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Travel with Intrepid and Lonely Planet on a 22-day odyssey into Egypt and Jordan. Wander the rock-carved city of Petra, relax on the Gulf of Aqaba, cruise along the Nile in a traditional felucca and explore Luxor. As you travel these lands of courageous adventurers, mighty pharaohs and biblical prophets, be greeted by the hospitality of Bedouin and Nubian hosts. Combining bucket-list highlights like the Pyramids of Giza with world-class relaxation by the Red Sea, this trip will introduce you to the diversity of these two nations.
Day 1: Amman
Ahlan Wa Sahlan! Welcome to Jordan – cosmopolitan, contemporary and teeming with biblical history. Your Lonely Planet Experience begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm today, where you’ll meet your local leader and travel crew. If you do happen to arrive early, be sure to take in the sweeping views of Amman from the citadel, explore the Jordan Museum that’s home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, or take a trip out to the ruins of Jerash – an ancient walled town that remarkably recalls life 2000 years ago. After meeting up for your briefing, head out on the town, perhaps feasting on ara’yes – Jordan’s answer to a toasted sandwich, packed full of spiced meat.
Day 2: Petra
This morning, travel by minibus to Mt Nebo (approximately 1.5 hours). Mt Nebo is the place where the prophet Moses is supposedly buried and is said to have seen the 'Promised Land'. Explore this sanctuary, checking out the remarkable mosaics inside its fourth-century church. On a clear day, the views over the Dead Sea to Israel and the Palestinian Territories are spectacular. Afterwards, take a 30-minute drive to the super salty Dead Sea. Technically sitting below sea level, it’s perfect for swimming and floating in, and the mud on the sea floor is said to have healing properties – so lather up! Continue on to the crusader castle of Kerak, sitting in a commanding position on top of a cliff overlooking Kerak town and the valley below. Spend time exploring the seven-level fortress and learn the legends of 12th-century battles between Crusaders and Muslim armies. Continue on to Petra for the night (approximately 4.5 hours).
Day 3: Petra
The jewel of Jordan, the lost city of the biblical Nabateans, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – Petra is a magical hand-carved wonder. Today, you’ll have the chance to discover this sixth century BC masterpiece with your small group. Be dwarfed by the towering rock formations as you squeeze through a narrow path called the Siq until you reach the grand entrance of the iconic Treasury. Gaze up at the intricate carvings and details, and spend the afternoon exploring the site at your own pace. There’s the old Roman road, other temples and old tombs, as well as the rock-hewn amphitheatre to explore. For those feeling more adventurous, take a challenging hike up a set of stairs to the smaller but no less impressive monastery, taking approximately one hour. After arriving back at your accommodation, why not find a traditional bathhouse to rejuvenate after a day of incredible sightseeing.
Day 4: Wadi Rum
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with a short drive to the extraordinary desert scenery of Wadi Rum – a rugged lunar-like landscape framed by huge sandstone mountains (approximately 2 hours). Head on a half-day jeep safari, taking you through some sublime scenery and uncovering traces of ancient civilisations seen in the many carved inscriptions found throughout the area, from pictographs to Thamudic, Nabataean and Arabic texts. The most enduring monuments in Wadi Rum are those carved by nature – natural rock bridges, towering rose-coloured sand dunes and scattered rocky peaks. Spend the night sleeping in a simple desert camp, with the choice of sleeping under a camel hair tent or out under the starry night sky. Enjoy a delicious dinner cooked in an earthen oven by your desert dwelling Bedouin hosts, and soak in your truly unforgettable surroundings.
