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Egypt & the Eternal Nile by Private, Classic River-Yacht

Terms & Conditions

Trip Date
Price from
Number of Days
Highlights & Inclusions
  • Explore in a small group of 8-16 travelers (average of 13)—guaranteed
  • International airfare, airport transfers, government taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges unless you choose to make your own air arrangements*
  • All land transportation
  • Accommodations for 9 nights in hotels, 5 nights on our privately-chartered river-yacht
  • 39 meals—14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, and 12 dinners (including 1 Home-Hosted Dinner)
  • 21 small group activities
  • Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Experience Leader who is also an accredited Egyptologist
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next O.A.T. trip



Depart U.S.
Activity Note: Many flights from the United States arrive in Cairo late at night. You may choose to arrive a day early to settle in before your adventure begins. Please call for details.

You depart today for your overnight flight from the U.S. to Cairo, Egypt.

Arrive Cairo, Egypt
Destination: Cairo
Accommodations: Cairo Marriott Hotel or similar

Activity Note: Travelers who took our arrive early option will have already spent the night at our Cairo hotel.

Afternoon/Evening: Upon arrival in Cairo late this afternoon (or early evening, depending on your flight) and have reserved your airfare with O.A.T. or purchased a transfer, an O.A.T. representative will meet you and escort you to your hotel, which should take approximately 45 minutes, depending on traffic. Set on an island in the Nile in the Zamalek district, our historic hotel—the first of three on our journey—offers a respite from the vibrant streets and exotic bustle of Africa’s largest capital. Hotel amenities will likely include several restaurants, cafés, and bars; along with elegant gardens and an outdoor pool. Air-conditioned rooms typically include a satellite TV, minibar, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath.

After settling in, we’ll regroup in the lobby in the early evening and your Trip Experience Leader will lead you and your fellow travelers, including those who just arrived from our Jordan: The King's Highway from Amman to Petra pre-trip extension and those who arrived early in Cairo before the main adventure, on an orientation walk around the hotel grounds and surrounding area.

Dinner: On your own. Your Trip Experience Leader can offer suggestions on where to dine, or you may choose to eat at the hotel restaurant.

Evening: You’re free to explore on your own or retire to your room to rest up from your flight and prepare for tomorrow’s discoveries.

Visit Egyptian Museum
Destination: Cairo
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Cairo Marriott Hotel or similar

Breakfast: Served buffet-style at the hotel beginning at 7am, with Egyptian and American options.

Morning: At about 9am, we'll gather in the hotel with our Trip Experience Leader, who will set the stage for our discoveries in Egypt with a more formal Welcome Briefing. This briefing gives us the chance to introduce ourselves and get to know the other members of our small group. We will review our itinerary in more detail (including any changes that may need to occur). Our Trip Experience Leader will discuss logistics, safety and emergency procedures, and answer any questions we may have.

Then, at about 10am, we’ll depart for the 30-minute drive to the world-renowned Egyptian Museum, home to the greatest Pharaonic treasures in the world. The museum’s vast exhibits will lend context to our later discoveries as we trace the history of Egypt from Cheops to Cleopatra. After our 2-hour guided tour, there will be time to reflect on Egypt’s illustrious pharaohs or wander the museum’s side rooms to glimpse the daily lives of the ancient Egyptians.

Around 12:30pm, we’ll drive 20 minutes to a local restaurant.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, at around 1pm, featuring traditional Egyptian fare.

Afternoon: After lunch, enjoy free time for your own discoveries. If you’d like activity suggestions, check with your Trip Experience Leader. Alternatively, you may wish to use this time to relax before our Welcome Dinner this evening.

Dinner: At about 6:15pm, we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: You are free to retire to your room or perhaps purchase some cocktails at the bar with your fellow travelers and talk about the day's discoveries.

Visit the Pyramids of Giza • Controversial Topic: Women's rights in Egyptian society
Destination: Cairo
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Cairo Marriott Hotel or similar

Breakfast: Served buffet-style at the hotel beginning at 7am, with Egyptian and American options.

