Ancient wonders meet adventurous nature excursions on this epic 16-day trip across Egypt. Alongside a jam-packed itinerary of temple tours, city explorations, and a multiday Nile River cruise, you'll see a more rugged side of the country as you venture deep into the White Desert and explore the Red Sea coastline around Dahab. Immersive day trips to Alexandria and Abu Simbel and a cross-border visit to Petra round things out.

Please note that travel advisories have previously been issued for the Black and White Deserts. Please check your government's latest recommendations. Your local specialist will be happy to advise and potentially work with you on an alternative plan.


  • Roam the ruins of Egypt's first unified capital at Memphis
  • Cruise down the Nile, stopping at temples that line the palm-fringed banks
  • Camp under dazzling night skies in the otherworldly White Desert
  • Walk through red canyons to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan
  • Snorkel among the Red Sea's colorful reefs at Dahab

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo, Sunset at Cairo Tower Cairo
Day 2 Day Trip to the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Memphis & Saqqara Cairo
Day 3 Fly to Luxor, Tour Karnak & Luxor Temples, Board Nile Cruise Luxor
Day 4 Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride in Luxor, Visit Valley of the Kings, Cruise to Edfu Edfu
Day 5 Cruise to Aswan via the Temples of Kom Ombo & Edfu Aswan
Day 6 Arrive in Aswan, Day Trip to Abu Simbel Aswan
Day 7 Disembark Nile Cruise, Tour the Sights of Aswan, Fly to Cairo Cairo
Day 8 Day Trip to Alexandria Cairo
Day 9 Tour the National Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili Cairo
Day 10 Transfer to Bahariya Oasis, Explore & Camp in the Black & White Deserts Bahariya
Day 11 Transfer to Cairo, Day Trip to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) Cairo
Day 12 Fly to Dahab & the Red Sea, Free Afternoon Dahab
Day 13 Snorkeling Tour to the Blue Hole, Ras Abu Gallum & Blue Lagoon Dahab
Day 14 Day Trip to Petra (Jordan) via Ferry Dahab
Day 15 Fly to Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise Cairo
Day 16 Depart Cairo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Sunset at Cairo Tower

Take in the panoramic views of Cairo from atop Cairo Tower

Welcome to Egypt! Few countries have captured the world's imagination like this North African nation bordering the Middle East. Luckily, much of its ancient history is preserved through landmarks, archaeological sites, and antiquities, all accessible to the public. Once you arrive in Cairo, the country's largest city and capital, you'll be picked up at Cairo International Airport and transferred to your hotel to relax and settle in.

In the early evening, head to the Cairo Tower (El-Gezira Tower or Burj el-Qahari), the highest point in the city, to see the sunset over the panorama of Cairo and the Nile River. One of the most prominent features of the Egyptian capital, the tower's partially open latticework design is intended to evoke a lotus plant. Eat dinner at the top of the 613-foot (187 m) tower in the revolving restaurant so that you can catch every piece of the view, including, on a clear day, the famous pyramids in the distance.

Day 2: Day Trip to the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Memphis & Saqqara

Pyramids, Sphinx, Sakkara & Memphis
Learn the secrets of the Great Sphinx right outside of Cairo

This morning, you'll hit the ground running, meeting your Egyptologist guide and taking a tour of some of Egypt's most iconic sites. Begin at the ancient pyramids of Dahshour, then continue to the iconic Pyramids of Giza to visit the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Khufu), the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built as a tomb, its shape was intended to help the dead pharaoh's spirit rise to heaven.

Nearby, you'll find Khafre, the best-preserved of the main Giza pyramids, and Menkaure, the smallest of the three. After admiring the magnificent Great Sphinx up close, which has been guarding the city of the dead for 5,000 years, head to the ancient ruins of Memphis, the first unified capital of the ancient world. Here, you can visit the necropolis of Saqqara, explore its stepped pyramid and 4,350-year-old tombs, and see the ancient hieroglyphics engraved on its walls. 

Day 3: Fly to Luxor, Tour Karnak & Luxor Temples, Board Nile Cruise

See the epic ruins of Luxor Temple with the help of an Egyptologist guide

This morning, your driver will pick you up from your hotel in Cairo and transfer you to the airport to catch your flight to Luxor, a small city in the Nile Valley. Once the capital of ancient Thebes, today Luxor is considered an open-air museum due to its many landmarks. Once you land, another driver will be waiting to transfer to the dock, where you'll check in for your three-night cruise.

