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Fly overnight to Cairo, Egypt
Your Egyptian adventure begins with an overnight flight to Cairo.
Arrive in Cairo and relax in splendor at your Deluxe Nile hotel
After arriving in the Egyptian capital on Day 2, transfer to your deluxe hotel, located in the heart of the city on the banks of the Nile River. (Note that if you purchase your airfare from Vantage, you’ll be met outside the airport arrivals area and your hotel transfer will be waiting. If you plan to reserve your own airfare, ask when making your reservation about purchasing transfer service from Vantage.) Tonight, we’ll toast the beginning of our Egyptian journey with a welcome drink and briefing, followed by a welcome dinner at the hotel, accompanied by live entertainment.
An audience with King Tut at the Egyptian Museum
This morning we’ll visit Cairo’s renowned Egyptian Museum — home to the world's largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities. Among the museum’s spectacular displays are numerous fine examples of art and statuary from ancient dynasties, including the golden treasures of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the mummies of many of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.
Cultural Discovery: After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll see some modern-day masterpieces being made when we visit a carpet school. Egypt is traditionally the epicenter of carpet-making in the Arab world, and carpet weaving in Egypt is believed to date back to the 15th century. Dinner tonight is at another of Cairo’s vibrant local restaurants.
Stand in the shadows of the Great Pyramids and gaze on the Great Sphinx
You can cross one of the world’s most iconic destinations off your bucket list today! Make sure the batteries are fully charged in your camera or GoPro before we set off, because you're guaranteed some fabulous photographs. We’ll make an excursion to the Giza Plateau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the southwest outskirts of the city to marvel at the Pyramids of Giza. The Great Pyramid — or Pyramid of Khufu — is the oldest and largest of the three, dating back to 2580–2560 BC and towering at 455 feet high. You’ll also see the Great Sphinx, the massive statue carved from the plateau’s limestone bedrock, in the shape of a reclining lion with the head of Pharaoh Khufu.
Still staggered by the wonders we’ve seen, we’ll board a bus and head for the date palm plantations of Saqqara. Here, we’ll enjoy a peaceful poolside lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the Step Pyramid of Djoser. Built in the 27th century BC, during Egypt’s third dynasty to honor King Djoser, it’s said to be the world’s earliest pyramid, and is also part of the Memphis Necropolis UNESCO site. After a busy day of breathtaking discovery, you and your fellow travelers will enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant.
Discover Islamic Cairo and the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Today, delve into Cairo’s historic quarter and the captivating story of Egypt’s predominant religion. Begin with a tour of Islamic Cairo, featuring visits to the fortified, medieval Citadel and the Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali. The grand, domed mosque is built in the Ottoman style and partly clad in translucent alabaster, hence its nickname “the Alabaster Mosque.” Be sure to have your camera at hand to capture the panoramic views of the city from the Citadel’s hilltop site, where, on a reasonably clear day, you can see all the way across to the Pyramids.
Cultural Discovery: An insightful lecture by a local expert on Islam will help to deepen your understanding of its history and culture, and greatly enhance your appreciation of the landmarks and artifacts you encounter today.
From here, it’s a short drive to Al Azhar Park — a serene public oasis in the midst of an urban desert. The park, listed as one of the world's 60 great public spaces, was developed in 2005 at a cost of over USD $30 million and was a gift to the city from Aga Khan IV. We’ll have lunch at a popular restaurant in the park, enjoying sweeping views over the landscaped gardens towards the Great Mosque.**
Your tour continues with a trip to the Museum of Islamic Art, home to one of the world’s most important collections of Islamic artifacts, followed by an excursion to Cairo’s Old Town — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This evening, recall your adventures in and around Cairo during dinner at the hotel.
** NOTE: Please be advised that Al Azhar Park does not serve alcohol for religious reasons.
Fly to Luxor to embark on the m/s Nebu and visit the Valleys of the Kings and Queens
After breakfast, you’ll transfer to Cairo Airport for your flight to Luxor — the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Here, you’ll drive through lush farmlands to the Nile waterfront, where the brand-new Vantage-owned ship m/s Nebu invites you to climb aboard for a deluxe Nile cruise. After a safety briefing, you’ll enjoy lunch on board ship and settle in to your spacious and stylish suites.
