• nile from excel

Best of Egypt – By Water

This classic tour introduces you to Egypt's most important sites whilst travelling in the quintessential style of Nile explorers.

Indicative price guide

From $9,999 per person

Based on two adults sharing a room.

Itinerary

This sample itinerary can be tailored to you and your family’s precise requirements and interests. That is what the Egypt specialists at Pomegranate Travel excel at!

A fascinating exploration of Egypt, ancient and modern offering in-depth touring of the classic sites, monuments, temples and tombs of the ancient world.  Travel the Nile onboard a luxury boat, taking in river views and life, but benefit from your own private guide at each historic stop along the way.

Day 1

Welcome to Egypt!

Cairo, Egypt

Arrive Cairo airport where you will be met and assisted through airport procedures, transfer to hotel.

Experience a different side of Cairo, experiencing the city by evening and night. Meet your guide and head to Tahir Square which featured so heavily in the Arab Spring, now a decade ago, and hear about the events of 2010 and how they have impacted (or not impacted) Egyptian society. Continue downtown to enjoy the real Cairo of locals, with a chance to visit local cafes and even a sheesha bars. Continue to the famous Khan El-Khalili souk which is said to be the Middle East’s largest bazaar – although open during the day it truly comes alive at night! Originally created as a watering stopover for caravanserai in the 14th century, today the bazaar has spread to vast proportions. Cruise the bazaar with your guide and end at a restaurant in the area we will have pre-booked for you around 9pm (dinner not included).

Day 2

Cairo City Tour

Cairo, Egypt

This morning you will start with a private briefing to help put into wider context many of the breathtaking ancient Egyptian sites you will see while on tour, and provide valuable information about the world out of which they emerged. The ancient Egyptian temples were built by Pharaohs and as such we will explore fundamental questions such as the notion of Kingship in ancient Egyptian civilisation: what was the role of the King and the expectations upon him (or her) in terms of religious and cosmic obligations, and the social, political and economic status? From here we will better understand the purpose of the temples in religious and material terms.

The Egyptian Museum (also known as the Cairo Museum) has long been the jewel in Cairo’s crown, and one of the most famous museums in the world. Inaugurated at the turn of the twentieth century, it houses the largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities in the world including the iconic pure gold death mask of Tutankhamun,   However, the museum is due to be superseded by a new museum to be called the Grand Egyptian Museum which will be located in Giza and which will be the largest archeological museum in the world.  The Grand Egyptian museum will put on display, for the first time ever, the entire tomb collection of Tutankhamun.  The long awaited opening is due in 2022, and ahead of then we are able to arrange private tours of the pre-opened collection on an occasional basis.

One of the best way to enjoy being in Egypt is to ‘Eat like an Egyptian!’. Egyptian food is an integral part of the culture, many of the dishes are incredibly old and find their roots in ancient times, stretching back 5000 years to the times of the Pharoahs. Local Food in Egypt mostly comes from grains like beans, lentils, chickpeas and the likes, as well as vegetables, stuffed pigeons and spicy grilled meats. Famous Egyptian dishes in typical restaurants involve kebab, stuffed vegetables with mincemeat and rice, and “green molokhiya soup”. Street food has variety of different dishes like “falafel”, “koshary” and spicy liver. Salads are also an important part of Egyptian food served in restaurants and street food stations alike. The mouthwatering oriental desserts are not to be missed, and luckily can be found in every corner. All this eating will make you thirsty, and you should definitely try out the traditional Egyptian drinks like the tamarind, carob, doab, hibiscus and orchid juices.

The famous Cairo citadel was constructed in 1183 CE by Salah El Din, the great Arab conqueror and leader. The Citadel is one of Cairo’s most iconic destinations and recognizable landmarks. You will visit the various parts of the medieval Citadel including the stunning Alabaster Mosque of Mohamed Ali, which for many is the highlight of the tour.

