
Imagine spending your day lying on the deck of a
traditional sailing craft, floating gently down the Nile; there is no sound but the wind in the sail, the occasional shouts of hello from children playing on the banks and the haunting call to prayer; there is nothing to do but relax and watch the life along the banks of the Nile – women washing their clothes at the waters edge, fields of corn tended by men in long white robes and the activity of
occasional villages. Along the way we visit riverside temples (including Kom Ombo), villages and sandy beaches and each evening as the sun sets over the edge of the Nile we pull over to the side of the river to settle in for the night. We spend the night under a blanket of stars and wake with the sun as the mist rises from the river. Feluccas are traditional sailing boats that have been used on the Nile for centuries. There is no motor – if the wind is not blowing then we drift as the river takes us. There are no facilities on board; if you need the toilet then the boat will pull over to the bank and you can find a suitable bush; if it is hot we erect a simple canopy to provide shade; if it is cold then you snuggle up under your sleeping bag. Each felucca sleeps 6 -10 people and is crewed by a captain and a deck hand. As well as being experienced Nile sailors they also make the most delicious meals out of simple local ingredients – you may sit down to a lunch of local bread, white cheese, hummus and delicious fresh juicy tomatoes or a dinner of freshly cooked chicken, pasta and mixed vegetables with delicious tomato sauce. They may also treat you to a bit of impromptu entertainment of Nubian singing or drumming. The deck is covered with mattresses and cushions and you will sleep sardine style across the boat, however bedding is not provided so you will need to bring a sleeping bag. In the summer months (March – Oct) you may like to bring a sleeping sheet AS WELL to use instead of your sleeping bag if the nights are warmer. You will also need to provide your own towel during the cruise and a torch is very useful! Before your cruise your tour leader will give you lots of information about what you can expect and will be able to answer any questions that you may have. (Days 5-7 – B,L,D)

Day 8 - Luxor – Karnak Temple
We disembark the feluccas at Edfu and transfer to Luxor, on the banks of the Nile. Edfu is a magnificent Temple dedicated to Horus, the falcon headed God, and home of many ancient Egyptian legends. For centuries Edfu was almost completely covered with sand, which has protected the building from the elements. This means that Edfu is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. There are reliefs carved into the temple walls depicting Horus and other Gods on a grand scale, black granite falcon statues standing over two meters tall and a myriad of secret passage ways and hidden rooms. There cannot be anywhere else in the world that has the
same number of awe-inspiring attractions as the small town of Luxor. This was the capital of Egypt in ancient times (then known as Thebes) and there are an endless number of temples, tombs and museums that could keep even the most avid sightseer busy for a week! The two
most impressive sights have to be the massive Karnak Temple complex and the Valley of the Kings. We include an excursion to Karnak Temple using a horse drawn carriage along the banks of the Nile. Arriving at the gates there is an avenue of lion statues leading up to the magnificent gates. But this doesn’t prepare you for the sheer size of the temple when you get inside. It was built by many pharaohs over a period of 2,000 years with each one trying to outdo his predecessor in architectural achievement. You could lose yourself inside but we have an Egyptologist who takes us around, pointing out all the most impressive parts of the temple and giving a full insight into the lives of the pharaohs who worshipped there. For those who wish to experience it, there is a sound and light
show held at Karnak every evening. The show is unlike other sound and light shows in Egypt, instead of sitting throughout the performance you walk through the temple as the show progresses (B)

Day 9 - Luxor – Valley Of The Kings Hurghada

The Valley of the Kings is on the other side of the Nile, on the West Bank. To get there we rise at around 4.30am (to avoid the heat) and meet up with our donkeys who will be our favoured (and most fun!) method of transport. Each member of the group will be assigned a donkey and given
a quick lesson in how to control them, before we set off on the 7km ride. We take quiet roads, with lovely views of the green fields leading to the edge of the Nile and the sheer cliffs of the desert beyond. We are not the only people up at this time and you will pass villagers on their own donkeys on their way to the fields. Arriving at the Valley of the Kings, there is not much to see above the ground. But corridors carved deep into the valley lead to the burial chambers far underground. The walls of the tombs are covered in incredibly well preserved paintings depicting the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt and complex hieroglyphics which our guide will help us decipher. You will have the opportunity to visit several of the different tombs including that of Tutankhamun, the famous boy king, and spend some time exploring on your own. This afternoon we travel east through the desert to Hurghada on the Red Sea where you can relax on the beach or snorkel in the crystal clear waters and see some of the best coral reefs in the World! Hurghada is a small town on the edge of the Red Sea is renowned as one of the world’s great diving locations. It is a great place to kick back, relax and enjoy the sunshine. (B)

