Egyptian Exploration

October 31–November 10, 2022

Egypt has captivated our collective hearts and imaginations for millennia. In November 2022, take this opportunity to stroll among the pyramids and towering ancient temples, lined with stunning hieroglyphics and imposing statues. Hear rich tales of gods and goddesses more outrageous than any soap opera or telenovela you can imagine. Marvel at the scientific advancement of this ancient civilization at every turn. Cruise in style along the Nile River, the lifeblood of this endlessly fascinating chapter in our shared human history. Join our carbon-negative, small-group trip for an expertly guided, 5-star journey through the wonders of ancient Egypt.

Trip at a Glance

  • October 31–November 10, 2022
  • This entire journey is triple-carbon offset
  • Guided by an expert Egyptologist
  • Accompanied by BJ & Lauren of RetreaTours
  • Arrive in Cairo & relax in your pyramid-view room
  • Discover the noble tombs and oldest pyramids at Saqqara
  • Enjoy the newly opened, world-class Grand Egyptian Museum
  • Visit the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Giza Pyramid Complex
  • Fly to Luxor (ancient city of Thebes) to explore Luxor and Karnak temples and the Valley of the Kings
  • Cruise along the Nile River in a 5-star ship for four nights
  • Wonder at the majesty of Abu Simbel temples built by Ramses II
  • Daily excursions to surrounding temples and sites
  • $5299 per person (based on double occupancy) 
  • We can help you plan an extension to see Petra in Jordan!

Cairo

Giza

Luxor

Aswan

Edfu

Abu Simbel

Wide angle photo of Hypostyle hall at Karnak temple in Luxor
COVID Safety Notes (click to open)

We will keep you updated as to any necessary entry requirements for Egypt as the situation develops before late 2022. However, it’s important to note that we will be requiring our guests to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Please stay tuned here for any updates or please feel free to write at [email protected]

Itinerary at a Glance

October 31  Arrive in Cairo and enjoy your pyramid-view room in Giza (overnight in Giza)

November 1  Discover the ancient site of Saqqara and its endless treasures (overnight in Giza)

November 2  Explore the breathtaking, newly-opened Grand Egyptian Museum (overnight in Giza)

November 3   Visit the Giza pyramids, the Valley Temple & the Sphinx before we fly to Luxor (overnight in Luxor)

November 4   Day trip to explore the breathtaking Temple of Hathor at Dendera (overnight in Luxor)

November 5   Explore Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut’s temple, the Memnon Colossi & Luxor Temple. Tonight we board our 4-night Nile luxury cruise (overnight on Nile cruise)

November 6  This morning we’ll enjoy the sprawling Karnak Temple complex in Luxor & sail to Edfu in the afternoon (overnight on Nile cruise)

November 7   Tour the Temple of Horus at Edfu & the unique Kom Ombo Temple; this afternoon we’ll continue sailing to Aswan (overnight on Nile cruise)

November 8   Visit the gorgeous Philae temple & the Unfinished Obelisk; we’ll cap off the afternoon with a motorboat ride around the Nile (overnight on Nile cruise)

November 9  Today we’ll fly to the grand temples at Abu Simbel, and then we’ll continue on to Cairo (overnight in Cairo)

November 10  Depart for home with a treasure trove of new memories—or maybe you’re on your way to Jordan to make some more!

Itinerary Details

Welcome to Egypt! You’ll be met inside the Cairo airport where one of our welcoming Egypt teammates will help guide you through the immigration process and collect your luggage.  You’ll be driven to Giza (~1 hour) to your pyramid-facing rooms in order to freshen up for tonight’s welcome dinner!

Giza & Saqqara

On November 1st, we’ll drive a short distance to see Saqqara. We’ll be guided by an expert Egyptologist every step of the way on this journey together. Today you’ll see firsthand that the iconic pyramids on the Giza plateau were the culmination of more than a century of designing and refining. Here in Saqqara, the first architect, Imhotep, designed the Step Pyramid in 2630 BCE, starting the pyramid craze across the plateau. The Step Pyramid, or Pyramid of Djoser, is the first freestanding stone building in history and the first pyramid ever built. You’ll also see the so-called “Bent Pyramid,” another experiment in building the perfect royal tomb.