After lunch on board, join your Egyptologist guide to explore the East Bank of Luxor. Start at the Karnak Temple complex, the second-largest ancient religious site in the world and once the most significant religious complex in ancient Egypt. Founded in the Middle Kingdom, it's now one of Egypt's largest surviving temples. From its massive decorated pillars to the obelisks, statues, and kiosks, the complex, which took around 2,000 years to finish, will astound you.

Then, continue to the famed Luxor Temple complex, built during the New Kingdom around 1400 BCE and dedicated to Amun Ra, the God of the Kings and the King of the Gods. Walk down the Avenue of the Sphinxes, which once connected Luxor with Karnak, guarded by the giant statues of Ramesses II. 

Day 4: Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride in Luxor, Visit Valley of the Kings, Cruise to Edfu

Trip Hot Air Balloon Ride in Luxor, Egypt
See the sunrise over Luxor from a hot-air balloon

This morning, wake up before dawn to catch the sunrise over the ancient city of Luxor from aboard a hot-air balloon. A driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the western shores of the Nile for refreshments and a safety briefing. Then, you'll board your balloon for a one-hour flight, just in time to watch the sunrise. 

Once you're back on land, your guide will take you to the famed Valley of the Kings, known for its rock-cut tombs for kings and pharaohs, buried between the 16th and 11th centuries BCE. Discover the exteriors of the Tomb of Tutankhamun and the beautiful Temple of Deir el-Bahari, a complex of mortuary temples and tombs, including the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Stop at the Colossi of Memnon to see the imposing statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III that guard the entrance of his memorial temple. Return to the ship later in the afternoon and cast off for your first night of cruising toward Edfu.

Day 5: Cruise to Aswan via the Temples of Kom Ombo & Edfu

Watch the passing riverbank scenery as you cruise between temples today

After a leisurely breakfast on deck, continue your Nile journey toward Edfu, where you can take a horse-drawn carriage to reach the Temple of Horus, considered one of the best-preserved shrines in Egypt. Constructed between 237 BCE and 57 BCE, you can still make out many intricate inscriptions.

Then, continue downstream to reach the Temple of Kom Ombo. Built during the Ptolemaic era, Kom Ombo was dedicated to the crocodile god (Sobek) and falcon god (Horus). Admire its many intact courts, halls, wall carvings, and statues. Return to the cruise for dinner and a spectacular desert sunset as you cruise toward Aswan tonight. 

Day 6: Arrive in Aswan, Day Trip to Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel Temple
A 40-minute flight takes you to the UNESCO-listed Abu Simbel

After awakening in Aswan, you'll step ashore and set off on a day trip as your driver takes you to the airport in Aswan for a 40-minute flight to Abu Simbel, home to an important archaeological site and two UNESCO-listed rock-cut temples. Your full-day tour introduces you to these iconic landmarks, commissioned by Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BCE and carved out of sandstone cliffs. The main temple is dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, and Amun, while the smaller temple is devoted to the pharaoh's beloved wife, Queen Nefertari.

Pass the towering statues of the pharaoh sitting on his throne to explore the temple's interior halls and chambers. Admire the vibrant wall reliefs, depicting scenes from Egyptian mythology, religious rituals, and the pharaoh's military conquests. Along the way, your guide will help illuminate the history surrounding the temples and share the remarkable story of how the entire site was moved piece by piece in 1968 to protect it from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. At the end of the tour, catch a flight back to Aswan, returning to the cruise for one last night moored on the Nile.

Day 7: Disembark Nile Cruise, Tour the Sights of Aswan, Fly to Cairo

End your tour of Aswan with a quick sailing trip on a traditional felucca

Enjoy one last meal on the boat before disembarking and joining your guide for a daylong tour of the amazing Aswan. Start with a visit to Egypt's remarkable engineering achievement of the modern era, the Aswan High Dam. Besides offering insight into Egypt's modern infrastructure, the dam also features panoramic views of the surrounding area. Continue to see the Unfinished Obelisk, the largest known ancient obelisk, located in the ancient stone quarries near Aswan.

Embark on a tour of the beautiful Temple of Philae from the fourth century BCE, dedicated to Isis, the goddess of love. Later in the afternoon, head to the shores of the Nile for a sail on a felucca (traditional river sailboat) for panoramic views of Elephantine Island, where you can spot the Botanical Gardens and Agha Khan Mausoleum. After a relaxing sail, you'll be picked up and transferred to Aswan International Airport to catch your flight to Cairo.

