Tour type: Small Group
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 18
Accommodation: 5-star hotels & sleeper train
Transport: A/C minibus/coach & sleeper train
Highlights: The great Pyramids & Sphinx, King tut's mask in the Egyptian museum, awsome Karnak temple, ancient Valley of the Kings, traditional felucca cruise, Red Sea at Hurghada
Egypt's landscape of vast trackless deserts, beautiful mountain scenery and beautiful marine life in the Red Sea, conceals the fertile Nile Valley, known throughout the world for its incredible collection of ancient pyramids, temples and tombs. This tour combines time in Cairo and Luxor visiting these sites with a few days by the Red Sea to give you a taste of everything Egypt has to offer.
Starting in Cairo we tour the Gisa Plateaux to see the 3 huge pyramids and sphinx there. These awesome ancient monuments have withstood the tests of time, giving us a fascinating and unique glimpse into the past. We also visit the Egyptian Museum, home to a vast collection of artefacts, including the famous Tutankhamun display.
From Cairo we travel by overnight sleeper train through the Nile Valley to Luxor and its spectacular collection of temples and tombs. On the east bank we visit the colossal and well preserved temples of Karnak and Luxor. On the west bank of the Nile we take time to explore the Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatchepsut & Medinat Habu temples, and learn much more about ancient Egyptian history.
From Luxor we say farewell to the Nile Valley and head to the Red Sea and the resort of Hurghada. With golden sandy beaches, beautiful coral reefs and an interesting old town and marina, Hurghada provides a great place to relax and enjoy the next few days of your tour. There are various snorkelling and scuba-diving boat trips available as well as other water sports, quad biking trips and other activities.
Finally we head back to Cairo where we have a little time for some last minute shopping and sightseeing before the tour ends.
Upon arrival in Cairo airport we will be met by our ground staff who will assist with visa formalities and collecting your luggage. You'll then transfer across Cairo to your hotel, located close to the pyramids. The rest of the day is free for you to rest and recover from the flight. An optional evening dinner cruise on the Nile or sound and light show is available to be booked locally this evening for those interested (subject to your flight arrival time).
Single room supplement (EGSGSS)
Extra day in Cairo - pre-tour
Your tour of Egypt begins with a visit to the Giza Plateau, site of Egypt's world famous Great Pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. We visit the great Pyramids of Giza and the ever enigmatic Sphinx, Memphis-first capital of the ancient kingdom to see the statue of Ramses II. Following on from the Pyramids we then head to the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo. Home to the fantastic Tutankhamun exhibit the museum hosts a huge number of other ancient Egyptian artefacts.
This evening we transfer to the station for the overnight sleeper train to Luxor (approx. 9 hours). A flight & hotel upgrade is available if you would prefer to skip the train journey.
On board sleeper train
Internal flights upgrade
We arrive into Luxor early this morning and cross the Nile to begin our tour of Luxor's West Bank. Here we visit the Valley of the Kings, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, where the hidden tombs in this ancient burial site are still revealing their secrets today. Our tour includes several important Pharaonic tombs, along with the temples of Queen Hatchepsut and Medinat Habu, and the huge Colossi of Memnon.
Your afternoon is then free to relax at your hotel on the banks of the Nile. You can also head out into Luxor to do some shopping or explore the local markets, visit the mummification museum or take a felucca trip to nearby Banana Island. Further sightseeing options are available if you'd like a more in depth exploration of Egyptian history. A good example is the Rammesseum, Workers Village and the Valley of the Queens on the west bank of the Nile both of which are worth a visit. Your tour guide will help to arrange any extra visits for you (an extra cost will apply to cover transport, entrances and the guide's services).
Your morning is free today and you can enjoy a welcome lie in after several early starts. After lunch we visit the massive temple complex at Karnak, once the religious heart of Thebes and Upper Egypt. It was connected to Luxor by a sphinx-lined avenue, and the entire complex was in turn connected to the Nile via a canal, through which moved the sacred boats of the god Amun. Entering through a smaller sphinx-lined avenue, built by Ramesses II, you enter through the enormous pylon entrance. Inside the huge Courtyard are three chapels dedicated to the gods Amun, Khous and Mut. The Hypostyle Hall boasts 134 immense columns, carved with scenes of gods and pharaohs, and bold hieroglyphs cover the walls.
A spectacular hot air balloon flight over the west bank of the Nile is available this morning (expect an early start to catch sunrise as the balloon rises).
