This is a luxury 10-day (9-night) itinerary through Cairo, Memphis, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan. See many ancient sights of importance, visit museums, view the Aswan HIgh Dam and sail on a traditional felucca. Enjoy stays at five – star luxury hotels with character throughout this Grand Tour of Egypt.
Arrive at the Cairo International Airport (CAI). Transfer to the Nile Ritz-Carlton.
Enjoy a full day’s exploration that includes visits to the Citadel, the Hanging Church, Alabaster Mosque, Khan El-Khalili bazaar and the Egyptian Museum.
Cairo dates back over ten centuries. The eastern, older part has small crowded alleyways and is dotted with hundreds of ancient mosques. The more modern western part drew inspiration from Paris in the nineteenth century with wide avenues, public gardens and open spaces. The Egyptian Museum houses the richest collection of Egyptian finds in the world. Amongst its treasures are the valuable artefacts belonging to King Tutankhamun and many well – preserved mummies and sarcophagi.
Today you will visit the ancient capital of Memphis, the Alabaster Sphinx, the Colossus of Ramses II, Sakkara, the Step Pyramid, the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza.
Beyond the desert is the old necropolis of Memphis where the most famous Egyptian pyramids are located including the Giza Pyramid Complex, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The Great Sphinx of Giza is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human.
On your day trip to Alexandria, you will visit the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, Pompey’s Pillar, Fort Qaitbey, Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Alexandria Lighthouse.
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in April 331 BC, who wanted to build a large Greek city on Egypt’s coast to bear his name. It became Egypt’s main Greek city, was once home to the largest urban Jewish community in the world, and over time became a major center of early Christianity. It came to be regarded as the capital of knowledge and learning, in part because of the Great Library, which unlike modern belief, was not destroyed by fire in the time of Julius Caesar, but actually declined gradually over the course of several centuries. Today, the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina is built on a magnificent site alongside Alexandria’s ancient harbor in the historic center of the city.
Transfer to Cairo Airport. Take a scheduled flight to Luxor.
Visit the Luxor Museum, Karnak and Temple of Ramesses II.
The Great Hypostyle Hall within the Karnak temple complex, is one of the most visited monuments of Ancient Egypt. The structure covers an area of 54,000 square feet with 134 papyrus columns representing the primeval papyrus swamp from which Amun, a self-created deity, arose from the waters of chaos at the beginning of creation.
Unlike the other temples in Thebes, the Temple of Ramesses II is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the pharaoh in death. It is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship and may have been where many of the pharaohs of Egypt were crowned. It was built during the New Kingdom, the focus of the annual Opet Festival, in which a cult statue of Amun is paraded down the Nile from nearby Karnak Temple to stay there for a while with his consort Mut in a celebration of fertility.
Visit the Valley of the Kings, including King Tut’s tomb, the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the colossal remains of the two statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
For a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock cut tombs were excavated for pharaohs and powerful nobles on the west bank of the Nile. The official name for the site in ancient times was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes.
Hatshepsut was the second historically confirmed female pharaoh, and generally regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty, and the masterpiece of her various building projects was her mortuary temple. The twin statues depict Amenhotep III in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze facing eastwards towards the river. Their original function of the Colossi was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep’s massive memorial temple, of which with the exception of the Colossi, very little remains today.
Take a day trip to Abydos and the Dendera Temple Complex including the Temple of Hathor.
Dendera is one of the best-preserved temple complexes in Egypt. Dendera was inhabited in prehistory, a useful oasis on the banks of the Nile. The dominant building in the complex is the Temple of Hathor. After extensive, painstaking cleaning, a spectacular ceiling painting was exposed in the main hall, and some of the most vibrant and colorful paintings dating from antiquity are now visible.
Drive to Aswan. Visit Edfu and the Temple of Kom Ombo en route.
Buried under almost 40 feet of desert sand for centuries, the Temple of Edfu is one of the best – preserved shrines in Egypt, and the largest temple dedicated to Horus and Hathor of Dendera. It was the center of several festivals sacred to Horus. Each year, “Hathor traveled south from her temple at Dendera to visit Horus at Edfu”, and this event marks their sacred marriage and the occasion for a great festival and pilgrimage.
The temple of Kom Ombo is an unusual double temple constructed in 180–47 BC, and atypical for its perfect symmetry. The southern half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world, while the northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god Horus, The One Far Above, Sky God, War God and Hunter’s God.
Visit the Unfinished Obelisk, Philae Temple and Aswan HIgh Dam. In the afternoon, sail on a traditional felucca.
The unfinished obelisk is nearly one-third larger than any ancient Egyptian obelisk ever erected. If finished it would have measured around 138 ft and would have weighed nearly 1,090 tons. The Philae temple complex was dismantled and moved to nearby Agilkia Island as part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project, protecting this and other complexes before the 1970 completion of the Aswan High Dam.
Drive to Abu Simbel. VIsit the Temples of Ramses II and Queen Nefertari.
The twin temples of Abu Simbel were originally carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, to serve as a lasting monument to the king and his queen Nefertari, and to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. Their huge external rock relief figures have become iconic. The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968 to avoid being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the River Nile.
Afterwards, transfer to the Abu Simbel airport. Take a scheduled flight to Cairo.
Depending upon the time of your international flight, depart for home or spend a night in Cairo.