Rediscover one of the world’s oldest civilisations. Home to some of the most enduring historical and colossal monuments on the planet, timeless treasures of temples and pyramids representing a lasting legacy of one of the most fabled periods of human history.
Explore bustling medieval bazaars, noseless Sphinxes and Agatha Christie-era exoticism. The heat, sight and the light of the desert invigorate. A romantic cruise along the world’s longest river dazzles the senses. A country that never fails to astonish that is full of character, colour and fortitude. No place has the magic, mystery and pleasures of Egypt. Travel to Egypt with Crooked Compass to discover a world of wonder.
Welcome to Egypt! You will be met upon arrival at Cairo’s International Airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure to explore this bustling city. At first glance, the city appears dirty. Its busy, crowded and the smog can make your eyes water. Beneath this haze you will see the cities true colours. The call of prayer echoes through the streets, the energy of local life buzzes and is addictive. Street food aromas will overload the senses and a hidden charm shines through. Grand palaces and mosques are to be explored and the pyramids of Giza overlook the modernising city from a distance, providing the perfect mix of bygone eras and eclectic styles.
3 nights Kempinski or similar
Following breakfast in your hotel, you will be transferred to the impressive Egyptian Museum. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo contains the world’s most extensive collection of pharaonic antiquities; no visit to Egypt is complete without a trip through its galleries. Bursting with over 165,000 artefacts covering 5000 years of Egypt’s past, the highlight for many are the rooms containing the priceless treasures of King Tutankhamun. His six gold gilded coffins, each one smaller and more intricately decorated than the last, dominate the main hall, while his magnificent death mask is the must-see item of the day.
Included in your entry is a visit to the Royal Mummies Room. Here you can see the mummies of many great Egyptian rulers, including Ramses II, the builder of the temples at Abu Simbel. Your Egyptologist will escort you through the museum explaining the most important possessions before allowing you free time to explore and discover yourselves.
Following your time at the museum, you will visit the citadel of Mohamed Aly and Salah El Din mosque followed by visit to the old part of Cairo (hanging church and synagogue). Here you will end the day at the famous old bazaar – Khan El Khalili Markets, a charming labyrinth of narrow alleyways. You will be transported back in time to an old Arab souk. Shop owners calling you to their stalls, the scent of spices, the hustle and bustle of trade, and the many beautiful objects that can be purchased, will have you lost amongst the alleys for hours. Put your haggling skills to the test when buying statuettes, spices, souvenirs, silver jewellery, t-shirts, galabiyyas, belly dancing costumes, or anything for that matter. And just in case you didn’t eat enough at lunch time, you will have the opportunity to taste some of Egypt’s best street food during your walk. (B,L)
Today you will visit Giza. Located on the outskirts of Cairo, overlooking the buzzing city, the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx date back to over 3000 years. The Pyramids of Giza are the last of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Your Egyptologist guide will provide a fascinating introduction to all three pyramids here: Cheops, Khafre and Mekahaure. Whilst here, you will also visit the enigmatic symbol of Egypt, the Sphinx. With the body of a lion and the head of a king, this creature is surrounded by mystery, including the unanswered questions of who built it and why.
From here, you will visit a papyrus institute where you can see how the papyrus used to be made in ancient times. You will then stop for lunch in a local restaurant (either Andrea restaurant or Saqqara country club) and following lunch, you will discover Memphis and Sakkara, two of Egypt’s most important archaeological treasures. Sakkara is home to the oldest pyramid in Egypt, and Memphis was the former capital founded in 3,100 BC.
Memphis is the legendary city of Menes, the King who united Upper and Lower Egypt. Early on, Memphis was more like a fortress from which Menes controlled the land and water routes between Upper Egypt and the Delta. Having probably originated in Upper Egypt, from Memphis he could control the conquered people of Lower Egypt.
