Start: Cairo Finish: Safaga
Physical rating: Moderate
Tour code: FNF
Group size: 4 - 20
Family 7 - 17 Years
Tour operated in:
Extra tourhub saving: $36
This Egyptian family adventure visits the Pyramids, Sphinx and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo where the famous Tutankhamun mask is housed. Heading south to Aswan, board a traditional felucca sailing boat towards Luxor where we visit the famous Karnak Temple and explore the underground tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The trip ends on the Red Sea.
Accommodation Name: Pyramid Park
Meals: No Meals
Arrive in Cairo, Africa's second largest capital city. It's a vibrant, exhilarating and welcoming city, home to the best Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic sites in Egypt, there is an incredible amount to discover here.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Cairo at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Cairo International airport (airport code CAI), which is 50km, around 1 hour from the hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to catch your first glimpse of the mighty Nile River, visit the capital's medieval market at Khan el Khalili or we can arrange a half day Islamic Cairo tour. Alternatively our hotel has a lovely swimming pool so you may just like to relax after your flight.
Cairo is situated mainly on the east bank of the Nile. This morning we take a short drive to Giza, to visit one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Pyramids, among the most impressive man-made spectacles in the world. Here, you can opt to venture inside one of the main pyramids or take in the Solar Boat Museum, designed to transport the Pharaoh's soul to the afterlife. The complex includes the Sphinx, a crouching lion with a human head carved from solid rock and the splendid Granite Temple. In the afternoon, we move on to the Egyptian Museum, which amongst its 100,000 artefacts contains the extraordinary treasures of Tutankhamun, complete with his Golden Mask. The scale of the exhibit is truly incredible and it is mind boggling to comprehend they were all discovered in his tomb at the Valley of the Kings. There are also two fascinating Mummies Rooms to explore at the museum (extra charge payable).
Later this afternoon we will transfer to the station to catch the overnight sleeper train to Aswan. The individual compartments contain a bench seat which converts into bunk beds. The carriage steward sets this up and provides bed linen, blankets and pillows. Each cabin is lockable and has a night light and cupboard that houses a small sink, shelf, mirror, towel and power socket plus there is a removable table top that folds into the wall. Dinner and breakfast are provided by the carriage steward who delivers the meals directly to you. Two western style toilets are located at the end of each carriage and there are is a communal lounge carriage with a bar serving soft drinks. Some cabins have inter connecting doors so families have access to each other.
We arrive early morning in Aswan, Egypt's most southerly city, traditionally regarded as the frontier post of Upper Egypt. Sited on the east bank, just below the First Cataract, it is the meeting point of Arab culture with Nubia and Black Africa. Due to our early arrival rooms may not be available immediately so we may take a walk around the town and along the Nile promenade with our Tour Leader, acquainting ourselves with the city.
Once at the hotel we have several hours free to relax and enjoy the swimming pool which lies almost directly on the banks of the Nile offering great views of boats and local life. Or you may wish to explore the vibrant local bazaar just a short walk away. Packed full of exotic spices, leather goods and richly decorated crafts it's an ideal place to spend a couple of hours. Alternatively we offer an interesting excursion to the High Dam, Philae Temple and Unfinished Obelisk on this day (please refer to the optional excursion section for details).
Later this afternoon we take a boat and sail to the Nubian Village. Here we meet with a family, learn about their lifestyle and enjoy a traditional dinner in their home, a real highlight for parents and children alike. You may like to bring some small gifts for the children in the village such as notebooks and pencils. This evening we return back to our hotel by boat along the Nile.
This morning there is the option to drive through the desert to the fabulous rock-hewn temple of Abu Simbel, a major highlight for many who visit Aswan. Cut into the rock face, this enormous structure was raised 61m to save it from being flooded by the artificial lake that was created by the building of the Aswan High Dam. The 20m high statues represent Ramses II, known as the Great Builder and one of the most powerful Pharaohs of the New Kingdom. For those choosing this option we will need to leave early (around 4.30) , returning to Aswan around 13.30.
For those not opting to travel to Abu Simbel there is the option of visiting St Simeon's monastery by camel. After breakfast transfer by boat across to the West Bank and meet our camel train, our very own 'ships of the desert' and head out to St Simeon's. One of the largest Coptic monasteries in Egypt, St Simeon's was built in the 7th century and finally abandoned in the 13th century. It now sits in splendid isolation at the end of a desert valley, an impressive sight, looking more like a desert fortress than a place of worship. The camel ride is around 45 minutes long before we reach the monastery. After the visit we remount and ride a similar distance further along the bank to our boat which has repositioned to meet us.
