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Return to a world of Pharaohs and fantasy, where the test of time has done nothing to dismantle the artefacts that litter Egypt's landscape. From the famed Pyramids to the ever-attentive Sphinx, history isn't history in Egypt. It exists in the present; living, breathing, and quite incredibly, totally explorable.
To experience the best of Egypt, we recommend a minimum of ten days to explore this remarkable country.
Cairo’s chaotic streets take some getting used to, and navigating a route through dusty cars and donkey carts will leave your nerves in a jitter - but that’s all part of the city’s charm.
The Pyramids of Giza, of course, have drawn visitors for millennia. In the 2nd Century BC, Philo of Byzantium compiled his list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the first recorded travel guidebook – which included two sites from Egypt. The only one of these wonders still standing is The Great Pyramid of Giza. Twenty percent taller than the tallest building in Wellington, standing at the foot of The Great Pyramid is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.
This morning fly to Luxor (approx. 1.5 hours). If you thought Cairo was epic, Luxor will leave you speechless. Often described as the world’s greatest open-air museum, the terrain’s never-ending and the temples far reaching. When the landscape is bathed in golden sunlight you’ll understand why the Pharaohs considered Luxor to be such an extraordinary place.
After soaking up Luxor’s wonders, take respite from the Egyptian sun at the house of famed archaeologist Howard Carter. You’ll get a detailed insight into the life of the man who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.
Today, set out on a four-day Nile cruise aboard a boutique ship. Spend your morning at leisure, or sit back and enjoy a strong Egyptian coffee on the sun terrace.
This afternoon, visit Karnak Temples. Worked and reworked by approximately 30 different Pharaohs over more than 1000 years, it must be one of the longest running building projects in history. Just one of the halls here is large enough to hold St Peters Basilica and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Cross the river to the West Bank and find yourself in the Valley of the Kings, where Howard Carter spent years searching for the tomb of the Boy King - Tutankhamun. Many of the tombs are accessible for visitors to explore, and as recently as 2011 a new tomb was discovered, raising the tantalising prospect of even more treasures lurking beneath the surface.
This afternoon, sail downriver to Edfu, for the Temple of Horus: the most completely preserved Egyptian temple ever found. With its explorable chambers, massive 36-metre entrance and two huge statues of Horus, the experience is one of Egypt’s most spine tingling.
Sail to Aswan, the riverside town home to Philae Temple which was dedicated to the goddess Isis, and the stunning Old Cataract Hotel, where Agatha Christie penned Death on the Nile.
After a tipple at the Old Cataract, venture to the ‘unfinished Obelisk’ lying in Aswan’s granite quarries. An obelisk is a narrow stone pillar set up as a landmark (think Washington Monument) and this one is more than 3500 years old. Never finished, and therefore never hoisted, Aswan’s great monument lies like a sleeping giant in the ground.
Later, why not sail in a traditional felucca (sailed boat) around the lush islands of Aswan and view the Agha Khan Mausoleum. Get off to explore Aswan’s markets or stop for a cool drink on the banks of the Nile.
Swap your ship for a plane and fly to Abu Simbel in just over one hour. The colossal Temples of Abu Simbel are the most spectacular in Egypt, and so immaculately preserved, it feels like a film set.
When the Aswan High Dam was constructed in the early 1960s, the huge lake it created would have drowned the Temples of Abu Simbel, so they dismantled the temple and moved it above the new waterline, where it was reassembled piece by piece. Whether you’re marvelled by this feat of engineering, or that of the Egyptians centuries earlier, Abu Simbel will leave you in awe.
Return to Cairo on a 1.5 hour flight, and then onward to New Zealand.
Want to do your own bucket list adventure?
Here are our top bucket list experiences.
A local sim card can be bought at the airport. Data is cheap and will save you a fortune on roaming charges.
A good pair of sandals (not jandals) will be helpful while traversing the ground around the ancient sites – some of which is understandably a bit uneven after 4000+ years!
Ask us about pre-immigration ‘Meet and Assistance’ service (including Visa) on arrival in Egypt.
Some of the more exclusive tombs, such as Nefertari and Tutankhamun, have strict limits on the number of tourists who can enter each day. Pre-booking is essential.
Take a good handful of small denomination US Dollar notes, as well as local currency. Many Egyptians rely on tips.
In summer, morning and evening sightseeing is best for escaping the midday sun.
Call 119 for fire and ambulance, 110 for Police and 118 for the Coast Guard.
Sit in an Egyptian café, having a cup of hibiscus tea and playing the local version of backgammon. You will be an instant hit with people.
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