Sakkara, home of Egypt’s oldest pyramid was built by Imohotep for pharaoh Zoser in 2650BC, the famous Step Pyramid is well preserved. Sakkara is one section of the great necropolis of Memphis, the Old Kingdom capital and the majority of the kings of the 1st Dynasty as well as that of the 2nd Dynasty are buried in this section of the Memphis necropolis. Three major discoveries have recently been made at Sakkara, including a prime minister’s tomb, a queen’s pyramid, and the tomb of the son of a dynasty founding king. Your visit will also include the amazing Serabeum Tomb. (B,L)
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel this morning before you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Luxor. Luxor, once an Ancient Egyptian capital, is known today as the world’s ‘greatest open-air museum’. From the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings and the magnificent sunset views at the majestic temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor, this city is the perfect choice for culture vultures.
Luxor is divided by the Nile into two areas commonly called the East Bank and West Bank which were considered in Ancient Egyptian times as symbolizing respectively life and death.
While the East Bank has grown to become a modern city, it has retained its lush green setting, its traditional bazaar and stunning view of the Nile. The West Bank is known for its necropolis and mortuary temples: the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the Workers Village, and the Temple of Medinet Habu are the highlights of Luxor’s West Bank. In Ancient Egyptian mythology the setting sun to the west symbolised the journey to the afterlife, so it was fitting symbolism to bury the dead west of the Nile.
This afternoon, you will visit Medinet Habu and the tombs workers village on the West Bank. Medinet Habu is the Arabic name for the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III, a huge complex second only to Karnak in size and better preserved. Medinet Habu is among the least visited of the major sights at Luxor.
The ancient village of Deir el-Medina, known as the tomb workers village, is situated in a small valley on the west bank of Luxor in Upper Egypt in a desert area, just south of Thebes in a valley behind Gurnet Murai hill. The remaining foundations of this village have been well preserved, and it has been concluded that the village was in use for about 500 years during the period of the New Kingdom (18th to 20th Dynasties). Deir el-Medina was first thought to be started by the pharaoh Amenhotep I and his mother, Ahmose-Nefertari. They established the village in order to have sufficient housing for the tomb workers that gave their labour to the Valley of the Kings. This was its only purpose. (B)
2 nights Sofitel Winter Palace – Pavillion Wing or similar
This morning you will visit Dendera. Dendera is located about 60 kilometres north of Luxor on the west bank of the Nile River opposite the provincial modern town of Qena.
Ancient Egyptian Iunet or Tantere, known to the Greeks as Tentyris, was the capital of the 6th nome of Upper Egypt and a town of some importance. Today, we know it as Dendera, though the population of the town has, since antiquity, moved to Qena across the Nile on the east bank. Now, the ancient temple lies isolated on the desert edge. Along with the temple itself, there is also a necropolis that includes tombs of the Early Dynastic Period, but the most important phase that has been identified was the end of the Old Kingdom and the 1st Intermediate Period. The provinces were virtually autonomous at that time and, although Dendera was not a leading political force in Upper Egypt, its notables built a number of mastabas of some size, though only one has any decoration apart from stelae and false doors. On the west end of the site are brick-vaulted catacombs of Late Period animal burials, primarily birds and dogs, while cow burials have been found at various points in the necropolis. Of course, this was a significant site for the Hathor cult, whose forms included a cow.
Continuing on, you will also visit Abydos Temples. Abydos was the epicentre for the pharaoh’s cult worship of Osiris and became the most important burial centre in ancient Egypt. Here, Seti I raised a glorious temple dedicated to Osiris and a pantheon of other gods that remains a beautiful and unique central point to this necropolis. For travellers interested in the artistry of the Pharaonic period, the Temple of Seti I’s colourful wall and ceiling paintings and sculpted column work are a highlight of any Nile temple itinerary and shouldn’t be missed. (B)
You will embark onto your Nile River cruise in time for lunch on board. Following lunch, you will explore the East Bank and discover the Karnak and Luxor Temples. Walk along the Avenue of Sphinx to enter Karnak Temple as your guide explains how the massive façade was constructed. Upon entering the Temples of Karnak, you will see each legacy left by the various pharaohs as the complex grew even larger. The deeper you go into the complex, the further back in time you will travel, with the oldest ruins dating back over 3,000 years.
