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adventure travel trip to Egypt
Explore the fascinating and iconic ruins on your journey through Egypt, Jordan, and Israel
  • Privately on Request
  • Duration 20 days
    Group Size 4-9
    Land Cost $5,295
    Single Supplement $1,075
    Lodging 3 stars-4 stars
    Grade I
    Best Time

    Ancient Egypt, Jordan & Israel

    Travel back to the ancient Middle-East on a three-country historic and cultural adventure

    Day 1      Arrive Cairo

    On arrival at Cairo International Airport, you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore your surroundings. In the evening, meet with your guide for welcome meeting and trip orientation.


    Welcome to busy and bustling Cairo

    Lodging: Grand Pyramids Hotel or similar
    Day 2      Cairo/Giza

    After breakfast at the hotel, head to the Egyptian Museum for a tour of selected exhibits. Your guide will explain the complexity of Egypt’s many dynastic periods, starting with the Old Kingdom and ending with the Greco-Roman occupation. You will also have some time to explore the museum on your own, and you may choose to visit the Royal Mummy Room (optional, extra cost). This provides an excellent background for your visit south to Upper Egypt. In the afternoon, drive to Giza, on the outskirts of the city, to visit the Great Pyramids and the nearby Sphinx. (For an additional charge, you may be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops, or Khufu, although occasionally it may be closed to visitors.)

    Returning to your hotel, there is plenty of time to freshen up and pack before heading to the rail station to board an overnight sleeper train to Luxor. Sleeping berths (beds and linen) are provided in private cabins and an airline-style dinner is served on board. It is worth bringing additional snacks, and your guide can help you to arrange this. A toilet is located at the end of each car.


    The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx are captivating sites near Cairo (photo by S. Anderson)
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: Overnight train
    Day 3      Luxor Bazaar and Karnak Complex

    After an early breakfast on the train, arrive in Luxor and transfer to the Nile river boat that will be your home for the next four nights. Relax on deck or explore the bazaar in town. Then later in the day, take a horse-drawn carriage to Karnak, one of the world’s most well-known temple complexes, built over the course of two centuries. Enjoy a guided tour of the temple, then the rest of the afternoon and evening are yours. Shop in the bazaar (open quite late) or experience the atmosphere of a local tea house.


    You will be astounded by the massive scale of the Karnak temple complex
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: MS Dolphin River Boat or similar
    Day 4      Valley of the Kings/Luxor/Nile

    Rise early this morning (very early in summertime) and drive to the west bank of the Nile, where you visit the Valley of the Kings. Your guide will explain the funerary rites of the ancient Egyptians and the significance of the many tomb paintings and hieroglyphics. Tutankhamun's (King Tut's) Tomb is located here (entry may be limited). Visit three royal tombs, then continue to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, set in a spectacular natural amphitheater. Our final stop is at the Colossi of Memnon, giant statues that were once part of an impressive colonnade. Return to the boat and enjoy lunch on board. Sail this afternoon to Edfu, passing through Esna Lock en route upstream.


    The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut sits among dramatic rock formations
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Nile River Boat
    Day 5      Edfu/Kom Ombo

    Morning finds the cruise boat moored at Edfu, near a well-preserved temple dedicated to Horus, the Falcon-Headed God. Disembark and explore the temple as well as the bustling town center. Then continue traveling upstream. Relax on the sundeck and enjoy views of the desert and the everyday life that is almost as timeless as the Nile itself, with desert hills forming a background to lush riverbanks, fisherman casting their nets, and farmers working their land. Arrive at Kom Ombo, where you visit the Temple of Sobek (the crocodile-headed god) that lies ruined on the edge of the Nile River. It is most spectacular from the river itself, but a short walk around the temple also provides interesting insight into the Greco-Roman period.