Morning: At about 9am, we’ll depart our hotel for a drive out to Giza to behold the Great Pyramids, including the greatest of them all—the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Khufu. The only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid was built for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek) and was the world’s tallest man-made structure for more than 4,000 years. While here, we'll also have an opportunity to enjoy a camel ride. We can ponder another mystery for the ages at the Sphinx, enigmatic guardian of the Giza Plateau.

Lunch: At an local restaurant in Giza that specializes in grilled chicken and Egyptian fare, at around 1pm.

Afternoon: At about 3:15pm, we’ll return to our hotel for the remainder of the afternoon free to relax or do some further exploring independently, perhaps to visit one of nearby art galleries.

Around 5:30pm, we’ll be met by one of two female speakers to discuss the Controversial Topic of women’s rights in Egyptian society.

From ancient times to modern day, the role of women in Egyptian society has gradually evolved, and our conversation today will explore the extent of this evolution. To contextualize this complex issue, we’ll glean insight from the personal experiences of either a working wife and mother or a single, working woman. Both speakers grew up in Cairo, but their parents hail from rural villages—often leading to a cultural rift between the generations. As such, these women offer wide-ranging perspectives which are sure to cast a personal light on the delicate subject matter.

Egypt is divided on the push for gender equality—the northern part of the country being progressive and the southern part less so. This contrast is, of course, most stark between rural and urban areas. However, in recent years, advocates and Egypt-based organizations like the Egyptian Feminist Union have helped to increase awareness surrounding women's issues, such as lack of educational opportunities and equal representation in the workplace. And it seems that these efforts are having an impact: the number of women in the Egyptian parliament increased from 2% in 2005 to 25% in the following election alone, the literacy rate for women above 15 years old increased from 58% in 2006 to 65% in 2017, and the percentage of college graduated women (at the undergraduate level) increased from 8% in 2006 to 11% in 2017. Perhaps the biggest stride, though, was the passing of new legislation granting women the right to divorce their husbands, a law which only passed in 2000. We’ll talk more in-depth specifically about this groundbreaking decision later in our adventure.

Our speaker will share her story and address both sides of the issue for about 20 minutes before opening the conversation up to a 40-minute Q&A. Take this opportunity to ask any questions you may have—perhaps you'd like to know about gender-based discrimination in the workplace, or maybe you’re curious if her conservative family has warmed up to the idea of expanding women’s rights.

Dinner: On your own. Ask your Trip Experience Leader for suggestions.

Evening: The remainder of your evening is free for you to take advantage of the hotel’s amenities, relax with your travel companions in the lounge, or retire to your room and prepare for tomorrow’s flight to Aswan.

Fly to Aswan • Visit High Dam • Home-Hosted Dinner
Destination: Aswan
Meals included: B L
Accommodations: Old Cataract Hotel or similar

Activity Note: Today's activities require an early wake up call of about 4am.

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: This evening we'll venture into the home of a family in Aswan, where we'll enjoy a Home-Hosted Dinner. This is a special opportunity afforded to us by our small group size and made possible by the regional connections of our local Trip Experience Leaders. During our shared meal, you'll learn more about daily life in the region from these residents, and take part in the customs and culinary traditions of the region. Read more about this experience below.

Breakfast: A boxed breakfast will be available at the hotel beginning at 4am.

Early Morning: At about 4:30am, we transfer to the airport for our one-hour flight to Aswan, Egypt’s southernmost city (flight time subject to change). Set along an enchanting stretch of the Nile, Aswan is an ancient frontier town where life glides by as gently as the canvas-sailed feluccas that drift past the tropical islands dotting the river’s sapphire waters. Along the way, we’ll make a stop at the Aswan High Dam, whose 1971 construction created the massive Lake Nasser. At around 10:30am, we'll take a boat to the island temple of Philae, center of the cult of the goddess Isis. Similar to the plight of Abu Simbel, this temple complex was moved in order to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser. Our discoveries include the Temple of Isis, with its courtyards flanked by granite lions and walls covered in ancient gods and goddesses; and Trajan’s Kiosk, with its 14 majestic stone pillars.

Lunch: At an iconic local restaurant in Aswan at around 1pm, featuring traditional Egyptian dishes.

