Land of the Pharaohs
January 04 – 13. 2024 10 Days / 8 Nights in Egypt
Specially Prepared for: The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
• 3 Nights at THE CAIRO MARRIOTT LUXURY HOTEL – Originally constructed as a visitor’s palace, Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino has provided guests the royal treatment for decades.
• 4 Nights on the SONESTA MOON GODDESS Nile cruise ship. Explore Egypt’s astounding antiquities as your cruise down the river in comfort and style. The ship amenities include a top deck swimming pool and themed parties each evening. The roomy Standard cabins feature large picture windows.
• 1 Night in Cairo Airport Le Meridian Hotel, after returning from your Cruise
• 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners.
• A Great Safaris Private Egyptologist throughout the journey, affording full time access to the guide’s insights and experiences.
• Airport transfers by private luxury coach, including a private ‘Meet and Greet’ service on arrival into Cairo.
• Half day touring the ancient step pyramids and antiquities of Memphis and Sakkara.
• A visit to the famed pyramids of Giza, featuring the Sphinx and the Solar Boat Museum, with an optional camel ride.
• A full day visit to the fascinating Cairo Grand Egyptian Museum and the colorful Khan el Khalil Bazaar and lunch included.
• Touring through the amazing ruins of Luxor, Karnak, Kom Ombo and Edfu, including the famed tombs of the West Bank.
• Internal flights within Egypt.
• For USA Passport holders, your arrival Visa.
Day 01 – January 04, 2024
USA -> CAIRO
Your exciting adventure begins today, as you board your international airline, bound for Egypt.
Day 02 – January 05, 2024
Welcome to Cairo, known as the “cradle of ancient civilization”. After completing Customs formalities, you will be warmly greeted by our representative, with the Ladies presented with Flowers. A private vehicle and tour guide will then drive you to your reserved hotel.
The balance of the day is at leisure, to relax, unwind and unpack.
ACCOMMODATIONS: THE CAIRO MARRIOTT HOTEL – Deluxe Room
Modern guestrooms offer luxury bedding, free Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service. Many have balconies with garden, city or Nile views.. Enjoy on-site amenities including a 24-hour gym, outdoor lap pool, a spa and an elegant casino. Several of our 14 dining options are set in our lush gardens. Be transported to the Egypt of 1869 when you step into the lobby of our 5-star luxury hotel in downtown Cairo. Visit Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino, where you’ll be treated like royalty
Day 03 – January 06, 2024
This morning, after breakfast, meet your private Egyptologist and depart for Memphis and Saqqara. Walk the perimeter of Saqqara’s distinctive step pyramid, which is just one part of the vast necropolis at Memphis. Learn the stories behind the ancient city, and customize this tour to your own interests; after strolling through tombs and pyramids, you may opt for a trip to the Papyrus Institute to learn the ancient Egyptian art of scroll making.
Memphis, founded around 3,100 BC, is the legendary city of Menes, the King who united Upper and Lower Egypt. Early on, Memphis was more like a fortress from which Menes controlled the land and water routes between Upper Egypt and the Delta. Having probably originated in Upper Egypt, from Memphis he could control the conquered people of Lower Egypt. A 20 – 30 minute drive away from the Pyramids of Giza, Sakkara, home of Egypt’s oldest pyramid. Built by Imohotep for pharaoh Zoser in 2650BC, the famous Step Pyramid is well preserved.
Your guide will give you a brief history of the site before allowing you free time to walk around the perimeter of the impressive structure. Sakkara is one section of the great necropolis of Memphis, the Old Kingdom capital and the kings of the 1st Dynasty as well as that of the 2nd Dynasty. are mostly buried in this section of the Memphis necropolis. Three major discoveries have recently been made at Sakkara, including a prime minister’s tomb, a queen’s pyramid, and the tomb of the son of a dynasty founding king.