    Kom Ombo Temple
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Nile River Boat
    Day 6      Aswan Nile and Nubian Sights

    Today you arrive in Aswan, Egypt’s southernmost city. This friendly metropolis has an easygoing charm that is due in no small part to its large Nubian population. Depending on your boat's arrival time, you may visit the beautiful Temple of Isis that was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated to Philae Island (alternatively you will visit it tomorrow). It is an absolute gem and one of the highlights of Upper Egypt. The rest of your day is free to wander through the Nubian bazaar (a must!), visit the excellent Nubian Museum, or enjoy a walk along the corniche, the promenade that runs alongside the river. Enjoy a mint tea and watch the waterfront come alive with families strolling, socializing and relaxing along the corniche.


    View the Temple of Isis from the river as you approach
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Nile River Boat
    Day 7      Free Day in Aswan

    Today you disembark from the boat and check into a hotel, where a day room will be available for your use. The rest of the day is free for you to make your own discoveries. There is an optional visit to Abu Simbel this morning (extra cost, pre-booking required). The four massive statues of Ramses guarding the great temple is one of Egypt's most memorable sights.

    A popular afternoon option is a relaxing sailboat ride around the islands in a traditional felucca, stopping off at the botanical gardens on Kitchener’s Island. You may also take a camel ride to the Monastery of St. Simeon, an abandoned 7th century fortress monastery located in the desert on the west bank of the river. Your guide will be on hand to help you arrange any excursions you wish to undertake. Alternatively, you may just prefer to relax by the hotel pool or wander the bazaar. In the evening, visit a Nubian village and enjoy the hospitality of your hosts as you dine on local cuisine. You are also treated to some Nubian dancing and may even have the chance to try some moves yourself!


    This is your chance to ride in a traditional felucca
    Meals: Breafast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Isis Island Hotel or similar
    Day 8      Medieval Cairo

    After breakfast transfer to the Aswan airport for the short flight back to Cairo. Having experienced the highlights of ancient Egypt, today is your opportunity to see something of medieval Cairo at the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, Ibn Tulun Mosque, and the Gayer-Anderson Museum. Visit the beautiful mosque, considered one of the finest examples of 9th century architecture, before walking to the museum housed in two fine old villas (16th and 17th century) overlooking the mosque. Once owned by an English army officer, the two houses contain a fascinating collection of Arabic artifacts, furniture, and memorabilia, giving you insight into Cairene life during the Ottoman period. You may then continue into the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, which sprawls around an old area of Cairo known as Al-Azhar. Your guide will lead you into the heart of the bazaar, walking the tortuous streets and alleyways and marveling at the sales pitches of the attendant hawkers. Explore the gold market, ‘perfume street,’ and the spice market, where the scents of cumin, coriander, and cardamom hang in the air like a thick blanket of Damascene cloth (which can be purchased next door in the cloth market). There is time for you to do some last-minute shopping before heading back to the hotel.


    Experience the serenity of Ibn Tulun Mosque
    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Grand Pyramids Hotel or similar
    Day 9      Suez Canal/Mount Sinai

    This morning, travel east towards Suez, drive through the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel under the Suez Canal, and turn south towards St. Catherine's at the foot of Mount Sinai. It’s a long day’s drive (around eight hours), and, on the way, you stop for a light lunch (on your own). You reach your hotel in the late afternoon, when there may be time to relax by the pool before dinner.


    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: Catherine Plaza Hotel
    Day 10      Mount Sinai/Nuwieba/Aqaba

    If you wish to ascend Mount Sinai to watch the sun rise over the peninsula, you will be awakened between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. (depending on the season). It is a fairly steep climb (with stairs all the way), and in the dark most people take two to three hours to reach the summit. The view is well worth the effort and you return to your hotel for a well-earned breakfast. Note that during the winter months (October to March) it can get very cold on the mountain and may even snow, so please ensure you have warm layers. Around mid-morning, drive to Nuweiba to board the hydrofoil to Aqaba, Jordan.

