Day 1 - Cairo
Welcome to Cairo. You will meet with your trip leader and the rest of your group at 6 pm this evening. Check for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception for the location. If you're going to be late, just let the hotel know. If you arrive early enough go immerse yourself in the madness: grab a pair of authentic Roy Bands sunnies from the bazaar, embrace the kitsch world of Dr Ragab's Pharaonic Village, then share a sahlab (sweet, hot custard drink with nuts) and p'raps a sheesha pipe with your new travel buddies.
Day 2 - Cairo
Today you'll take a trip to the Egyptian Museum to see the golden mask of none other than King Tutankhamun. To get there, you'll drive out to the edge of the desert. Explore the pyramids and the nearby Sphinx (nobody's quite sure how it lost its nose). Later, with free time, there are plenty of further options, like visiting the Valley Temple of King Khafre (Chephren). In the evening, it's time for your sleeper train to Aswan (Sleeper Train to Aswan sounds a bit like the title of an adventure novel, doesn't it? Just you wait).
Day 3 - Aswan
Enjoy some breakfast, then shake out your train legs and put on your haggling hat (or just a regular hat, we don't mind) with a trip to the Nubian bazaar. Grab useful stuff like books, cotton tops and sunhats for your upcoming Nile cruise. Splurge on fun stuff like perfume oil, leather bags and jewellery just for the heck of it. Later on, maybe visit the stunning Temple of Isis at Philae Island (she’s the Goddess of health, marriage and wisdom, in case ya didn’t know), or get some more camel-ride action with a trip out towards the Monastery of St. Simeon.
Day 4 - Aswan
Today is yours to spend as you please in Aswan. The optional drive to Abu Simbel is well worth it, because this is one of the coolest temples on earth, cut out of a solid rock cliff. A real winner, as far as sightseeing in Egypt goes (and that is obviously saying a lot). Renting a minivan with your fellow travellers is the way to go. It'll be an early start (around 5-6am), and it takes about three hours to get there, and another three to get back. If you'd rather save time and fly there, that's possible too.
Notes: Flights don't go to Abu Simbel every day, and they'll usually set you back US $250-300. It's best to fly in the morning, so you can beat the heat (it's down south). Your trip leader won't accompany you on a flight – only the land travel option. Local guides can be hired on arrival.
Day 5 - Nile Felucca
You're on a boat! A felucca to be exact. It's time to sail on the Nile on a traditional wooden sailing boat. This pretty awesome ship will be your home tonight, and all three meals are included today. You'll visit the Temple of Sobek, a classic, ruined (you might even say classically ruined) Greco-Roman temple. Continue sailing towards Edfu and take in some timeless scenes of life on the Nile. Your Instagram account should be going off like a frog in a sandstorm by now. Stop in at Edfu to explore the awesomely preserved Temple of Horus (Horus being the falcon-headed God). Did someone say boat-based impromptu fancy-dress party?
Please note our Felucca does have a shared bathroom facility on board
Day 6 - Luxor
The world is your oyster today. And Luxor is one beautiful and interesting world to be in. Enjoy free time – you might want to take a horse-drawn carriage to the massive religious site dedicated to the Theban Triad at Karnak (one of the most impressive temple complexes in the world, for sure). Some of it dates as far back as 2,055 BC, if that gives you some idea of what you're dealing with. There's also the Luxor Museum, where you can see mummies and – yes – a statue of Sobek, the crocodile god. He’s got the body of a man, the head of a crocodile and is the god of the army, fertility and, surprisingly, crocodiles. He’s definitely one god you don’t wanna get on the wrong side of.
Day 7 - Luxor - Valley of the Kings
Today you'll ride a donkey. But you won't just ride it anywhere. You and your new furry friend will venture to the legendary Valley of the Kings, a burial hotspot for Egyptian royalty. All the big name pharaohs are here, including King Tut and Ramses IV. You will visit three tombs with your burro. Speak soothing words to your donkey for a nice, peaceful sunrise stroll past fields of alfalfa. Upset him and you might be sore for days. In the afternoon you'll return to the east bank and have a few hours to explore the bazaar. This evening, get back on track with an overnight train to Cairo.
Audits were carried out on balloon operators within Egypt to confirm the safety of their operations, unfortunately we were not able to ascertain the safety standards of these balloon operators- therefore, we are not able to recommend or assist in the booking of any balloon excursions.
Day 8 - Cairo
Time for one last walk around Cairo. Head south from Bab al-Futuh (one of the medieval north gates), past the old Islamic monuments that stand watch over the bazaars. Wipe the dust from your brow and say goodbye to this frenetic place. This time maybe hit up the Khan el-Khalili bazaar for some awfully cheap trinkets for the gang back home. Candleholder, water pipe, cartouche or wool carpet anyone?
Day 9 - Amman
Farewell Pharaohs with a flight from Egypt to Jordan. Touch down in main town - Amman. When you get here you'll meet your brand new leader. You've got some time to wander around - you don’t know the meaning of ‘bustling labyrinth’ until you walk around the Jordanian capital. If it all gets too cray, duck into a cafe for a sweet mint tea.