Continue your sightseeing with a visit the Giza plateau where you begin your ‘pyramids tour’ at the foot of the inscrutable Sphinx, the giant man/beast that has puzzled men for generations. Walk up the modest incline to the top of the Giza Plateau and marvel at the sight of the three Great Pyramids of Giza, Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos.
One can only imagine the impact these massive structures would have had on ancient travelers seeing them for the first time. Just south of the Great Pyramid of Cheops you will find the Solar Boat Museum housing a fantastic wooden boat used to transport the Pharaoh’s body in the afterlife. Be sure to coordinate with your Egyptologist a camel ride from Panorama point!
Return to your hotel for the remainder of the evening at leisure.
ACCOMMODATIONS: THE CAIRO MARRIOTT HOTEL – Deluxe Room (Breakfast, lunch)
Day 04 – January 07, 2024
Following breakfast at the hotel, you will meet your Egyptologist and depart, via private vehicle, for a visit of the incomparable new Grand Egyptian Museum.
When it is completed, the Grand Egyptian Museum just outside of Cairo on the Giza Plateau and next door to the Pyramids) will not only be the new crown jewel of Egypt, but it will also be one of the largest, most modern, and most renowned museums in the entire world.
Here are a number of fascinating facts about Egypt’s new Grand Egyptian Museum.
The ceremonial cornerstone of the Grand Egyptian Museum was laid in early 2002, although at this point no architectural or construction firms had been selected yet to build the new museum complex.
The main contract for the design of the Grand Egyptian Museum was awarded to the Irish architectural firm Heneghan Peng in 2003 after an extensive international competition, but in total a team of 300 people from 13 companies in 6 different countries contributed to the design phase of the project, according to the Egyptian government.
Construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum proceeded in three distinct phases:
Phase I was for what’s known as “enabling works,” which refers to the execution of tasks required to clear and secure the site and prepare it for the construction of buildings.
Phase II saw the construction of a fire station, an energy center to supply electricity and air conditioning to the site, and a world-class conservation center apart from the main museum building.
Phase III involved land excavation and contouring, the construction of the main museum building, and site landscaping.
The original cost of the Grand Egyptian Museum was estimated to be around $500 million, but delays, changes, and other factors have driven the final price tag for the complex to over $1 billion.
Enjoy lunch at one of the city cafes. Later in the afternoon, you will end the day’s sightseeing with a visit to the Khan el Khalili Bazaar – in the heart of Old Cairo. Take a wonderful walk through the narrow streets, bustling with vendors and shoppers.
ACCOMMODATIONS: THE CAIRO MARRIOTT HOTEL – Deluxe Room (Breakfast, lunch)
Day 05 – January 08, 2024
CAIRO -> LUXOR – COMMENCE NILE CRUISE
Breakfast at the hotel, then transfer to the airport for the short flight to Luxor. (Your private Egyptologist will accompany you throughout your journey). On arrival, you will board your Nile Cruise ship – your floating hotel for the next 4 days.
This afternoon visit massive Karnak Temple with its huge hypostyle hall consisting of 134 columns and labyrinthine passageways. Be sure to circle the giant Scarab at Karnak to ensure a long healthy life and successful return to Egypt! The Karnak temple complex, universally known only as Karnak, describes a vast conglomeration of ruined temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings. This was ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut (“The Most Selected of Places”), the main place of worship of the Theban Triad with Amun as its head, in the monumental city of Thebes.
The complex retrieves its current name from the nearby and partly surrounding modern village of el-Karnak, about 1½ miles north of Luxor. The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Construction work began in the 16th century BC. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the individual features of Karnak are unique, but the size and number of features are overwhelming. Construction of temples started in the Middle Kingdom and continued through to Ptolemaic times.
