Race across Egypt in adventurous style with this 12-day active itinerary. After hitting the highlights in Cairo, strike out toward Siwa Oasis to swim in Cleopatra's Pool and explore ancient rock-cut fortresses. Venture into the White Desert for two nights of camping under the stars, then fly to Sharm el-Sheikh for an epic hike up Mount Sinai and snorkeling in the Red Sea. You'll wind down back in Cairo with a Nile dinner cruise and a spin around the Egyptian Museum.

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


  • Learn the secrets of the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza
  • Spend two nights camping amid the windswept Black Desert
  • Take an epic night hike up Mount Sinai and watch the sunrise from the summit
  • Snorkel around the beautiful waters of Ras Mohamed National Park in the Red Sea

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 Transfer to Siwa via El-Alamein & Marsa Matruh Siwa
Day 4 Discover Siwa: Fortresses, Museums, Temples & Springs Siwa
Day 5 Transfer to Bahariya Oasis, Set Up Camp in the Black Desert Bahariya
Day 6 Explore the Bahariya Oasis, Camp in the Black Desert Bahariya
Day 7 Transfer to Cairo, Tour Al-Muizz Street & Khan el-Khalili Cairo
Day 8 Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, Hike Mount Sinai & See St. Catherine Monastery Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 9 Bedouin Safari & Stargazing Tour Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 10 Snorkeling Tour of White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park  Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 11 Fly to Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise  Cairo
Day 12 Tour the Egyptian Museum & Islamic Cairo, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Sunset at Cairo Tower

Airplane departing with a view of clouds below
Head to the Cairo Tower for the sunset on your first night in Egypt

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-tall (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
Discover the secrets of the pyramids of Giza on today's guided tour

This morning, meet your Egyptologist guide and set off for a tour of some of Egypt's most iconic sites. Begin at the ancient ruins of Memphis, the first unified capital of the ancient world. Here, you can visit the necropolis of Saqqara, explore the world-famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, and admire 4,350-year-old tombs with ancient hieroglyphics engraved on their walls.

Your next stop is at the ancient pyramids of Dahshour, then you'll 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. Then, see the Great Sphinx up close, which has been guarding the city of the dead for 5,000 years, a marvelous sight carved out of a natural rocky outcrop.

Day 3: Transfer to Siwa via El-Alamein & Marsa Matruh

Siwa Oasis and Western
Leave Cairo and head across the desert to the faraway oasis of Siwa, known for its natural springs

Wake up early and hit the road for a full-day, eight-hour transfer west across Egypt to the vast Sahara Desert and the legendary Siwa Oasis. Located near the border with Libya, Siwa is renowned for its otherworldly landscapes, including vast dunes, salt lakes, and natural springs. 

Crossing the desert, you'll stop in El-Alamein, the site of two major World War II battles. While here, you'll visit a war museum and cemetery dedicated to these battles. Continue to the resort town of Marsa Matruh for a lunch break in one of the local restaurants, then finish the journey to Siwa and check into your accommodation, where you'll have the rest of the evening free to relax.

Day 4: Discover Siwa: Fortresses, Museums, Temples & Springs

Siwa local attraction
Explore the winding streets of Old Shali in the Siwa Oasis

Your oasis adventure continues this morning with a visit to the Shali Fortress. Also known as the Shali Citadel, the ruins of this mud-brick fortress date to the 13th century. This ancient stronghold once housed hundreds of people and offers awe-inspiring views of the oasis and surrounding desert. Learn about the history and culture of the region at Siwan House, a museum set in a historic house with exhibits on the local inhabitants' traditional crafts, costumes, and daily routines.

Continue to the impressive Oracle Temple, an ancient religious sanctuary from the sixth century BCE. It's said that Alexander the Great visited this temple seeking affirmation during his quest to conquer Egypt. Your next stop is the famous Cleopatra Bath, an oasis spring acclaimed for rejuvenating properties. Swim in the naturally warm water, just as Cleopatra is reputed to have done. Enjoy lunch in the local cafeteria beside the spring, sampling traditional dishes like reearin (Siwan lentil dip). 

Spend the rest of the afternoon at Bir Wahed, springs on the edge of the Great Sand Sea about 8 miles (12 km) southwest of Siwa. Swim in the hot and cold pools in the middle of the sand, then climb to the top of the dunes to take in the fantastic sunset. End the day with a classic Bedouin dinner under the starlit desert sky. 

Plan your trip to Egypt
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Transfer to Bahariya Oasis, Set Up Camp in the Black Desert

Cross the desert to discover the Bahariya Oasis

Travel across the desert for around five hours from one oasis to another this morning. The Bahariya Oasis, which sits in a prime location to explore the surrounding White and Black Deserts, is known for its living history, from ancient cities to well-preserved mummies.

Once you arrive and settle in with lunch, meet a local guide to tour some of the best natural sites in Bahariya. Visit a family-owned date plantation to buy some for the road, see the migratory birds on the salty Lake al-Marun, and then explore the dark volcanic formations of the Black Desert. See the famous Gebel al-Ingleez (English Mountain), a former World War I lookout post with incredible panoramic views. 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 6: Explore the Bahariya Oasis, Camp in the Black Desert

2nd Day in the Oasis
Drive through the far-reaching desert around the Bahariya Oasis

After a desert breakfast, 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. Return to camp in the evening for another night under the desert stars.

