Egypt Encompassed Trip Notes
Trip code: GEEE
Trip valid from: 01/01/2012
Trip valid until: 30/06/2013
Trip length: 20 days
Trip starts in: Cairo
Trip ends in: Cairo
Maximum group size: 16
- Downtime And Diving In Dahab
- Luxor's Open Air Museum
- Abu Simbel
- Nubean Aswan
- Cairo Museum
- Oasis Town Of Bahariya
- The Valley Of The Kings
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cairo
- The White Desert's Limestone Formations
- World-leading Snorkelling And Scuba Diving On The Red Sea
- Sunrise On Mt Sinai
Beyond the Nile Valley there is still much to see. On this comprehensive trip to Egypt we travel through the heart of the Western Desert, a vast, isolated expanse covering a total of some 2.8 million square kilometres, visiting the various Oasis towns on our route. We explore this untamed wilderness in the company of our Bedouin companions, enjoying a memorable insight into their traditions and experiencing their amazing hospitality.
In between, we meet up with our Nubian friends, based in Aswan. Taller and darker than their northern Egyptian 'brothers' they are a genuinely friendly race of people, with a great sense of humour and a rhythmic musical tradition which smacks more of Africa than it does of the Middle East. We join them for four days as we sail down the Nile on their traditional felucca sailboats - but before we do this we make a side-trip to the fabulous temples at Abu Simbel.
We also visit the wild and barren mountains of the Sinai, ascending Mt. Sinai and enjoying the warm waters of the Gulf of Aqaba.
This is a long tour, with several hard days of travel, but it is also an outstanding itinerary if you want to experience all facets of Egypt. Taken in the right spirit you'll have a memorable journey.
CairoYour trip starts today in Cairo. No activities are planned so you may arrive at any time. Rooms are generally available after 1.00 pm. If you have not pre-booked an arrival transfer you will find taxis available on arrival at Cairo Airport. Make sure you agree the price before you set off into town! Your tour guide may make contact tonight, otherwise you will see him tomorrow morning at the tour briefing, which usually takes place after breakfast.
CairoCairo is the 'Mother' of all cities, a massive, sprawling metropolis of some 16 million people. We generally arrange a tour briefing this morning, after breakfast, and we then head out to the edge of the desert to explore the pyramids and the nearby sphinx. We also visit the beautiful Valley Temple of King Khafre (Chephren), a superb example of old kingdom engineering. In the afternoon there's time for further exploration and some may wish to visit the bustling Khan al-Khalili bazaar, a famous 'souk' in the older part of Cairo. Your tour guide will point you in the right direction. (B)
White DesertWe meet our Bedouin guide/s in Cairo, load our gear into jeeps and set off into the Western Desert, a vast, isolated expanse covering a total of some 2.8 million square kilometres. Our destination is the oasis of Farafra, where we stop for a simple picnic lunch in the date groves. If it's hot we usually make time for a swim in a natural spring, nearby. Leaving Farafra we enter the White Desert, a spectacular region of wind-eroded limestone formations. The continual erosion has left a layer of fine white dust on the desert sands, hence the name 'white desert'. We enjoy a sunset walk in this surreal landscape and spend the night camping under the stars. Note it can be very cold in the winter months (Oct-Mar) so make sure you are well rugged up if you are travelling at this time. We recommend you have thermals and a fleece. A sleeping bag and sleep sheet are required all year round. (B, L, D)
Dakhla OasisWe continue our journey south, reaching the oasis town of Dakhla. Like Farafra, the cultivation of dates is a major source of income for the local people and we can see date palms everywhere. We visit the fabulous medieval mud-brick town of Al Qasr, exploring the timeless streets, seeing the old school, an ancient olive press and the granary. We also visit the excellent little Ethnographic Museum, a locally-sponsored project which we support through our visits. We spend the night at a rustic camp with reed huts, communal showers and basic facilities and after a traditional meal we enjoy a fun night of music and dancing around the campfire. (B, L, D)
Dakhla/Camel SafariAfter a leisurely breakfast we head out in the jeeps to explore the nearby dunes. There’s another hot spring in the area which makes a great rest stop either on the way out or when we return. The programme varies, depending on the season. We return for lunch and spend the afternoon relaxing while we wait for the heat of the day to pass. In the late afternoon we set off on camels, riding through a desolate windswept landscape to the base of a Great escarpment, where we spend the night under the stars. With our Bedouin friends we sleep in a communal tent – or outside on mats – and can perhaps appreciate something of what life might have been like in the days when camel trading was the principal source of income. (B, L, D)
