- Travel outside Cairo to marvel at the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx
- Spend a night in Saint Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai
- Enjoy some downtime at the resort town of Dahab on the Sinai Peninsula
- Visit Petra, one of the world's most famous archaeological sites
- Float around in the highly salinated waters of the Dead Sea
|Day 1||Arrive in Cairo (Egypt), Optional Activities||Cairo|
|Day 2||Day Trip to the Pyramids, Sphinx & Sakkara||Cairo|
|Day 3||Cairo Mosques & Markets Tour||Cairo|
|Day 4||Transfer to Saint Catherine's Monastery||Saint Catherine's|
|Day 5||Transfer to Dahab||Dahab|
|Day 6||Colored Canyon Tour, Snorkel the Blue Hole||Dahab|
|Day 7||Transfer to Wadi Rum (Jordan)||Wadi Rum|
|Day 8||Visit Petra & Kerak Castle, Transfer to Amman||Amman|
|Day 9||Transfer to the Dead Sea, Madaba & Mount Nebo||The Dead Sea|
|Day 10||Transfer to Amman, Depart||Amman|
Day 1: Arrive in Cairo (Egypt), Optional Activities
Welcome to Egypt! This perfectly unique country has quite a history, as its organized civilization dates back thousands of years to the days of the first pharaohs. You'll arrive in Cairo, the economic and political heart of the country, situated on the banks of the famous Nile River. Not only is the city a hotbed of culture and excitement, but just outside of it lie some of the most famous landmarks in the world.
Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up at the terminal and transfer you to your hotel in the city. After checking in, you can spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and unwinding. If it's early enough, head over to Cairo Tower, which at 613 feet (187 m), is one of the tallest buildings in the city. The revolving restaurant at the top of the tower offers one of the best sunset views in Cairo.
Day 2: Day Trip to the Pyramids, Sphinx & Sakkara
In the morning, your driver will pick you up for the short ride from Cairo to the famous Giza Pyramids complex, a necropolis for ancient pharaohs. There are three main pyramids here—Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure—and you'll visit all of them on this full-day tour. Though all three pyramids are awe-inspiring monuments, the Great Pyramid of Khufu stands out. It is one of the ancient wonders of the world and even today remains the largest pyramid in Egypt.
But the pyramids aren't the only ancient landmarks you'll witness. There's also the Great Sphinx. Located near the pyramids, this monumental statue stands 66 feet (20 m) and is 240 feet (73 m) long. Even more impressive is that it was carved from a single limestone block. Both the pyramid complex and the Sphinx were constructed between 2580 and 2500 BCE. After a morning touring the pyramid complex, you'll have lunch at a local restaurant.
Later, you'll drive to Saqqara, another ancient archaeological site and necropolis south of Cairo. During its heyday between the 27th-22nd centuries BCE, it served as a burial ground for the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis. The star landmark here is the Pyramid of Djoser, which is considered the earliest large-scale stone construction of its time. Interestingly, Saqqara remained an important complex for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies for over 3,000 years, well into Ptolemaic and Roman times. At the end of the afternoon, you'll return to Cairo.
Day 3: Cairo Mosques & Markets Tour
After breakfast, you'll head out on another day tour, this time staying within the city to visit its most impressive and historic mosques. First up is the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, which dates to the 14th century and is regarded as the finest piece of early Mamluk-era architecture in Cairo. After some time traveling around the souks and markets of open-air museums like the streets of Darb al-Ahmar and Al-Mu'izz al-Din, you'll break for lunch.
Then you'll travel to the heart of Cairo to visit Al-Azhar. This combined mosque and university was founded in 970 CE by the Fatimid Caliphate, making it over 1,050 years old. It is one of the oldest surviving mosques in Egypt, and the university is recognized as one of the oldest continuously operating centers of higher education in the world. Fun fact: the traditional black cap and gown that adorn college grads worldwide today have its origins at Al-Azhar. After touring Al-Azhar, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 4: Transfer to Saint Catherine's Monastery
Board a bus this morning for a grand adventure east out of Cairo, crossing the desert to Mount Sinai on the eponymous peninsula. The journey takes about eight hours total, but you'll break up the drive with stops for lunch and visiting landmarks like Moses Springs (where Moses is believed to have made brackish water drinkable) and the Tomb of the Prophet Harun.
Then head south along the Suez Canal to the foot of Mount Sinai and Saint Catherine's Monastery. This Greek-Orthodox religious center, built between 548 and 565 CE, is the oldest continuously-inhabited Christian monastery in the world. At any one time, around 20-25 monks live on the premises, plus a small number of staff. Beyond its Christian roots, Saint Catherine's also holds a sacred place in the Jewish and Islamic religions. This monastery was actually built on the site where Moses is said to have encountered God speaking to him from a burning bush.