Walking through the Great Court into the Great Hypostyle Hall, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the 134 columns towering above you like an ancient forest. At the rear of the complex you will find the sacred lake where centuries ago pharaohs and their offerings to the gods were purified. After a tour of the complex, you will have additional free time to explore at leisure.
Continue to Luxor Temple which was once joined to the Temples of Karnak by a two-kilometre long Avenue of Sphinx, a portion of which marks the entrance to the temple. Dominated by statues of the great warrior pharaoh Ramses II, Luxor Temple has survived Nile floods, foreign invasion and thousands of years exposed to the elements.
A pure Egyptian temple, the inner walls and columns are decorated with intricate hieroglyphics which your guide will help you decipher. Find out how Alexander the Great wrote himself into Luxor Temple’s history, and see one of the original pair of obelisk, the second of which now stands on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Afternoon tea will served back on board as well as dinner. The evening is yours at leisure to relax in your cabin or explore Luxor a little more. (B,L,D)
4 nights Sonesta St George Nile Cruise in a Deluxe Cabin
Breakfast is aboard the ship this morning followed by a visit to the West Bank. There is an optional early morning hot air balloon ride for those who are interested over the Valley of the Kings as the sun rises. It is truly spectacular as you witness the changing colours of the valley below.
Your visit to the West Bank this morning will include a visit to the Valley of Kings and Queens which is the burial site for almost all of the Kings (pharaohs) and Queens. You will also visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at El Deir.
Hatshepsut was a rare female pharaoh. The Temple of Deir El-Bahri is one of the most characteristic temples in the whole of Egypt, due to its design and decorations. It was built of limestone, not sandstone like most of the other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period.
It is thought that Senimut, the genius architect who built this Temple, was inspired in his design by the plan of the neighbouring mortuary Temple of the 12th Dynasty King, Neb-Hept-Re. The Temple was built for the great Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty), to commemorate her achievements and to serve as a funerary Temple for her, as well as a sanctuary of the God, Amon Ra.
Later in the morning you will visit El-Bahari and the Colossi Memnon before sailing onto Esna.
Lunch will be on board as you cruise down the Nile, soaking in the beautiful scenery.
A Captains Welcome Cocktail party will take place following dinner this evening. (B,L,D)
This morning your cruise will sail to Edfu whilst you enjoy breakfast on board. Upon docking, you will have time to visit the Horus Temple in Edfu.
Dedicated to Horus, the falcon headed god, the Temple of Horus in Edfu (also known as the Temple of Edfu), is considered the best preserved cult temple in Egypt. Partly due to the fact that it was built later than most (in the Ptolemaic era from 237 to 57BC). It is also the second largest temple in Egypt following Karnak Temple.
Despite its later construction date, it reflects exact traditional pharaonic architecture and so provides an excellent idea of how all the temples originally looked.
Lunch is back on board the ship as you continue sailing to Kom Ombo. This afternoon you will have the opportunity to go ashore and visit the Temple shared by two Gods, Sobek and Haeroris in Kom Ombo.
Dinner on board this evening is followed by an Egyptian Galabeya party. (B,L,D)
Today, you sail to Aswan. Upon arrival, you will visit the High Dam and Philae Temple.
Although it was constructed several millennia after the majority of Egypt’s iconic landmarks, the High Dam is equally as impressive. A miracle of modern engineering, the dam is 110m high and spans for over three kilometres and contains eighteen times the material used to build the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Once, the largest rock-filled dam in the world, today the dam provides irrigation and electricity for the whole of Egypt.
