Grand Egyptian Odyssey

Luxury Tour to Egypt

Travel in the style of the pharaohs on this odyssey to discover Egypt’s hidden wonders. Explore the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, a place which after hundreds of years of excavations is still yielding valuable discoveries. Visit the subterranean chambers of the step pyramid, previously off limits to visitors, the tomb of the Apis bull and the ‘Bent’ and ‘Red’ pyramids of nearby Dahshour. Explore Siwa Oasis, situated in the middle of the Sahara and venture into middle Egypt to the site of Amarna and the ancient city of Akhenaten in the desert. Explore the west bank at Luxor with an exclusive visit to the tomb of Ay and the Valley of the Monkeys as well as visits to two of the most spectacular of Egypt’s royal tombs, the tomb of Nefertari and the tomb of Seti I. No matter how many times you’ve visited the land of the pharaohs (or even if this is your first time) you will surely find something undiscovered that is sure to impress.

No roughing it at all on this trip! Come back after a hard day’s adventuring to either a unique and historical 5-star hotel, a  friendly luxury B&B, beautiful desert lodges or an opulent Nile cruise boat.


TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore lesser-known archaeological wonders of Egypt with visits to the ‘Bent’ and ‘Red’ Pyramids of Dahshour, the tombs of the nobles in Luxor and the mysterious ‘Osirion’ of Abydos
  • Discover the Valley of the Monkey’s and the royal tomb of Ay with special access to a site that is not normally open to the public
  • Visit the newly re-opened tombs of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens and visit the tomb of Seti I, the largest and most extravagant of all the royal tombs
  • Venture out to the far western oasis of Siwa to see the architectural wonder of the mudbrick fortress of Shali and the ‘temple of the Oracle’ where Alexander the Great was proclaimed son of a god and the legitimate ruler of Egypt
  • Stay in opulent lodges and 5-star hotels as well as sail down the Nile on a luxury cruiser

The Basics

Start: Cairo

Finish: Aswan

Trip style: Luxe

Max group size: 15

20 Days

CAIRO – ASWAN

$11 445 AUD*

Departure date: 17 February 2023

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: GOCA *from

ITINERARY

Arrive in Cairo and meet your pre-organised airport transfer who will be waiting for you. Meet your trip leader and travel companions for a welcome meeting at 17.00 to discuss your luxury tour of Egypt. After the meeting, head out into cosmopolitan Cairo to a local restaurant for a special dinner.

We start our first day in Egypt with a trip to the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, home to the step pyramid of king Djoser, the first pyramid ever built. We will explore the complex and descent into the tomb’s underground chambers. The pyramid has recently undergone extensive restoration and the subterranean structure has only recently become accessible to visitors.

We will also visit the tombs of Mhu and Maya, as well as the 6th dynasty pyramid of Unas, which was one of the first tombs to contain the so-called ‘pyramid texts’ a group of spells used by the deceased for navigation into the afterlife. These spells were later adapted into the ‘coffin texts’ and then the ‘Book of the Dead.’

Our next stop will be to the enigmatic Serapeum, a labyrinth of chambers built to house the immense sarcophagi of the mummified Apis Bulls. The Apis Bull was thought to be the incarnation of the god Ra on Earth and was treated as a god. The bulls were selected based on markings and when the old bull died, he was buried in this tomb.

After lunch in a local restaurant nearby, we will transfer to Dahshour. Here we will visit some of the earliest true pyramids. The first is the so-called ‘Bent Pyramid’ built by Snefru, the father of Khufu, builder of the great pyramid of Giza. The ‘Bent Pyramid’ is a great example of the evolution of pyramid building by the ancient Egyptians and shows that things did not always go to plan. Our final stop today will be at the ‘Red Pyramid’ also built by King Snefru. The Red Pyramid is Egypt’s first true pyramid and is truly a marvel of engineering and a site which is hardly visited by travelers, we will ascend the steps of the pyramid and explore its deserted chambers.

