Ultimate Egypt: Behind the scenes

*2014 Detailed Itinerary listed. For reference only

January 4 & 5, 2014: U.S. | Cairo, EGYPT
Depart the U.S. for Cairo, arriving on January 5th. You will be met upon arrival at the airport and transferred to the historic Mena House, a former palace, located at the base of the Giza Plateau. Enjoy a light lunch at the hotel and some time to rest and freshen up before our welcome reception and dinner this evening. Overnight at the Mena House for three nights. (L,R,D)
January 6: Cairo
This morning we visit the Giza Plateau to explore the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the surrounding area, including the Solar Boat Museum. Take a private tour inside the Sphinx complex (closed to the public) and visit the Valley Temple of Khafra (time permitting). After lunch near our hotel, take a private tour of the village and necropolis of the workers who built the pyramids (closed to the public). (B,L,D)
January 7: Cairo | Saqqara | Dashur | Cairo
Today we drive to the necropolis at Saqqara, where we take a private tour inside the Step Pyramid of Djoser (closed to the public), gaining access from the south via the Late Period entrance. While there, see the Tomb of the Brothers as well as the Tomb of the Nobleman Mereruka. A short drive will take us to the fascinating Serrapeum, ancient burial place of the sacred (and mummified!) Apis bulls. After lunch at the Saqqara Palm Club, we will drive to Dashur, a royal necropolis that includes the famous Bent and Red Pyramids, which are among the oldest, largest, and best preserved pyramids in Egypt. Return to our hotel in time for dinner. (B,L,D)
January 8: Cairo | Aswan
This morning we enjoy a private, before-hours tour of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. Transfer to the airport this afternoon for our flight to Aswan, and transfer upon arrival to our beautifully-situated, newly renovated hotel overlooking the Nile and Elephantine Island. Overnight at the Sofitel New Cataract Aswan Hotel for two nights. (B,L,D)
January 9: Aswan
Enjoy a morning visit to the Temple of Isis at Philae, perhaps the most beautiful temple in Egypt, as well as the ancient granite quarry with its New Kingdom inscriptions and unfinished obelisk. After lunch at our hotel we take a scenic sail aboard a traditional felucca to explore the archaeology of Elephantine Island. (B,L,D)
January 10: Aswan | Embarkation | Kalabsha
After a relaxing start to the day we embark our deluxe Lake Nasser cruise boat with time to settle in and have lunch. We will take a short motorboat ride to visit Kalabsha Temple this afternoon, after which we will have time at leisure. Overnight aboard our Lake Nasser cruise boat for three nights. (B,L,D)
January 11: Lake Nasser Cruising | Wadi El Sebua
We relax and cruise Lake Nasser today, stopping for a visit to the temple at Wadi El Sebua. The temple is approached by an avenue of sphinxes, and is partly carved directly into the rock. (B,L,D)
January 12: Lake Nasser Cruising | Amada | Dakka | Abu Simbel
Continue cruising Lake Nasser, stopping along the way to visit the Temple at Amada (the oldest surviving Nubian temple, containing some of the best-preserved Nubian reliefs) and the Temple at Dakka, dedicated to the god Thoth. Upon arrival at Abu Simbel this afternoon, we will explore the Temples of Ramses II, including a private tour inside the man-made mountain (closed to the public), constructed when the monument was moved due to the building of the Aswan High Dam. Following dinner, we will attend an atmospheric sound and light show at Abu Simbel. (B,L,D)
January 13: Disembarkation | Aswan | Luxor
After breakfast onboard, we will disembark and transfer to the airport for a short flight to Aswan and drive to Luxor, stopping at the Temple at Edfu and other lesser-visited sites along the way (time permitting). In Luxor, we will check-in to our oasis-like hotel, on the west bank of the Nile, which will provide convenient access to sites in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens over the next two days. Overnight for three nights at the Hotel Al Moudira. (B,L,D)
January 14: Luxor | Valley of the Queens | Deir el Bahari | Luxor
Spend the morning in the Valley of the Queens, where we gain access to the deeply touching Tomb of Khaemwaset, a young son of Ramses III; the Tomb of Amunherkhepreshef; and the Tomb of Nefertari (closed to the public), often called the most beautiful tomb in Egypt. After lunch, visit the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahari, including the Amun Chapel (third level, closed to the public), as well as the Tomb of Senenmut (closed to the public). The afternoon is at leisure to relax and enjoy our hotel. (B,L,D)
January 15: Luxor | Deir el Medina | Valley of the Kings | Luxor
Start the day with a visit to the ancient workmen’s village at Deir el Medina, once inhabited by the craftsmen, laborers, and servants who worked on the royal tombs in the area. Then drive to the Valley of the Kings to visit the Tombs of Seti I (closed to the public), Amenhotep II (closed to the public), Tutankhamen, and Ramses VI. (B,L,D)
January 16: Luxor | Abydos | Dendara | Luxor
We set out through the countryside to visit two of Egypt’s most spectacular and under-visited sites, Abydos and Dendara. At Abydos, where our lecturer/host has been doing fieldwork for 20 years, we will explore the Temple of Seti I, the Temple of Ramses II, and the Osirium. After lunch, continue on to the Temple of Hathor at Dendara, one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. Returning to Luxor, we will check in to our elegant hotel on the east bank of the Nile and have dinner. Overnight at the Old Winter Palace for two nights. (B,L,D)
January 17: Luxor | Karnak | Luxor
This morning is dedicated to Karnak, the world’s largest temple complex (built over the course of a thousand years). After lunch, enjoy time at leisure in Luxor. This evening we will visit nearby Luxor Temple for a spectacular after-dark tour. (B,L,D)
January 18: Luxor | Cairo
After a morning at leisure in Luxor, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Cairo and check-in to our luxurious hotel conveniently located just outside the city center. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure, until we gather for dinner. Overnight at the Fairmont Heliopolis for two nights. (B,L,D)
January 19: Cairo
Discover today another layer of Cairo’s lengthy history as we visit the Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque, the oldest (built in A.D. 876) and largest mosque in Cairo, and explore the two attached medieval houses. Continue on to the Sultan Hassan Mosque and then, after lunch, to Old Cairo where we will see the Ben Ezra Synagogue and the Hanging Church (St. Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church). Return to our hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner this evening. (B,L,D)
January 20: Cairo | U.S.
Transfer to the airport this morning for flights home. (B)

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