Day 8: Day Trip to Alexandria

Pompay's Pillar
Take a day trip from Cairo to the ancient seaside city of Alexandria
Plan your trip to Egypt
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Meet your driver at your hotel this morning before embarking on the 3.5-hour transfer to Alexandria. Sitting on the Mediterranean coast, this ancient city is just as famous for its historical landmarks as its beautiful beaches, resorts, and cosmopolitan atmosphere. 

Once you arrive, head to Pompey's Pillar, an impressive Roman monument constructed in honor of the Roman emperor Diocletian at the end of the fourth century. Continue to the Catacombs of Kom el-Shoqafa, one of Egypt's largest Roman burial sites, which consists of three levels cut into the rock. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit another of Alexandria's most prominent landmarks, the Citadel of Qaitbay, a defensive fortress from the 15th century overlooking the Mediterranean.

End the day at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria), a scholarly institution and major hub for scholars worldwide. This modern structure is a tribute to the original library and Wonder of the Ancient World, built in the third century BCE and served as one of the ancient world's premier centers of knowledge and learning. Today's library houses over one million books, manuscripts, and digital resources. Later in the day, you'll return to Cairo in time for dinner.

Day 9: Tour the National Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili

Tour to National Museum, Islamic Cairo and Khan El-Khalili
Wind your way through the streets of Islamic Cairo on a guided tour

Dive deeper into the capital today with a full-day tour of Cairo's historic sites and cultural landmarks. Your first stop is at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Old Cairo, which showcases 50,000 artifacts that tell the story of Egyptian heritage and culture.

Next, you'll learn about Islamic Cairo at the Citadel of Saladin, a beautiful example of military architecture from the Middle Ages, and the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, a monumental mosque built during the 1300s. Continue to the mosque of Mohamed Ali, known as the Alabaster Mosque. The brilliant domed ceilings, suspended lights, and city views from this former stronghold against the Crusaders are unparalleled. 

Finally, follow your guide through the teeming streets of Khan el-Khalili, Cairo's old bazaar, packed with legendary shops that sell everything from fine brassware to perfumes to antiques. Hunt for treasures at this historical souk (market), including lamps, rugs, jewelry, and more, and learn the art of bargaining as you pick up some one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Day 10: Transfer to Bahariya Oasis, Explore & Camp in the Black & White Deserts

Spend the night camping among the otherworldly dunes in the White Desert

Wake up early for your four-hour transfer across the desert from Cairo to the Bahariya Oasis, the best base to explore both the White and Black Deserts, known for their living history, from ancient cities to well-preserved mummies. Once you arrive, meet a local guide to visit a family-owned date plantation, see the migratory birds on the salty Lake Marun, and then explore the dark volcanic formations of the Black Desert. Climb the famous Gebel al-Ingleez (English Mountain), a former World War I lookout post with incredible panoramic views. 

After a desert lunch, resume your tour of the Black Desert, starting at the distinctive Al-Marsous Mountain, the famous crater covered in volcanic jasper. Visit the small Bedouin village of El-Hez to swim in the nearby cold spring before heading to explore the otherworldly dunes and limestone rock formations of the White Desert in the Agabat Valley.

See the sparkly Gebel al-Izzaz (Crystal Mountain), known for its cover of reflective quartz fragments, and Al-Ghurabi, one of the world's longest wandering dunes. Stop in the picturesque El-Ghorab, an ideal spot for swimming and unwinding in the desert landscape. At the end of the day, assist your guide in setting up a cozy desert encampment where you'll spend the night under the stars. 

Day 11: Transfer to Cairo, Day Trip to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)

Half Day Tour To The Grand Egyptian Museum “GEM”
See the new museum in Giza full of Pharaonic treasures

After breakfast at your camp in the desert, hop aboard your four-hour transfer back to Cairo, enjoying the desolate beauty of the dunes as you go. Once you arrive in Cairo, check into your hotel to rest and recharge. Later in the day, meet your guide for a return trip to Giza to see the newly opened Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

Set to be the largest archaeological museum in the world when it's completed, visitors can currently tour the Grand Hall, the exterior gardens, the Grand Atrium, and the Grand Staircase, which features over 60 historically significant pieces from the museum's collection, including the 10 statues of King Senusert. Other artifacts include royal regalia, the victory column of King Merenptah, the Hanging Obelisk, and the Ramesses II statue. Stop at the gift shop, then your driver will take you back to your hotel in Cairo.

