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12 Days | Pathways of the Pharaohs

(Click here to view all departure dates for this itinerary.)

Day 1 | Cairo, Egypt. Arrive in Egypt, “the gift of the Nile” as described by the Greek historian Herodotus, then transfer to the superior first class Cairo InterContinental Semiramis (or similar) on the banks of the Nile for a 3-night stay.

Day 2 | Cairo. Giza. This morning we take an excursion to the necropolis at Sakkara to see the world’s oldest step pyramid. Continue to the Giza plateau to behold the only Wonder of the Ancient World still standing: the Great Pyramids of Cheops, Kephren and Mykerinus. Nearby, see the Great Sphinx, forever facing due east. Experience the “ships of the desert” with a brief camel ride. Return to your hotel for dinner and a free evening to relax or explore on your own. (B, L, D)

Day 3 | Cairo. Today you see some of the sights of Cairo. A city tour takes you to landmarks like the iconic Citadel of Saladin and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Lunch is on your own at or near your hotel. This afternoon, tour Cairo’s Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to admire its huge collection of artifacts and visit the famous gallery displaying the riches of King Tutankhamen. Dine on your own in Cairo, or take an optional visit to Khan el-Khalili, a colorful outdoor souk (bazaar)—shop for traditional Egyptian goods and have dinner there. (B)

Day 4 | Cairo. Luxor. This morning fly to Luxor, the city once known as Thebes. Proceed to your hotel for lunch, then visit the glorious Temples of Karnak and Luxor, where history is brought to life by our expert Egyptologist. You have one night at the superior first class Luxor Sonesta (or similar); enjoy some time on your own this evening or you may choose to attend a fun and informative sound and light show at Karnak Temple. (B, L)

Day 5 | Luxor. Relax over breakfast, or (weather permitting) take an optional early-morning hot air balloon ride over Luxor’s temples and monuments. This morning’s excursion takes you to the sprawling Dendera Temple complex; walk through the stone entryway to view the columns and hieroglyphics of well-preserved structures such as Hathor Temple. Embark your Nile cruise ship and enjoy a welcome lunch on board. This afternoon we spend some time at the small, beautifully planned Luxor Museum, where you see magnificent antiquities unearthed in the area—including the royal mummies of Ahmose I and Rameses I. Return aboard for dinner and enjoy the evening in Luxor. (B, L, D)

Day 6 | Luxor. On your final morning in Luxor, visit the Valley of the Kings and the temple of Hatshepsut—one of Egypt’s most successful pharaohs and one of her few female rulers—on the Nile’s west bank, opposite the city of Luxor. Also see Medinet Habu, the Mortuary Temple of Rameses III—walk through its monumental peristyle hall decorated with complex hieroglyphics. You also encounter the extraordinary Colossi of Memnon, two very large statues depicting Amenhotep III, circa the 14th century B.C. Return aboard and have lunch as we set sail for Edfu; enjoy scenic cruising along the Nile this afternoon. (B, L, D)

Day 7 | Edfu. Kom Ombo. Aswan. This morning, visit the Temple of Horus in Edfu, built during the Ptolemaic Dynasty to honor the falcon-headed god. Have lunch on board while sailing toward Kom Ombo. There, you take a guided tour of the unusual double temple dedicated to both Horus and the crocodile god Sobek, a fertility deity thought to have created the world. Return to your ship and continue cruising up the Nile. We arrive at Aswan during dinner; this evening, attend a Nubian party featuring the evocative traditional music of the region. (B, L, D)

Day 8 | Aswan. After a final breakfast aboard, disembark your Nile ship at Aswan and transfer to Lake Nasser to embark your second ship. Tour the Aswan High Dam, completed in the 1960s, and the Temple of Kalabsha, which honors the androgynous Nubian sky and sun god Mandulis. Then take a scenic ride on a felucca—a traditional Egyptian wooden sailboat—on the Nile, and visit Philae, a small island used as a priestly retreat. Walk through the Temple of Isis, one of the Nubian monuments that comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Return aboard for lunch and sail along the Lake Nasser shoreline to Wadi el Seboua. Enjoy dinner and a welcome cocktail. (B, L, D)

Day 9 | Wadi el Seboua. Amada. This morning, walk through the “Valley of the Lions”—a striking avenue lined with sphinxes. Then, tour the temple of Dakka, dedicated to the ibis-headed Thoth, and the nearby Greco-Roman temple of Meharakka. Lunch aboard as you cruise across Lake Nasser to Amada. This afternoon, tour the small but interesting Nubian Amada Temple—oldest of the Lake Nasser temples, it houses a collection of brightly painted historical carvings. Dine aboard. This evening, attend a Nubian show featuring traditional music, dance and costumes. (B, L, D)

Day 10 | Kasr Ibrim. Abu Simbel. This morning, we sail past the iconic Kasr Ibrim Fortress. Learn the story of the last Nubian monument remaining in its original location, and see it from the ship’s sun deck. Later, like a mirage shimmering in the noonday sun, Abu Simbel fills the horizon as you slowly approach. These magnificent temples, renowned for their four giant seated figures, were built in the 13th century B.C. by Rameses II and are thought to depict him and his queen, Nefertari. The colossal structures were dismantled and moved to this new location during construction of the Aswan High Dam that created Lake Nasser—a major engineering feat in and of itself. After a guided tour, return aboard for dinner. Tonight, relax on your ship or enjoy an optional sound and light show at Abu Simbel. (B, L, D)

Day 11 | Abu Simbel. Cairo. After a final breakfast aboard, disembark and head to the airport for your flight back to Cairo. Check in to the superior first class CityStars Cairo Hotel (or similar) for 1 night, then enjoy a buffet lunch and a free final afternoon in Cairo. Return to your hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure, or attend an optional sound and light show at the pyramids. (B, L, D)

Day 12 | Cairo. After breakfast, proceed to the airport for your flight home. Or, extend your journey for 4 nights in Jordan—see the lost city of Petra, the Dead Sea and the capital of Amman. (B)

NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the itinerary schedule you receive with your final documents.

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