 

Day 3

Pyramids Full Day Tour

Cairo, Egypt

Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, only one remains today:  The Great Pyramid of Giza.  If that’s not certified unmissable, we don’t know what is.  Yet before we visit Giza we will visit the more ancient sites of Saqqara and Dahshur where we will understand more about the history and evolution of these pyramid structures.   First visiting Dahshur you will visit the Bent pyramid which is almost 5000 years old, and was built under the rule of King Sneferu.  As the name suggests, the pyramid is not perfectly aligned, and this early attempt was imperfect.  You will also see the Red pyramid which was more successful and emerged with smooth sides.  Time allowing you will visit Memphis, the first capital of Egypt and home to the huge statue of Ramases II.  Continuing to Saqqara, you will learn about how the ancient Egyptians experimented with stepped pyramids, and view the step pyramid of Djoser which is the oldest stone building complex in the world.  Continuing our journey, and the evolution of these engineering feats, Giza emerges as a sublime structure, the miraculously accurate realisation of an ideal pyramid structure inside which the kings would journey to the next world and emerge as gods.  Despite their age, these structures still overwhelm and overpower visitors. You will visit all three of the pyramids at Giza, and also witness them from a  panoramic view point where you can see the grandeur of all three together.   Proceed to the Great Sphinx with its head of a man and body of a lion, gazing imposingly across the valley.  If you would like you will have the opportunity today to also enter one or more of the pyramids, but this is not advised for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia, or neck back or knee problems.

Day 4

Fly To Aswan & Nubian Experiences

Aswan, Egypt

Fly this morning to  Aswan. Aswan is a beautiful and relaxed city towards the South of Egypt, and is also interesting for gaining an understanding into the Nubian community of Egypt. The Nubians are an ethnic group from Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt and have lived in the area of the Nile for thousands of years, and many were forcefully relocated when the damming of the Nile flooded their ancestral homeland. Visit the excellent Nubian museum which is packed with Egyptian, Roman and African artefacts. The new Nubian Museum was opened in 1997 and is set in a beautiful building, worth seeing in its own right. Nestled in the hillside, it covers 50,000 square meters of landscaped gardens and buildings, which are divided up into different sections. It is partly an open-air museum where the visitor can wander the paths, meandering between a prehistoric cave with painted rock-art, ancient Egyptian statues, obelisks and columns, Roman frescoes and even a complete Nubian house.

INSIDER EXPERIENCE:  To understand more about the Nubian community and culture you will visit a Nubian village and see how people here live. Unlike most tourist engagements with the Nubian community, we are taking you off the beaten track to the non-touristy side of a Nubian village (not the sanitised ‘Disney’ version most people get). Here you will meet people who live there, see their houses, learn about their infrastructure, tour the village with them, and take a little hike to see some remarkable ancient remains which are truly outliners in terms of the tourist route. You will then enjoy a generous traditional meal in a Nubian home. We recommend taking the opportunity to ask questions about Nubian life and culture, including more probing questions about how Nubian life has changed since the Nile was dammed.

Evening sunset tour on Felucca:  take time out to simply sit back on a traditional sail boat and relax as the river scenery passes you by and the sun sets, casting beautiful colours over the skies and land.

Day 5

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel, Egypt

This morning fly to Abu Simbel and start touring. Abu Simbel lies down on the hot, dusty and inhospitable border of Sudan, and yet it is totally worth the journey. The temples at Abu Simbel were built by Ramses II with the express purpose of demonstrating Egyptian might and glory to the abutting Nabatean tribes. Given the impact these monuments have on today’s visitors, we can only surmise that he succeeded in his mission. The twin statues of Ramses II carved into the mountainside stand 20 meters high. Images of the king bearing the double crown of lower and upper Egypt are repeated four times. Knee high to Ramses, his wife Queen Nefertari and his children stand as smaller figures, their diminutive form indicative of their lower status. The great temple of Abu Simbel was dedicated to the sun god Amun, the god Ra-Horakhty and the god Ptah, and to the deified form of Ramses himself, and the interior of the temple is complex with many rooms. The rescue story of these monuments from the rising waters of Lake Nasser is also remarkable – the monuments were cut into blocks and then moved stone by stone to more elevated land.