The entire area of Saqqara is a hotbed for architectural achievements and findings, with more and more tombs being uncovered every year. (There’s a great 2020 documentary about Saqqara on Netflix currently!)  We’ll explore these noble tombs as our guide explains their significance and deciphers the domestic stories told in the beautiful hieroglyphics lining the walls.

On November 2, we’ll visit the newly opened Grand Egyptian Museum. This GEM of a museum has been a longtime coming, with the cornerstone placed all the way back in 2002. Moved from the original location in downtown Cairo to the Giza plateau, the GEM is the largest archaeological museum in the world. The new museum showcases over 100,000 artifacts, about 3500 of which belong to the famous King Tutankhamen.

Although you’ve already been admiring them from your hotel room window, tomorrow you’ll get up close and personal with the Giza pyramids, the Sphinx, and the Valley temple. The Great Pyramid is the only remnant of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and it’s attracted the curiosity of tourists for thousands of years. Marvel at the Great Sphinx of Giza and take in details that photo’s just can’t capture—its enormous paws, its tail, its noble gaze—and imagine what the Sphinx has gazed upon for millennia.

Sphinx of Giza in front of the Great Pyramid of Khufu

Luxor & Valley of the Kings

This afternoon we’ll take a short flight (~65 minutes) to Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes. Luxor is sometimes called “the world’s greatest open-air museum” due to the enormous amount of priceless treasures here, from the grand temples of Luxor and Karnak to the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens in the Necropolis across the Nile River.

On November 4th we’ll visit the breathtaking temple of Dendera, dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of joy, dance, and love. Hathor was also believed to have had healing powers, and ancient Egyptians often brought the sick here to be cured. Dendera Temple is one of the best-preserved temple complexes in the whole of Egypt. The ceiling of the Hathor Temple has recently been cleaned in a careful way that removed hundreds of years of black soot without harming the ancient paint underneath. As a result of this cleaning, spectacular ceiling paintings have been exposed in the main hall, and some of the most vibrant and colorful paintings dating from antiquity are now visible.

Tomorrow we’ll check out of our Nile-side Luxor hotel and visit the Valley of the Kings, where we’ll explore the colorful tombs that were carved out of rocky cliffs to safeguard the mummies and rich furnishings from grave-robbers. You’ll enter the tomb of Tutankhamun, as British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter did in 1922—although you’ve already seen his treasures at the Grand Egyptian Museum!  Not only have we included a visit to King Tut’s tomb, but we’re also taking you to the tomb of Seti I. Seti I, the father of Ramses II, has one of the best-preserved tombs in the Valley of the Kings. This burial chamber marks the first time that decorations covered every part of the tomb, a style followed by every succeeding tomb through the rest of the valley’s history.

We’ll also visit Queen Hatshepsut’s temple. Hatshepsut is an intriguing, powerful character, and one of the only female pharaohs to have reigned. She initially ruled as regent for her step-son Thutmose III, but she promoted herself to the role of pharaoh instead of passing power to him when he came of age. She asked her architect not to spare any effort in making this temple the best of its kind, and her temple is one of the most striking monuments in ancient Egypt. Afterward, we’ll visit the Memnon Colossi, two of the most imposing ancient Egyptian statues still standing, on the way back to the East Bank of the Nile. The statues are an incredible 60 feet tall and are thought to weigh around 700 tons each.

This afternoon we’ll check in to our Nile cruise and enjoy lunch, and this evening we’ll visit Luxor temple. We’ll visit Luxor Temple (1400 BCE) during the magical hours of dusk, watching the sky become purple behind the towering pillars and statues. For the next four nights, we’ll call the 5-star Movenpick MS Sun Ray our home, as we cruise between Luxor and Aswan on the Nile River. Each day we’ll visit temples dotting the Nile’s riverbanks, and in the evening we’ll have time to catch up with each other, reflect on what we saw, and participate in cultural activities on board the cruise.

