Desert Oases and the Nile Valley

Bahariya, Farafra, and Dakhla oases plus a Nile River cruise
Overview

overview

Experience the Egypt most visitors never see. In addition to the Great Pyramids on the Giza plateau in Cairo and the temples in Luxor, delve into the desert and the hidden treasures of Egypt. In early historic times, the African desert was greener, wealthier, and more populous. Larger civilizations have shrunk to gem-like oases which you will explore. Visit the great oases of the Western Desert, including Bahariya, Farafra, and Dakhla, and travel through gorgeous desert landscapes as you tour Western Egypt in four-wheel-drive vehicles. Then take a Nile River cruise to visit Luxor, Edfu, and Aswan, as well as Abu Simbel.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Cairo
    Dive into ancient, yet cosmopolitan, thriving Cairo

    Upon arrival at the Cairo International Airport, you will be met and transferred to the Ramses Hilton Hotel (or similar) for your overnight stay.

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  • Day 2: Cairo City Tour
    Visit the fortress of Saladin and other sights of Old Cairo

    After breakfast, enjoy a full-day tour of Cairo, to see some of the cities most fascinating landmarks. The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities is often referred to as one of the most important museums in the world, housing more than 100,000 relics of ancient Egypt. Continue on to the Citadel, a crusader-style fortress dating from the time of Saladin. The most eye-catching of the Citadel’s buildings is the Mosque of Mohammed Ali (Alabaster Mosque). Then visit Khan El Khalili Bazaar, the most intriguing part of Old Cairo, to challenge your barganing skills. The bazaar is the world’s oldest, which was built in 1382. Artifacts of gold, silver, glass, wood, and paper of the highest quality and exquisite workmanship are manufactured and traded in this market. Proceed to the Coptic Musuem, estabilished in 1908, which houses the world’s largest collection of Coptic artifacts. Next visit the Hanging Church (El Muallaqa, Sitt Mariam, and St. Mary), which was built on top of the southern tower gate of the Babylon fortress. Finally, visit the Ben Ezra Synagogue. Return to the hotel for dinner. In the evening, you will have the opportunity to see the Pyramids Sound & Light show. The grandeur of the Pyramids is magnified at night when powerful floodlights bathe the ancient stones with rich color, and a stirring commentary, enhanced with symphonic music coming from hidden loudspeaker, complete the experience.

    Meals
    Breakfast
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  • Day 3: Giza
    See the pyramids and sphinx on the Giza plateau

    You will be met this morning by an English-speaking Egyptologist guide, for a full day excursion to the pyramids at Giza. At the edge of the modern city, on the verge of the desert, you will view some of the most astounding structures ever constructed by man. With no doors or windows to give them scale, the monolithic forms seem deceptively small until arriving to its base. Visit the Sphinx. Abu-El-Houl, or fear in Arabic, was sculpted in the image of pharaoh Chephren (head of the Pharaoh and lion’s body) standing as a guard for his pyramidal tomb. Then visit the Solar Boat, resembling paintings and models of boats that have survived since the Fourth Dynasty. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting Sakkara and Memphis. Skirting fields watered by canals from the Nile, the road south from Giza leads to Sakkara, the largest necropolis in Egypt, with hundreds of tombs and monuments erected throughout ancient Egyptian history. Finally visit the Step Pyramids of Zoser. The very earliest of the great pyramids built perhaps a century before those at Giza, King Zoser’s architect stacked six large mastabas, rectangular tombs with flat-tops, on top of one another to create the step pyramid. Return to the Ramses Hilton for your overnight stay.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
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  • Day 4: Bahariya Oasis
    Leave for the desert, stopping first at Bhariya Oasis

    Depart by mini-bus, through sand dunes, to the Bahariya Oasis. The drive is approximately four hours, and you will arrive in time for lunch at the Palm Village Hotel. The Bahariya Oasis is the closest oasis to Cairo in distance, but the most distant oasis in time, as it has been slow to move into the modern world. For travelers in search of the past, this is a wonderful experience. Visit the Golden Mummies Museum, Pantentio Tomb, Alexander the Great Tomb, and other sites. The world has been astonished by the large number of mummies buried in a huge labyrinth of tombs in this area. Overnight at the Palm Village Hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 5: Farafra Oasis
    Marvel at the bizarre rock formations of the White Desert near Farafra Oasis

    Travel through the mountains to the Farafra Oasis, approximately a three hour drive. En route, you will visit the White Desert whose chalky white sands look like snow, and is often wind-blown into gigantic mushroom-shaped formations. The isolation of the Farafra Oasis creates a special world of eternal sunshine and incredible beauty that is just beginning to be penetrated by the outside world. Peaceful and serene, its big skies and rugged landscape contain some of the most spectacular scenery in the Western Desert. Overnight at the Aqua Sun Hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 6: Dakhla Oasis
    Relax at lush Dakhla Oasis (photo by T. Bachner)

    Depart for the Dakhla Oasis, approximately a three hour drive. Have lunch and check-in at the Desert Lodge Hotel. Dakhla is the breadbasket of the area, with its fields and orchards lush with produce. The beige and brown landscapes are replaced with golden sand, red earth, pastel villages, and vibrant green fields. Step back centuries as you visit the spellbinding medieval village of Al-Qasr. Walk the narrow alleys threading among the mud-brick structures. Be sure to take note of the four/five-story Ottoman houses with their wooden-grill windows and lintels carved with verses from the Koran. Visit the 12th century mosque. Two miles beyond Al-Qasr, is the El-Muzawwaka burial site, with its 1st and 2nd century tombs. Time permitting, visit Balat Village with its Pharaonic mastabas dating to the 6th Dynasty. Qasr Dakhla, situated to the north-west of Mut, is one of the fortified Medieval Islamic towns often seen in Dakhla. It rests on the Sioh Ridge, nestled beneath the pink limestone escarpment that marks the dates to 1518 on the Beit Ibrahim. The Islamic town, el-Qasr, meaning ‘the Fortress’ was probably founded around the 12th century AD by the Ayyubids, over the remains of an earlier Roman period settlement.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 7: Kharga Oasis
    Explore the ancient cemetery at Kharga Oasis (photo by Leo Boudv)