Afternoon: At about 2:30pm, we’ll arrive in Aswan and check in to the historic Old Cataract Hotel, whose terrace provides views of Elephantine Island and the most dramatic Nile sunsets in all of Egypt. Constructed in 1899 by Thomas Cook for refined European travelers, the Old Cataract Hotel occupies one of the most breathtaking locations along a bend in the Nile, facing out over the sands of the Sahara beyond. Hotel guests have included Tsar Nicholas II, Winston Churchill, Howard Carter, among many others. Agatha Christie also set portions of her novel Death on the Nile at the elegant hotel, and scenes from the 1978 film of the same name were shot here. Visitors from the golden age of travel to the present day have praised this captivating Victorian palace perched on a granite shelf above the Nile. Rooms are air-conditioned and include satellite TV, Internet access, minibar, and private bath.

After some free time to explore the hotel and its magnificent grounds, we'll regroup around 7pm in the lobby of our hotel for one of the highlights of our Egypt adventure: a Home-Hosted Dinner with a local family. We'll break up into smaller groups of no more than five travelers and depart for the home or apartment of our host family, which will be located in a nearby suburb. The neighborhood we visit is primarily home to families who work at the Aswan Dam or local electricity facility. This is a unique opportunity to learn more about life and work in the region—so come hungry for your home-cooked meal, and bring plenty of questions for your welcoming hosts

Dinner: Around 7:30pm in the home of a local family. Learn about life in the historic city of Aswan from these residents, and watch as they prepare an authentic dinner. Our meal this evening will consist of typical regional dishes—like mahshi (eggplant and zucchini), moussaka (an eggplant, meat, and potato-based dish), and tahini salad (made from toasted, ground sesame)—and the family will sit down with us to savor it. We'll finish off our meal with a traditional dessert like basbousa, cake sweetened with a simple syrup, or knafah, filo pastry filled with cheese.

We’re afforded this special privilege by our small group size; by dining in groups of no more than 5, we’re given the chance to enter local homes and connect on a one-to-one level, and to even share a little with our hosts about who we are and what has brought us to Egypt. This will be a great opportunity to ask them about life in Aswan, any customs they practice, and more.

Evening: Free to relax, enjoy a drink at the hotel’s famous terrace, or perhaps just soak in the history of these legendary accommodations.

Explore Aswan's Spice Market
Destination: Aswan
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Old Cataract Hotel or similar

Breakfast: Buffet-style at the hotel, beginning at 6am, featuring Egyptian and American options.

Morning: Enjoy some free time in Aswan this morning to explore independently.

Lunch: At a local restaurant around noon, featuring traditional Egyptian dishes.

Afternoon: During some free time this afternoon, you may want to explore the hotel and its magnificent grounds. Or you can shop for keepsakes such as papyrus art or perhaps a 14-carat gold cartouche with your name in hieroglyphics. We’ll gather together at about 6pm to enjoy a discovery walk through Aswan’s bustling spice market. We’ll hunt for bargains at a colorful bazaar of aromatic spices, Nubian craftsembroidered galabayas (traditional Egyptian garments), and more, before heading over to a local restaurant for dinner.

Dinner: At about 7pm, in a local restaurant in Aswan.

Evening: Free to enjoy individual pursuits for our last night in Aswan, or to begin packing for tomorrow’s drive to Abu Simbel.

Aswan • Travel to Abu Simbel
Destination: Abu Simbel
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Seti Abu Simbel Hotel or similar

Breakfast: Served at the hotel beginning at 6am, with Egyptian and American options.

Morning: At about 7am, we’ll begin our overland transfer (approximately four hours) to Abu Simbel for an overnight stay. Upon arrival around 11am, we’ll spend about 2 hours exploring the ancient relics and structures for which the area is known. Unlike the throngs of day-trippers who rush their visit here, we get to witness the iconic temples seemingly carved into living rock both by day and at night. We’ll see this ancient wonder fully intact, with its huge guardian statues and elaborate depictions of famous battles on the inner walls of Ramses’ Temple. It has been said that this famed king was something of a narcissist—we’ll see ample evidence of that here in the sheer number of objects depicting him, including a mammoth statue in which his head appears to support the weight of the entire temple. The massive colossi of Ramses II were an expression of Egypt’s might and its dominance over the Nubian kingdom.