On the morning of November 6th, we’ll explore the massive grounds of Karnak Temple. Karnak is actually a group of temples surrounded by one enclosure wall that is dedicated to the god Amon-Ra. Approximately 30 pharaohs contributed to these buildings. It was completely buried in sand for many centuries which allowed it to be one of the most preserved temples in Egypt. The temple has many beautifully decorated columns, a huge open court, a massive façade, a huge pylon, and two seated statues of Ramses II. The Great Hypostyle Hall is a humbling site, indeed; this hall of 134 massive columns is one of the most impressive places in all of Egypt.

Luxor Temple at dusk
Wide angle photo of Hypostyle hall at Karnak temple in Luxor

Nile Cruise

After our Karnak visit, we’ll set sail for Edfu; just wait until you feel the fresh Nile breeze on the rooftop deck of our cruise! In the morning we’ll visit Edfu’s temple. This temple is dedicated to the falcon god Horus, and it is one of the most completely preserved temples. The divine marriage of Hathor and Horus is depicted on the walls of this temple where it was celebrated once a year. The Horus Temple at Edfu has some of our favorite hieroglyphs in all of Egypt!

From Edfu, we’ll sail on to Kom Ombo and visit the very special riverside temple there. It is the only temple in Egypt that is dedicated to two gods: Horus the Elder and the crocodile-headed Sobek. There is a fascinating carving in this temple that carefully depicts medical and surgical devices of the day. The image also contains two goddesses sitting on birthing chairs. Nearby there is a crocodile museum that houses crocodile mummies recovered locally along with some gorgeous statues of Sobek.

After our exploration at Kom Ombo, we’ll sail on to Aswan, just north of Aswan High Dam. On November 8th, we’ll visit Philae temple, considered to be the most beautiful temple in the Nile valley, dedicated to Isis and Osiris. The temple became submerged in the Nile after building the first Aswan Dam, but with the help of UNESCO, the Philae temple was moved to its new location. The temple was dismantled and transferred, stone by stone, from the submerged Philae Island to the redesigned Egilica Island. Each and every stone had to be numbered and then replaced in the same position in the new location. It was a massive project and took over 9 years to complete.

Next, we’ll head to the Unfinished Obelisk, which lies on the ground in its original location in a granite quarry. It was abandoned when cracks appeared in the rock during its construction. Had this obelisk been completed, it would have been the largest obelisk ever cut and would have weighed the same as 97 school busses! It’s a fascinating insight into how obelisks were shaped and quarried in ancient Egypt.

The banks of the Nile River as seen from a Nile cruise.
A statue of Horus, the falcon-headed god, at the Horus Temple at Edfu along the Nile River in Egypt.

Abu Simbel

On the morning of November 9th, we’ll fly to Abu Simbel (~45 minutes) to explore this jaw-dropping site. Built on the west bank of the Nile River between the first and second cataracts (shallow areas of rapids), the site of Abu Simbel is one of the most recognizable ancient sites in Egypt. The entrance to the large temple is crowned by a carving of Ramses worshiping the falcon-headed god Ra. Flanking the entrance are four seated colossal figures, each a towering 65 feet tall. This temple, too, was carefully moved stone by stone to keep it safe from the rising Nile after the Aswan High Dam was built.

After our Abu Simbel visit, we’ll fly back to Cairo via Aswan, for a total of 2.5 hours of flight time. We’ll rest at a comfortable hotel near the airport to make our departure tomorrow a bit easier. Let’s enjoy our final dinner together tonight and recount what we’ve seen and experienced, tasted and felt, smelled and heard, during our unforgettable Egyptian exploration!

Tomorrow you’ll be taken back to the airport to head home (breakfast is included if it fits your schedule), or on to your next adventure. We’ve created a few options for you to head to Jordan to see Petra & the Dead Sea–details below!