    You may choose to summit Mount Sinai
    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: DoubleTree Hilton
    Day 11      Aqaba/Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp

    After a brief tour of Aqaba, you may visit the old castle (time permitting) before driving to Wadi Rum. This desert valley has towering sandstone mountain walls change hue throughout the day from sunrise to sunset. Wadi Rum is probably best known for its connection with the enigmatic British officer T.E. Lawrence, who was based here during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917-1918. Much of David Lean's film of his exploits, "Lawrence of Arabia," was actually filmed in Wadi Rum. You will spend a full day and overnight here. Visit several of Wadi Rum's distinctive rock formations and soak in the vast silence and spectacular desert landscapes. Then meet your Bedouin hosts for the night and ride camels to their tented camp situated deep within the valley, where you will enjoy an evening around the fire and a traditional overnight on mats in Bedouin tents.


    Colorful cliffs in the desert near Wadi Rum
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: Bedouin Camp
    Day 12      Wadi Rum/Petra

    It’s well worth rising early and watching the cliffs change color as the sun comes up this morning. Walk the arms of the valley and even scale one of the large dunes to enjoy sensational views of the surrounding area. Photographers will be especially delighted. Then take 4WDs from the camp back to the main entrance of Wadi Rum. The visitor's center is a great spot to buy souvenirs, mostly made by a women’s cooperative that supports traditional local industries. Continue your journey to Petra this afternoon. On arrival, there is time to check out the town or just relax in preparation for a big day of exploring the Petra ruins tomorrow.


    Admire the vivid morning hues of Wadi Rum
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: Taybet Zaman or similar
    Day 13      Petra

    Spend a full day today exploring the ancient city of Petra. The iconic view of the spectacular façade of the Treasury, viewed from the narrow cleft know as the Siq - is arguably the single most striking sight of the entire region. You are sure to be surprised by the size and scale of the Nabataean settlement. Explore the old Roman road, amphitheater, and tombs. You may also climb up to the Monastery for a fine view back over the entire site. There is a cafeteria on the site where you may enjoy a light lunch. In the midafternoon, return to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.


    The iconic Treasury at Petra
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: Taybet Zaman or similar
    Day 14      Shobak/Dana/Madaba/Amman

    This morning, drive along the King’s Highway, a road that dates back to the time of the Old Testament. Stop at Shobak Castle, originally built to protect the eastern flank of the Latin Kingdom and its trade routes to the sea before it fell to Saladin in 1189. Enjoy a walk through the site and then continue to the ancient village at Dana, where local artisans sell attractive silver jewelry and charms. You then reach Madaba, where you visit the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, which houses an ancient mosaic map of the region. This is of particular interest as it clearly depicts Palestine and Lower Egypt around 550 AD. Expect to arrive in Amman in the late afternoon. In the evening, you may try one of several fine restaurants for dinner. (Please note that Kerak Castle is not included in your tour, as it is often very congested and busy. However, if there is sufficient interest among members of the group, your guide may arrange an optional visit. Many travelers prefer to spend the extra time in Amman.)


    Dana has a tradition of mosaics dating back to this map at the Church of St. George
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Al-Qasr Metropole Hotel
    Day 15      Jerash/Dead Sea/Amman

    Founded in the time of Alexander the Great, the Roman city of Jerash was a commercial and cultural center of considerable importance. Today, it is one of the grandest ancient cities in the world with an imposing collection of archways, theaters, baths, public buildings, and colonnaded streets. Visit the site in the morning and later drive down to the Dead Sea. The afternoon you have the opportunity to float in the warm, therapeutic waters, which are the saltiest in the world. Return to Amman for the night.