On returning to Aswan we board our feluccas straight from the hotel and set sail downstream, travelling through the timeless landscape of the Nile Valley, in the time honoured fashion of the ancient Egyptians themselves. As we sail we see the intensive cultivation of the Nile Valley and at intermittent points there are small villages that depend upon the river for their livelihood. As the golden colours of the late afternoon cast their glow over the land of the Pharaohs we will dock and set up camp beside the river bank. Sleeping on the deck of the feluccas, beneath a blanket of stars, we are rocked to sleep by the gentle waters of the Nile lapping against our boats.
This morning we continue our journey slowly down river on our traditional lateen rigged felucca boat, following the fertile green ribbon of the Nile Valley, as it winds through parched desert lands. There is ample time to sit back and enjoy the easy pace watching rural life in front of you. At night we tie up to the riverbank at night and listening to Nubian songs and drums around the campfire.
Traditional felucca additional information:
A felucca is a traditional sailboat used in Egypt, the primary mode of transport on the mighty Nile river and unchanged over the centuries. Feluccas rely entirely on the breeze to make their way up the Nile, typically the breeze picks up during the day and tails off at night, making for a relaxing and tranquil way to travel as we watch life unfold along the river banks.
Sleeping arrangements are on deck, please note sleeping bags are not provided, you can either bring your own or hire locally for £10 per sleeping bag. During the summer months a sleeping bag may not be needed, consider bringing a sleeping bag liner. The maximum capacity is around 7 or 8 people per felucca plus 2 crew, for bigger groups we use two boats.
Toilet facilities: During day it is free style behind a tree; once docked for overnight a toilet tent is set up with a deep hole & toilet seat/chair. Tent is approx two meters high. Toilet paper is provided and burnt prior to leaving the next morning.
We disembark our felucca after breakfast and transfer by road to the magnificent ruins of the Ptolemaic temple at Kom Ombo. The temple is unique in that it is dedicated to not one, but two gods: Horus, the falcon headed god and Sobek the crocodile god, a useful deity to have on your side given that this stretch of the river was inundated with crocodiles until the early years of the last century! We can use the facilities here before driving on to Luxor, site of the ancient city of Thebes. The drive is approximately 4 hours and we should arrive around mid-afternoon in time to enjoy our hotel pool for a few hours before dinner.
This morning, we cross the Nile and travel by bus to the extraordinary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt's only female Pharaoh, who usurped the throne from her son, the future Tuthmoses III. The scale of the temple and its magnificent setting are breathtaking, but perhaps even more remarkable are the details; look out for the fine carving of the 'Expedition to the Land of Punt'. We then take a short bus ride to the Valley of the Kings' to explore some of the more important sites made famous in 1922 by the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter. The tomb entrances are surprisingly large and light, the hieroglyphics an absolute wonder and still so colourful and vivid. We visit three tombs here before returning back across the Nile to our hotel. The afternoon is then free for you to enjoy your time by the pool, enjoy an (optional) donkey trek or wander through Luxor's bazaar.
We check out of our hotel and take an early morning excursion to the stunning Temple of Karnak by horse drawn calesh. Dating from around 2000 BC, the scale and grandeur of Karnak is amazing. It covers an area the size of 10 European cathedrals and the 134 pillars of its Hypostyle Hall are a wonder to behold. After our visit here we depart the Nile Valley and head east to the shores of the Red Sea. Crossing the barren mountains of the Eastern Desert we drive to the small town of Safaga, where we will enjoy the delights of a marine wonderland in stark contrast to the desert scenery that surrounds it. There is time to relax and enjoy the dazzling waters immediately outside our hotel. The journey time today is approximately four hours.
With over 400 varieties of corals and 1500 species of fish, the Red Sea is a hard act for anyone to follow. There are reef fish of every shade and hue, living amongst the corals, and turtles, rays and small sharks abound in these rich waters. We include a full day's boat trip to the coral reefs around Safaga - it's just like swimming in a tropical fish tank! With a light lunch taken on-board, we will enjoy some leisurely hours swimming, snorkelling or just relaxing, before returning to our hotel for the evening.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Safaga.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Safaga at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Hurghada International airport (airport code HRG), which is 50km, around 50 minutes from the hotel.
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