Welcome to Cairo. You will meet with your trip leader and the rest of your group at 6 pm this evening. Check for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception for the location. If you're going to be late, just let the hotel know. If you arrive early enough, go immerse yourself in the madness: grab a pair of authentic Roy Bands sunnies from the bazaar, embrace the kitsch world of Dr Ragab's Pharaonic Village, then share a sahlab (sweet, hot custard drink with nuts) and p'raps a sheesha pipe with your new travel buddies.
Today you'll take a trip to the Egyptian Museum to see the golden mask of none other than King Tutankhamun. Drive out to the edge of the desert and explore the pyramids and the nearby Sphinx (nobody's quite sure how it lost its nose). Later, with free time, there are plenty of further options, like visiting the Valley Temple of King Khafre (Chephren). In the evening, it's time for your sleeper train to Aswan (Sleeper Train to Aswan sounds a bit like the title of an adventure novel, doesn't it? Just you wait).
Enjoy some breakfast, then put on your haggling hat (or just a regular hat, we don't mind) for a trip to the bazaar. Grab useful stuff like books, cotton tops and sunhats for your upcoming Nile cruise. Splurge on fun stuff like perfume oil, leather bags and jewellery just for the heck of it.
Today is yours to spend as you please in Aswan. The optional drive to Abu Simbel is well worth it, because this is one of the coolest temples on earth, cut out of a solid rock cliff. A real winner, as far as sightseeing in Egypt goes (and that is obviously saying a lot). Renting a minivan with your fellow travellers is the way to go. It'll be an early start (around 5-6 am), and it takes about three hours to get there, and another three to get back. If you'd rather save time and fly there, that's possible too. Notes: Flights don't go to Abu Simbel every day, and they'll usually set you back US $250-300. It's best to fly in the morning, so you can beat the heat (it's down south). Your trip leader won't accompany you on a flight – only the land travel option. Local guides can be hired on arrival.
All aboard! Time to sail the Nile in a felucca. This pretty awesome boat will be your home tonight, and all three meals are included today. You'll visit the Temple of Sobek, a classic, ruined (you might even say classically ruined) Greco-Roman temple. Continue sailing towards Edfu and take in some timeless scenes of life on the Nile. Your Instagram account should be going off like a frog in a sandstorm by now. Stop in at Edfu to explore the awesomely preserved Temple of Horus (Horus being the falcon-headed God). Please note our Felucca will have shared bathroom facility on board
The world is your oyster today. And Luxor is one beautiful and interesting world to be in. Enjoy free time – you might want to take a horse-drawn carriage to the massive temple complex at Karnak (one of the most impressive temple complexes in the world, for sure). Some of it dates as far back as 2,055 BC, if that gives you some idea of what you're dealing with.
Today you'll ride a donkey. But you won't just ride it anywhere. You and your new furry friend will venture to the legendary Valley of the Kings, where the tombs of Egyptian royalty are many. You will visit three of them. Be nice to your donkey and it'll be a nice, peaceful sunrise stroll past fields of alfalfa. Upset him and you’ll be sore for days. In the evening you'll catch an overnight train back to Cairo. Audits were carried out on balloon operators within Egypt to confirm the safety of their operations, unfortunately we were not able to ascertain the safety standards of these balloon operators- therefore, we are not able to recommend or assist in the booking of any balloon excursions.
Time for one last walk around Cairo. Head south from Bab al-Futuh (one of the medieval north gates), past the old Islamic monuments that stand watch over the bazaars. Wipe the dust from your brow and say goodbye to this frenetic place. Just go ahead and try not to shed a tear in front of your new travelling buddies.
Your trip ends today after breakfast.