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Pyramids to Petra
Transport - Ferry, Minibus, 4WD, Felucca, Overnight sleeper train, Camel, on foot
Accommodation - Hotel (11 nts), Overnight sleeper train (2 nts), Beach hut (2 nts), Desert camp (1 nt), Felucca (1 nt)
Meals - 11 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 5 Dinners
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
** Itinerary change
The safety of our passengers and leaders is our major priority and we have been closely monitoring the events in Egypt. We are particularly mindful of the recent events in the Sinai Peninsula involving the kidnapping of foreign tourists. Therefore, based on the advice issued by Foreign Affairs Bureaus and frequent communication with our local operations team and leaders on the ground we have decided it's best to avoid the Mt Sinai/St Katherine area.The area is located a further 400km inland and accessed by another road, which we believe to be still too remote and risky to travel on. We will be avoiding the area until further notice and rather than spending the night at Mt. Sinai on Day 9 our groups will be staying in Dahab. We understand that this may be disappointing for all but trust that you will appreciate the reason for this small adjustment to the Itinerary as per below.Your tour leader will provide you with more details of the new itinerary and answer any of the questions you may have at your welcome meeting in Cairo.
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Egypt.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. You'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. You'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Wonderfully chaotic and always colourful, Cairo is a fascinating mixture of modern city and ancient wonders.
There are plenty of things to see and do with free time in Cairo. Travel along the river by felucca, head out to explore the markets or If the crowds and the noise of the city are too much, catch the metro into the oldest part of the city, the Coptic Christian sector - with its narrow cobbled streets and ancient churches, it's a haven of peace and quiet.
A private van will take us to Giza, location of the Pyramids and the Sphinx.
Our final approach to the Pyramids will be across the surrounding dunes by camel, allowing stunning panoramic views of this iconic sight.
Explore the Pyramids up close: the Pyramid of Khufu (The Great Pyramid of Cheops), the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) and the Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus). From a distance Khafre's pyramid looks larger than Khufu's, but this illusion is due to the structure being built on higher ground. When they were built they were covered in gleaming white limestone - now most of the casing stones have been removed but you can still see some on the apex of Khafre's pyramid.
There is time for an optional entrance inside a Pyramid, please ask your group leader to assist. The inside thoroughfares of the Pyramids are very small and very warm, so for those suffering from claustrophobia it is not recommended.
The statue of the Great Sphinx still retains the mysteries that have puzzled scholars, tourists and scientists for thousands of years. Made from an outcrop of stone left behind from the quarrying for the Great Pyramid, it has been buried by desert sands, excavated and repaired many times. The body of the Sphinx is almost 60 m long and 20 m high. It was known as 'Abu Hol' or Father of Terror to the Arabic people. You don't know who first built the statue - this is one of the mysteries of the colossal monument.
Please note that you'll be required to walk around the Pyramids complex. It can be very hot in the summer months so be prepared for some hot and sweaty walking with little relief. Don't forget to take some water with you.
Transfer back to central Cairo for a visit to the Egyptian Museum.
With thousands of exhibits, it's easy to lose yourself in the Egyptian Museum's many corridors - but don't miss the Tutankhamun rooms, where the famous golden death mask of King Tut and his gilded sarcophagi are displayed.
Your leader will designate a meeting time at our Cairo hotel to travel together to Giza station.
Travel to Aswan aboard a sleeper train with fold-out beds (approx 13 hrs). The two-berth cabins are comfortable and air-conditioned. All bedding is provided onboard by the porter. Western-style toilets are located in each carriage, but as toilet paper isn't always available it's advised to carry some of your own. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. An included dinner and breakfast are served on board. You may want to purchase something extra beforehand to supplement your meal, particularly if you're a vegetarian as only a single type of meal is served for dinner, which always includes meat. In rare circumstances you may be paired in your cabin with a group member of the opposite sex, depending on the group configuration. On other occasions you might have the opportunity to share with another traveller of the same sex who may not be part of our group, again determined by the group configuration.