Dakhla-Al Kharga-BarisWe reach Al Kharga, the largest of the oasis towns and a sizeable producer not only of dates but also cereals and vegetables. There is time to visit the Christian burial ground at Al Bagawat, dating to the end of the 7th century. We drive on, to Baris Oasis, for a final night of fun and friendship with our Bedouin companions. (B, L, D)
Baris-LuxorToday, after a leisurely start, we drive from Baris to Luxor. The journey takes between 4 and 5 hours and we expect to reach Luxor around lunchtime. On arrival we can browse the extensive bazaar (great for shopaholics) or visit Karnak Temple – one of Egypt’s greatest temple complexes. (B)
LuxorIn the morning we rise early to cross the Nile where our donkeys are waiting to take us into the Valley of the Kings. After matching up donkeys and riders we head off, just as the sun begins to rise in the eastern skies. This is a lot of fun and one of the highlights of our visit to Egypt. We explore the Valley of the Kings and enjoy superb aerial views of the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Later, we return to the east bank where the afternoon is free to explore the town further. You can head back to the bazaar, or alternatively you can kick back in a coffee shop and watch the world go by. (B)
Luxor-AswanAn early start sees us on the road to Aswan, one of our favourite places. Despite the fact that it is Egypt’s third-largest city, it has an easy-going, laid-back atmosphere that belies its size. Once we have checked in to our hotel the balance of the day is free to explore the Nubian bazaar that snakes through the back streets of town, take a sailboat ride around the islands – or just stroll along the riverfront watching the felucca sailboats drifting with the current. (B)
Abu Simbel-Felucca CruiseRising early we travel by road to Abu Simbel, one of the most impressive temples ever built and one of the highlights of our visit to Egypt. We follow the shores of Lake Nasser and generally arrive at the temple just after sunrise, a perfect time for photographs. We enjoy a tour of the site and later return to Aswan, arriving around midday, where we board our felucca/s and sail north, travelling with the current towards Komombo. (B, L, D)
Felucca CruiseSailing down the Nile is a magic experience, lying on thick mattresses, watching the dark waters glide past. We stop off at Komombo where we can visit the classic Greco-Roman Temple of Sobek, overlooking the river. The rest of our time is spent relaxing and enjoying timeless scenes of local life as we travel slowly down the Nile. Nights are spent sleeping on board and our crew provides simple, healthy meals. Feluccas are simple sailing boats, no more and no less. They have no engines and no toilets. There is a single deck on which you can stretch out during the day under a shade awning. It is an extremely relaxing way of travelling down the Nile, however many people find the pace very slow, especially when contrasted with a busy life back home. We strongly recommend you take books, magazines, card games, mp3 players and any other items which might help to while away your time on board. Meals are simple. They are prepared by your Nubian crew and include chicken, rice, local breads and vegetables. Each evening your crew pulls into the shore. They generally find a flat, sandy area for the night. Toilet facilities are provided by our amenities boat that travels along with us. Note that, during the winter months (Oct-Mar), it can be very cold on the river at night so you should bring thermals and a fleece. (2B, 2L, 2D)
Edfu-Luxor-CairoReaching Edfu we say farewell to our Nubian friends, we can then explore the Temple of Horus - one of Egypt's finest temples, before travelling by bus into Luxor. We have a couple of rooms set aside to store our gear and once sorted we can head into town for a final ‘tour’ of the bazaar. In the evening we take the night train back to Cairo, with dinner served at the hotel prior to leaving. Our air-conditioned carriage has large, comfortable seats (similar to business class seats on a ‘plane) that recline back at about 45 degrees. A toilet is located at the end of the carriage. (B, D)
CairoArriving back in Cairo we are met by our breakfast boxes and then have a completely free day to enjoy Cairo. There’s heaps to see so we won’t be short of things to do. Quite a few will probably want to go (or go back) to the Khan al-Khalili now that we’ve developed some bargaining skills. Or we may wish to venture into ’Islamic Cairo’ to visit some of the more important mosques. (B)
Cairo-Mt.SinaiThe Sinai is an untamed wilderness of immense beauty, with jagged pink granite mountains punching up into clear blue skies. We drive east from Cairo, and spend the night in a simple bungalow style hotel near Mt. Sinai. The hotel is in a beautiful location and very close to the start point for our hike tomorrow. (B, D)