You'll have the privilege of staying overnight in the basic accommodations within this religious landmark and enjoy dinner with the residents. There's even the option to make a midnight ascent up Mount Sinai.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Transfer to Dahab
After an early breakfast, you'll have the option to embark on a dawn hike up Mount Sinai, which takes about four hours in total. There's also the option to skip the hike and ride a camel to the top. Once at the summit, you'll have ample time to enjoy the spectacular sunrise views. After the hike back down, you'll hop in a car and travel 1.5 hours east to the coastal resort city of Dahab, which is a popular spot for windsurfing and diving/scuba diving.
In the evening, check out Dahab's lively town center, a bustling hub filled with cafés, restaurants, and shops. Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, sip a refreshing drink at one of the seaside cafés, indulge in local cuisine, and browse the colorful shops selling handmade crafts and souvenirs.
Day 6: Colored Canyon Tour, Snorkel the Blue Hole
In the morning, you'll transfer north from Dahab to the Colored Canyon, a natural wonder known for its vibrant hues and stunning rock formations. The canyon's 131-foot (40 m) walls display vivid colors ranging from reds and yellows to purples and blues, creating a uniquely beautiful landscape that attracts hikers and nature enthusiasts. You'll spend part of the morning here, hiking around it the canyon's narrow rock corridors and enjoying the scenery.
Afterward, you'll head back toward Dahab, stopping just outside of town for a boat trip to the Blue Hole. One of Sinai's most famous attractions, this natural underwater sinkhole offers a thrilling diving/snorkeling experience. Its mesmerizing shades of blue and abundant coral reefs make it a paradise for underwater enthusiasts. A speedboat will take you to the location, and once there, you'll snorkel amid tropical fish and sea turtles. Lunch will be served following the excursion, after which you'll return to Dahab.
Day 7: Transfer to Wadi Rum (Jordan)
After an early check out from your hotel, you'll transfer north of Dahab to Nuweiba Port, from where you'll catch a ferry about 4.5 hours across the Red Sea to Aqaba, a port city in Jordan. Here, you'll pass through immigration and then meet a driver for the one-hour ride to Wadi Rum, an incredible red valley amid otherworldly sandstone and granite rock formations.
Upon arrival in the village of Wadi Rum, a local guide will take you on a two-hour 4WD tour to explore the desert. The landscapes here are so unique that they have been used as filming locations for various movies, including "Dune" and "The Martian." After the tour, you'll transfer to a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, where you'll overnight.
Day 8: Visit Petra & Kerak Castle, Transfer to Amman
Today's transfer takes you two hours north to Petra, one of the most incredible archaeological sites anywhere and one of the world's seven wonders. This ancient city was established by the Nabataeans (an ancient Arab civilization) over 2,000 years ago and is known for its many intricate structures carved into limestone cliffs.
Aptly nicknamed the "Rose City" due to its red hues, you'll spend time exploring Petra's many caves and tombs, including its most famous monument, the Treasury, whose impressive facade rises 131 feet (40 m). From here, you can walk to the High Point of Sacrifice, then take the path through Garden Temple Complex, and then over to the Royal Tombs.
From Petra, it's another couple of hours north to the city of Kerak. Its 12th-century castle is one of the largest medieval castles in the Middle East. Back in its heyday, the Crusaders fought the Islamic armies of Saladin here. Nowadays, you can explore the tunnels and chambers of the castle—bring a flashlight if you want to explore the darker chambers. Afterward, you'll continue driving two hours north to the capital of Amman, where you'll overnight.
Day 9: Transfer to the Dead Sea, Madaba & Mount Nebo
After breakfast, your guide will pick you up for another drive, this time about an hour south to the Dead Sea. Along the way, you'll stop in the ancient town of Madaba, whose famous Greek Orthodox church dates to the sixth century and features a stunning mosaic map of the Holy Land.
Continue on to Mount Nebo, a prominent locale in Biblical lore. Believed to be the final resting place of Moses, it's also said that this is where he last glimpsed the Promised Land. From the top of the mountain, you can enjoy panoramic views looking out over the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho, and Jerusalem.
The last stop of the day will be at the Dead Sea, regarded as the world's largest "natural spa." Situated at the lowest point on earth, 1,373 feet (417 m) below sea level, the mineral-rich waters and mud flow offer natural health benefits. Also, the salinity is so high here (around 34%) that you can actually float effortlessly in the water without sinking. After a dip in the water, you can enjoy a black mud bath on shore before retiring to your hotel in the area.
Day 10: Transfer to Amman, Depart
Unfortunately, your tour of some of the most impressive sites in Egypt and the Middle East has concluded. But the adventure isn't over quite yet. In the morning, your driver/guide will pick you up from your hotel, and you'll return to Amman for a half-day city tour.
Start with a visit to Citadel Hill, an archaeological site that was once the acropolis of ancient Amman. Then continue into the heart of the city and visit the Roman Theater, one of the largest ancient theaters in the world, with a capacity of 6,000 people. Finish the tour with a visit to the souks of downtown Amman, where you can mingle with locals and browse colorful spices and fabrics. Afterward, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!