Fly back to Aswan where you will board a Nile Cruise for 4 nights.

Day 6

Aswan & Kom Ombo

Aswan, Egypt

Much of what you will see in Aswan is in some way connected with the momentous damming of the Nile at this point which occurred during the 1960s to control the annual flooding of the Nile and create Lake Nasser.  The project took most of a decade and was perhaps one of the most ambitious modern engineering projects to have been undertaken in the Middle East.  The scale of the engineering works is pretty impressive and standing at the top of the dam you will enjoy sweeping views of the lake and the surrounding arid desert scenery. The temple of Philae is an outstanding temple complex dedicated to the goddess Isis and dates to the Ptolemaic age of about 690 BCE.  There are many legends associated with Isis and the temple, the most famous being the story of Isis finding the heart of Osiris after his murder by his brother Seth.  As with Abu Simbel this temple was dismantled piece by piece and rebuilt on higher ground to avoid it being flooded by the damming of the Nile.  The temple is reached by motorboat.

The temple of Kom Ombo sits on the shores of the Nile between Luxor and Aswan. It dates to the Ptolemaic dynasty between 180 and 47 BCE and was dedicated to two gods: Horus the Elder, and Sobek in such a way that it exhibits a ‘double design’ where everything is duplicated to ensure each god was given due reverence. Horus is the falcon god (also worshipped at Edfu), and Sobek was the crocodile god who granted fertility and protection against the perils of the Nile. Unfortunately much of the temple has been damaged by earthquakes, builders from subsequent ages who reused its stones, and Copts who defaced some of its religious inscriptions. However, just next to the temple you will find the small but fascinating crocodile museum where the mummified remains of a large number of crocodiles can be viewed! Scholars believe the crocodiles were sacrificed to Sobek at the temple.

 

Day 7

Temple of Edfu

Nile, Egypt

The temple of Edfu (also known as the temple of Horus) lies on the west bank of the river Nile between Luxor and Aswan.  It dates from a later period than many of Egypt’s key monuments, to the Ptolemaic time about 200 BCE.  It is exceptionally well preserved with the entire structure of the sanctuary – walls, floor and ceiling – intact.  It is dedicated to the falcon god Horus, who according to Egyptian mythology defeated the god Seth at this site, and the temple walls are full of inscriptions about the battle, as well as about life in Egypt during this time.

Later in the day you will cross the Esna Lock.

Day 8

Valley of the Kings and Luxor

Luxor, Egypt

The West Bank of Luxor was the necropolis of Thebes – a city of the dead – symbolically located where the evening sun sets. Just as the sun set every night and rose every morning, it was believed that man died and was born again, and the mode of burial was crucial in enabling that journey. A huge array of tombs are here to be explored. Some of the burial chambers such as those of Queen Nefertari were miraculously protected from both man and the elements, and the colours of the paints have to be seen to be believed, it is as if they were decades not millennia old. Others, such as the temple tomb of Queen Hatshepsut have been painstakingly restored to their former glory which provide an excellent insight into how the tombs must have looked in their day. Perhaps the most famous of the tombs is that discovered in 1922 by the British explorer and archeologist Howard Carter – the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun, which was discovered complete with thousands of gold and jewelled objects, military equipment, clothes and food, all to enable him to pass to the next life. In addition to these tombs you will visit that of Ramses VI. You will also see the Colossi of Memnon, two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and have stood over the Theban Necropolis since 1350 BCE.