Day 10 - Hurghaha - Dahab
We rise early to board the hydrofoil from Hurghada to the Sinai Peninsula. Imagine massive reddish brown granite mountains, coral gardens and coloured reefs, blue skies, crystal waters, wide amazing valleys, coloured canyons, Bedouin tribes, nomad footsteps, big camels and tiny goats and you'll have a good idea of how beautiful the Sinai is. Though small in size, the Sinai Peninsula is a region of great contrasts, from the arid peaks of the Sinai High Range to the teeming marine life of its Red Sea. Travelling across the Sinai we come to Dahab on the Red Sea coast. (B)

Days 11-12 - Dahab
Meaning ‘gold’ in Arabic, Dahab has amazing beaches and an almost unrivalled variety of coral gardens and coloured reefs. Here you may find yourself hanging out in a beach café with a shisha pipe, eating sea food while watching the moonlight reflect on the crystal water, riding a camel in the desert, having tea with a Bedouin family or simply watching the local children wander beneath the palm trees selling handmade Bedouin crafts. (Days 11&12 – B)

Day 13 - St Catherine
After a free morning in Dahab we transfer to St Catherine where we spend the night near the foot of Mt Sinai. Named after the monastery at the foot of Mt Sinai, St Catherine is surrounded by spiky granite mountains, and between two of the highest and most religious mountains in the Sinai, Mt Sinai and Mt St Catherine. Take a walk around the village and you'll be sure to come across Bedouins, camels, trekkers and pilgrims united by the spirit of adventure found so close to Mt Sinai. (B)

Day 14 - Mt Sinai - Cairo
Today we have a very early start to climb Mt Sinai in time for sunrise. Mt Sinai is believed to be where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. Following in Moses' footsteps we have the opportunity to ascend to the summit in time for sunrise. This means a very early start (between 1-3am depending on the time of year) and involves a fairly strenuous uphill walk along a camel path and finally up 750 stone steps accompanied by your tour leader. The climb takes about three hours although it is possible to take a camel up as far as the steps or hire one halfway up if necessary! There are teahouses dotted along the way and one at the top so not only can you follow the glow of their lights but you can stop for a hot drink and a breather. The view from the top as day breaks is worth every step. There are two routes down the mountain. From the top you must follow the 750 stone steps back down and then can either return along the camel path or follow a winding route down the 'steps of repentance'. Neither route is difficult (particularly as you will no longer need your torch!) however the 3000 or so steps of repentance do have some steep sections and can take around two hours to descend. This afternoon we drive back to Cairo (approx 8 hours). (B)

Day 15 - Cairo
The tour ends after breakfast. But if you don’t want to go home yet why not continue the fun and join one of our tours in Turkey or Europe? See our brochure or website for a full list of trips. (B)

Whats Included?

80% simple hotels/hostels 20% felucca sailing, 1 overnight train * 10 breakfasts plus all meals onboard felucca (shown as B,L,D in itinerary) * Transport: private a/c coach & local transport * Crew: tour leader * Bonus sightseeing: (entrance fees not included) 3 day traditional felucca cruise; Guided tour of Pyramids & Sphinx; Abu Simbel transfer & guide; Ascent of Mt Sinai; Donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings & guided tour; Horse drawn carriage ride to Karnak Temple and guided tour Tipping kitty: allow approx US$23 per person per week (see below for details)

Departures?
All year round. Please enquire for available dates.

Prices?
£230 GBP per person (plus local food fund of $235 USD) - BOOK NOW

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