Day 12: Fly to Dahab & the Red Sea, Free Afternoon

Free afternoon in Dahab
Head straight to the beach when you arrive in Dahab

It's time for a change of scene this morning as you check out of your hotel in Cairo and meet your driver, who will take you to the airport for your flight to Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport. Once you arrive, you'll be transferred to the coastal hamlet of Dahab. Located an hour down the coast from the sprawling resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, this quiet beach town has a more authentic, laid-back feel than its neighbor and is the perfect spot for a few days of relaxation and watersports on the Red Sea

After settling in, try some fresh seafood at one of the numerous cafés and restaurants along the beach, walk around the small streets, or wander the picturesque boardwalk. If you're looking to stretch your legs, explore one of the many canyons outside of town, such as the Colored Canyon, or jump in the Red Sea for swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving. At the end of the day, catch a vibrant sunset from the beautiful Laguna Beach

Day 13: Snorkeling Tour to the Blue Hole, Ras Abu Gallum & Blue Lagoon

Blue Hole - Ras Abu Gallum -Blue Lagoon
Spend the whole day snorkeling among the pristine reefs of the Red Sea

Grab your sunscreen and swimsuit—today you're off on a snorkeling tour around some of the best sites in the Red Sea. Hop aboard a speedboat and head to the famous but challenging Blue Hole, a submarine sinkhole popular with divers. Jump back on your boat for a short trip to the Ras Abu Galum Reserve. Eat lunch on the beach, snorkel right off shore, and enjoy the tranquility of this idyllic spot, only reachable via foot or boat. 

Your last stop on the tour is the breathtaking Blue Lagoon, another part of the reserve that's often considered one of the most beautiful spots on the Sinai coast. This sheltered cove surrounded by mountain peaks, with calm, turquoise waters, is ideal for swimming. Return to your hotel in Dahab at the end of the evening for another spectacular sunset and seafood feast.

Day 14: Day Trip to Petra (Jordan) via Ferry

Sharm El Sheikh
After a guided tour, you'll have time to explore Petra on your own

Wake up early for a desert sunrise, then meet your driver for a ride to the ferry for Aqaba, a city on the Red Sea in Jordan. Meet your guide once you arrive, and head directly to Jordan's most famous archaeological treasure: the lost city of Petra, about an hour north. Known as the "Rose City" for its distinctive red sandstone, it's easy to see why Petra was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Enter through the Siq, a narrow gorge, and after a two-hour guided tour, you'll have free time to explore. Wander through Petra's seemingly endless temples, including the grand Qasr al-Bint, as well as numerous tombs and winding, skinny streets. Navigate this historic Nabataean city, with intricate architecture still well-preserved after hundreds of years. 

To see Petra's largest and lesser-visited monument, climb the 800 steps to the Monastery. For the most incredible view of the city, overlooking the famous Treasury and jagged mountains beyond, hike the stone-carved staircase to the top of Jabal al-Khubtha. After your Petra tour, head back to Aqaba for a short city tour and free time for shopping. Catch the ferry back to Egypt, where you'll be met and transferred to your Dahab hotel. 

Day 15: Fly to Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise

Nile Pharaoh Dinner Cruise Cairo
Celebrate the final night of your trip with a Nile dinner cruise

Take in a final sunrise over the Red Sea before meeting your driver for a transfer to Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport. Hop aboard a short flight to Cairo, where another driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel. Use the afternoon to explore more of Cairo or rest up from your coastal adventures.

As night falls, you'll be taken to the Nile River for a traditional dinner cruise. Hop aboard the boat, designed to resemble a Pharaonic barge, and take in panoramic views of the Cairo skyline from the deck. As you cruise along the riverbanks, you'll sit down to a buffet dinner of local and international dishes, accompanied by performances of Egyptian music, belly dancing, whirling dervish shows, or meditations led by an expert. After dinner, you can again climb to the deck to enjoy the river breezes as you cruise back to Cairo, where a driver will be waiting to take you back to your hotel.

Day 16: Depart Cairo

Catch a final glimpse of Cairo as you depart
Your epic 16-day Egyptian adventure draws to a close today. After checking out of your hotel, meet your driver, who will whisk you off to Cairo International Airport to catch your departing flight. Ma'a salama!

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Map of Adventurous Egypt: Cities, Deserts, Nile Cruise & Red Sea - 16 Days
Map of Adventurous Egypt: Cities, Deserts, Nile Cruise & Red Sea - 16 Days