• 1440x1000-the-complex-is-the-great-pyramids-in-egypt

Extended Egypt

This two week tour introduces you to all of Egypt's most important sites in the iconic cities of Cairo and Alexandria, and includes cruising in the quintessential style of Nile explorers.

Indicative price guide

From $12,999 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 two week exploration of Egypt, ancient and modern offering in-depth touring of the classic sites, monuments, temples and tombs of the ancient world.  Experience the cities of both Cairo and Alexandria and travel the Nile aboard 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.  We will introduce you to a young, easy going and knowledgeable resident of Cairo, who is also an expert of the evening food and drink scene.  Together you will explore Downtown Cairo, built in the 1860s today it still maintains character and charm because of how central and walkable it is, due to its promenade streets with large sidewalks.  People from all walks of life live and work in Downtown Cairo, and it has a bustling shopping scene, and a diverse food scene with a mix of authentic eateries and belle-epoque style cafes.  This area is also a great place for people watching and seeing how Egyptians unwind after work, enjoying street food and ice cream, while artists and intellectuals can often be found in specific cafes and cinemas showcasing indie films.  With tons of hidden gems in Downtown, we will visit a few different stops including a place selling the Egyptian national dish of Koshary, an Arab sweet store, and we will round off the evening sipping a cold beer on the rooftop bar of a vintage hotel. The tour lasts for about two hours.

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, together with many of the other treasures found in his tomb.  The glamour and design of these riches is absolutely staggering, and provides an insight into how the Pharaohs and nobles of ancient Egypt must have lived.

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.

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.

Day 3

Contrasts of Contemporary Cairo

Cairo, Egypt

Today promises to be a true eye opener as you explore some of the most affluent and some of the most deprived of Cairo’s neighbourhoods.  You will round off the day benefitting from an expert briefing on wider contemporary social and geopolitical issues.

Step beyond Egypt’s antiquities and into one of contemporary Cairo’s most upscale neighbourhoods, flush with the best of Egyptian art and design delights.  Focusing on successful female entrepreneurs, we visit four establishments, each of which has a story to inspire. Our curated collection typically includes Egypt’s first modern and highly successful bookstore (think the equivalent of Barnes & Noble in the US, or Waterstones in the UK); the finest Egyptian cotton and linen incorporating traditional artisan techniques; Egyptian jewellery reflecting pharaonic and arabesque designs; and a boundary pushing photographic art gallery. In each place we visit, we are greeted by the women behind the business, or their senior representative, and will hear about their entrepreneurial journey and the meaning of what they have built. As we are visiting retail outlets this is also an excellent opportunity to find truly unique and beautiful gifts to take home.

Our second visit of the day is quite a contrast to the first.  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.

EXPERT LED BRIEFING: To round off today’s insights, 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.

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 4

Sahara Desert Adventure Day

Fayoum, Egypt

The great Saharan desert feels a million miles from Cairo and is a perfect family destination for a bit of outdoors adventure and learning.  It is surrounded by both deserts and lakes, yet is only an hour and a half’s drive from Giza.   This desert oasis is home to a number of attractions which you’ll see today including the astonishing outdoor museum at the UNESCO world heritage site of Wadi El Hitan which shows the working of evolution through gigantic ancient whale and shark fossils.  Tunis Village is packed full of artisan potters and the opportunity to buy some beautiful items to take home, or if you would like to exercise your creative juices we can arrange for a family pottery workshop.  Turning to nature and adventure, the sparkling Lake Qarun deserves a boat ride to soak up the serenity, or take the more active option of a 4×4 out to the Magic Lake where you will sand surf down to the water’s edge.

Day 5

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 6

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 7

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.  The temple dates to the Ptolemaic dynasty around 200 BCE and was dedicated to two gods: Horus the Falcon God who flew high and had good eyes and the people worshipped out of love, and Sobek the crocodile god who was low to the earth and the people worshipped out of fear.  This double temple was therefore a recognition that we all contain within us good and bad, and the task of humanity is to maintain the correct balance in the universe and in oneself.  Sobek was the god of fertility and so the temple of Kom Ombo became the most important clinic in Egypt for fertility treatment, and many other forms of medicine.  The walls abound with intricate pictures depicting ancient Egyptian medicine and hygiene practices such as the washing of food before it is consumed.  In order to represent Sobek in the temple, the priests would go to the river Nile and select a crocodile to live in the temple.  Once the crocodile died, it would be mummified and replaced, and the mummies can be viewed today at the small but very worthwhile museum just next to the site.