Today’s sightseeing includes a visit to fabulous Temple of Luxor, with its Avenue of Sphinxes (this is spectacular at night when the entire complex is illuminated!). Luxor Temple was dedicated to the Theban Triad of Amun-Re, his wife Mut, and his son Khonsu (the moon god). Most of the Luxor Temple dates to the New Kingdom period of Egyptian history. Ramses II built the pylon (the large wall in the background), two obelisks (only one remains today), and six statues of himself. The sphinxes along the “Avenue of Sphinxes” were built by Nectanebo I, and replaced the ram-headed sphinxes built by Amenhotep III. The avenue stretched from the Luxor Temple to the Karnak Temple for a distance of two miles.
Return to your ship later today. Unwind and relax before this evening’s belly dance show and dinner.
ACCOMMODATIONS: SONESTA MOON GODDESS Full Board
Sonesta Moon Goddess Nile cruise is a 5-star luxury river cruiser that offers unmatched luxury as you sail between the majestic and mesmerizing ancient attractions in Luxor and Aswan. The Sonesta Moon Goddess offers luxurious accommodations that provide the ultimate comfort, featuring the highest quality furnishing, upscale amenities, and outstanding service. Each of the 49 luxurious cabins with sliding glass doors opening to private balconies and 4 presidential suites with a private lounge. They have a large bathroom and all the facilities you would expect to find in an international 5-star hotel. The spacious sun deck is the ideal place to relax and watch the sun set with a cold drink after a long day’s sightseeing.
A variety of special facilities and services are available on Sonesta Moon Goddess. The list of onboard amenities includes a restaurant, discotheque (night club), bars, live nightly entertainment, room service, gym, jogging track, guided excursions, spacious sun deck with a swimming pool.
All guests will enjoy an exceptional Nile trip over the deck of 5* luxury Sonesta Moon Goddess and capture the most unbelievable moments in your life. Sail in the most luxurious level to the best historical attractions between Aswan and Luxor and head to the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut temple, Karnak temple, Edfu temple, Philae temple, temples of Abu Simbel, and more with the best supreme facilities and accommodation onboard. Book this magical Nile Cruise and explore the treasures of Upper Egypt. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Day 06 – January 09, 2024
LUXOR / ESNA
We recommend an early start this morning in order to see all of the wonderful sites on the West Bank. A private vehicle and Egyptologist will be waiting to escort you to the West Bank of ancient Thebes to begin with the incomparable Valley of the Kings. Tour the tombs of the ancient Pharaohs and see where new excavations (conducted by the renowned American archaeologist Kent Weeks) of the tombs of the sons of Ramses the Great are taking place in KV5 (Kings Valley Tomb #5).
Continue to the beautiful, almost neo-classical temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri. It is magnificently situated at the foot of the sheer cliffs fringing the desert hills, the light-colored sandstone of the temple standing out prominently against the golden yellow to light brown rocks behind.
Nearby, stop to admire the 75 ft. high, 1000-ton statues of Amenhotep III- the Colossi of Memnon as they sit like giant sentinels overlooking the Nile. These massive sandstone statues once flanked the entrance to Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple, but now stand virtually alone in a field now that the temple has eroded away over the last 3400 years.
Your ship set’s sails for Esna late this morning, and you can watch the ‘life of the Nile’ float by as you enjoy an alfresco lunch on the upper deck. This evening there will be a Captain’s Welcome party.
ACCOMMODATIONS: SONESTA MOON GODDESS (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 07 – January 10, 2024
EDFU / KOM OMBO
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast aboard ship. Meet your private Egyptologist this morning for a visit to the most well preserved temple in all of Egypt – the 2000-year-old Temple of Horus at Edfu.
After a short ride by caleche (horse-drawn carriage), this is your chance to study the exact layout of one of these fabulous Pharaonic structures. Built on the site of an earlier temple, it was dedicated to the sun god Horus, Hathor of Dendera and their son the youthful Harsomtus. Horus, who according to myth fought one of the great combats with Seth here, was presented as a flying falcon, in human form with a falcon’s head or as the winged sun.