- Pyramids and Sphinx
- Camel ride at the Pyramids
- Egyptian Museum
- The Citadel - EGP60
- Cairo Tower - EGP70
- The Great Pyramid of Cheops - EGP200
- The 2nd Pyramid of Khafre - EGP40
- Pyramid of Saqqara - EGP80
- Sound & Light Show at the Pyramids - EGP75
- Mummies Hall at Egyptian Museum - EGP100
- Solar Boat Museum - EGP50
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas: welcome to Aswan. This Nubian city is Egypt's southern gateway to Africa and an important market town - take time here to check out one of the country's best bazaars.
After settling in, head out to enjoy the spectacular scenery around Aswan where the Sahara meets the Nile. Take a motor boat ride to a nearby beach where you can climb a sand dune for a rewarding view.
Visit a nearby village where you join a local family for dinner and an unforgettable insight into the life and culture of the local people.
There's an option to travel to the magnificent temples of Abu Simbel on day 4. Built by Ramses II, it was the gateway to Egypt for Southern Africans and its imposing facade clearly delineated the line between what was the Pharaoh's land and what was not.
There are two ways to make the journey south to see these remarkable temples.
Some travellers prefer to fly from Aswan to Abu Simbel. The flight time is 40 minutes each way.
Return flights vary throughout the season, depending on the day of the week you fly and how far in advance you book, but expect to pay between US$250-300. Due to the southerly location it's recommended to book the early flight and visit Abu Simbel at sunrise to avoid the heat.
A less expensive option is to hire a minivan with other group members who are also interested. Prices can fluctuate depending on the number of pasengers travelling. This can be organised from Aswan. The ride is 3 hours each way with a very early departure from Aswan at approximately 4am.
Please note that Abu Simbel is an optional activity. Your group leader won't be travelling with you on flights. However will accompany the group on the bus option. The entrance fee is paid on arrival at the site, and if you wish a local guide can be hired on arrival.
For those that don't wish to travel to Abu Simbel, a visit to nearby Philae Temple is highly recommended. Dedicated to the goddess Isis, the temple was painstakingly moved and reassembled after the construction of the Aswan High Dam flooded its original island location.
- Nubian village visit and meal
- Philae Temple - EGP50
- Boat to Philae Temple - EGP10
- Sound & Light Show at Philae Temple - EGP75
- Nubian Museum - EGP50
- Unfinished Obelisk - EGP30
- Monastery of St. Simeon - EGP25
- Kalabsha Temple - EGP40
- Tomb of the Nobles - EGP30
- Abu Simbel Temple - EGP95
- Aswan to Abu Simbel: return transport by bus (price from per person - minimum 4 passengers) - EGP480
- Aswan to Abu Simbel: return flights (book with www.egyptair.com - prices from approx) - USD250
Hotel (2 nts)
Board feluccas to spend a day out on the river and then a night under the stars. Our Nubian sailing crew provides all the meals, which are hearty and delicious.
A felucca is a traditional wooden boat with broad canvas sails. The boat has a canopy that offers shade and protection from the elements, however there is no cabin or enclosed section. Please note that conditions are basic during our felucca trip but if you are prepared to rough it a bit you are sure to have the adventure of a lifetime.
Sleep outside on the deck of the felucca on mattresses. While blankets are provided, a sleeping sheet is recommended. During the colder months (October to March) it can get very cold at night (as low as 5C) so a sleeping bag is highly recommended for this period. Sleeping bag hire is not available.
There are no toilets on board our Nile felucca, but while sailing you'll stop at your request on the riverbank for toilet stops with nature. At the completion of the day's sailing you'll assemble a western-style toilet and tent close by on the riverbank. Any assistance from the group in building the toilet tent is always much appreciated.
Please note that you may need to make slight alterations to our Nile itinerary throughout the year, depending on winds and currents. As the felucca is a sailing craft without any outboard engine, if there's no wind - you won't travel very far.
Nonetheless, watching the sun setting across the Nile in the evening is a sight you'll remember. This is the absolute highlight of the trip for many of our travellers.
- Overnight felucca sailing trip
Felucca (1 nt)
After farewells to the felucca crew, take a private van to Luxor (approx 3.5 hrs). There's an option to visit either the Temple of Kom Ombo or the Temple of Edfu on the way.
From the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of wonderfully preserved reminders of the Pharaohs.
Take a private van to the west side of the Nile.