When Lake Nasser was created as a result of the construction of the Aswan High Dam, some 100,000 Nubians were displaced. Not only did the High Dam’s construction upend the lives of Nubians, but it appeared that the massive temples of Abu Simbel—hewn out of the solid cliff in the 13th century B.C.—were doomed to vanish beneath the rising waters of Lake Nasser. But the entire complex was cut into 1,036 blocks (weighing eleven tons each), and thanks to the labor of 25,000 workers over three years, was moved 200 feet up the cliffs and safely re-established above the new water level.

After exploring the area, we'll check in to our centrally located hotel around 1pm. Depending on where we stay, hotel amenities may include an outdoor pool and onsite restaurant. Each air-conditioned room may feature complimentary wireless Internet access, an in-room safe, and a private bath with hair dryer.

Lunch: At our hotel around 1pm, featuring a selection of Nubian specialties.

Afternoon: Following lunch, you’ll have free time to relax or venture out on your own. Perhaps after the long drive this morning you’d prefer to settle into the hotel and enjoy some tea—or you may wish to consult with your Trip Experience Leader for ideas. Then, at about 5:30pm, we’ll continue our discoveries with a short drive back to Abu Simbel, where we’ll gain an entirely new perspective of the site during an enchanting sound and light show. The illuminated temples and relics provide a dramatic lens through to which to experience the rich history and heritage before us.

Around 7:15pm, we’ll make the short drive back to our hotel.

Dinner: At about 7:30pm, at our hotel for a Nubian-style dinner.

Evening: Free to relax and enjoy the amenities of our hotel or return to our rooms to beginning packing for tomorrow’s transfer back to Aswan.

Return to Aswan • Begin Nile cruise
Destination: Nile cruise
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Asiya river-yacht , Aida, Amunet, or Aton river-yachts

Activity Note: Our cruise from south to north is against the wind, so our dahabeya will require the use of our motorized tender most of the time, which is situated about 120 feet away from our boat.

Breakfast: Served buffet-style at the hotel beginning at 6am.

Morning: At about 8am, we’ll transfer back toward Aswan to embark our private Nile river-yacht and begin one of the highlights of our Egypt adventure. To set your expectation for the days ahead, a word about our private 16-passenger dahabeya—your accommodations for the next five nights: This is not your typical large river ship, packed with travelers, chugging up and down the Nile (we’re content to let those big boats pass us by). Instead, you’ll experience a gentler, more gracious era in travel. As we glide quietly across the Nile’s timeless waters, guided by the gentle winds and whims of the currents, our small motorized tender is there to nudge us along when we require assistance.

The intimate size of our vessel also allows us to visit ancient temples at quiet times, and gives us access to the smaller islands and riverside villages that travelers on big river ships can only dream about. And at night, we’ll be far away from the bright lights and lines of the noisy tourist steamers. Quietly moored in secluded locales, we’ll spend peaceful evenings relaxing on deck, gazing out at the Nile to imagine a time when Cleopatra and Julius Caesar drifted past these very same waters aboard the Egyptian queen’s gilded barge. And with an attentive crew to provide personal service to our small group of just 16 travelers, you may feel a bit like a queen or a pharaoh yourself when we begin our romantic journey along the Nile at about 11am.

Lunch: Aboard our yacht, at around 12:30pm.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll cruise for approximately four hours, plenty of time to appreciate just how relaxing this form of Nile travel can be while taking in the vistas to either side of the river where life plays out along its banks unchanged for centuries. Our destination is Herbiab, a small island along the river's west bank, where we’ll take a pleasant village walk and watch the sun setting over the Nile before returning to our yacht for dinner and settling in to our cabins for the night.

Dinner: Aboard our yacht, at about 6:30pm.

Evening: You are free to relax on deck to admire the night sky or settle in to your cabin for the night.

Daraw livestock market • Explore Kom Ombo • Cruise to Fares Village
Destination: Nile cruise
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Asiya river-yacht , Aida, Amunet, or Aton river-yachts

Breakfast: Served buffet-style on our yacht, beginning at 7am.