Of all the temples of ancient Egypt, the Temple of Horus at Edfu is the most complete and best preserved. The reason is that the temple had been totally submerged under the desert except for the very top of the pylon entrance. A small amount of stone had been removed from the exposed part, but when excavated it was found to be in near perfect condition. Enjoy the fun of “haggling” with the local merchants as you walk from the temple.
Return to the ship for lunch and a leisurely afternoon, as the Sonesta Moon Goddess sails to Kom Ombo.
This afternoon visit Kom Ombo, the temple shared by two gods, Sobek and Haroeries. Be sure to see the mummified crocodiles and the Nilometer where the priests determined the current year’s taxes!
The Temple known as Kom Ombo is actually two temples consisting of a Temple to Sobek and a Temple of Haroeries. In ancient times, sacred crocodiles basked in the sun on the riverbank near here. The Temple has scant remains, due first to the changing Nile, then the Copts who once used it as a church, and finally by builders who used the stones for new buildings. Everything is duplicated along the main axis. There are two entrances, two courts, two colonnades, two hypostyle halls and two sanctuaries. There were probably even two sets of priests!
The left, or northern side is dedicated to Haroeries (sometimes called Harer, Horus the Elder) who was the falcon headed sky god and the right to Sobek (the crocodile headed god). The two gods are accompanied by their families; they include Haroeries’ wife, Tesentnefert (meaning the good sister) and his son, Panebtawy. Likewise, Sobek is accompanied by his consort, Hathor and son, Khonsu.
Tonight, there will be a Galabya Party prior to dinner.
ACCOMMODATIONS: SONESTA MOON GODDESS (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Day 08 – January 11, 2024
KOM OMBO – ASWAN
Sail to Aswan and arrive into early morning. Disembark the ship for a visit of the Aswan High Dam, the granite quarries with the Unfinished Obelisk, and beautiful Philae Temple, situated on an island in the middle of the Lake Nasser.
Located near Aswan, the world famous High Dam was an engineering miracle when it was built in the 1960s. It contains 18 times the material used in the Great Pyramid of Cheops. The Dam is 11,811 feet long, 3,215 feet thick at the base and 364 feet tall. Today it provides irrigation and electricity for the whole of Egypt and, together with the old Aswan Dam built by the British between 1898 and 1902, 4 miles downriver, wonderful views for visitors.
From the top of the two Mile long High Dam you can gaze across Lake Nasser, the huge reservoir created when it was built, to Kalabsha temple in the south and the huge power station to the north. The High Dam created a 30% increase in the cultivatable land in Egypt, and raised the water table for the Sahara as far away as Algeria. The electricity producing capability of the Dam doubled Egypt’s available supply. The High Dam added a whole new aspect to Egypt and a new environment as well. The lake is some 500 miles long and at the time it was built, if not now, was the world’s largest artificial lake.
Continue to the Granite Quarries that supplied the ancient Egyptians with most of the hard stone used in the building of the Pyramids, temples and a huge Unfinished Obelisk. Three sides of the shaft, which measure nearly 138 feet in length, were completed except for the inscriptions, and it would have been the largest single piece of stone ever handled if a flaw had not appeared in the granite. So here it lies where the disappointed stonemasons abandoned it, still partly attached to the parent rock and with no indication of what it was intended for.
Day 09 – January 12, 2024
ASWAN -> CAIRO
Transfer to Aswan Airport for your morning flight to Cairo. On arrival, you will be transferred to your Cairo Airport Hotel for overnight.
ACCOMMODATIONS: LE MERIDIAN HOTEL – Standard Room with Breakfast
Le Méridien Cairo Airport is the first and only hotel directly connected to Cairo International Airport’s Terminal 3 through a link bridge allowing guests to walk straight from the hotel to the airport
Day 10 – January 13, 2024
CAIRO -> USA & HOME
Make your own way to the nearby Cairo Airport for departure.
Arrive home with photos and memories to last a lifetime!