Hot air balloon in Luxor
We leave Luxor in the morning for a drive through the desert to the Red Sea beach resort of Hurghada (approx. 5 hours). Your stay here is on a 'soft all inclusive' basis, with food and drink included, but not alcoholic beverages. Hurghada is the perfect palce to enjoyt some scuba diving and snorkelling, and the excellent Red Sea marine life attracts divers from around the world. Other activities available include quad biking, camel rides, wind surfing, sea fishing trips, kite surfing and glass bottomed submarines. Our local rep based in Hurghada is available to help you make any arrangements. For those wishing a little gentler time, Hurghada itself has an interesting marina and old town to explore. Alternatively you can spend the next few days here relaxing on the beach and enjoying the year-round sunshine.
The next few days in Hurghada are free for you to relax and enjoy the beach, or to take advantage of some of the adventurous activities on offer. Our local representative will be on hand to help assist with any arrangements.
Hurghada - 5 star resort
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hurghada - 5 star resort
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We leave Hurghada this morning for the transfer back to Cairo by private minibus (approx. 5 hours). Upon arrival we check into our hotel in central Cairo. Then, in the late afternoon we take a guided walk through the back streets and bazaars in Old Cairo. We'll walk through the huge Bab al-Futuh gateway and explore streets dedicated to metalwork, spices, pottery, fabric, jewelery and anything else you can imagine as we gradually enter the more touristy Khan-el-Khalili bazaar. We'll have time for a break to try some mint tea and a shisha pipe and this is a great final opportunity to pick up some souvenirs of your time in Egypt.
This evening you could take a final evening dinner cruise on the Nile, or perhaps revisit the pyramids for a spectacular sound and light show. You can also upgrade the drive back to Cairo to an internal flight if you wish (prices on request) or fly home directly from Hurghada instead of returning to Cairo (discounts available).
Your time is free in Cairo today for some final sightseeing or shopping until we pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport to catch your departure flight. A range of day trip options are available (subject to your flight time) and extra nights in Cairo may also be added if you would like to take advantage of these.
Alexandria day trip
Cairo city tour
Wadi Rayan day trip (Valley of the Whales)
Extra day in Cairo - post-tour
Hotel Gala Dinners
Many of Egypt's hotels and Nile cruise boats arrange a very special gala dinner with entertainment in the evening on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Payment for these is often optional on Christmas Eve (24 Dec) but may be compulsory on New Year's Eve (31 Dec), whether you attend or not. Prices can range from around US$50 to over US$150 per person. Final decisions on prices and whether dinners are compulsory are made relatively close to the time. We aim to always select hotels that make their Gala Dinners optional, though this is is not always possible. Gala dinner prices are therefore not included in our prices above, but will be added to your booking if they become required. More information is available on request.
Small-group tour departure dates are given below. The tour is also available for booking privately for travel anytime through the year, with adjustments to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often use on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Steigenberger Cairo Pyramids Hotel
It features two pools, several restaurants and bars, free WiFi, a spa and fitness centre, and both classic and family rooms. The rooms overlook the gardens and feature air-conditioning, TVs, safes, and minibars. The hotel offers an airport shuttle.
Steigenberger Cairo Pyramids Hotel is a 5-star establishment located on the doorstep of one of the most famous landmarks in the world: the Great Pyramids of Giza. Modern yet classic, the hotel is set amongst leafy gardens. It has been recently taken over and upgraded by Steigenberger, and now offers improved service and standards. Free WiFi is offered throughout the hotel, and there are two swimming pools. Several bars and restaurants are situated on site, serving a variety of flavours from around the world, as well as offering a taste of local cuisine. A wellness centre features modern fitness equipment and machines, while the spa offers a variety of treatments to help you relax after a day of touring.
Accommodation is offered in the form of classic rooms, as well as family suites. The classic rooms are available with either double or twin beds, and look out onto the gardens. The family rooms can accommodate 2 adults and 2 children. Amenities in all rooms include en-suite bathrooms, TVs, minibars, safes, and air-conditioning. There are also several bungalow-style rooms set within the gardens.
The hotel’s location is ideal, just 3km from the Pyramids and the Sphinx and directly opposite the New Egyptian Grand Museum. Two international airports are within driving distance, and a shuttle service is available on request. Choose from a variety of landmarks and sites to visit in the surrounding regions.
Cairo, Luxor & Aswan
On the sleeper train you have a private twin-berthed cabin, which features two large seats; fold down beds with mattress, sheets, pillow, blanket; storage locker and wash basin. An airline style evening meal and breakfast are included.