Morning: We’ll set sail early this morning (about 5:30am), and enjoy the unfolding scenery during breakfast as we cruise for about two hours on our way to the village of Daraw, home to a bustling market where cows, goats, camels, and other livestock are traded. Because we are traveling in such a small group, we’ll hop aboard pick-up trucks, a more modern form of local transport, and head over to the market (during non-market days, we will visit some of the livestock barns). With herders urging their camels and goats along and Nubian men hawking their mint and Egyptian spinach as they squeeze through the crowds in their tuk-tuks, the scene can be dusty, colorful, and chaotic—and fun.

After returning to our yacht by about 10am, we’ll cruise for about an hour to Kom Ombo, a riverside town surrounded by sugar cane fields that is home to Egypt’s only double temple. Dramatically situated along a bend on the Nile, the beautiful Graeco-Roman Kom Ombo Temple features one side dedicated to the local crocodile god, Sobek (it is said that real crocodiles used to bask here). The other side honors the falcon god, Haroeris. The entire structure is unusual in that everything is doubled and perfectly symmetrical along the main axis: twin entrances, twin courts, and twin colonnades. Another unique feature of Kom Ombo is a series of engravings thought to be among the world’s first representations of medical and surgical instruments. We’ll return to our yacht at about 12:30am, and continue sailing.

Lunch: While cruising aboard our yacht, at around 1pm.

Afternoon: Our scenic Nile cruise brings us to the village of Fares at about 4pm, where we'll enjoy some island exploring, visit Fares’ traditional Egyptian village, and stop to see a local craftsman.

Dinner: At about 6:30pm, we’ll go ashore for a traditional Egyptian barbecue dinner on Fares Island (weather permitting), featuring assorted grilled meats and fresh local grains and vegetables.

Evening: You can relax with your fellow travelers on the island of Fares, or return to your cabin and retire for the night.

DAY 10
Gebel Silsila Temple and Quarries • A Day in the Life of Besaw Island • Education for girls in rural Egypt discussion
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Asiya river-yacht , Aida, Amunet, or Aton river-yachts

Exclusive O.A.T. Activity: Today's activities feature our NEW A Day in the Life experience of Besaw Island, where we'll meet a local farmer and his family. Our discoveries will provide a window into this isolated agricultural community and help us understand their unique perspective and traditional livelihood. Read more about this activity below.

Breakfast: Served aboard our yacht beginning at 7am, with Egyptian and American options.

Morning: Picking up the anchor at about 5am, our yacht will have already set sail by the time we wake up. So during our breakfast, we can admire the palm trees, farmland, donkeys, and tranquil scenes of traditional Egyptian life as we slowly cruise farther south along the Nile. Then, around 8:30am, we’ll reach the narrowest stretch of the Nile, an area the ancient Egyptians called “Khenu,” or the place of rowing. Our destination is Gebel Silsila, a rocky gorge where high sandstone cliffs descend down to the water’s edge. Our small river-yacht will then come to a slow drift while we gaze out at the ancient quarries that provided the stones to build almost all of Egypt’s great monuments and temples, including Karnak, Luxor, Kom Ombo, and many others. It is estimated the amount of sandstone mined here during the pharaonic era is eight million tons. You can be among the few to explore this historic site, and learn about a recent archaeological discovery made here—a massive sacred temple used for four epochs of ancient Egyptian history. Our Trip Experience Leader will shed light on this historical finding for about 45 minutes, during which we can ask any questions we might have.

Around 9:30am, we'll resume sailing for about 1 hour and make our way to Besaw Island, where we’ll proceed to walk 15 minutes to begin our NEW A Day in the Life discoveries with local farmer, Sayed, and his family. Sayed’s ancestors moved to this island after the building of the Aswan High Dam. As irrigation became more regulated and agrarian reform took effect, Besaw transformed into a viable, agricultural haven, and land previously owned by the wealthy was redistributed among agricultural workers. This 500-strong island community primarily cultivates mangoes, bananas, dates and feed for their livestock. They are noticeably isolated from surrounding areas, as there are no bridges, no modern developments, and electricity only came to the island around 2010. Besaw is seemingly frozen in time, where the pace of life is much like the gentle breeze and long-established traditions are the beating heart of local culture.