Visit the Colossi of Memnon - two 17 metre-high statues on Luxor's west bank. Carved from granite blocks they represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Hop on to donkeys (in the winter months of October-May only) for a ride of a different kind through the local villages and fields of sugar cane (approx 30 mins).
Continue on to the spectacular royal burial site of the Valley of the Kings to visit three of the most interesting tombs. Here your group leader will explain the history and legends of these remarkable people.
Please note that a visit to King Tutankhamen's tomb is not included in our visit, but can be arranged as an option with advance notice. Ask your leader for details if you're interested.
Be treated to lunch at our local guide's house - a fantastic chance to experience life in Luxor. The women on the trip are welcome to visit the ladies of the house.
Some options for your free time in Luxor include:
Visit the Luxor Museum.
Hire a bicycle to ride out into the surrounding countryside.
For a more upscale experience, check out the Winter Palace, a lovely five-star historical building with wonderful views over the Nile - a great place for a refreshing cocktail.
Catch an overnight sleeper train from Luxor to Cairo (approx 10 hrs).
- Colossi of Memnon
- Valley of the Kings (3 tombs)
- Donkey ride (seasonal - not in summer)
- Home-cooked traditional meal with local family
- Kom Ombo Temple - EGP30
- Edfu Temple - EGP60
- Karnak Temple - EGP65
- Open Air Museum at Karnak - EGP40
- Sound and Light Show at Karnak - EGP100
- Luxor Temple - EGP60
- Mummification Museum - EGP50
- Bicycle Hire - EGP10
- Tomb of Tutankhamun - EGP100
- Hatshepsut Temple - EGP52
- Medinat Habu Temple - - EGP30
- Ramasseum Temple - EGP30
- Valley of the Queens - EGP35
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Walk through Coptic Cairo where some Egyptologists believe there has been a settlement since the 6th century BC. The Romans built a fortress here, of which some walls still exist today. After the Romans, it became a Christian stronghold, with as many as 20 churches built within a small area. There are only five remaining today and during our tour you'll visit the following: the Hanging Church (Church of the Virgin Mary) built into the walls of an ancient Roman fortress; the Monastery and Church of St. George; the Church of St. Sergius (Abu Serga) which legend says was built atop a site where Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus rested on their flight from Herod; the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is Egypt's oldest and dates to the 9th century; and the peaceful Greek Orthodox cemetery.
Visit Islamic Cairo and the frenetic backstreets of the local bazaar - Khan el-Khalili. A labyrinth of narrow streets and passageways, Khan is one of the biggest and oldest markets in the world.
- Coptic Cairo walking tour
- Islamic Cairo and Khan al-Khali bazaar visit
- Coptic Museum - EGP50
- Islamic Art Museum - EGP50
Hotel (1 nt)
Travel to Dahab
- Mt Sinai climb with local guide
Hotel (1 nt)
Red Sea Beach Camp
Visit the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Catherine, built around the burning bush that spoke to Moses. The monastery was built over 1,400 years ago by the Roman Emperor Justinian to protect the monks and hermits residing in the area. A site of Christian pilgrimage since the 4th century, it's the oldest Christian monastery in continuous existence. The monastery is named for the martyr Saint Catherine, who lived in the 3rd century, and whose relics were found at the summit of Mt Catherine (Jebel Catherine).
Travel by van to our Red Sea beach camp, close to the town of Nuweiba (approx 2 hrs).
This is a harsh and barren land of sprawling windswept plains and rugged mountains, but it's also home to some fantastic beaches. The tiny settlement of Sawa Camp is reminiscent of its Sinai neighbours, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheik, before mass tourism arrived. Thankfully Sawa Camp is still a hidden gem for Intrepid groups. Set on one of the only stretches of fine golden sand along this coast, this is a place that you'll be raving about to your friends for years to come.
Stay in simple but comfortable beach huts with the water right at our front door. The huts in our camps are made from local palm trees and have a mattress on the floor with sheets and mosquito nets provided. The toilets and showers are in a communal block.
The Red Sea coast is justifiably famous for its beautiful scenery, both above and below the water. Why not start the day with a fantastic snorkelling trip to discover this spectacular world.
There's time to make an optional scuba dive on nearby reefs.
