Trip Inspiration

10-Days Exploring Egypt’s Ancient Beauty

Ancient Treasures on Land & River

Desert sands, archaeological treasures and life along the Nile River are all yours to discover on this journey to Egypt. You will explore the country's most iconic sites with special "Egyptologist" guides who will captivate your imagination with the ancient history and traditional stories along the way. Spend time in Cairo exploring the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx. Experience the country's diverse religious histories with visits to churches, synagogues, and mosques. Then board a beautiful river boat for a voyage on the Nile to visit the impressive monuments you will encounter along the way. This is truly a fascinating trip to the highlights of this intriguing country and the warm people who call it home.

Trip Highlights

Locations

  • Two nights near the pyramids of Cairo at Mena House Hotel
  • Four nights cruising the Nile River aboard the Sun Boat IV
  • Three nights in Cairo at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence

Activities

  • Private touring in and around Cairo with a professional Egyptologist
  • Visits to Cairo’s iconic sites, including the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
  • Experience the treasures along the Nile River in Luxor, Qena, Edfu, and Aswan
  • Absorb 7,000 years of history at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum
  • Visit the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar and enjoy lunch among the bustle
  • Explore the churches, synagogues and mosques of Cairo
What does “Trip Inspiration” mean?

At Travel Beyond, we believe your trip should be designed just for you, not for the masses. Our travel consultants create a custom itinerary for each client, offering recommendations for places and experiences that best fit your style. The itinerary below was planned for a past client, but we’re sharing it for travel inspiration and as an example of what a trip to Egypt might look like. Let us know when we can design a trip just for you!

Day 1

Arrive Cairo, Egypt

Welcome to Egypt! Upon arrival in Cairo, you will be met for your private transfer to the Mena House Hotel, where you will stay for two nights. Enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.

Mena House Hotel Meals: N/A

Day 2

Cairo

Today you will be met by your private guide for a full day of touring. Your guide will be a professional Egyptologist, specially trained in Egyptian history and culture and will escort you for tours of Memphis, Sakkara, Pyramids and the Sphinx, including lunch.

The legendary city of Memphis was founded in 3100 BC by Menes, the Pharaoh who united Upper and Lower Egypt. It became the capital of the Old Kingdom, a center for religion with a huge temple to the god Ptah, and the heart of Egypt’s busy import-export activity, with traders from around the world giving it a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Sakkara was the cemetery for the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis. This is the place where the very first pyramids were built as tombs for kings, not with smooth sides, but with six steps on the outside representing the pharaoh’s stepladder to heaven. Here you’ll see the famous Step Pyramid of King Zoser, the first pyramid ever built and the world’s oldest freestanding stone structure.

The Great Pyramids of Giza are the only present-day survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, built about 4500 years ago. These are the giant tombs for the mummies of the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, who were a father, son and grandson. In the ancient Egyptian religion, the sides of the pyramids were likened to sun rays on which the Pharaoh ascended to heaven. The pyramids are truly monumental in scale, with the largest, Khufu’s, made of over two million blocks. The pyramids were not built by slaves, but by Egyptian peasants who paid their taxes to the Pharaoh through this labor, and were fed, clothed and housed by him.

Nearby the Pyramids sits the enigmatic Sphinx, with the body of a lion and the face of a man wearing a royal head cloth. About a thousand years after the Sphinx was built, it was covered in sand until a young prince had a dream in which the Sphinx told him that if he cleared the sand away, he would become Pharaoh. This story is told on the ‘Dream Stela’ that was placed between the Sphinx’s paws by King Tuthmose IV.

Upon completion of your tour, you will be returned to your hotel. Enjoy your evening at leisure.

Mena House Hotel Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 3

Cairo to the Nile River

(Embark Sun Boat IV)

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your commercial flight to Luxor. On arrival, you will be escorted to the Sun Boat IV, your home for the next four nights. A local English-speaking Egyptologist will be on board with you to lead your shared tours.

Begin your day at the Temple of Karnak, built over a thousand years by generations of Pharaohs. Walk through the Great Hypostyle Hall with its expertly aligned columns. The largest of these is 80-feet high with a 33-foot circumference. Am impressive sight!

Explore the west bank of the Nile and the Necropolis of Thebes. Continue to the Valley of the Kings, the burial ground of pharaohs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a period of 500 years beginning in the 16th century BC, tombs were built along this valley for pharaohs and nobles, including that of “the boy king,” Tutankhamun. Found in 1922 by British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter, the tomb of Tutankhamun is yours to discover, as you set foot inside its 350-year-old walls. You will also have the chance to visit a tomb in the Valley of the Queens. On the way back to the Nile River, you will pass by the famed Colossi of Memnon, known in Ancient Greek times for their haunting voices at dawn.

Board Sun Boat IV to settle in your cabin and relax. This evening you will be greeted by the boat manager for a cocktail reception and share a preview of what to expect on your cruise. Enjoy cocktails and a selection of canapés, followed by a gourmet dinner.

Sun Boat IV Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 4

The Nile River

Today you cruise northward to Qena. Enjoy a morning visit to the Ptolemaic Temple of the Goddess Hathor in Denderah. This is among the best-preserved temples in Egypt, complete with a massive stone roof, dark chambers, underground passages and towering columns inscribed with hieroglyphs. Hathor was the goddess of pleasure and love, often associated with Aphrodite. Return to the boat for lunch as the boat sails back toward Luxor.

After lunch, your Egyptologist will guide you on a tour of the East Bank of Luxor to the strikingly graceful Temple of Luxor dedicated to the God Amun. Behold the three large statues of Ramses II along the front of the temple pylons, the Courtyard of Ramses II behind the East Tower and the Colonnade of Amenhotep III, with its 14 papyrus-headed columns, some reaching 50 feet in height.