Upon arrival at Sayed’s half-acre property around 10:45am, we’ll be greeted by his family and welcomed into their two-story, roughly 1,500 square feet mud-brick house. There, we’ll begin with a 30-minute conversation about education for girls living on the island. As we learned on Day 3, Egypt is quite split on the subject of women’s rights and the resistance to such progress is significantly greater in rural areas like Besaw. Many residents believe that learning to read and write is sufficient education for girls and that they should begin thinking about marriage in their teenage years. Furthermore, education can be a burden on families because children must travel to the mainland to attend school—meaning parents and elders lose out on the extra domestic help. However, as we get to know our host, we’ll come to find out that not all people here have such old world views on the subject. Sayed is an advocate for women’s rights and strives to support his daughters in pursuing education and whatever career they choose. In fact, one of his daughters hopes to become a doctor, a dream which Sayed fervently supports. We’ll also have the opportunity to ask any questions we might have about the issue—perhaps you’d like to know how forward-thinking residents like Sayed are working to change the minds of conservative neighbors, or you might wish to ask about local school curriculums.

Then, around 11:45am, we’ll stretch our legs with a 1-hour walk through the village crop fields. In summer time, we’ll stroll through dense rows of lush mango plants and banana palm trees—two of the most lucrative commodities grown here—and if we happen to visit in winter, we’ll see zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, okra, parsley, and other types of produce. We’ll also have the chance to observe some of the livestock, such as water buffaloes, cows, sheep, and various poultry. All of this life is sustained, of course, by strategic irrigation methods, which we’ll learn about and even have a chance to try our hand at throughout our walk. Depending on the time of year, we may also have the opportunity to seed the land or harvest some of the crops.

Around 12:30pm, we’ll walk about 15 minutes back to Sayed’s house, where we’ll have a chance to prepare the table for lunch.

Lunch: Around 12:45pm in Sayed’s home on Besaw Island, featuring traditional dishes like orzo chicken soup, sun-baked bread, fried chicken, or beef stew, followed by a semolina-based dessert.

Afternoon: At about 2pm, we’ll walk 15 minutes back to our river-yacht. We'll set sail to Fawaza this afternoon and you can continue to enjoy scenic views of the Egyptian countryside.

Dinner: At about 7pm, we’ll enjoy dinner onboard in the ship's dining room.

Evening: Following dinner, you have the remainder of the night free for our own discoveries.

DAY 11
Cruise to Edfu • Discover Edfu Temple
Destination: Nile cruise
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Asiya river-yacht , Aida, Amunet, or Aton river-yachts

Breakfast: Served buffet-style on our yacht, beginning at 7am.

Morning: At about 7am, we set our course for Edfu. During our scenic two-hour cruise, you can join our Trip Experience Leader for a discussion on pharaonic life, cast a fishing line into the Nile’s placid waters, or even try your hand at senet, an ancient Egyptian board game that was a favorite pastime of Tutankhamen. There are many onboard activities that you can enjoy, and you may find a deep sense of camaraderie developing aboard ship with such a small group size.

At about 9:30am, we’ll arrive at Edfu, a town on the west bank of the Nile that is home to the best-preserved cult temple in Egypt. Stepping off our yacht, we’ll then take a horse and buggy ride out to the Temple of Horus. Built between 237 and 57 BC, ancient Egyptians believed that the temple was inhabited by the falcon-headed god, Horus, their divine protector. Annual coronation festivals were held to re-crown Horus, during which a falcon was released in his honor. After exploring the remarkable hieroglyphs and bas-reliefs of Egypt’s second largest temple, we’ll enjoy a discovery walk along the bustling streets of Edfu before returning to our yacht.

Lunch: Aboard our yacht, at about 1pm.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll continue cruising for about 1.5 hours until we reach Besilia, a quiet little village farther down along the Nile’s west bank.

Dinner: Aboard our yacht, at about 6pm.

Evening: Relax onboard or retire to your cabin.

DAY 12
Cruise to Esna • Visit Esna & Temple of Khnum
Destination: Nile cruise
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Asiya river-yacht , Aida, Amunet, or Aton river-yachts

Breakfast: Served buffet-style on our yacht, beginning at 7am.