Later relax on the golden sands watching the mountains of Saudi Arabia light up at sunset, and finish the day chatting with our Bedouin friends over a delicious freshly squeezed fruit juice. Enjoy!
- St Catherine's Monastery
- St. Catherine's Icon Museum - EGP25
- Red Sea scuba diving (approx for 2 dives) - USD75
- Red Sea snorkel hire (per day) - EGP20
Beach hut (2 nts)
Take a ferry across the Gulf of Aqaba to Jordan (approx 2 hours). Your Egyptian leader will help you board the ferry and say good-bye. Please note that you'll be travelling on this ferry unaccompanied by a group leader. You'll be met at the Aqaba ferry terminal by our local representative who will receive and process visas for the group and arrange a transfer to the hotel where you'll meet your Jordanian leader.
The ferry crossing can be rough on occasions and those who suffer from sea sickness may want to prepare themselves. Please note this ferry crossing sometimes experiences delays and patience is required. This is a fast ferry and sometimes it can be cancelled without notice. For some trips you may be required to take the slow ferry which can take anywhere between 3-5hrs. Due to adverse weather conditions there's a possibility the ferry will be cancelled all together, forcing us to stay an extra night in Egypt. The ferry itself is modern with western-style toilets on board.
Stay in the coastal resort town of Aqaba, the country's only seaport.
Hotel (1 nt)
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with a short drive (approx 1 hr) to the extraordinary desert scenery in Wadi Rum.
A 4-hour jeep safari takes us through some of the most beautiful and sublime desert scenery on the planet, a true highlight of this trip.
Wadi Rum is full of weird and beautiful lunar-like rock formations. Traces of ancient civilisations can be seen in the many carved inscriptions found throughout the Wadi Rum area, from pictographs to Thamudic, Nabataean and Arabic texts. The most enduring monuments in Wadi Rum, however, are those carved by nature - the natural rock bridges, towering rose-coloured sand dunes and scattered rocky peaks.
Sleep in a simple desert camp where you'll have the choice of sleeping under a camel hair tent or out under the stars. A mattress and blankets are provided. Please be aware that while the desert may be very hot during the day, it will still be cool at night and warm clothes and a sleeping bag is highly recommended when travelling outside of the summer months. A dinner cooked in a local earthen oven is included. Western-style toilet facilities are available. Conditions are basic at our desert camp, but the company of our Bedouin hosts is warm and you'll treasure the memory of sleeping beneath the twinkling desert night sky.
- 4WD jeep safari and desert camp
Desert camp (1 nt)
Travel by van from Wadi Rum to Petra (approx 2 hrs).
Hewn out of the rose-coloured rock face, the ancient Nabataean city of Petra is one of the Middle East's most spectacular destinations, and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Visit Petra with a local guide, starting with the exciting walk through the narrow Siq to the Treasury. After admiring the iconic view, continue through the site along the Roman road, past impressive rock-cut tombs, temples and the amphitheatre.
Please note that when entering Petra as a group, a complimentary horse ride is included in the ticket price from the entrance point down to the Siq. Intrepid doesn't recommend that passengers take this option due to the safety and insurance liability involved.
Explore the rest of the site at your own pace. For those with the energy, there's the challenging but highly rewarding walk up the steps to the stunning Monastery (approx 1 hr). Please note a lot of walking is required to see all the sites and viewpoints of Petra. A basic level of fitness will enhance your enjoyment of your visit.
The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was discovered by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer. It was once described as 'a rose-red city half as old as time' in a sonnet by John William Burgon and UNESCO has described it as 'one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage.' In 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage site. So you know you are in for an amazing experience here.
It's difficult to determine exactly when the history of Petra began. Evidence suggests the Horites, probably cave-dwellers, inhabited the area, lending their traditional habits such as burying the dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves to the next wave of inhabitants - the Nabataeans.
Evidence of the earliest Nabataean settlement is also sketchy. Some of the characteristics of the site appear partly Egyptian and partly Greek in style. Strangely, few inscriptions have been found at Petra making dating the civilization a real challenge for historians. You do know the Nabataean settlement doesn't go back farther than the 6th century BC.