Day 5: Nuweiba
This morning, leave Wadi Rum and make tracks for Aqaba (approximately 1 hour). You’ll have some free time in Aqaba today, and have the option of day-use rooms to freshen up and store your luggage. Early in the evening, bid your Jordan local leader farewell and transfer to Aqaba port to board a comfortable air-conditioned ferry bound for Nuweiba. Depending on timing, weather conditions and delays, this journey over the Gulf of Aqaba can take between 2.5 and 5 hours, so be sure to have a good book or device with you to kill the time. On arrival, meet your Egyptian group leader and transfer to your accommodation for a well-earned rest.The ferry can be rough at times and those who suffer from sea sickness may want to prepare themselves. The journey can take from 2.5 hours to in excess of 5 hours which means that arrival into Nuweiba can often be after midnight. Your Egyptian Tour Leader will be waiting for you regardless of delays. In rough weather, there's a chance the ferry might be cancelled altogether, in which case we'll travel overland through Israel.
Day 6: Dahab
It's a short drive to the laidback resort area of Dahab – your base for the next two nights. Dahab, meaning 'gold' in Arabic, has gone from a Bedouin fishing village to a popular tourist town, thanks to the excellent conditions for activities like diving, windsurfing and rock climbing. However, the town hasn't lost its authenticity and lowkey appeal that’s attracted visitors since the 1970s. The rest of the day is free for you to take in the many treats this spot has to offer – cafes, seafood or some snorkelling in the Red Sea. Dahab is well known for its drop-offs – spectacular coral reef shelves that plunge into the vast blue depths of the ocean below. There are also plenty of relaxed bars and restaurants to sit back and enjoy good local food and some sheesha.
Day 7: Dahab
In the morning, why not strap on a mask and head to the Blue Hole for some snorkelling at one of the best diving spots in the world. The area gets its name from a submarine sinkhole about 94 metres deep, with an arch in the coral reef down at 54 metres – a challenge that’s only open to highly experienced technical divers. Snorkellers can enjoy one of the greatest spots in the Red Sea here. Float on the surface and look down into an endless world of blue, then make your way around to ‘the Bridge’, where the visibility is always great and the untouched coral swarms with all different types of colourful fish and marine life. After you’ve had your fill of snorkelling, return to Dahab for an evening feast at a waterside restaurant, or perhaps head inland to Assalah, where local joints serve up plates of roast chicken and falafel with some cold regional beer.
Day 8: Cairo
Transfer to Sharm El Sheikh Airport and take a 1-hour flight to Cairo. Transfer to your accommodation and enjoy free time for the rest of the day. Cairo is one of the great cities of antiquity and its history can be symbolised by two imposing landmarks – the Pyramids of Giza and the Mosque of Mohammed Ali.
Day 9: Cairo
After breakfast, set out to see some of Egypt’s most renowned sights. Visit Giza’s pyramids and Sphinx – instantly familiar yet retaining a mystique and power. Explore these structures that have stood tall for 4500 years, and you may even be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu for an additional charge. Afterwards, perhaps make your way to the Egyptian Museum, home to one of the world's great collections of antiquities. Wander the treasure-filled halls of the museum, and check out the optional Mummies Hall for a close encounter with some of the country’s most important queens and pharaohs. Later in the evening, meet your leader and travel to Giza train station, where you will board a sleeper train to Aswan (approximately 13 hours).
Day 10: Aswan
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas: welcome to Aswan, Egypt's southernmost city. Today is a free day so take the opportunity to see such Aswan sites as the unfinished obelisk or the High Dam. The Nubian Bazaar is a must, while the excellent Nubian Museum is top of many visitors’ lists. Highly recommended is the beautiful Temple of Isis (goddess of health, marriage and wisdom), which was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated to Philae Island. It's a marvel of decorative pylons featuring some of Egypt's finest carvings – definitely one of the real gems of Upper Egypt. The waterfront promenade, or corniche, runs alongside one of the Nile's most appealing stretches and is the perfect place to stop for a mint tea. Watch the waterfront come alive at dusk, with families out strolling, socialising and relaxing along the corniche.