Morning: At about 7am, we’ll cruise for about two hours until we reach Hegz, a small village on the Nile’s east bank, where we’ll take a pleasant village walk before returning to our yacht and setting off again for four more hours of cruising.

Lunch: Aboard our yacht, at about 1pm.

Afternoon: At about 2:45pm, we’ll arrive in Esna, a town on the Nile’s west bank. An important stop on the camel-caravan route for centuries, Esna is also home to a famous Graeco-Roman structure, the Temple of Khnum, which we’ll visit upon our arrival. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to explore Esna on your own.

Dinner: Enjoy our final dinner aboard our yacht at about 6pm, which is moored in Esna next to other dahabeyas.

Evening: Relax onboard with your fellow travelers or retire to your cabin t begin packing for tomorrow’s drive to Luxor.

DAY 13
Disembark yacht • Explore Luxor and Karnak Temples
Destination: Luxor
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Winter Palace Hotel or similar

Breakfast: Served buffet-style on our yacht, beginning at 7am.

Morning: At about 8am, we’ll bid farewell to our captain and crew and drive for about 1.5 hours to Luxor. Modern-day Luxor grew out of the ruins of ancient Thebes, one-time capital of Egypt’s New Kingdom. And we’ll begin to grasp the scope and grandeur of the monuments and temples along both banks of the Nile at this special locale—Luxor Temple and the Temple of Karnak on the East bank, and the remote Valleys of the Kings and Queens on the West bank.

Our explorations in Luxor begin at the Temple of Karnak. With its massive gate built by Ptolemy III, Karnak is one of the most important ancient sites in all of Egypt. Ancient Egyptians, who believed that their chief deity Amun-Re first created himself and then everything else, called Karnak Ipet-Isut, “the most perfect of places.” And perfection was eventually attained at Karnak, which was built over the course of 1,300 years by successive kings and queens, who each added their own tributes to Amun-Re, replacing or expanding existing monuments in ever more grand styles. After exploring the dizzying array of temple courts, halls, and pylons of this city-sized complex, we’ll check in to our historic hotel, which is situated along the Nile River amid luxuriant tropical gardens and ancient temples. You can unpack and settle in to your air-conditioned room, which should include a satellite TV, safe, minibar, and private bath with hair dryer, before regrouping in the lobby at around noon.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Luxor, at about 12:30pm.

Afternoon: At about 4:30pm, we’ll explore Luxor Temple, a center of power of Egypt’s mighty pharaohs for almost 1,500 years. The temple complex was largely built by Amenhotep III and Ramses II, the greatest most celebrated pharaoh of the New Kingdom (his reign lasted some 66 years, up until his death at age 91). Many other pharaohs and rulers added to the temple over the centuries. Tutankhamen even contributed some—the only mark left by the boy king who is far more famous for being dead than alive. After exploring the series of statues, halls, columns, and pillars at Luxor Temple, we can turn our gaze to the incredible avenue of sphinxes that begin here and stretch for more than a mile into the distance, all the way to Karnak.

Later, we’ll walk over to Luxor’s local market, where we can explore the jewelry and leather shops or sit down at a café to sip mint tea or enjoy a cup of strong Egyptian coffee.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Luxor at about 6:30pm, featuring traditional Egyptian cuisine.

Evening: The rest of your evening is free to relax at the hotel, or perhaps to head over to the Luxor market, which is about a half of a mile from our hotel.

DAY 14
Optional hot-air balloon ride • Valley of the Kings
Destination: Luxor
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Winter Palace Hotel or similar

Activity Note: Travelers taking the hot-air balloon ride Optional Tour will depart the hotel at 5:30am. Those not participating in the balloon ride will depart the hotel at 8am, cross over to the west bank to meet up with the early risers, and proceed together to the Valley of the Kings.

Breakfast: Served buffet-style at the hotel beginning at 6am, with Egyptian and American options.