Regarded as the prettiest temple in Egypt, the Philae Temple was dismantled and reassembled on higher ground after the completion of the Aswan High Dam threatened its existence, the temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis and is set on its own island.
Lunch is on board before spending the afternoon lazing on a felucca around Kitchener’s Island and visiting Botanical Island.
This evening on board, enjoy an Egyptian Folkloric Show with belly dancer. (B,L,D)
This morning you will enjoy your last breakfast on board before disembarking and transferring to the airport for your flight to Abu Simbel.
The Temples of Abu Simbel are among the most interesting in Egypt. Located close to the southern border with the Sudan, the temples are 280km south of Aswan and consist of two rock-cut chambers, which date back to the reign of King Ramses II (1290-1223 BC). Unfortunately, they were damaged by the rising water of Lake Nasser while the High Dam was being built. Other countries, with the help of UNESCO, assisted Egypt to save them. After visiting these amazing temples, you will return back to Aswan where the remainder of the afternoon is yours at leisure. (B)
Overnight Anakato Hotel or similar
Today you will travel by motor boat from your hotel to Aswan’s west bank and enjoy a short camel ride to St. Simon Cave Monastery on the west bank. The Zabbaleen (meaning literally “garbage collectors”) village at the base of the Mokattam cliffs began around 1969 when the Cairo governor decided to move all of the garbage collectors to a single settlement. The garbage collectors were largely Coptic Christians and as their numbers continued to grow over the years the need for a centralised church began to grow. In 1975, the first Christian church was built in the village but after a large fire broke out nearby, work began on a monastery that was built right into the cliffside.
The Monastery of Saint Simon was the result of this new project. Simon the Tanner was a craftsman saint who lived during the 10th century and the cave church that was dedicated to him seems as though it might last for 10 more. Using a pre-existing cave and the slope that led into it, the current monastery seats 20,000 people around a central pulpit. Other nearby caves have also been built into separate church spaces and all of them have been linked to create a massive Christian complex in the heart of garbage city.
After your visit, camels will take you to Nobles Tomb for short visit before returning to your hotel by motor boat. Later this afternoon, you will be transferred to Aswan airport and fly to Cairo (approx 90 min flight). Upon arrival in Cairo, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. (B)
Overnight Villa Belle Epoque or similar
After breakfast, you will depart for Alexandria where you will experience a trip into the catacombs (Kom el Shoqafa), where the early Christians were buried; and Pompey’s Pillar, the biggest memorial column in Egypt, made of red granite and standing about 28 metres high, with a base diameter of 2.7 metres. The Alexandria National Museum, built in a former palace and now housing almost 2000 artefacts, which tell the story of the city, including the recent finds from the sunken part of the city; the Citadel of Qaitbay, where in about 1480 AD the Mameluke Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay fortified the site that held the ruins of the Alexandria Lighthouse, and with successive improvements it now stands as a very prominent Citadel on the Mediterranean coastline. Time permitting, you may also have the chance to visit the WWII battlefield sites and Australian cemetery. (B)
Overnight Cecil Alexandria or similar
This morning you will visit the New Alexandria Library, with shelf space for eight million books and the main reading room on 11 levels as well asthe Roman Amphitheatre, which every town in the ancient Roman Empire had.
On the way back to Cairo, you will stop at Wadi El Natroun monastery and visit Abu Makar monastery and El Baramous monastery where we will try to arrange for a light lunch with the monks – this is dependent on their study schedules. Wadi Natroun is known for its Coptic monasteries where thousands of Christians escaped from Roman persecution in the 4th century. Of the 60 or so original compounds in the valley, only four remain. These monastery buildings are impressive, as they were fortified after Arab raids in 817. The area was also important to the ancient Egyptians because the valley’s salt lakes dry up in the summer and leave natron, a substance crucial to the mummification process. (B)
Overnight Le Passage Hotel or similar
This morning following breakfast, you will be transferred to Cairo Airport for your onward flight to your next destination. (B)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.