 

Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, seat of the spiritual life of ancient Egypt. It is therefore hardly surprising that the area of and surrounding Luxor is amongst the most densely populated with temples, tombs and monuments. Karnak was the earthly dwelling of the sun god Amun-Re, the most important spiritual site in all of ancient Egypt and consisted of shrines, obelisks and temples. Huge does not even begin to describe the scale of Karnak. This site took hundreds of years to build and refine from the time of the Middle Kingdom (about 2000 BCE) into the Ptolemaic Kingdom (about 300 BCE), with around thirty Pharaohs contributing to the build. Because of the period of time over which it was built, the variety and diversity of archeological remains at Karnak is quite simply unparalleled. One of the highlights of a visit is the Great Hypostyle Hall in the Precinct of Amun-Re, the hall is 5000 squ m in size and contains 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows. The temple of Luxor dates to 1400 BCE and is smaller than that at Karnak and was intended for priests rather than the general public. This is also the site where kings were crowned (Alexander the Great claimed to have been crowned at Luxor, but in fact it is unlikely he travelled this far South). The temple is flanked by two seated statues and a pinkish coloured granite obelisk.

Day 9

Return to Cairo & Explore the Contemporary Landscape

Cairo, Egypt

Today you will fly back to Cairo and benefit from an expert briefing on contemporary issues, as well as have a chance to engaged with some of the city’s social issues and artisan scene.

EXPERT LED BRIEFING: We have arranged an expert briefing where a member of our speaker’s bureau will set out for you the current state of affairs in Egypt, including questions around the Arab Spring of ten years ago – what has changed (or not) since that time, the main opportunities and challenges in Egyptian politics, society and economy today, possibilities for democracy, the role of the military and more. Our speakers are prominent journalists, risk analysts and think tank people, and offer deep expertise in their areas of knowledge. This will be a chance to step away from the ruins of the past and probe deeply into the Egypt of today.

Manshiyat Nasser, also known as Garbage City, is a Cairo slum whose population is predominantly Coptic Christian.  A visit to this area reveals a completely different, and mostly hidden, side to Cairo.  The population support themselves by collecting the garbage of Cairo’s twenty million residents and then sorting through it, achieving an astonishing high recycling rate. The garbage collectors work as extended family units, or informal businesses, the men tend to be responsible for collecting the garbage while women and children sort through it to find any items which can be resold or recycled such as glass bottles and metal. Some families such as those who recycle aluminum have generated considerable income but most of the residents of this place continue to live in abject poverty and unsanitary conditions.  We will connect you with a highly articulate and thoughtful young residents of Garbage City who will guide you through this experience. Together with your local guide you will also visit the incredible St Saaman’s cave Church which with arena style seating for 15,000 people is the largest church in the Middle East.

Baty El Razaz is an example of a hidden gem deep inside Cairo’s chaos, just waiting to be visited by lovers of architecture.  The house is a superb example of a late fifteenth century Mamluk building, lovingly restored by the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation.  The mansion surrounds a courtyard which is like an oasis of calm within the city, when you visit it is hard to believe something like this actually exists in Cairo!  The structure feels quite palatial taking in stables and living quarters, storerooms and baths, and many large rooms with highly decorative mashrabiya windows.  Most importantly, when you visit Bayt El Razaz with us we will introduce you to the people directly involved in the restoration project so you can learn first hand about this ambitious project, and their hopes for the future of this very special site.  Bayt El Razaz is all about maintaining Egypt’s heritage and traditions which includes artisanal traditions, and we will be happy to invite some local artisans to come and meet you, for example inspiring artisans of inlay boxes and geometric wall hangings which could also be perfect gifts to take home to loved ones.

This evening we will be happy to arrange a meal for you at one of Cairo’s wonderful Middle Eastern restaurants, or perhaps at one of the city’s more chichi bar-restaurants, which brings us full circle in understanding the huge disparities and different strata within Cairo society.

Day 10

Transfer to airport

Cairo, Egypt

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.  We trust you will be departing with many special memories.

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