Egypt, just the name is enough to set your imagination spinning back to the start of recorded human history – to a time when all-powerful Pharaohs controlled a mysterious and fabulously wealthy empire which lasted virtually intact for over 5,000 years! Our Nile cruise explores the mighty monuments, the intriguing history and the extraordinary artistic masterpieces from the greatest and oldest of all the ancient civilizations.
We start in Cairo, the heart of modern-day Egypt. The largest city on the African continent and much-maligned for its traffic congestion, Cairo remains a fascinating fusion of western, Islamic and Christian culture, all mixed up with something a lot more ancient. The iconic symbols of these ancient roots are the three Great Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza, on the edge of the city.
Visited by the greatest names in history, from Alexander the Great, to Caesar and Napoleon, the Pyramids are actually the world’s oldest tourist attraction! Right in the centre of Cairo, the Egyptian Museum houses so many priceless treasures, that it would take months to see it all. Its Tutankhamun exhibition alone contains over 3,500 finds from the small tomb that Howard Carter discovered in 1922. Although the centre of the collection is the mesmerising solid gold funerary mask, equally impressive is the section devoted to the daily life of the ancient, as are the touchingly realistic funerary portraits from Egypt’s Graeco-Roman period.
We’ll also visit the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, just south of Cairo and built over 4,600 years ago, this is Egypt’s first proper pyramid, and is now considered to be the oldest stone building in the world.
After two days of relaxing sailing on the world’s longest river our tour continues with visits to the tombs of Beni Hassan, followed by one of the most imposing temples in all of Egypt, at Abydos. Our exploration continues with the temple of Hathor at Dendera, built during the time of the Ptolemies, heirs to Alexander the Great’s empire. This part of the tour is ideal for anyone who has visited Luxor and Aswan before and wants to delve deeper into some of the rarely-visited sites mentioned above. From here on we continue to the well sights of Luxor and beyond.
Luxor, known as Thebes in ancient times, was centred around the two great temple complexes of ancient Egypt – Karnak and Luxor. These are both on the East bank of the Nile and dedicated to the sun god, Amun Ra, the giver of life. The West bank, where the sun set, was reserved for the tombs and funerary temples of the Pharaohs, their families and high officials.
Today’s Egyptians are immensely proud of their ancient lineage and with typical middle-eastern courtesy and hospitality they are some of the most welcoming and friendly people you are likely to meet.
You should arrive at the airport to take your direct flight to Cairo. After our late evening arrival, we transfer to our home for the next 14 nights, the MS Mövenpick Darakum.
Today we drive out of the city towards the Giza plateau for our first close-up view of the Great Pyramids. The truly gigantic size of the three main pyramids only becomes fully apparent when they tower above you in all their majesty. For the more adventurous, entry into the pyramids is available at extra cost payable locally, but for the Great Pyramid of Cheops there’s a daily limit to the number of visitors and there’s no guarantee of an entry. A little further down the hill is the mighty Sphinx, the world’s largest free-standing sculpture.
King ‘Tut’s’ tomb held so many treasures that it took 10 years to examine, photograph, catalogue and finally remove all 5,398 of them. The collection forms the centrepiece of the Egyptian Museum, without question one of the world’s greatest museums, a treasure-house overflowing with artefacts of remarkable ancient craftsmanship, ranging from the mundane to the mystical. The famous Royal Mummy room may be entered, upon payment of a small additional fee.
We head south to the pyramids at the necropolis of Saqqara. Soon the lush fields give way to barren desert and we see the giant ‘step’ pyramid looming above the palms. Built using smaller blocks than the Great Pyramids at Giza, it’s easy to see how the architecture of pyramid-building evolved from a simple square flat-topped mound upon which similar smaller mounds were added.
This afternoon we’ll explore Old Cairo’s Christian history with a visit to the ‘Hanging Church’, built over a gateway to the Romanera Babylon fortress. We continue to the Coptic Museum and the nearby Ben Ezra synagogue, said to be where the Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in his basket amongst the reeds.
This morning our ship starts its long journey out of Cairo. As we leave the city behind and pass small farms, canals and plantations of date palms along the way, you’ll see how productive this land has been for so many generations. Enjoy the first of a couple of fascinating lectures on both modern and ancient Egypt. In the afternoon we arrive at the small town of Beni Suef where we moor overnight.
After a sumptuous breakfast buffet, relax under one on one of the many comfortable shaded sun loungers or Balinese-style canopied day-beds as the unchanged landscape of the Nile Valley slips by. This afternoon we arrive in Minya where we will moor for two nights.