Day 11: Aswan
This morning is your best chance to head out of Aswan and visit stunning Abu Simbel, if you choose to. With the four gargantuan statues of Ramses guarding the Great Temple, this is one of Egypt's most memorable sights. Otherwise, the day is free for you to make your own discoveries. A popular afternoon option in Aswan is a sailboat ride around the islands in a traditional felucca, stopping off at the botanical gardens on Kitchener's Island. Alternatively, you could take a camel ride to the Monastery of St Simeon, an abandoned seventh-century fortress located in the desert on the Nile's west bank. Your local leader will be on hand to help you get the most out of your day. You may prefer to just relax and take in the beauty of the Nile, or do some shopping in the vibrant bazaar.
Day 12: Nubian Homestay
This morning, jump on a traditional Egyptian sailboat – or felucca – for a morning sail until lunch. After lunch on board the felucca, arrive at a Nubian homestay on the west bank of the Nile. Here, you’ll learn about the local way of life with a walk through the surrounding countryside and agriculture fields to reach the homestay. The house is in traditional Nubian style, with a sandy courtyard in the middle where the family gathers for meals, and bedrooms to the side – this is where you’ll be staying for the night. Get into the swing of Egyptian life by lending a hand in the kitchen to help cook dinner, or maybe kick around a football in the courtyard with the kids. There are few better ways to understand a country and its people than with a local homestay, and you’ll have the chance tonight to soak it all up.
Day 13: Nile Felucca
Board another felucca today and enjoy a day out on the river, seeing rural Egyptian daily life play out on the banks before spending a night under the stars. Your sailing crew will provide all of your onboard meals, which are hearty and delicious. The felucca is a traditional wooden boat with broad canvas sails, offering some shade and protection from the elements, but there is no cabin or enclosed section – watching the sun setting over the Nile in the evening from an open deck is an experience you won't forget.
Day 14: Luxor
After farewelling the felucca crew, take a private van to Luxor (approximately 3.5 hours). Today you will explore the magnificent Karnak Temple, which is perhaps the most impressive of all the ancient pharoahs' monumental works. One of the world's most celebrated temple complexes, Karnak is a house of the gods built over a period of some 200 years. Your guided tour of this vast temple of impressive pylons, obelisks and chapels will reveal its finest sections, such as the Avenue of Sphinxes and the Great Temple of Amun. The rest of the day will be free to relax, shop in the bazaar (open until quite late) or perhaps experience the atmosphere of a local teahouse.
Day 15: Luxor
Rise early this morning and head into the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the arid hills here are over 60 tombs of pharaohs, many richly decorated with reliefs and paintings. With your leader, explore this sprawling and spectacular place, where the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (16th to 11th century BC) were secretly interred for all eternity, and where discoveries are still being made. Your group leader will explain the history and legends of these remarkable people, their funerary rites, and the significance of the many paintings and hieroglyphics, still well-preserved in the deepest tombs. Visit three of the most interesting royal tombs and then continue to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut – a stunning colonnaded building set against high cliffs that create a spectacular natural amphitheatre. The legendary Hatshepsut had this mortuary temple built to signify her importance and honour her ancestors.
Day 16: Hurghada
This morning, farewell the Nile to drive east to the beachside town of Hurghada (approximately 5 hours). The green Nile valley is soon left behind as you head out into the Eastern Desert. As you pass by rocky hills, the glittering waters of the Red Sea come into view and the rugged bulk of the Sinai Peninsula looms through the haze on the opposite shore. A vibrant beach resort, Hurghada is by no means a typical adventure destination. After checking in to your hotel, take a leader-led orientation walk to get your bearings and to scope out some of the local restaurants.
Day 17: Hurghada
Transfer to the Hurghada Marina and climb aboard your boat for a trip out to Giftun Island – part of the Red Sea Marine Parks – where you’ll spend a relaxing day on the stunning white beach of Mahmya. While here, you have the opportunity to take a snorkelling excursion by boat to one of the most magnificent reefs in the Red Sea – fine reef walls, lovely fan corals and colourful fish all await. Your snorkelling gear is provided. After a buffet lunch in one of Mahmya’s open-air restaurants overlooking the ocean, there are plenty of activities to choose from, such as volleyball, soccer, or simply lazing on the beach. Head back to Hurghada in the late afternoon and transfer to your hotel.
