Uncover the ancient secrets of Egypt while experiencing the welcoming culture of today. See the pyramids from astride a majestic camel. Wander among 136 soaring pillars in Karnak Temple. Explore Dendera, one of Egypt’s best-preserved and less frequented temples. Skim the waters of the Nile by traditional felucca. Delight in the fragrances of Aswan’s spice market. Join Viking and our expert Egyptologists on a 12-day Nile cruisetour into the heart of Egypt.
Arrive in Cairo, Egypt’s exhilarating capital. This pulsating, historic city was made prosperous over millennia as a stopover for Sahara caravans on trade routes to Byzantium. Transfer to the First-Class Ritz Carlton Nile (or similar) for a 3-night stay.
This morning we take an excursion to the necropolis at Sakkara to see the world’s oldest step pyramid. After lunch, continue to the Giza Plateau to behold the only Wonder of the Ancient World still standing: the Great Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. There, you can experience them as the ancients did—from astride the “ships of the desert”—during a brief camel ride. Nearby, see the Great Sphinx, forever facing due east. Return to your hotel for dinner and a free evening to relax or explore on your own. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today the fascinating sights of Cairo unfold before you. Marvel at the sprawling Citadel of the Mountain and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Then tour the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities and admire its huge collection of artifacts, and visit the famous gallery displaying the riches of King Tutankhamen. After lunch on your own at or near your hotel, use your free time in the afternoon to follow your own interests. Later, you might join an optional visit to Khan el-Khalili, Cairo’s most famous outdoor souk (bazaar). After an orientation from your guide, you can shop for all manner of Egyptian goods, from brassware to spices, and admire the Al-Azhar Mosque. Conclude your outing with a traditional Egyptian dinner at a local restaurant. (Breakfast)
Early this morning, fly to Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes beautifully set on the Nile River, where history will be brought to life by your expert Egyptologist. At the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, long buried beneath desert sands, walk among monumental peristyles and obelisks, and learn how ancient hieroglyphics hint at the beliefs and lifestyle of ancient Egyptians. Proceed to your Nile cruise ship for check-in and a welcome lunch. Join an excursion to the Luxor Library and Heritage Center, where the city’s past is preserved and shared in engaging exhibits. Enjoy an onboard dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Relax over breakfast, or (weather permitting) join an optional early-morning hot air balloon ride over Luxor’s temples and monuments. Marvel at breathtaking views of an ancient city, the surrounding desert sands and the magnificent Nile. Later, head to the Nile’s west bank to visit the Valley of the Kings, where ancient pharaohs were entombed deep in the hillsides, and the Valley of the Queens, resting place of pharaohs’ wives. Here you enjoy Privileged Access to the tomb of Queen Nefertari, an exquisitely preserved tomb only a few visitors get to see. Among the sites is the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, one of Egypt’s few female rulers and most successful pharaohs. Return to your ship as we set sail for Qena; lunch and dinner are served on board as we cruise along the spectacular Nile. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
This morning’s excursion takes you to the sprawling complex of Dendera. Remarkably, its fascinating Temple of Hathor was built not by the ancient Egyptians, but by Ptolemies and Romans in classic Egyptian style. During your tour, walk through its towering stone gate to view the columns and hieroglyphics of some of Egypt’s best preserved structures. Return to your ship after a guided visit. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Disembark at Esna today to explore the red sandstone Temple of Khnum. In the 1st-century Hypostyle Hall, admire its 24 columns, 6 across and 4 deep, each topped by a differently designed, intricately carved floral capital. As you explore, be sure to examine the hieroglyphics depicting Roman emperors making offerings to the gods. After a guided tour, use your free time to take in more of this fascinating site on your own. Alternatively, head to Esna Village on foot for a full tour of the town and its lively market scene. View the temple remains and stroll the covered street market, where you can witness an array of colorful fabrics. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Awake in Aswan this morning, Egypt’s bustling market city. Today, you can choose to visit the Aswan High Dam, visit a local market and take a scenic Nile cruise on a felucca, a traditional Egyptian wooden sailboat. Or join an optional excursion to Abu Simbel to admire the Great Temple of Ramses II, Egypt’s longest-ruling pharaoh. It is dominated by 4 colossal statues, 60 feet high and directly facing the rising sun. The statues are all of Ramses, with his queen and daughters at his feet. Moved from its original location near Aswan to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, it was built as a tribute to the deities and Ramses II’s favorite wife, Nefertari. Make the most of your overnight stay with an optional sound and light show at Philae Temple, and discover the legend of Goddess Isis and God Osiris. Afterward, return to your ship for dinner on board and spend the night in Aswan. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, receive a warm welcome at a Nubian village, where you visit the elementary school and are invited into a local home to get a glimpse of day-to-day life. Then, visit Philae Temple—the small, elegant Temple of Isis, rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser that submerged Philae Island. This temple is one of the Nubian monuments that comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Have lunch on board as you enjoy scenic cruising along the Nile. Disembark later to explore Kom Ombo. Here, enjoy a guided tour of the unusual double temple dedicated to the sky god Haroeris and the crocodile god Sobek, a protective deity thought to have created the world. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
This morning, ride in a horse-drawn calèche, or carriage, to the Temple of Horus. Dedicated to the falcon-headed god of light, it was built in Edfu during the Ptolemaic Dynasty. This is another of Egypt’s best preserved temples, fronted by a massive wall whose entrance is flanked by 2 falcon statues. Or, you can choose to visit Edfu market with our resident chef and hear him explain this evening’s planned tasting menu. Enjoy more Nile cruising today, marveling at the lush green riverbanks backed by hills of desert sands. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Early this morning, disembark in Luxor and head for the airport for your flight back to Cairo. Check in to the first-class Cairo Citystars Hotel (or similar) for 1 night and enjoy a buffet-style lunch, followed by free time, or take an optional tour to the Coptic Quarter and Jewish Synagogue. Return to your hotel and later enjoy dinner and an evening at leisure. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, proceed to the airport for your return flight. Or, extend your journey for 4 nights in Jordan to see the ‟lost city” of Petra. (Breakfast)