Day 10 - Wadi Rum
It's a four-hour drive today from Amman to Wadi Rum, but we'll be making some snack stops along the way, so all good (but we recommend stocking up on a few snacks too). In Wadi Rum you'll be meeting your Bedouin hosts, who'll show you around camp and offer you many rounds of mint tea. Then we'll all hop in jeeps, which aren't the Bedouins' traditional modes of transport, but are far less stinky than camels, and trundle off into the desert on a driving safari. Wadi Rum's favourite son, Lawrence of Arabia, called Wadi Rum 'vast, echoing and God-like'. Ridley Scott, who shot Prometheus there, called it 'the best view I've ever seen of what could be Mars'. You'll see where Lawrence of Arabia had a wash in what's now known as Lawrence's Spring, and the crumbled ruins of a house he supposedly used to snooze in. You'll also visit the desert's largest sand dunes and a naturally-formed rock bridge that looks like it should have collapsed years ago. This evening you'll be dining on traditional Bedouin cuisine, sleeping in traditional Bedouin tents and gazing up at some traditional Bedouin skies.
Day 11 - Petra
If you're someone who hates amazing sunrises, by all means sleep in this morning. If you're not, then we highly recommend that you don't: Wadi Rum rarely looks as fine as she does early morning. Once you're awake and breakfasted, it's time to say bye to your Bedouin friends and journey on to Petra (about a two-hour drive).
According to the legend of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, inside Petra's Treasury building is where the Holy Grail was discovered. Today you'll get to follow in Indy's footsteps on a guided tour that'll take you through the site's narrow siq (a narrow crack in the mountain) to Petra's tombs, temples and rock-hewn amphitheatre. You'll find no marauding Nazi's here, though (or goblet containing eternal youth, for that matter). For those wanting to admire the 'rose-red city' from a different angle, there's also the option of continuing up a cliff-top path for elevated views. At the end of a long day's tomb exploring you're probably feeling a bit grubby (and if you aren't, probably should be). Nothing a good scrub in the Turkish Bath at tonight's hotel won't be able to right.
Notes: The entrance fee to Petra is included in the trip price. Please note that when entering Petra as a group, a complimentary horse ride is included in the ticket price from the entrance point down to the Siq. Geckos doesn't recommend that passengers take this option due to the safety and insurance liability involved. The Turkish bath is optional and not included in trip price.
Day 12 - Petra
Today is yours to explore Petra how you wanna. Options include: walking up the road to Al Khanzneh (The Treasury – one of the most stunning temples of the whole site); clambering up the stairs to El Deir (The Monastery); travelling out to the royal tombs, or visiting some pretty impressive Byzantine mosaics. One other option is trying to locate the cafe run by Marguerite van Geldermalsen, a Kiwi woman who's been living in Petra with a local Bedouin for the past 30 years. A little less adventurous perhaps this last option is, but still a quest of sorts.
Day 13 - Petra - Amman
We said something about crusades and Crusaders earlier right? Well they built Shobak Castle atop a grassy knoll and thought it would last forever, but Saladin's Arab army knocked it over after an 18-month siege. You’ll drive a short way from Petra to get here, and the castle makes an impressive sight as you approach. Poke around the site and discover a small chapel, original gatehouse, and find out where a long, dark secret passage leads. Kick on half an hour to the ancient village at Dana, where at the craft centre you can (you guessed it) pick up some crafts, like silver jewellery and charms. Drive on to Madaba (approximately 3 hours), home to Byzantine mosaics way better than anything you ever made in art class. Visit the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George and check out a 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land. Then it’s on to Amman and head out on the town at night.
Day 14 - Amman
Drive back in time (approximately 1 hour) to Jerash, once a thriving ancient Roman city, and now some of the best-preserved ruins this side of Italy. Do your best Biggus Dickus impersonation (Monty Python, anyone?) in Jerash's main street, check out the columns of the Oval Plaza and the tiered seating of the South Theatre, and imagine the chariot race from Gladiator in the hippodrome. In the afternoon you can choose to wash off the dust from exploring ruins with an (attempted) swim, so you’d better have packed your swim gear. Drive around 1.5 hours to the shores of the Dead Sea. This isn’t actually a sea but a super-salty lake (dead because of the lack of life in it) where the density of the water means you’ll go for a float, not a swim. Here you can get that photo of you reading a paper while floating in the water – just like the ten billion visitors before you. It’s worth it though, classic shot. Maybe grab a handful of the shoreline’s mud and slop it over your body on the way back in – it’s full of nutrient-rich natural minerals and will leave your skin feeling awesome. Afterwards you will return to Amman for the evening (approximately 1 hour). Maybe spend your final night at one of the many bars and restaurants in West Amman, or ask your leader where locals spend their evenings.
Day 15 - Amman
The tour ends in Amman after breakfast. You can (and probably should) kick around in Amman for longer if you want. There's heaps more to do, just ask your tour leader for pointers.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Meals Included: Breakfast: 14 Lunches: 1 Dinners: 4
The Pyramids might be hyped, but when you see them you’ll soon be saying oh mummy, I see the point (sorry)
Set sail on a felucca cruise along the Nile. Back in the day, these wooden boats had zero facilities, but our new pimped-out boat has western-style toilets on board
Masks don’t come much more famous than King Tut’s golden headpiece – check it out at the incredible Egyptian Museum
Jumping on a camel to ride through the desert and visit three tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Can you get any more Egyptian?
Our guides are local and know all the best secret and hidden places to check out after a day of sightseeing
Sleep under the stars (or in a comfortable tent) at a Bedouin-style camp in Wadi Rum.
Buckle up for a jeep safari through some of the largest sand dunes on the planet
Only Petra’s Treasury is stunning enough to be the temple of the Holy Grail (well, according to Indiana Jones at least), and you’ll be blown away on a full day exploring the majesty and mystery of this world wonder
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