On the sleeper train you have a private twin-berthed cabin, which features two large seats; fold down beds with mattress, sheets, pillow, blanket; storage locker and wash basin. An airline style evening meal and breakfast are included. The carriage steward will make up and put away your beds in the evening and morning. All transfers between your hotel and the station are also included (these may well be separate to the main group if train times are very different on your dates). Single cabin supplements apply.
Note: We can arrange an internal flight upgrade for anyone not wishing to use the sleeper train.
Steigenberger Nile Palace Hotel
This hotel, formerly Le Meridien Luxor, is a modern hotel built in 2001. It is ideally situated right on the banks of the Nile and is within easy reach of all the major sites of Luxor.
Note: The following information is provided from our own visits & research, the hotel itself, and our clients' experience of using the hotel.
This hotel, formerly Le Meridien Luxor, is a modern hotel built in 2001. It is ideally situated right on the banks of the Nile and is within easy reach of all the major sites of Luxor. The hotel has views of the Nile and the Valley of the Kings on the opposite bank. The outdoor pool, restaurants, cafes and shops are all located in a central courtyard area.
The location and the high standards within the hotel make this one of our first choice hotels for stays in Luxor on our small-group tours, and for private & tailor-made trips (together with the Sonesta St. George hotel).
The hotel is centrally located next to the Nile in the heart of the tourist area of Luxor with shops and bazaars within a short walk. It is just 1.5 kilometres from the train station and 10 kilometres/15 minutes from Luxor International airport.
The hotel offers excellent standards of accommodation and the rooms are spacious and modern. The 302 rooms and suites are located on 6 floors built around the courtyard. The standard rooms overlook Luxor or the courtyard area and upgrades to Nile view rooms are available on request for a small supplement. There are also disabled and non-smoking rooms available.
All rooms have deluxe en-suite bathroom, private balcony, air-conditioning, Satellite TV, mini-bar, safety deposit box, telephone, hairdryer and electrical sockets.
The hotel has a number of bars and restaurants to choose from. The main hotel restaurant is the Nubia which is open from 6.00-10.00 am for breakfast and then 6.00-10.00pm for dinner, serving local and international dishes. There are two other restaurants within the hotel which are open for both lunch and dinner. These are the Casa de Napoli Italian restaurant serving pizza and pasta and El Tarboush serving Lebanese dishes.
For light meals and snacks during the day there is the Tropicana poolside bar and the Cafe des Delices which is located in the courtyard.
In the evening there is the Nile bar & lounge, which is open until 2.00am, and you can enjoy views of the Nile while trying out the various cocktails on offer.
Pasha's Pub also has views of the Nile and has regular evening entertainment.
The freeform outdoor pool which is heated in winter has views of the River Nile and the Valley of the Kings and is the perfect place to relax after a day spent sightseeing or exploring Luxor. Guests also have free use of the leisure centre and gym within the hotel and other activities such as golf are available nearby. The are various shops within the hotel including gift and souvenir shops, a beauty salon and foreign exchange services.
Other services include:
Sunrise Royal Makadi Aqua Resort
The Sunrise Royal Makadi Resort is an excellent Red Sea resort option with a great beachfront location and lots of different activities and facilities available on site. The hotel is located near Makadi Bay, around 30km from the centre of Hurghada.
The Sunrise Royal Makadi Resort is an excellent Red Sea resort option with a great beachfront location and lots of different activities and facilities available on site. The hotel is located just outside Makadi Bay, around 30km from the resort centre of Hurghada. One of the hotel's main features is an aquapark with five pools to relax beside and a range of 11 different water slides. You can also play tennis, football, table tennis, darts, do aquaerobics or use the on-site gym. The spa facilities include massages, sauna, whirlpool and a range of treatment options. Scuba-diving and snorkelling trips can be arranged through the hotel or through our local representative. A hotel-run kids club operates from November to March. There are eight restaurants and bars to choose from offering a wide variety of different cuisines (gentlemen should wear long trousers for dinner). Rooms are spacious and comfortable with either a large double bed or twin beds, plus an extra bed for children if required. A very limited number of family rooms for up to three adults and two children are also available.
Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino
The Sheraton Cairo is located in Cairo’s Dokki district, close to the Egyptian Museum. It consists of a casino, night club, and 5-star hotel. The hotel offers a full range of services and amenities, as well as fully-equipped luxury rooms.