Abu Simbel temple front
Abu Simbel
Visit the red rocks of the Treasury carved at Petra in Jordan

Visit Jordan!

The Kingdom of Jordan is incredibly rich in culture and breathtaking sites, from the ruins of Petra and Jerash to the Dead Sea and the red sands of Wadi Rum.

Please click the title of the desired section to open it.

Price & Inclusions

This 11 day/10 night all-inclusive journey is $5299 per person (double occupancy).

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $899 and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement.

A $1500 deposit holds your space.  The second installment of $1999 is due by June 1, 2022, and the balance is due by August 1, 2022.

Price Includes:

  • Egyptian visa fee
  • All meals (starting with dinner on October 31st through breakfast on November 10th)
  • All lodging in hotels (including pyramid view rooms) and Nile cruise
  • All local guides and tips
  • All ground transportation within Egypt, including airport pickup and drop-off
  • Flight to Cairo to Luxor
  • Flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel
  • Flight from Abu Simbel to Cairo
  • 4-night cruise down the Nile River on a 5-star boat
  • Site entry fees, including Tut’s tomb and the tomb of Seti I
  • All water, tea, and coffee
  • An online photo album of the experience for you to download and share
  • Wifi in public areas in land-based hotels
  • Donation to Brooke Hospital for Animals

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although we are more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Beverages (other than water) at meals
  • Alcohol & other specialty drinks
  • Wifi on Nile cruise or in rooms at hotels (when only available in common areas)
  • Travel insurance (required)

NOTE: 

  • There is a minimum of 6 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up.  Please do not purchase any airfare until you get the go-ahead from us that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.  
  • If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
Payment Details

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

We accept payments via check and credit/debit card (via PayPal). International guests, please contact us for the best transfer options.

Registration Questions & Cancellation Policy

Please use this link to complete the registration question for this journey. Your spot is not considered reserved until you have completed these questions and submitted your deposit.

Click here to download a copy of our contract for your records. 

Cancellation Policy

We do everything in our power to do right by our guests. We are proud to say that in the wake of our COVID-related trip cancellations through 2020 and 2021, we were able to offer each of our guests the choice of a 100% credit, if not a full refund.

We’ve re-examined each trip and done our best to reduce the deposit amounts as much as possible. Upon your registration, your deposit immediately goes toward reserving your space for flights, hotels, and excursions that must be booked months in advance and are often non-refundable.

Cancellation by our guests

The cancellation charges are as follows unless otherwise indicated on the detailed itinerary for each trip. All cancellations must be received via e-mail or US mail.

  • Cancellations prior to 120 days to departure, money will be refunded minus the non-refundable deposit.
  • Cancellations received 61 to 119 days prior to departure are subject to a penalty of 50% of the total cost of the trip.
  • Cancellations received 60 days or less prior to trip departure will forfeit the entire cost of the trip.

If a trip is cancelled by RetreaTours

When a tour is cancelled in the case of force majeure, the Tour Participant will receive a refund minus any funds that we are unable to recover from any supplier.

You can see the full cancellation policy in our contract here. 

Our Carbon Offset Commitment

RetreaTours is Climate Positive!

We purchase triple carbon offsets for your travels with us—that’s from your home, through the entire tour, and back to your home again, times three

RetreaTours is officially a Carbonfree® Partner with Carbonfund.org, as well as a partner with Cool Effect.

You may have heard the term “carbon neutral,” which means that a company offsets as much carbon as it produces. With this 300% offset, RetreaTours is actually offsetting more carbon than we produce each year, making us “carbon negative” (or “climate positive,” which has a nicer ring to it!)

Since 2012 we’ve focused on making travel safe and easy for our guests; with our triple carbon offset tours, we’re pleased to make our trips as sustainable as they are memorable.

Please see more at RetreaTours.com/CarbonNegative

Temperatures & Suggested Packing List

Average temperatures during this time of year

  • Giza: 60-82°F
  • Luxor: 55-90°F
  • Aswan: 60-86°F

Suggested Packing List

Coming soon!