Enjoy dinner on board, followed by a belly dancer and whirling dervish show.

Sun Boat IV Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 5

The Nile River

Breakfast will be served as you cruise to Edfu. Later, explore the extraordinary Temple of Horus, the falcon-headed god of the sky. Built in 230 BC by Ptolemy III and once buried in sand and debris, this stunningly well-preserved and colorful structure reveals what temple worship in ancient Egypt was like.

This afternoon, visit the Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to the crocodile-god Sobek. The temple stands at a bend in the Nile where, in ancient times, sacred crocodiles basked in the sun on the riverbank.

Tonight’s dinner on board will be an “Egyptian Night” costume party for all guests, with a chance to dress up in traditional Egyptian ‘galabeyya.’ Dinner will be a lavish buffet of Egyptian specialties, followed by music and dancing

Sun Boat IV Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 6

The Nile River

Cruise to Aswan and take a short motorboat ride to visit the majestic Philae Temple on the Island of Agilika. This sacred complex was dedicated to the Goddess Isis and reflects a fusion of three great civilizations — Egyptian, Greek and Roman. Proceed to the Granite Quarries, which supplied the ancient Egyptians with most of the hard stone used in pyramids and temples, and still hold a huge unfinished obelisk.

After lunch on board, take a ride on a felucca (a typical Egyptian sail boat) around Elephantine Island, Lord Kitchener’s Botanical Gardens and the Agha Khan Mausoleum.

Afternoon tea will be served in the lounge followed by a final dinner on board this evening.

Sun Boat IV Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 7

The Nile River to Cairo

Today, bid farewell to Sun Boat IV, disembarking to fly to Abu Simbel to discover the commanding twin temples of Ramses II and his wife, Queen Nefertari, dominated by colossal statues up to 65-feet high. These are famed as the most impressive monuments remaining of Ancient Egypt in modern times. In more recent times, the temples were threatened by the waters of Lake Nasser, and with the help of a UNESCO campaign they were disassembled and cut into blocks, raised piece by piece, and reassembled in a new position higher up the hillside.

Enjoy a shared tour of Abu Simbel, then fly to Cairo, via Aswan. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the Four Seasons First Residence for a three night stay, including breakfast daily. Enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.

Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 8

Cairo

Today you will again be met your private Egyptologist for your full day tour of  Cairo. You will visit the Egyptian Museum, Islamic Cairo and Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, including lunch.

You’ll tour 7,000 years of history at the Egyptian Museum which houses the largest collection of ancient Egyptian art in the world. Don’t miss the treasures of the boy-king Tutankhamun, including his gold mask, the solid gold sarcophagus that held his mummy and his beautiful throne.

The fascinating Khan El-Khalili Bazaar is reputed to be the largest bazaar in the Middle East. Originally founded as a watering stop for caravans in the 14th century, the bazaar has now grown to vast proportions. As one wanders through the labyrinth of narrow streets you will find workshops and stalls selling all manner of things from woodwork, glassware and leather goods to perfumes, fabrics and Pharaonic curiosities. Enjoy lunch at Naguib Mahfouz restaurant, located in the heart of the bazaar and named for Egypt’s Nobel Prize-winning novelist.

With its grand, soaring architecture and rich decoration, the Mosque of Sultan Hassan, completed in 1363, is one of the finest in Egypt. In recesses around its open courtyard, each of the four schools of Sunni Islam was taught to students, and in its mausoleum, Sultan Hassan’s sons are buried. Next to this, you will view the much newer Refaie Mosque, completed in 1912 with well-preserved, colorful decoration. Those buried in tombs here include a Muslim saint, companions of the Prophet Mohamed, members of Egypt’s last royal family and the last Shah of Iran.

Then, return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.

Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 9

Cairo

Meet your private Egyptologist for your half-day tour of Coptic Cairo including the museum.

Start with a visit to the newly refurbished Coptic Museum. This beautifully designed museum was first completed in 1908, using land belonging to the Coptic Church in Egypt. It displays a wonderful collection of sculpture dating from pre-Christian times up until the 5th Century AD, as well as bone carvings, frescoes, icons, relics and colorful textiles.

The Church of St. Sergius is a 4th century church dedicated to Sergius and Bacchus, two soldier-saints martyred a few years before in Syria by Maximilian. According to tradition, it was built on the spot where the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary and the infant Christ, rested at the end of their journey into Egypt. Although ‘Abu Serga’ has been rebuilt and restored constantly since medieval times, it is still considered to be a model of the early Coptic churches.

The Hanging Church (also known as ‘El Muallaqa,’ which means “suspended”) is so named for its location on top of the southern tower gate of the old Babylon fortress with its nave suspended above the passage. This is a curious site. Although the church was first built in Basilican style in the 3rd or 4th century, it is unlikely that the church would have been constructed at this location at that time. The main church is thought to have been built between the 5th and 6th centuries with the southeastern section called the ‘upper church’ being added later. It was destroyed in the 9th century and rebuilt in the 11th, when it became the seat of the Coptic patriarchate until the 14th century.

Continue to the Synagogue of Ben Ezra. The Synagogue was named for Rabbi Ben Ezra who lead the once thriving Jewish community in Egypt. It was here that the so-called ‘Geniza Documents’ were found, a treasure hailed as an unparalleled source of information about life of the Jews in Egypt’s past. At the back of the temple, the coffers in which the infant Prophet Moses was placed by his mother, was reportedly found in a deep well.

 Upon completion of your tour, return to your hotel and enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.

Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 10

Depart Egypt

Today you will be met for your private transfer to the Cairo Airport for your departing flight home.

N/A Meals: Breakfast