Mt. Sinai-DahabThose wishing to ascend Mt. Sinai to watch the sun rise over the peninsula will be woken up between 2.00am and 3.00am (depending on the season). It is a fairly steep climb (with stairs all the way) and most people take about an two and a half to three hours to reach the summit. We take it easy, with plenty of rest stops, and our aim is to reach the top in time to watch the sun rise over the southern end of the peninsula - a magical experience! We then continue to Dahab, a laid-back travellers haunt on the Gulf of Aqaba, where we can relax for the rest of the day. Note that, during the winter months (Oct-Mar) it can be very cold on Mt Sinai, so you should bring thermals and a fleece. (B)
DahabDahab is a great place to chill out. There’s good snorkelling, windsurfing and you can also arrange a day dive (providing you have your PADI certificate with you). For non-divers there numerous other activities which can be arranged while you are there, including a jeep safari into the desert or a camel ride along the beach. Prices generally depend on how many people are booking and of course you’ll need to haggle! Our tour guide will be on hand to help sort out the options. (2B)
Dahab-CairoWe make our way back to Cairo today, arriving at our hotel in the evening. We have time this evening for a final night out together. (B)
CairoYour trip ends today, after breakfast. Check-out time is usually around 12.00 noon and you are free to leave at any time. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Cairo. (B)
Itinerary VariationWhile the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Whether you’re taking in man’s greatest works at places like Petra or Angkor Wat, experiencing grand set-pieces like the Trans-Mongolian Railway or trying your hand at regional specialities like tango in Buenos Aires, getting to grips with local cultures is what travel’s all about. A few tips from a guide and a sense of adventure are pretty much all you need. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get the lowdown on high Tibet among Lhasa’s magisterial temples; follow up Delhi’s eye-popping bustle with a fix of its fiery food; and mix manic markets and Incan masterpieces in Peru.
Some people find the ascent of Mt. Sinai quite arduous. There are steps all the way but for most of the time you will be walking in darkness. A torch is necessary (preferably a head-torch) and a decent pair of shoes is recommended. It takes a couple of hours to reach the top.
• Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour.
• Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): Cairo’s pyramids, Sphinx and Valley Temple of King Khafre (Chephren); oasis of Farafra including a picnic lunch and a swim in a natural spring; oasis town of Dakhla including medieval mud-brick town of Al Qasr and Ethnographic Museum; oasis town of Al Kharga and Christian burial ground at Al Bagawat; Baris Oasis; Luxor; Komombo; and Edfu.
• 3 night felucca sail from Aswan to Edfu, with the use of an amenities boat.
• 4 day Jeep excursion and camel safari with Bedouin guides in the Western/White Desert, camping under the stars.
• Donkey ride to explore the Valley of the Kings.
• Visit to Abu Simbel.
• Ascent of Mt Sinai.
• Time to relax in Dahab on the Gulf of Aqaba.
• Free time to explore Aswan, Luxor and Cairo.
• 1 night on an overnight train sleeping in an air-conditioned carriage with comfortable seats (similar to business class seats on a plane) that recline back about 45 degrees. Toilet facilities located at the end of the carriage. Breakfast is delivered to us when we arrive in the morning.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, visas, airport taxes, additional meals, drinks, optional sightseeing tours, insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
19 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 9 dinners
3 nights Camping,3 nights Felucca,1 night Overnight train,1 night Reed hut,11 nights Hotel
Single room supplementMost of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.
4WD vehicle,Camel,Felucca,Overnight train,Private bus
*prices below are guide onlyCairo - Camel ride at the Pyramids (15 mins)
- - Approx EGP70 pp but prices may vary locally
- - Approx EGP40 pp
- - Approx EGP60 pp entrance only
- - Approx EGP120 pp entrance only
- - Approx EGP100 pp
- - Approx EGP 30 pp
- - Approx EGP10 pp
- - US$115 pp
- - Approx EGP90 pp
- - Approx EGP180 pp (based on 4 people)
- - Approx EGP70pp
- - Approx EGP120 pp
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Imaginative Traveller & Gecko's Adventures This trip is operated by our partner company, Gecko's Adventures. Gecko's is an Australia based company with more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a code shared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Gecko's travellers on your trip.
Last updated: 02/03/2012