This 13-day Egypt itinerary blends city fun, a temple-hopping river cruise, desert camping, and active adventures on the Red Sea. Hit the ground running in the capital with a camel ride among the Pyramids before hopping on a peaceful three-day cruise from Luxor to Aswan. Venture toward the oasis of Bahariya for a night of camping in the otherworldly White Desert, then it's on to Sharm el-Sheikh for a midnight hike up Mount Sinai and a day of Red Sea snorkeling before wrapping up back in Cairo.

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.


  • Eat like a local on a flavorful food tour of Cairo
  • Catch the sunrise over Luxor from a hot-air balloon
  • Cruise the Nile, visiting famous temples such as Karnak, Luxor, and Edfu
  • Spend a night camping among the windswept Black and White Deserts
  • Snorkel the pristine Red Sea reefs of Ras Mohamed National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo, Sunset at Cairo Tower Cairo
Day 2 Camel Ride at the Pyramids, Tour the Egyptian Museum & Coptic Cairo Cairo
Day 3 Fly to Luxor, Tour Karnak & Luxor Temples, Board Nile Cruise Luxor
Day 4 Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Flight, Visit the Valley of the Kings Luxor
Day 5 Cruise to Aswan via the Temples of Edfu & Kom Ombo  Aswan
Day 6 Disembark Nile Cruise, Tour the Sights of Aswan, Fly to Cairo Cairo
Day 7 Transfer to Bahariya Oasis, Explore & Camp in the Black & White Deserts Bahariya
Day 8 Transfer to Cairo, Cairo Walking Food Tour Cairo
Day 9 Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, Bedouin Safari & Stargazing Tour Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 10 Red Sea Beaches, Sunrise Hike Up Mount Sinai Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 11 Snorkeling Trip to White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 12 Fly to Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise Cairo
Day 13 Tour Al-Muizz Street & Khan el-Khalili, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Sunset at Cairo Tower

Airplane departing with a view of clouds below
Once you arrive in Cairo, head to the top of Cairo Tower for panoramic views

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 of Giza in the distance.

Day 2: Camel Ride at the Pyramids, Tour the Egyptian Museum & Coptic Cairo

Cross the desert sands to see the incredible Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Great Sphinx

Most visitors have one thing on their mind for a trip to Egypt—the pyramids. Grab breakfast and meet your guide, then set off for an adventurous look at the Giza Plateau, including the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. You'll experience their imposing presence from the back of a camel, giving you a unique vantage point from which to explore these ancient wonders. The iconic Great Sphinx, watching over the pyramids, is also on the docket. 

You'll be able to put everything you saw earlier in greater context this afternoon at the Egyptian Museum. Over 5,000 years of art and relics are housed here, including over 100,000 artifacts and both the mummy of King Tut and his spectacular treasure, buried with him over 3,000 years ago. End the day back in the heart of the city, known as Coptic Cairo, to learn about its history as a stronghold of early Christianity. The Hanging Church and Holy Cave, where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were said to have stayed, are the highlights of this excursion.

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

Stand in the shadows of giants at Luxor Temple

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 Flight, Visit the Valley of the Kings

Trip Hot Air Balloon Ride in Luxor, Egypt
View the sunrise over Luxor from the basket of a hot-air balloon
Plan your trip to Egypt
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

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 River 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 cruise to enjoy your second night on board as you start your journey down the Nile.

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

Visit Edfu and Kom Ombo, sail to Aswan
Walk through the massive columns in the Kom Ombo Temple

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

Explore the iconic sights of Aswan, including the Philae Temple

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

Overnight in White Desert and Bahariya Oasis.
Overnight under the starry sky in the otherworldly White Desert

Wake up early for your four-hour transfer across the desert from Cairo to the Bahariya Oasis, the best place to see 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 8: Transfer to Cairo, Cairo Walking Food Tour

Cairo Walking Food Tour
Taste the best of Cairo on a food tour through the busy streets

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, head out for a food tour on the streets of Cairo, where you'll eat like an Egyptian. Spend four hours sampling Middle Eastern dishes like hummus, baba ghanoush (eggplant dip), and baklava, as well as more local specialties including duqqa (nut and herb dip) or kushari, the national dish of Egypt made from lentils, chickpeas, macaroni, and tomato sauce. As you explore the streets and delight in the flavors, you'll also discover the history, daily life, customs, and traditions of the natives.

Day 9: Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, Bedouin Safari & Stargazing Tour

Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort town on the shores of the Red Sea

Say farewell to Cairo and meet your driver, who will take you to the Cairo airport for your 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. After settling into your hotel, walk on the beach or dip in the ocean. 

In the afternoon, escape to 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 by candlelight in the middle of the desert with a fire show accompanied by traditional shisha (apple-flavored tobacco). Then, meet the astronomy guide at the telescope area to watch the stars like you've never seen them before. You'll be transferred back to your hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh at night's end.

Day 10: Red Sea Beaches, Sunrise Hike Up Mount Sinai

 Sharm El Sheikh
See the famous monastery, St. Catherine, at the foot of Mount Sinai

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. You might want to spend this afternoon napping, because you're in for an incredible treat later in the 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 11: Snorkeling Trip to White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park

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

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 shore 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 12: Fly to Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise

Nile Pharaoh Dinner Cruise Cairo
Taste Egyptian specialties on a Nile dinner cruise in Cairo

Take in the 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 13: Tour Al-Muizz Street & Khan el-Khalili, Depart Cairo

Walk through the winding streets of Cairo's old bazaar

For your final morning in Cairo, meet your guide to discover one of the oldest streets in Egypt, Al-Muizz li-Din Allah al-Fatimi Street (Al-Muizz Street). This historic 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 (Blue Mosque), famous for its blue-tiled interior, and Al-Aqmar Mosque, with its detailed stonework facade. End your tour in Khan el-Khalili, Cairo's old bazaar. 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.

Afterward, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to Cairo International Airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels wherever life takes you next!

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