In 106 AD, Petra was absorbed into the Roman Empire and the native dynasty came to an end but continued to flourish for a century after. Eventually the building of tombs ended and trade moved away from Petra, which fell into steady decline over the centuries. Over time many of the tombs' treasures were stolen by treasure hunters and their glory and whereabouts are unknown.
According to Arab tradition, Petra is the location where Moses struck a rock with his staff and water came forth.
- Guided tour of Petra
- Petra by night - JOD12
Hotel (2 nts)
Travel the King's Highway to the historic crusader castle of Kerak. Take time here to explore the evocative ruins and to discover the legends of the 12th-century battles between the Crusaders and the Muslim armies led by the Arab hero, Saladin (Salah ad-Din).
Travel by van to Madaba, via the Dead Sea and Mt Nebo.
A Dead Sea float is a must for any trip to Jordan. Here at the lowest point on Earth (420 metres below sea level) the water is seven times saltier than a normal ocean at 30% salinity. The Dead Sea is the second saltiest body of water in the world after Lake Asal in Djibouti. When swimming this means you are extremely buoyant and seem to float on top of the water rather than in it.
The mud here is supposed to have healing properties and many visitors like to cover themselves from head to toe for a beauty mud bath. Stop at a private beach with pools and a gentle slope to the water. Towels are available for hire. Don't forget to pack your swimwear for today.
Make a stop at Mt Nebo where the prophet Moses is said to have seen the promised land and is supposedly buried. Explore this sanctuary and view the remarkable mosaics of the 4th-century church.
The historical town of Madaba is famous for its Ottoman-style houses and beautiful Byzantine-era mosaics, including the famous 6th-century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land at St George's Church. Other mosaic masterpieces found within the Church of the Virgin and the Apostles and in the Archaeological Museum depict a rampant profusion of flowers and plants, birds and fish, animals and exotic beasts, as well as scenes from mythology and everyday pursuits such as hunting, fishing and farming. If these interest you, you'll be delighted to know that literally hundreds of other mosaics from the 5th to 7th centuries are scattered throughout Madaba's churches and homes.
Madaba is practically a satellite suburb of Amman, but it has a village feel and friendly locals.
Take the opportunity to relax by the pool of our comfortable hotel. There's a poolside restaurant that's yours to enjoy. As it's sometimes difficult for the hotel to identify who are hotel guests and who are restaurant guests, all orders for food and drink are required to be paid for at the time of ordering. As the restaurant is in practice a separate business to the hotel this also applies to room service orders. This is a slightly different system to much of the rest of the Middle East. Any food or drink you wish to bring into the hotel may only be consumed in your hotel room.
You arrive back in Madaba at around 5pm on day 16. There are no activities planned for the final day ( Day 17 ) and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
If you're staying on after the trip consider these options:
Explore the beautifully preserved ruins of Jerash, one of the largest and best-preserved Roman cities left on the planet. These ruins were re-discovered in 1806 and continue to be one of Jordan's most amazing sites. The ancient walled town that survives today is a remarkable evocation of life 2,000 years ago.
Excavation and restoration of Jerash has been ongoing since the 1920s. Recent excavations show that the area was inhabited during the Bronze Age as far back as 3200 BC. Conquered by the Romans and then the Persians, Jerash was destroyed by an earthquake in the 8th century. Monuments of note in Jerash include the Corinthium column, Hadrian's Arch, a circus/hippodrome, two temples (to Zeus and Artemis), the oval Forum surrounded by a colonnade, a long colonnaded street, two theatres, baths, small temples and an almost complete circuit of city walls.
Be sure to visit St George Church to view the magnificent mosaics.
If you're in Madaba on a Sunday, there's an opportunity to take part in Sunday Mass. Starting at 8am in the Greek Orthodox Church of St George, it's a wonderful chance for you to experience the Christian side of Jordan.
- Dead Sea
- Kerak Castle
- Roman ruins - JOD8
- Gladiator show - JOD12
- St George Church - JOD2
- Roman Theatre - JOD1
- Bethany Baptism site - JOD8
- Citadel and National Archaeological Museum - JOD2
- Minivan hire for Jerash/Amman sightseeing from Madaba - JOD80
Hotel (1 nt)
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There were so many highlights on the trip, culminating in a day long discovery of Petra, where the word "wow!" was never far from my lips. Camping in Wadi Rum was a real magical haven.