We check out of our cosy Cairo B&B this morning and head north-west to the coastal city of Alexandria. Legendarily established by Alexander the Great, Alexandria was a major centre of knowledge in the ancient world.

On arrival in Alexandria, we will visit the Roman catacombs, which were constructed in the 2nd century and reportedly contain the tombs of over three hundred individuals. We will also visit the Alexandria National Museum to see items recovered from the underwater archaeological excavations around the coast of the city, as well as some of the over 1800 artefacts that narrate the history of this city over the ages.

After our visit to the museum, we will have lunch in one of Alexandria’s local restaurants, before a visit to Fort Qaitby. The fort was built in the 14th century to protect Alexandria from the advancing Ottoman army. The fort is built on the site of the famous ‘lighthouse of Alexandria’ and some of the stone from the lighthouse was reportedly used in its construction.

In the late afternoon we will check in to our hotel and the evening will be yours to relax or explore Alexandria on your own.

Today is a free day for you to explore the city of Alexandria on your own. You may wish to take a stroll along the corniche, sit in a café and watch the action or just use this time to enjoy the hotel and relax.

In the evening we will re-group for a special dinner and to swap stories from the days adventures.

We take off into the Sahara today as we journey to Siwa Oasis, one of Egypt’s most fascinating and remote corners. In ancient times Siwa was home to the ‘temple of the Oracle’ a place of worship for the god Zeus-Amon (an amalgamation of Greek and Egyptian deities.) People would make a pilgrimage to the temples to ask their future and to ask for advice. Today Siwa is home to a population of local Berber people who can be found from the deserts of western Egypt all the way across the Sahara and into Morocco.

We will stop along the way for lunch in a local restaurant and dinner will be served at our lodge on arrival.

This morning we will ascent to the top of Siwa’s most amazing the attraction, the fortress of Shali. The fortress is made entirely of mudbrick and provides an amazing vista of the entire oasis upon reaching the top.

Next, we will make our own pilgrimage to the ‘temple of the Oracle,’ known locally now as the ‘Alexander Temple’. When Alexander the Great arrived in Egypt and liberated the country from the invading Persians, he made his own pilgrimage to the temple, where the oracle declared that Alexander was the son of Amon (or as the Greeks say, the true son of Zeus) and therefore, as the son of a god, the legitimate ruler of Egypt.

We will also make a stop at the Siwa Museum and Cleopatra’s spring before taking some time out for lunch.

After lunch we will have some free time before transferring to Fatnas Island to watch an amazing sunset.

This morning’s adventure is a trip out into the ‘Great Sand Sea’ on a 4×4 safari! Cross the desert dunes to see the fossils and coral reefs formed during the Cambrian era of the Earth and take a swim in a salty, fresh desert spring.

Lunch today will be a picnic on the sand dunes overlooking the vast majesty of the Sahara.

In the afternoon travel back to Siwa, the remainder of the day is free for you to explore the oasis. If you’re feeling adventurous, we highly recommend a trip back to the Shali Fortress to watch the sunset from this vantage point.

After a traditional Siwan breakfast at our lodge we will check out and head to the seaside town of Marsa Matrouh where local Egyptians spend their holidays.   

On the way we will stop to stretch our legs and to eat some lunch in a local restaurant before arriving in Marsa Matrouh in the late afternoon.

Depart Marsa Matrouh this morning and drive back to Cairo.

Lunch will be served along the way in a local restaurant, on arrival in Cairo we will be welcomed back into our B&B.

This morning we will visit the Cairo Museum, home to over 7000 artefacts from Egypt’s vast and colourful ancient history. Our Egyptologist guide will take us on a journey through history while showcasing some of the most significant finds, after which you will have some free time to wander the museum and see what unique treasures you can find with in its halls.

We have a special treat for lunch today, with a walking tour sample the best of Cairo’s local delicacies. We will get to try three or four tasty local dishes before finishing with tea, coffee, juice or ice cream.