    After breakfast, leave for the Kharga Oasis, about a two hour drive. Prehistoric paintings of giraffes and antelopes decorate the sides of strangely-shaped rock formations along the 125 mile road between Dakhla and Kharga oases. Check-in at the Pioneer Hotel and have lunch before touring the area. Kharga is the most populous Oasis of the Western Desert, and though it offers a variety of sites of interest to visitors, including an ancient fortress and villages, the landscape is what most overwhelms travelers. Here you will encounter the desert as you had always imagined the desert would be. The bustling main city, whose inhabitants now number sixty thousand, including one thousand Nubians who settled here after the creation of Lake Nasser. The oasis is still growing and the Egyptian government has plans to reclaim even more of the desert areas to offer land and homes to people in the overcrowded Nile Valleys as well as to make the area more attractive. Visit the newly constructed Kharga Museum, which houses an excellent collection of regional artifacts from various eras. A mile out of town is the temple of Hibis, built by the Persian emperor Darius in the 6th century BC and dedicated to God Amun. A mile farther is the fascinating necropolis of Bagawat, a Coptic Christian burial ground dating to the 4th century. Its mud-brick mausoleums cover many hills and some of the domes are decorated with frescoes of biblical scenes. Tour the Temple of Ghuwaytah built during the Ptolemeic era for the Triad of Amun, Mut & Khonsu. Overnight at the Pioneer Hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 8: Luxor

    Head to Luxor, approximately four hours, stopping at the Qasr Al-Zayyan and the Roman fortress of El-Deir along the way. Within the rectangular mudbrick enclosure walls of the fortress is a temple dedicated to the god ‘Amun of Hibis,’ who was known to the Romans as Amenibis. Overnight in Luxor at the Meridien Luxor Hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
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  • Day 9: Nile Cruise: Luxor East Bank

    Transfer to the pier for the embarkation of your Nile Cruise, for four nights. Today you will visit the East Bank, Luxor, and Karnak Temples. The temples of Karnak and Luxor were established in honor of the god Amun. In the past, the two temples were linked by an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes, representing the god Amun, who became the state god during the 18th Dynasty, transforming Karnak to one of the most important religious centers in the country.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
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  • Day 10: Nile Cruise: Luxor West Bank

    Cross to the West Bank and visit the Necropolis of Thebes, the Valley of Kings and Queens, and the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahari. There are between 75 and 80 tombs in the Valley of Queens. The Valley of Kings in Upper Egypt, the tombs of pharaohs from the New Kingdom can be found. Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple is one of the most dramatically situated in the world, set at the head of the valley, overshadowed by th Peak of Thebes, the “Lover of Silence,” where the goddess who presided over the necropolis lived. Return to the boat for lunch, and said to Edfu. Dinner and entertainment on board.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 11: Nile Cruise: Edfu and Kom-Ombo Temples

    Visit the Edfu temple, dedicated to Horus, the mulitform god of the sun and planets. The hawk (symbol of the god) is prominent in its decoration. Sail to Kom-Ombo, with lunch onbard. Visit the Kom-Ombo temple, shared equally by two gods Sobek and Haroeris, where everything in the temple is in pairs. Then, sail to Aswan, with dinner and entertainment on board.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 12: Nile Cruise: Aswan

    After breakfast, visit the Aswan High Dam, the Unfinished Obelisque, Granite Quarries, and the famous Philae Temple partially submerged in the Nile behind the High Dam until the international rescue efforts reassembled it in all its glory, on the islad of Agilkia. The Ptolemaic Temple of Isis (Philae Temple) illustrates the Egyptian use of the post and lintel system of construction. The last known hieroglyphic inscription in Egypt dates from 394 CE and is in this temple. Enjoy lunch onboard, then visit the Elephantine Island and museum, and view the Agha Khan Masoleum by Felucca. Dinner and entertainment on board the boat.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 13: Abu Simbel

    Transfer to the Aswan airport and fly to Abu Simbel, built by Ramesses II in ancient Nubia, to demonstrate his power and his divine nature. Four colassal statues of him sit in pairs flanking the entrance. The temple faces to the east, and is situated so that twice a year the sun’s rays reach into the innermost sanctuary illuminating the seated statues of sacred figures. The temple was cut out of the sandstone cliffs above the Nile River in an area near the Second Cataract. When the High Dam was being constructed in the early 1960s, international cooperation moved this temple to higher ground, above the rising waters of lake Nasser. In the afternoon, fly back to Cairo and transfer to the Ramses Hilton Hotel for your final night in Egypt.

    Meals
    Breakfast
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  • Day 14: Cairo / Onward

    Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
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Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$5,295
- $5,895
$5,895 (2 people) $5,295 (3-6 people) $500 estimated domestic airfare (Aswan to Abu Simbel to Cairo) not included in land cost.
Single Supplement:
$900
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
14 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
2
comfortable & delightful hotels
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
easy walking, desert conditions, driving over rough roads

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Petra

Duration: 4 days

Enjoy an exciting extension to your Egyptian journey by traveling to Jordan. Here, you will have the opportunity to visit the spectacular Rose Red city of Petra. The land cost for staying in 4-star hotels is $945 per person (2 people) or $845 per pe... read more

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