    Don't miss the weightless experience of floating in the Dead Sea! (photo from K. Dochen)
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Al-Qasr Metropole Hotel or similar
    Day 16      Amman to Bethlehem/Jerusalem

    Leave Amman early and head for the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge. Only 40 km from Amman, the bridge marks the border with Israel. Once you have cleared immigration and customs, you are met by your new driver and take a quick tour of Jericho – considered by some to be the oldest, longest inhabited city in the world – before the long drive to Jerusalem. In the afternoon there will be time for a visit to Bethlehem, where you see Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity at the traditionally-accepted birthplace of Jesus Christ and a sacred place for Christians and Muslims alike. Its impressive Constantine mosaics, ancient basilica, and the small grotto that marks Jesus' birthplace are all impressive. Then drive to Beit Sahour to visit one of the most sacred places for Christians, the Shepherds' Field, identified in the New Testament as the site where the Angel of the Lord visited the shepherds and informed them of Jesus' impending birth. At long day's end, return to Jerusalem.


    Arrive in the diverse, iconic, bustling city of Jerusalem (photo by K. Dochen)
    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Legacy Hotel or similar
    Day 17      Jerusalem

    Begin your tour of Jerusalem with a panoramic view from the Mount of Olives showing you the city's great skyline – the ancient ramparts of the Old City, the churches adorning the Mount of Olives, and the iconic gold of the Dome of the Rock. Then drive to the Garden of Gethsemane and walk from there to St. Stephen’s Gate, through which you enter the Old City. Walk to the 'Cardo' in the recently restored Jewish Quarter, the old north-south axis in Roman times. Visit the Western (Wailing) Wall, Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross), and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When entry is permitted also visit the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. After lunch (not included), your tour continues with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the Holocaust. Please note that Yad Vashem is closed on public holidays and also on Fridays and Saturdays. On these days, you will visit Mount Zion, the Cenacle, and the Dormition Abbey instead.

    The Western Wall is the holiest site for the Jewish people (photo by C. Mills)
    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Legacy Hotel or similar
    Day 18      Nazareth/Sea of Galilee/Tiberias

    This morning drive through the Jordan Valley, stopping en route at Beit Shean to view a well-preserved Roman theatre and unique Byzantine mosaics. Passing through Tiberias, one of Judaism’s four holy cities, stop at Yardenit - the new commemorative site of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. At Nazareth, visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, which incorporates, according to Roman Catholic tradition, the cave in which Mary received the news from Gabriel that she would give birth to Jesus. Afterwards return to Tiberias to sail across the Sea of Galilee to Tabgha, where Jesus performed the Miracle of the Multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Stop at the ancient settlement of Capernaum, situated on the banks of the Kinneret, where Jesus once lived and Peter’s house still stands, before returning to Tiberias for an overnight stay in a hotel on a kibbutz.


    Amphitheater at Beit Shean
    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Ginosar Kibbutz
    Day 19      Tiberias/Haifa/Caesarea/Tel Aviv

    Leave Tiberias and visit the ancient port of Acre, a World Heritage Site with a colorful history from the time of the crusades through the Napoleonic battles to the present day. Visit the massive complex of buildings occupied by the Knights of St. John as well as the Knight Templars' secret tunnel. Then head south along the Mediterranean coast, passing through Haifa to Caesarea, which served as the capital of Israel during the Roman and Byzantine eras and which now holds some of the country’s finest classical remains, including an aquaduct and a serene amphitheater overlooking the Mediterranean. Arrive in Tel Aviv in the early evening, where you spend the last night of your trip in Israel’s liveliest city. With its vibrant cafe culture and relaxed beach scene, Tel Aviv makes for the perfect end point to our adventure.


    The Roman ruins at Caesarea lie right along the water (photo by K. Dochen)
    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Metroplitan Hotel or similar
    Day 20      Tel Aviv / Onward

    Your trip ends today after breakfast. Many flights back to the US depart in the evening, so you can spend this final day exploring Tel Aviv. Or, arrange to spend a few extra days to enjoy a Tel Aviv city tour and spend extra time in this modern city that holds a variety of sites and activities to engage you.


    Tel Aviv is equally distinguished as a commercial center and beach destination. (Photo by Christian Haugen)
    Meals: Breakfast

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