Day 7: Transfer to Cairo, Tour Al-Muizz Street & Khan el-Khalili

Haggle for treasures in the winding streets of Cairo's old bazaar

Leave the desert behind today during your four-hour transfer back to Cairo. Once you've checked into your hotel, meet your guide to discover one of the oldest streets in Egypt, Al-Muizz li-Din Allah al-Fatimi Street (Al-Muizz). This historical pedestrian street is lined with famous monuments, including two of the three remaining gates in the old city wall, Bab al-Futuh (Gate of Conquests) and Bab al-Nasr (Gate of Victory).

Follow the street to the historic, recently restored alleyway, Al-Darb al-Asfar, and visit some of the most beautiful mosques in the city, such as Aqsunqur Mosque (the Blue Mosque), famous for the blue-tiled interior and Al-Aqmar Mosque, with its detailed stonework facade. 

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 8: Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, Hike Mount Sinai & See St. Catherine Monastery

 Sharm El Sheikh
You're off to the shores of the Red Sea today as you fly to Sharm el-Sheikh

Leave the winding streets of Cairo today and meet your driver for your transfer to Cairo International Airport, where you'll hop aboard a one-hour flight to Sharm el-Sheikh. Located between the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea, this resort town is known for its beautiful beaches, offshore coral reefs surrounded by clear water, and history. A driver will be waiting upon arrival to whisk you off to your hotel, where you can drop your bags off and make a quick beeline for the beach. Spend the afternoon relaxing and taking a nap because you're in for an incredible treat this evening. 

Around 8:00 pm, your guide will drive you three hours out of the city to St. Catherine's Monastery. Take a brief nap before getting your heart pumping on the trek up Mount Sinai. Sitting at 7,497 feet (2,285 m), Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Moses) is a location of great importance to the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish faiths. The hike begins at 2:00 am, and you'll reach the summit just before the sun rises over the desert. Head back down the mountain at 7:00 am for a visit to the monastery itself and a history lesson on this famous martyr. You can catch up on some well-deserved sleep on the drive back to your hotel.

Day 9: Bedouin Safari & Stargazing Tour

Bedouin Safari and Star Gazing Tour
Take a camel ride through the desert to a Bedouin camp

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, and spend a leisurely morning at the beach. Walk along the pedestrian promenade in laid-back Naama Bay, have lunch in a beachfront café, and relax by the water. In the afternoon, you'll escape the city for the serenity of the desert.

Your driver will meet you at your hotel for a quick transfer to the edge of the dunes. Meet a local who will lead you on a guided, 20-minute camel ride to a nearby Bedouin camp. Once you arrive, enjoy a cup of locally sourced habak (herbal mint) tea and help make traditional arbood (unleavened Bedouin) bread.

After a glorious desert sunset, enjoy dinner buffet-style under the candlelights, along with a fire show accompanied by traditional shisha (a waterpipe instrument used to smoke tobacco or fruit-flavored tobacco). Then, meet an astronomy guide at the telescope area to watch the stars like you've never seen them before. At the end of the night, you'll be transferred back to your hotel.

Day 10: Snorkeling Tour of White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park 

White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park Snorkeling Boat Trip
Snorkel with wildlife in the clear waters of the Red Sea

Grab your swimsuit and your sunscreen this morning and join a morning snorkeling tour from Sharm el-Sheikh to Ras Mohammed National Park. Known for world-class diving and snorkeling, this beautiful site has more than 130 coral reefs and 1,000 different types of colorful fish. The boat will take you to several other stops around the famous White Island, a unique plateau where the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba meet, with the whitest, softest sand in South Sinai.

Snorkel off the shores of the island and in the gorgeous Yolanda Reef. Relax on the deck in between while enjoying the beautiful Red Sea scenery and sunshine. Eat a traditional barbecue on the boat before sailing back to the jetty, where you'll climb aboard a van for transfer back to your hotel. 

Day 11: Fly to Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise 

Nile Pharaoh Dinner Cruise Cairo
Enjoy traditional dishes with a view on a Nile dinner cruise in Cairo

Have a leisurely breakfast with views of 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 for this evening's memorable excursion

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 12: Tour the Egyptian Museum & Islamic Cairo, Depart

Airplane departing with a view of clouds below
Explore the sites of Islamic Cairo before catching your flight

Meet your Egyptologist guide this morning for a few final stops in Cairo. Begin at the Egyptian Museum, which has the most extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world, with Pharaonic treasures dating back more than 5,000 years. Among many highlights you'll see is the tomb of King Tut and an exhibit of well-preserved royal mummies, including those of famous pharaohs such as Ramesses II and Hatshepsut.

Head to the famous Tahrir Square for some last-minute shopping, and to try some sugar cane juice, a local favorite. Learn about Islamic Cairo at the domed 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, also known as the Alabaster Mosque. The brilliant domed ceilings, suspended lights, and city views from this former stronghold against the Crusaders are unparalleled. 

At the end of the tour, meet your driver at your hotel, who will whisk you off to Cairo International Airport to catch your departing flight. Ma'a salama!

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