Day 18: Cairo
Check out of your hotel this morning and make the 6-hour journey back to Cairo by private vehicle. On your return, visit the Islamic parts of the city and the frenetic backstreets of the local Khan el-Khalili bazaar with your group leader. The ‘Khan’ is one of the biggest and oldest markets in the world, sprawling around an old area known as Al-Azhar, a warren of alleys with stalls serving up a succession of intoxicating scenes and a quintessentially Cairo experience. You might explore the gold market, ‘Perfume Street’ and the spice market, where heady aromas hang in the air like a thick blanket of Damascene cloth (which can be purchased next door in the cloth market!).
Day 19: Alexandria
Jump in a private van today and follow the ‘desert road’ to the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria (approximately 3 hours). Egypt's second largest city and main port, locals call this vibrant city the Bride of the Mediterranean Sea. On arrival, take an orientation walking tour with your leader. The Greek architect Dinocrates built Alexandria in 331 BC under the orders of Alexander the Great. The city, immortalising Alexander's name, quickly flourished into a prominent cultural, intellectual, political and economic metropolis. Take some time to stroll along the corniche and take in some fresh Mediterranean air. Alexandria at night is not to be missed, with the whole city lighting up.
Day 20: Alexandria
Today, head back to a more recent period in Egyptian history with a visit to El Alamein and the war museum located there. El Alamein sits on the Mediterranean Sea, 106 kilometres west of Alexandria, and it played an important role in significant World War II battles. The area was a turning point in the North African campaign, where the Allies held out against, and eventually pushed back and defeated, the Afrika Korps of Rommel. The area contains a number of memorials from the countries who lost soldiers here – Greece, South Africa, Australia, Italy – as well as a war cemetery that’s home to the graves and names of the thousands who lost their lives. In the museum, discover the story of the events that unfolded here, and then return to Alexandria. Alexandria is well known for its seafood, so don't forget to feast on some fresh fish while you're in town.
Day 21: Cairo
This morning, head underground and delve into the mysteries of the Kom Ash Shuqqafa catacombs. This Roman burial site is the largest of its kind in Egypt and was discovered, quite accidentally, by a hapless donkey. The crypts are 20 metres below street level, and what probably began as a small family tomb grew into a labyrinth of chambers that could accommodate more than 300 bodies. Stop by the strikingly modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina, inspired by the original great library of Alexandria and built to hold over 8 million books. Afterwards, head to El Morsi Abu El Abbas Mosque, the largest in the city. During your free time, perhaps take the opportunity to see the Citadel of Qaitbay, a fortress overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, where the famous lighthouse once stood. You’ll then leave Alexandria and return to Cairo (approximately 5 hours), arriving around 4 pm. The afternoon is yours to spend as you please, and at night, why not gather together your travel crew for a celebratory kebab, kofta, or sheesha.
Day 22: Cairo
Your Lonely Planet Experience finishes today after breakfast. There are no activities planned for the final day, and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time following check-out.
- Petra guided tour - One day pass
- Wadi Rum - 4WD jeep safari and desert camp
- Cairo - Pyramids and Sphinx
- Luxor - Karnak Temple
- Luxor - Valley of the Kings (3 tombs)
- Luxor - Hatshepsut Temple -Entry Fee
- Hurghada - Mahmya Beach Cruise ( Day trip )
- Cairo - Khan al-Khalili bazaar visit
- El Alamein - War Museum
- Alexandria - Catacombs of Kom Ash-Suqqafa
- Alexandria - Bibliotheca Alexandrina
- Alexandria - Morsi Abu El Abbas Mosque
20 Breakfast(s) Included
4 Lunch(es) Included
6 Dinner(s) Included
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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