Egypt is the oldest tourist destination on earth. Ancient Greeks and Romans started the trend, coming to goggle at the cyclopean scale of the Pyramids and the Colossi of Thebes. During colonial times, Napoleon and the British looted Egypt’s treasures to fill their national museums, sparking off a trickle of Grand Tourists that eventually became a flood of travellers.
The adventure that is Egypt never ends! That is why it is a shame if you come to Egypt, especially for the first time, and miss the grandiose sites, such as the Pyramids of Giza, Abu Simbel or the west bank of Luxor, to name but a few.
Built between 876 and 879 AD, the Mosque of Ibn Tulun is one of the oldest mosques in Cairo. It was commissioned by Ahmad ibn Ţūlūn, the Abbassid governor of Egypt. The mosque is constructed around a courtyard, with one covered hall on each of the four sides. The minaret, which features a helical outer staircase similar to that of the famous minaret in Samarra, was probably built several centuries later. Parts of the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me were filmed at the Mosque of Ibn Tulun.
Dahab is located some 85 km (53 miles) north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Gulf of Aqaba, near the southern tip of Sinai. Once an isolated coastal village, Dahab turned into a hippie hangout in the 1980′s and became something of an “alternative resort”, mixing cheap accommodation with a laid back lifestyle. Activities such as wind surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and camel and jeep trips make it one of the most popular destinations along the Red Sea.
Home to at least 120,000 items of ancient Egyptian antiquities, the Egyptian Museum is one of Cairo’s top attraction. There are two main floors of the museum, the ground floor and the first floor. On the ground floor there is an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in by the ancient Egyptians. On the first floor there are artifacts from the final two dynasties of Ancient Egypt and also many artifacts taken from the Valley of the Kings. Highlights include the objects from the Tomb of Tutankhamen and the Royal Mummy Room containing 27 royal mummies from pharaonic times.
Fly overnight to Cairo. Arrive and prepare to begin an extraordinary exploration of Egypt’s past.
Explore Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, which houses the greatest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world; the sheer number of items on display is amazing. See the funeral mask of “King Tut” (Tutankhamun) – weighing over 24 pounds and constructed from solid gold and gems. Also visit the Mummy Room, where more than two dozen Egyptian pharaohs lie in state. In some cases, their hair and fingernails remain intact. Later, attend a welcome dinner and get to know the other families sharing your adventure.
Journey to see the pyramids of the Giza Plateau, which have been luring visitors of all ages for more than 4,000 years. Appreciate them from the outside; then, see the interior of a pyramid as well. The short, narrow corridors are a perfect fit for young explorers. Moreover, the experience of being within an ancient monument is one your family will never forget. Just east is the Great Sphinx, the guardian of the pharaoh’s funerary monument. Continue to the Solar Boat Museum to view Cheops’ 141-foot-long funerary boat. Pause for a picture atop a camel within view of the pyramids, and pay a visit to a craft workshop to participate in pottery, engraving or woodworking projects after lunch.
Fly to Abu Simbel, and explore the two temples built by Egypt’s longest-ruling pharaoh, Ramses II. Abu Simbel is one of the grandest sites ever built by the Egyptians, its towering statues carved from solid rock. Continue to Aswan, where you board Sanctuary ‘Sun Boat IV,’ the luxurious Nile cruiser where you spend the next three nights. This afternoon, visit the granite quarries and the 1,250-ton Unfinished Obelisk – an outstanding example of ancient Egyptians’ stonemasonry skills.
Take a motorized boat ride to the majestic Temple of Philae on the island of Agilika. Back on board your deluxe Nile cruiser, enjoy a gourmet lunch while sailing to Kom Ombo to see its unusual temple dedicated to two gods: the sun god, Haroeris, and the crocodile god, Sobek. Continue cruising to Edfu and the Temple of Horus (the falcon god), the best-preserved temple in Egypt. Tonight, attend a festive Egyptian-themed costume party on board Sanctuary ‘Sun Boat IV.’ You may dress in traditional galabeyyas(traditional Egyptian robes), sample a buffet of local cuisine, listen to music and dance.
This morning, visit the spectacular Karnak Temple, the largest in Egypt. Then explore the Temple of Luxor, built by Amenhotep III and completed by Ramses II. After lunch, cross the Nile to the west bank’s imposing Valley of the Kings, home to over 60 pharaonic tombs. Discover the hieroglyphs and vivid paintings that cover their walls. Explore the tomb of Tutankhamun, and look upon the pharaoh himself, lying in state just where he was originally laid to rest thousands of years ago. See the famed Colossi of Memnon, which, according to legend, used to make a ‘singing’ noise at dawn; afterward, enjoy a donkey ride nearby. Later this evening, gather for a festive farewell dinner.
Fly back to Cairo. Explore the Citadel of Salah el-Din, a 12th-century medieval fortress, and its main landmark, the imposing Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali. Stroll the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, an open-air market with licorice-tea-sellers, spice vendors with obscure roots and magical powders, and wicker baskets filled with birds around every bend. After a traditional lunch, set out on a scavenger hunt through the winding streets of the bazaar. Return to your hotel, where the rest of the day is at leisure.
After an early lunch on board, disembark in Yichang. Later, fly to Shanghai.