This afternoon, we’ll drive across the river to a range of low mountains. A series of rugged ravines in these hills are known today as the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. Part of the greater Theban Necropolis UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Valley of the Kings encompasses more than 60 tombs and burial chambers cut deep into rock cliffs over a 500-year span. Exploring some of these sacred chambers, you’ll see elaborate hieroglyphs and paintings that are almost as vivid now as they were three thousand years ago, when they were new.
Additional ancient wonders await in the nearby Valley of the Queens, a burial ground with as many as 90 tombs of the wives and children of the rulers. Before returning to the ship for dinner, we’ll also visit the magnificent multi-terraced Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, named for Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh — the queen who ruled as a man.
Serene Nile cruising to Edfu
Today, the m/s Nebu proudly sets sail. As Luxor dwindles into the distance, you’ll join a procession of other stately cruise ships, amongst which the m/s Nebu surely takes the gold. This is the ideal opportunity to luxuriate in the peaceful rhythm of life on board ship. In between sumptuous meals, cool off in the sparkling pool, sip cocktails in the shade on the deck, curl up with a good book, or capture everyday life along the Nile with your camera or GoPro.
As you pass tiny riverside villages and groves of date palms, you’ll feel as if you’re witnessing scenes straight out of biblical stories. Glimpses of sand dunes and bare cliffs just beyond the slender strip of agricultural land attest to the life-giving importance of the Nile to this desert land.
Visit the unique Temple of Kom Ombo and cruise to Aswan
Today we continue cruising up the Nile, arriving at the Temple of Kom Ombo in the late morning. On a visit to this temple, beautifully situated on a small hillside right beside the river, you’ll discover its unique “double” design, with symmetrical halves dedicated to two different gods.
The southern half of the temple is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and protection against the dangers of the Nile, while the northern part of the temple is dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris, or "Horus the Elder,” patron god of the pharaohs. The path out of the temple complex leads to the Crocodile Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of mummified crocodiles and ancient carvings. We’ll return to the ship for lunch and sail onwards to the city of Aswan.
Fly south to see the twin temples of Abu Simbel and sail on a traditional felucca
You’ll get an idea of the vastness of Egypt’s ancient dynasties, as we fly 175 miles south from Aswan to the visit the great twin temples of Abu Simbel. Along with the Temple of Isis at Philae, they are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known collectively as the Nubian Monuments. Here, imposing 70-foot statues of Ramses II and Queen Nefertari overlook the Nile. Originally carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC to commemorate Ramses II’s victory against the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh, the huge rock relief figures at their entrances have become famous icons, and the sight of them is well worth the extra flight.
What makes them even more interesting, however, is that these enormous temples were not always found here. Between 1964 and 1968, a famous rescue mission, overseen by UNESCO, was undertaken to save them from the waters inexorably rising behind the great Aswan High Dam. In a feat almost as impressive as building them in the first place, the entire complex was carefully cut into large blocks, dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 meters higher up.
After marveling at the architectural ingenuity of both the past and present, we’ll fly back to Aswan in time to enjoy lunch on board the ship. Cultural Discovery: This afternoon, climb aboard a traditional felucca sailboat and sip sparkling wine in the glorious sunshine. Listen to the laughing calls of pied kingfishers as they skim the water alongside, and to the beautiful adhan (Muslim call to prayer) floating up from the minarets of mosques lining the banks.
Discover Aswan’s treasures and dress up for a festive galabiya party
Today we'll explore the area around Aswan, beginning with the massive Aswan High Dam. This 13,000-foot-long and 3,200-foot-wide wall was built across the Nile between 1960 and 1970 with Soviet support. It supplanted the British-built Low Dam of the 1900s and created the vast reservoir known today as Lake Nasser. Standing atop its ramparts, you’ll learn how it transformed the economy and culture of Egypt.
You’ll also take a short boat ride across the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam to visit the elegant Temple of Philae, another of UNESCO’s Nubian Monuments that had to be rescued from flooding. Philae was originally located near the First Cataract but was flooded after the construction of the Aswan Low Dam. As part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project, the temple complex was drained, dismantled, cleaned, and moved to a nearby island, to protect it before the completion of the Aswan High Dam.
Our explorations then take us to an ancient granite quarry, where you’ll see the famed Unfinished Obelisk, whose construction was ordered by Queen Hatshepsut about 3,500 years ago. Marks from workers' tools are still clearly visible, as well as lines marking where they were working. Abandoned after cracks appeared, the massive granite pylon would have stood 137 feet high. Had it been completed, it would have been by far the largest of Egypt’s obelisks.