 

Day 8

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 9

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 10

Return to Cairo & Further City Tour

Cairo, Egypt

Today you will fly back to Cairo and continue to explore the city’s unique sites and offerings.

The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization is a new and excellently laid out modern museum boasting a collection of 50,000 artefacts, covering Egyptian civilization from prehistoric times to the present day. The museum encourages visitors to engage on both a chronological (Archaic, Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic, Medieval, Islamic, modern and contemporary) and thematic (Dawn of Civilization, The Nile, Writing, State and Society, Material Culture, Beliefs and Thinking and the Gallery of Royal Mummies) basis. On display in the basement of the museum are 22 mummies, 18 kings and four queens, which come from the Egyptian Museum – quite a site to see!

Old Cairo (Fustat) was founded in 641 as the city of the first Muslim rulers of Egypt. It dominated and thrived until 1168 when it was burnt to the ground by its ruler the young King Athid in order to not allow it to fall into the hands of the Crusaders. Here the three monotheistic religions are well represented and their holy houses can be visited (subject to the completion of restoration works). From the conversion of Constantine to the arrival of the Islamic order, Egypt’s official religion was Christianity, and Coptic Cairo is home to the famous Hanging Church which was the seat of the Coptic Pope, and marks the refuge site of the Holy family fleeing from the Roman ruler Herod in modern day Israel. Cairo remains home to tens of thousands of Copts, and services at the Hanging Church are still held in Coptic, a fascinating language which takes many elements from the tongue of the Pharaohs. Judaism also has a long history in Cairo and the Ibn Ezra synagogue (currently being restored) is found in the Coptic quarter, also known as the Genizah synagogue after the famous Genizah found there in the nineteenth century containing thousands of important documents including works by Maimonides who spend his final years in this area of Cairo and indeed died there. The simply but beautifully designed Mosque of Amr ibn al-As is well worth a visit (subject to completion of restoration works).

Day 11

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 12

Mediterranean Alexandria

Cairo, Egypt

Transfer by car to Alexandria, the laid back but historically important and fascinating city on the Mediterranean.  For many years it was one of the most important cities in the world, its great library the repository of a world of scientific knowledge and literary achievement. Alexandria’s historic remains include the fascinating catacombs which demonstrate the merging of Hellenic and Egyptian cultures and religions; Pompey’s Pillar which towers more than 25 meters high and provides access to an ancient library – appearing like a series of catacombs for manuscripts; the Roman amphitheatre of Kom El Dekka; and from the Mamluk period the impressive Citadel of Qaitbay which stands on the site of the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria.  Lunch today will be a super fresh and delicious meal at a local fish restaurant with views onto the sea.

Day 13

Library of Alexandria & Special Interest Tours

Cairo, Egypt

Today we will visit the present-day great library of Alexandria which stands on the site of its famous antique predecessor which Caesar destroyed.  The library is an architectural marvel, which echoes the niches of ancient libraries and arouses a poignant experience of being at a quasi-sacred ongoing site of knowledge and learning.  A full tour of the library includes a specialist tour with an in-house museum guide, a visit to its archaeological collection and current exhibitions according to your specific interests.  Following the library tour we will delve deeper into special interest tours such as the Jewish Heritage of Alexandria, or the National Museum of Alexandria, or alternatively spend the afternoon at leisure by the pool or on your hotel’s private beach.

Day 14

Airport Transfer or Sharm el Sheik extension

Cairo, Egypt

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight, or extend your Egypt experience flying to Sharm el Sheik for a stay at the stunning and extremely high quality Four Seasons resort hotel for a few days of relaxation and sunshine.  Either way, we trust you will be departing with many special memories.

Do you like this tour?

Why Pomegranate?

  • Tailor made itineraries
  • Deep local knowledge
  • Expert guides
  • Outstanding style & service
loading-icon