Our next stop is the old city of Islamic Cairo, a part of the city which is over a thousand years old. We will take a stroll down El Muizz Street which has the greatest collection of medieval architectural treasures in the Islamic world, followed by a stop at the Khan el Khalili bazaar, reputed to be the largest bazaar in the middle east. Steel yourself for some hard-bargaining and good-natured hassling from the shop keepers, the banter is all part of the fun here!

This morning we will leave Cairo and head down the Nile to the city of Al Minya.

On arrival we will visit the Beni Hassan necropolis, which is home to the tombs of the Amarna period. The Amarna period marks a strange time in ancient Egyptian history and begins with the ascension of Amenhotep IV in the 18th dynasty, who later changed his name to Akhenaten. Akhenaten changed Egypt’s polytheistic worship of many gods, to a monotheistic religion and the worship of a single god, the Aten sun disc.

Akhenaten also picked up the entire Egyptian capital and moved it out into the desert to a place where ‘the footsteps of the other gods had not trodden’. Today we will walk the streets of Akhenaten’s capital in the desert – Akhetaten ‘the Horizon of the Aten.’

Continuing south, we depart Al Minya this morning and head to the site of Tuna El Gabal. A real hidden gem, this site is home to the Ibis and baboon catacombs, animals sacred to the god of wisdom and knowledge, Thoth. There are also some examples of Greaco-Roman human burials here and we will visit the colourful tomb of Petosirus and the tomb of Isadora.

In the afternoon we will continue on to Sohag where we will check in to our hotel for the evening.

In the morning we will start to make our way to Luxor, Egypt’s ancient capital in the New Kingdom, once called ‘Thebes’.

Along the way we will stop at Abydos, the sacred city of Osiris, father of Horus and the god of the dead. Here we will visit the temple of Seti I. The temple deviates from the standard Egyptian design which usually follows a straight plan with each room becoming smaller and the ceiling lower until you reach the cult sanctuary at the back. The temple of Seti at Abydos is actually ‘L’ shaped, and the rooms do not get smaller. The temples also contains the king lists of Egypt, showing all the kings from the Early Dynastic period to the New Kingdom.

Before lunch we will see the enigmatic ‘Osirion’ temple, which is contemporary with the temple of Seti I. The temple was built below ground level and its purpose is so far unknown. It is possible that as Osiris was a chthonic deity the temple was built and buried to be in the realm of the dead over which Osiris ruled, it has also been suggested that the temple was meant to represent the physical tomb of Osiris. The temple is today partially under the water table, and we will view it from outside.

Today we will have lunch in a guesthouse, before traveling further south to the temple of Dendera. The existing structure of this temple, was started during the Ptolemaic period (Greek) and was built upon by the Romans, it is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. Colourful paint still remains on the temples inner reliefs, and it contains one of the earliest representations of the zodiac.

After we have visited Dendera we will continue on to Luxor and check in to our hotel.

Today is a free day for you to rest and relax and explore Luxor on your own. You may want to head out to do some shopping in the bazaar, relax in a local coffee shop or explore the vast expanse of Karnak Temple (if you haven’t on a previous trip to Egypt), the largest religious complex in the world. The choice is yours!

Featured Optional experience – Hot Air Balloon Ride over the West Bank

Arise early and take to the skies as you sail over the monuments of kings on the west bank of the Nile. Perfect for an introduction to Luxor and is many monuments and sights the hot air balloon will give you a great idea how the city was set up in both modern and ancient times. Sail over the Nile, the life blood of the city and gain a bird’s eye view of the Valley of the Kings, the spectacular temple of Hatchepsut and the mortuary temples of Ramses II and III. Watch as the hues from an amazing sunrise glitter off the river surface and which illuminate thousands of years of history on the ground below.

Today we venture over to the west bank of the Nile and into the land of the dead.