Travel Insurance (required)

If you are traveling with RetreaTours, we require that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation.   

We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly.

You may wish to consider a “Cancel for Any Reason” policy. 

Below you will find some options to look into, if this is a new world to you. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

World Nomads provides medical coverage for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation, as well. You can use the box on this page to get a quote and see coverage.

InsureMyTrip.com is a good place to see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like.

It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.

Travel Insurance. Simple & Flexible.

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    FAQ (Visas, Vaccines, and more!)

    PASSPORT/VISA

    • What do I need to know about the visa?    

    First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip, and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section). 

    Egypt offers 30-day visas on arrival to American citizens (fee included in the journey’s cost).  You will receive this visa upon your arrival at the Cairo airport with the help of our travel partners.

    Please click here and check with your own country’s State Department for more information about the availability of an Egyptian visa. 

    FOOD

    • I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?

    Special diets will be no problem in Egypt, although we do ask that you complete the registration questions that will alert us to any special needs. Please feel free to email us with any specific concerns.

    Egypt has some gorgeous vegetarian options (including the national dish of kushari), but also has some brilliant meat selections for omnivores. Celiacs will be able to manage well, but we ask that you print out a CeliacTravel.com card in Arabic and English (as found here and here).

     

    • Can I drink the water?

    In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it.  Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.

    HEALTH

    • What vaccines do I need?

    As of mid-2021, none are required to enter Egypt, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the Scottish NHS recommendations here.

    In order to maintain the safety and well-being of our guests, our guides, and the Egyptian locals, RetreaTours is requiring guests to have had a COVID-19 vaccination before this journey. 

     

    • What about malaria? What about Zika?

    Malaria is not a risk in Egypt, nor is Zika. However, the key is to avoid mosquito bites altogether, so wearing a strong bug repellant, and wearing long sleeves and pants are important. As always, we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information about malaria.

     *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from your licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical health care provider.

    MONEY

    • How much money should I bring?

    All of your meals (and water at meal times), accommodation, and transportation are covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras: drinks, alcohol, and souvenirs.

    • How do I get the local currency?

    The local currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). You can either exchange cash in Egypt or use a local ATM (which we prefer) to get EGP. Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in Egypt, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world. When exchanging cash, you always get a slightly better deal when exchanging $100 bills.

    You do NOT need to exchange money before you arrive in Egypt, as exchanging money while still in your home country usually has a very poor exchange rate.

     

    COMMUNICATION

    • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?

    Before the trip begins we will give you the contact information for our hotels to pass along to your loved ones; If you choose to bring your cell phone or tablet, you can use VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime to connect with your loved ones at home, as well. It is also possible to purchase an Egyptan SIM card upon arrival at the Cairo airport. We can advise you about this option before your arrival. 

    About our Hotels & Cruise

    We’ve chosen the best 5-star hotels for you based on location and comfort!

    In Giza, you’ll be staying at Steinberger Pyramids Cairo hotel, and we’ve upgraded everyone to pyramid-view rooms.

    In Luxor, you’ll enjoy the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa, with its gorgeous spa and Nile-side pool.

    The Movenpick MS Sun Ray will be our 5-star floating home during our 4-night Nile Cruise. BJ and Lauren personally toured over 20 ships to find our absolute favorite for you!

    The Le Meridien Cairo Airport provides a comfortable and super convenient last stop before your flight home (or onward to another adventure!)

    Contact RetreaTours

    Please email [email protected] for any question you may have about this journey (or just to say Hi!)  If you don’t hear back in 24-48 hours, please do check your spam folder.

    About BJ & Lauren

    BJ and Lauren at Abu Simbel in Egypt

     

    BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding. In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable, transformative, one-of-a-kind retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)

    BJ & Lauren take great pride in the itineraries they plan, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime. The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

    In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services should you choose to extend your travels. As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you!  So….let’s get going!

    Photo Album

    Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album. All of these photos were taken by BJ or Lauren during their adventures in Egypt!

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