After lunch on board ship, we’ll start our relaxing return cruise past Kom Ombo and towards Edfu. Cultural Discovery: This evening, we’ll don traditional galabiyas (also known as Jellabiyas) for a fun costume party on board. Dressed like an Egyptian, you’ll be ready to dance like an Egyptian, and a vibrant Oriental show with lively music will set the mood for a festive night like no other.
Visit the Temple of Horus at Edfu and sail back to Luxor
Horse-drawn carriages will be waiting for us along the waterfront at Edfu this morning for the ride through this small river city to the famously well-preserved temple of Horus. The largest temple dedicated to the falcon god, it is notable for the two stone falcons at its entrance and the huge relief figures on its façade.
The temple was built in the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 237 and 57 BC, but was literally lost beneath the sands of time as drifting desert sand and river silt deposited by the Nile buried it to a depth of 40 feet. Local inhabitants built homes over it and, by 1798, when the temple was discovered by a French expedition, only the upper portions of the pylons were visible. This afternoon, we enjoy lunch on board ship and more scenic Nile cruising, as we return to Luxor once again.
Explore the fabulous Temples of Luxor and Karnak and enjoy a belly-dancing show on board
Today, we’ll explore two of Egypt’s most illustrious shrines: the Karnak and Luxor temple complexes. Said to be the world’s largest religious structure in area, the vast Karnak Temple complex was built and used over a period of 2,000 years. You’ll be awed by the Great Hypostyle Hall, where a monolithic forest of 134 huge columns is ranked in 16 rows. The largest are 33 feet around and soar to 80 feet in height.
A walkway lined with rams-head sphinxes leads all the way from Karnak to the 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple complex. Dedicated to the Theban Triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, Luxor’s graceful inner courtyards are lined with Ramesside colossi and graceful columns covered in carvings and hieroglyphics.
Cultural Discovery: After dinner this evening, we’ll be treated to a transfixing belly-dancing show on board ship. Famed for its controlled and precise movements, Egyptian belly-dancing is said to have originated in Cairo’s nightclubs before graduating to create stars of the silver screen.
Fly to Cairo then continue overland to coastal Alexandria
It's time to bid farewell to the Nile and the crew of the m/s Nebu, as we continue our journey to a city with a location and cultural climate unlike any other destination you’ve visited in Egypt so far.
To reach Alexandria, the great Mediterranean port city founded by Alexander the Great, we’ll first fly to Cairo, then continue by motorcoach to the coast. On arrival, we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant: the perfect opportunity to indulge in some of the city’s famous seafood. After checking into our sumptuous shorefront hotel, you’ll have the evening and dinner at leisure.
Walk in Cleopatra’s footsteps as you explore Greco-Roman Alexandria
This morning we explore Alexandria on a panoramic tour showcasing the highlights of "the Pearl of the Mediterranean," including the seafront promenade and the faded glory of the downtown area. We’ll descend the ancient staircase to the underground catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, an extensive subterranean burial site that dates to the Greco-Roman era of the 2nd century AD. Many of the features of the catacombs merge Roman, Greek, and Egyptian cultures; for example, some statues are Egyptian in style, yet bear Roman clothes and hairstyles. The location of the site had long been lost and was only rediscovered in 1900 when an unfortunate donkey stumbled into one of the shafts.
You’ll also visit Alexandria’s tallest monument, Pompey’s Pillar. Dating back to the 4th century it stands 90 feet tall and 30 feet wide and was hewn from a single block of red granite brought all the way from Aswan, almost 700 miles away. Following lunch at a local restaurant, your tour of Alexandrine history and culture continues with a visit to the Roman Amphitheater and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Built in 2002 as a worthy successor to the lost Ancient Wonder of the Great Library of Alexandria, the extraordinary library and cultural center contains millions of books in English, French, and classical Arabic, as well as four museums. Enjoy dinner on your own tonight.
Return to Cairo for a Gala Farewell Dinner
This morning, we return by road to Cairo. Upon arrival, check into your Deluxe hotel, located in the upscale Cairo suburb of Heliopolis, conveniently close to Cairo Airport. After an afternoon at leisure to pack or relax in the hotel’s pool and garden, we’ll drink a final toast to our Egyptian adventure with a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Depart Cairo and fly home; or continue on to Jordan & Petra with a post-trip extension
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Cairo airport for your flight home to the U.S., or fly on to Jordan for your post-trip extension to the Lost City of Petra and Amman.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary.
Note: Hotel ratings are based on the Hotel Index, a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.