Sheraton Cairo Hotel and Casino is a 5-star establishment found in the Dokki district of Cairo. A number of attractions are close by, including the Egyptian Museum. Included among the many facilities and amenities are a spa, fitness centre, sauna, library, and indoor and outdoor pools. Rooms are fully-equipped and feature mini bars, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and complimentary toiletries. The hotel offers several services, including 24-hour room service, a turndown service, and a paid airport shuttle.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you’re really experiencing the country you’re travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. In Egypt we do not use any public tourist buses or overnight coach journeys as we know that people don't sleep on board and end up very tired for the following few days. All the vehicles we use are air-conditioned, many are fitted with speed limiters, and all are inspected and checked daily. Some 4WD vehicles used on desert safaris may not always have air conditioning where they are only used for short periods.
For the overnight train journey from Cairo to Luxor (approx. 9 hrs) this tour uses the overnight sleeper train. This train has private twin berth cabins with large seats and fold-down beds with sheets, pillow & blanket. The lockable cabins also have a washbasin and storage cupboard, and an airline tray-style evening meal and breakfast is included. If you wish you may upgrade this journey to internal flights. You can also upgrade the Hurghada-Cairo drive to a flight if you wish - the normal drive takes around 7 hours.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
Egypt: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A
Jordan: Tetanus, Hepatitis A
Israel: Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis
Lebanon: Dipheria, Hepatitis A
Malaria is not generally present unless it has been contracted abroad; you do not need to take malaria prophylactics.
Note: We are aware of some places in Egypt using ‘black henna’ instead of pure brown henna. Black henna contains a chemical dye PPD (paraphenylenediamine) which can result in severe allergic reactions and resultant scarring. To be safe we recommend avoiding any henna tattoos while in Egypt unless you are certain they are using pure brown henna.
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.
We recommend that you contact your closest Egyptian consulate or embassy for current information for your nationality.
In general official advice is that all nationalities obtain their Egypt visas in advance, as we cannot guarantee that you can get them in the airport. An online e-visa is available through https://visa2egypt.gov.eg/eVisa/. Please do not use any other website as there are many scam sites offering Egypt e-visas.
In practice however, many nationalities (including British and European, Australian, New Zealand, USA, Canadian) can and do obtain their visas on arrival in Cairo airport. The process is much quicker and simpler, the cost is currently US$25 p/p and must be paid in hard currency (i.e. GBP, USD or EUR) - you'll be given change in local currency if necessary. There are no forms to fill in and you don't need to bring passport photos. Visas are issued at one of the bank desks in the immigration hall, before you get to passport control. Our representative will have met you by this stage and will assist with the process.
All African and Indian nationals, and some others, will need to obtain their visas in advance.
For further information on your visa requirements, please either contact us or your local Egyptian embassy/consulate.
The time in Egypt, Jordan and Israel is GMT plus 2 hours. Daylight saving adjustments have historically been applied in some years but not others. At present it appears that there will be no daylight saving changes in Egypt 2016 and beyond, though this may change at short notice (with a resulting impact on flight times and schedules). In Jordan and Israel, daylight saving of one hour is generally applied between the end of March and the end of October, making it GMT plus 3 hours. Exact dates vary from year to year and sometimes the changes may be scrapped altogether.
Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don’t have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
The local currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound, often denoted ‘LE’. The Egyptian Pound can vary significantly in value against the British Pound, but sticks fairly close to the value of the US Dollar. You do not need to arrange to bring any Egyptian Pounds with you to Egypt, as change facilities are available in all the hotels, airports and banks. You should try to obtain and keep hold of small denomination notes or coins on you during the tour as these are useful for toilets, tips and small purchases. ATMs are readily available in major towns and many local shops will accept VISA/Mastercard or Amex, but may charge fees of up to 10% - check before you pay. Travellers cheques are not recommended as they can not be changed in many places now, and can incur high fees.
While in Egypt you will need sufficient funds to cover meals not included in the itinerary, drinks, snacks, souvenirs and personal expenses such as laundry. These should generally all be paid for in Egyptian Pounds. You may also need to pay for the tour Tipping Kitty and site Entrance Fees while you are in Egypt. Payments for these may be made to your tour guide in hard currency (USD, GBP, EUR) at the start of your tour. Please see your tour Included/Excluded details for more information and guideline amounts for these.
It is difficult to recommend a level of personal spending money which will suit everyone as this can differ greatly, but as a guideline, we would suggest allowing USD 15-25 per person per day as a minimum. Allow more if you plan on doing lots of shopping, or buying many alcoholic drinks.
We run regular small-group departures on this tour starting on Tuesdays throughout the year. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 travellers and a maximum of 18. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and on a separate dates & prices sheet available on request.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You can pay your deposit or full balance online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer. We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected. Financial failure insurance is provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of their tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.