Morning: At about 8am, we’ll depart the hotel, crossing to the west bank of the Nile by motorboat, and then journeying by coach to the Valley of the Kings, about an hour’s drive away. Or, you may elect to rise extra early for an optional balloon ride over the west bank to witness a glorious Egyptian sunrise over the Nile. The Valley of the Kings, situated in a secluded locale in the Theban Hills, is where the great pharaohs were buried in rock-cut tombs and surrounded by all the treasures they would need in the afterlife. Almost all of the sacred burial chambers were plundered over the millennia—with the exception of an obscure young ruler whose reign lasted a mere decade. On the afternoon of November 26, 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter made a small hole in a sealed doorway, inserted a candle, and peered inside. He later wrote about what he saw: “As my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold—everywhere the glint of gold.” When his patron, Lord Carnarvon, asked if he could see anything, Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.” Completely untouched, Tutankhamen’s burial chambers contained thousands of priceless objects, along with a gold coffin containing the mummy of the teenage king.

Upon arrival in the Valley of the Kings at around 9am, we’ll set off on a walking tour, which includes a visit to the tomb of this young pharaoh, followed by a visit to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, built for Egypt’s first known female monarch. Ruling for 20 years in the 15th century B.C., Hatshepsut is also considered one of Egypt's most successful pharaohs.

At approximately 12:30pm, we’ll walk 15 minutes to a local restaurant for lunch.

Lunch: At around 12:45pm, we'll enjoy lunch at local restaurant specializing in traditional tagine dishes (casseroles cooked in earthenware pots) in the fields surrounding the Valley of the Kings.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we'll cross back over the Nile by motorboat, and arrive back at our hotel, where you'll have the balance of the afternoon free—an ideal opportunity to explore our historic hotel's many links to Carter’s great discovery.

Dinner: At about 6pm, we’ll enjoy a festive Farewell Dinner at our hotel's restaurant. This is a great time to celebrate our Egypt discoveries with the entire group while dining on the traditional Egyptian fare that we’ve come to know during our adventure.

Evening: Your final night in Luxor is free to explore on your own.

Hot Air Balloon Ride - $110/person

Rise early for a hot air balloon ride and view the splendor of the Nile’s West Bank and Valley of the Kings with a new sense of wonder. See ancient Luxor from a unique angle as you drift over temples, ancient sites, and sacred ruins (depending on wind direction)—and also over vast sugar cane fields and villages waking up in the early morning sun. Please note: This optional tour is weather permitting.

DAY 15
Fly to Cairo • Explore Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan and Al Rifa'i Mosque
Destination: Cairo
Meals included: B L D
Accommodations: Cairo Marriott Hotel or similar

Breakfast: Buffet-style at the hotel beginning at 7am, featuring Egyptian and American options.

Morning: At about 8am, we’ll transfer to the airport for our 1.5-hour flight north to Cairo (flight time is subject to change).

Lunch: At around noon, we'll have a boxed lunch on our bus while we drive into the city to explore two of Cairo's most famous mosques.

Afternoon: At about 1:30pm, we'll visit the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan and its historic counterpart, the Al Rifa'i Mosque. Standing side by side, the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan was constructed during the mid-14th century and is one of the largest mosques in the world. The massive Al Rifa'i Mosque, completed in 1912, was built to showcase the modernization of Egypt's capital while embracing the glory years of its Islamic history and features many Mamluk architectural influences. As the burial place of a number of Egyptian royal family members, the Al Rifa'i Mosque is also known as the Royal Mosque.

We’ll check in to our Cairo hotel by about 4:15pm, and then have some free time for our last day in Egypt—perhaps to witness the panoramic views of the city from atop Cairo Tower or to do some last-minute shopping before returning home.

Dinner: At about 6:30pm, we’ll have dinner at our hotel's restaurant.

Evening: Free to relax at the hotel to compare Egypt memories with your fellow travelers or begin packing for tomorrow’s return flights home.

DAY 16
Return to U.S. or begin trip extension
Meals included: B
Breakfast: Served buffet-style at the hotel, beginning at 7am.

Morning: Depending on your flight time, transfers to the Cairo airport will begin at about 7am for your return flight back to the U.S., or begin your post-trip extension Alexandria's Glorious Past. Travelers staying later in Cairo after the main adventure will remain at the hotel, or transfer to another hotel in Cairo.

Asia/S.Pacific/Mid. East