After breakfast, set out with a visit to Tuna El Gebel, the necropolis of Hermopolis, sacred to the Greek god Hermes and his Egyptian counterpart Thoth, god of writing and wisdom. Explore the tomb of Petosiris and the catacombs which once held thousands of mummified ibis and baboons.
After lunch on board, we continue with a tour of the tombs at Beni Hassan, with wonderful views across the valley.
This morning we arrive in Amarna, site of the short-lived capital of the Pharaoh Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti. We’ll visit Akhenaten’s tomb, as well as those of some of his courtiers. We return to our ship in time for lunch and continue our journey, sailing by Egypt’s Coptic monasteries. We moor in Assyut overnight.
Today we continue our journey southwards, with a full day’s cruising, ideal to relax after the busy last couple of days and before seeing the monuments and temples of the second part of our journey.
Abydos remains one of ancient Egypt’s most mysterious sites, with the Great Temple of Seti I as its centrepiece. Dedicated to the cult of Osiris, god of the dead, Abydos was a pilgrimage centre for thousands of years. The temple is known for its Gallery of the Kings, which lists all the pharaohs, as well as some hieroglyphs which look like modern machines! We sail on to Qena where we moor overnight.
The temple of Hathor is one of the most complete and best-preserved in all of Egypt. Hathor was the Egyptian goddess of love, beauty, joy and healing, and her temple, although only completed in Roman times, nevertheless follows the architecture and style of much older temples. We sail the short distance to Luxor where we moor overnight.
Anyone staying on for the full itinerary to Aswan will continue the tour crossing the Nile to the West Bank for the Valley of the Kings! We also visit Howard Carter’s house which has been beautifully preserved and is next to the newlyopened replica of King Tut’s tomb. Our tour ends at the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh, with its stunning colonnaded terraces. We return to our ship at lunchtime and the rest of the day is at leisure.
This morning we visit the Temple of Karnak. The astounding Hypostyle Hall is the most aweinspiring part of this vast complex, said to be the largest religious centre of the ancient world. We also visit the Temple of Luxor. After lunch we set sail for Edfu where we moor overnight.
The temple at Kom Ombo is unusual in that it’s dedicated to two gods, Horus and Sobek, the crocodile. The temple had a lake with sacred crocodiles and many mummies for them have been found nearby. We sail to Aswan and moor overnight.
This morning is our last full day in Egypt and we visit one of modern Egypt’s greatest achievements – the Aswan High Dam. We continue to the temple of Philae, which had to be rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser. After a visit to the Nubian museum, we take to the water on a felucca sail as the sun sets in the west, to Kitchener Island, which the general converted to a botanical park.
Early this morning we make our way to Aswan airport for the return flight, via Cairo, back to the UK after unique and truly fascinating tour.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin. Sole occupancy is available at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Included excursions: guided tours of Cairo, the Giza Pyramids & Sphinx, entrance to the Egyptian Museum; Beni Hassan tombs, Amarna, Abydos & Dendera temples, a guided tour of Karnak and Luxor temples, the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut temple, Kom Ombo temple, Philae temple, Aswan dam
Visa not included.
Along with your experienced and knowledgeable tour manager and local experts, you’ll discover so much on our award-winning Classic tours, offering the best value for money way for you to explore the world.
Our tour managers have been rated as the best in the business for their knowledge and experience and will go above and beyond to ensure every aspect of your holiday runs smoothly – so all you need to worry about is your packing.
Along with a valid passport, UK citizens must have a visa in order to travel to Egypt. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
Visa cost is US$25 per person. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent with your booking confirmation.
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
Please note that visa costs may be subject to change.
Things to Note
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
Whilst the travelling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that in visiting a number of historical sites, paths are uneven and uphill and we often enjoy walking tours of the main sights.
A reasonable level of fitness is required to get the best out of this tour, for example there are no lifts on board the MS Darakum and entry into some of the tombs involve steep descents with numerous narrow steps. Therefore, this holiday will not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility.
Daytime temperature levels will also be high for most of the year and in summer months most excursions start early in order to avoid excessive midday desert heat.
Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations required for Egypt at least a month before departure.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||Start ship location||Transfer time||End ship location||Departure airport or train station||Transfer time|
|Cairo International Airport||Cairo||1 hr||Aswan||Aswan International Airport||30 mins|