Our first stop will be Deir El Medina. This archaeological site is the former town of the workers who laboured on the tombs in the Valleys of the Kings, Queens and Nobles. It was here that the famous ‘bust of Nefertiti’ (now in the Berlin Museum) was found among the rubble of the craftsman Thutmose’s workshop.

Next, we will ascend a nearby rocky outcrop to visit the Tombs of the Nobles. During the New Kingdom and after the so-called ‘democratisation of the afterlife’ everyone was allowed admittance and everyone was allowed to have a tomb, if they could afford it. Unlike the pharaohs, who’s tombs are decorated with scenes from the ‘Book of the Dead’ the nobles decorated their tombs with scenes from their daily lives. This provides a rare insight for Egyptologists into the daily lives of people in ancient Egypt.

One of today’s special treats is next, a visit to the Valley of the Queens to visit one of the most stunning tombs in Egypt. The tomb of Nerfertari, only recently re-opened to the public after years of restoration.

Just before lunch we will visit the mortuary temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu. The temple is unique as it is built in the shape of a fort. Ramses III was a warrior pharaoh and was forced into battles with the invading ‘Sea Peoples’ a group of marauders who devastated the entire Mediterranean region during his time. Egypt was one of the only civilisations to survive, and only just barely! Our next stop will be the enigmatic Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Ramses II.

After our visit to the temple, we will have a break for lunch in a local restaurant before heading back to the east bank and to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon will be yours to explore Luxor.

We will check out of the hotel this morning and visit Luxor’s premiere attraction – the Valley of the Kings. Hidden behind the mountains on the west bank of the Nile, visit the tomb of Ramses VI and the Tomb of Tutankhamen, famously discovered by Howard Carter in 1912.

Today we are in for another special treat as we visit the tomb of Seti I, the largest and most extravagant in the valley. The tomb is 137m long and was completely decorated and beautifully preserved when Giovani Belzoni discovered it in 1817, although it has suffered since then. The object of a long restoration project by the Egyptian government the tomb has been closed to visitors for years, however, luckily for us it has now re-opened.

Next, we will get off the beaten track with a visit to the tomb of Ay, which is tucked away in the west valley. Usually found in the tombs of nobles and not royalty, the tomb contains scenes of hippopotamus and fishing. Ay was originally a noble under king Tutankhamen and became pharaoh after the death of the boy king. Ay was already advanced in age and it is theorised, that he did not have time to build a new royal tomb and was buried in the tomb matching his former station in life. We will also visit the ancient industrial site of the Valley of the Monkeys which is located close by.

Our final stop for today will be the imposing mortuary temple of Hatchepsut, Egypt’s female pharaoh. Built into the cliff face at Deir El Bahari the temple is one of the most beautiful in Egypt and contains scenes from Hatchepsut’s reign, including a trading visit from the people of the land of ‘Punt’ (probably modern-day Ethiopia). These significant reliefs show the procession of the visitors including their rather fat queen, (an odd depiction for the ancient artists to master) see if you can find her!

After our visit to the temple, we will board our opulent Nile Cruise boat which will be our home for the next 4-nights on our luxury tour to Egypt.

This morning we will head out into Luxor to visit the Luxor Museum which contains an interesting display of objects found in the local vicinity. The most enigmatic of these are the so-called ‘talatat blocks’ which were found inside one of Karnak Temple’s massive pylons. The blocks once formed part of the structure of the Gem-pa-Aten temple, built by Akhenaten to honour his god the Aten disc, before he moved the capital to Akhetaten. The blocks still retain some of their colour and show Akhenaten, his wife Nerfertiti and their daughters all worshipping the Aten.

Reboard the cruiser for lunch, after which we will sail up the Nile towards Edfu. Sailing the Nile is a time-honoured traveller’s tradition and there is no better way to see this part of the country by than to watch it go by from the deck of your cruiser (preferably drink in hand).

This morning we will disembark and head to the temple of Horus at Edfu by horse drawn buggy. The temple is one of the best preserved in Egypt and was once completely hidden by the sands, to which it owes its marvellous state of preservation.

Reboard the cruise for lunch, in the late afternoon we will arrive at the temple of Kom Ombo. The temple was dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god of the Nile and also oddly Horus the Elder, temples were usually dedicated to the worship of a single god, so this fact makes this temple rather unique.

After our visit to the temple, we will reboard the cruiser and sail down to the southern town of Aswan.

This morning we will visit one of Egypt’s most beautiful temples, the temple of Isis on the island of Philae. The temple was built by the Greeks during Egypt’s Ptolemaic period and is dedicated to the ‘Theban Triad’ of gods, Isis, Osiris and their son Horus. The temple was in danger of being submerged by the rising waters of the Aswan dam but was removed and relocated through the efforts of UNESCO and the Egyptian government.

We will return to the cruiser for lunch, before setting out to explore Aswan’s Nubian village by motorboat. Learn all about the life of the Nubian people, once the enemies of the pharaohs of Egypt before a sunset felucca ride on the Nile with a glass of wine.

Dinner tonight will be onboard your cruiser, this is a great opportunity to say goodbye to your travelling companions, Egyptologist guide and your trip leader.

This morning breakfast will be served onboard your cruiser, before your luxury tour to Egypt concludes. A convenient airport transfer is included to Aswan airport, so you don’t miss your onward flight.

Grand Egyptian Odyssey - Luxury tour to Egypt
Trip Map – Grand Egyptian Odyssey

Details

Duration: 20 Days

Trip style: Luxe

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: GOCA

Cost: $11 445.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $2545.00 AUD

Inclusions

  • 19-nights accommodation in unique and historical 5-star hotels, desert lodges, luxury B&B and Nile cruise boat
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides

Optional experiences (not included):

  • Luxor: Hot Air Balloon ride over the West Bank

* Please note some optional experiences must be booked prior to travel. You will be given the option to add these experiences at check out

Trip price does not include

  • International airfares or domestic airfares
  • Visa for Egypt
  • Any expenses associated with COVID-19
  • Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the tour
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating – Journey

This trip travels through Egypt, a country well accustomed to tourism. Egypt is an Islamic country and women should consider dressing appropriately so as not to cause offense culturally and to avoid attracting unwanted attention, however there is no compulsory dress code. Toilets you encounter in public restrooms or in remote unscheduled stops along the way may be of the eastern ‘squat’ variety. There are some long travel days, but rest assured on arrival we will always be checking in to accommodation that is of an excellent standard. In Egypt, every traveller no matter the style in which they choose to travel will be subject to the “hassle factor”. Local people will often see travellers as a way to make money, whether this is by providing a product or service in the marketplace, providing directions on the street or offering to carry your bag for you. Our advice is to remember it is part of the culture here and to carry lots of small notes for ‘backsheesh’ or tipping. A thick skin and a good sense of humour will serve you well in these circumstances in which locals can often be relentless.

Facilities such as pharmacies, banks and ATM’s can be found in large cities and towns but will be absent from smaller villages and remote places.

Any dietary requirements should not be an issue while traveling on this trip, provided they are disclosed to Inverted Atlas at the time of booking.

A note about fitness

This luxury tour to Egypt requires a good level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 4km at times and manage uneven surfaces during sightseeing, which will sometimes be at an incline. In addition, you should be able to climb up to 100 stairs unassisted and use an eastern style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues).

You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach and into the accommodation. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.) For a small fee locally, porterage can often be provided.

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Trip leader description

Accompanying you along your journey will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

A virtual tour of Egypt’s hidden wonders with your trip leader Kristina

Itinerary disclaimer

This itinerary is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 16 years

There is no shared accommodation on this trip, and we will be traveling through a relatively well travelled part of the world, in this instance we would welcome everyone above the age of 16 years. Should you wish to bring younger children, please give us a call.

There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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