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Between the Paws of the Sphinx

13 days with Alexander+Roberts  Rating: Deluxe

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River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 - Welcome to Cairo
Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted by our staff and assisted with immigration formalities – from obtaining your visa through baggage claim and customs. Then we’ll take you to the luxury Kempinski Nile Hotel where a Nile-view room awaits.
Day 2 - Between the Paws
This morning, we’ve made special arrangements for a private field talk in an area that is usually off limits to visitors. Directly under the watchful gaze of the Sphinx between his massive paws, we’ll be joined by Dr. Ashraf Mohie El-Din. Drawing upon his professional experience mapping excavations on the Giza Plateau, he is a wonderful speaker that will enrich your first day of exploration. Then gaze upon the Great Pyramids and have lunch at the landmark Mena House. Continue to Memphis, site of Egypt’s ancient capital, to see the Colossus of Ramses II and the beautiful Alabaster Sphinx. At nearby Sakkara, you’ll gaze in wonder upon the remarkable Step Pyramid of King Zoser. You’ll also be among the first to behold the vibrant drawings and inscriptions in the 4,000-year-old Tomb of Mehu – newly opened to visitors for the first time in 80 years. This evening, you’ll dine along the Nile. (B+L+D)

Note: When the new Grand Egyptian Museum opens, our sightseeing itinerary will also include a guided tour of this state-of-the-art facility overlooking the Great Pyramids.
Day 3 - Old Cairo
With our expert Egyptologist, your tour of Old Cairo includes fine views from the Citadel, a medieval fortification set on a hill. Here you’ll also admire the impressive Muhammad Ali Mosque, built in the mid 1800’s. After lunch at the 5-star InterContinental Hotel, you’ll visit the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities; with insight from our wonderful Egyptologist, it’s the perfect introduction to the ancient sites you’ll explore along the Nile. End your touring in the lively Khan El Khalili bazaar - where gold, jewelry, exotic spices and rugs have been traded for centuries. Today it’s a great place to browse for gifts and mementoes. (B+L+D)
Day 4 - Travel to Alexandria
After breakfast and check-out, we’ll leave Cairo behind us for our morning’s journey to the ancient port of Alexandria. Enjoy lunch on arrival and then begin your guided exploration here in the fabled city of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great.
The Royal Library of Alexandria was one of the greatest institutions of the ancient world, drawing learned people from throughout the Mediterranean and beyond from its construction in the 3rd century BCE until its destruction centuries later. Today, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina stands as a marvel of the modern world. Shaped like a giant discus embedded in the ground, its granite facades are carved with letters, pictograms, characters and hieroglyphs from more than 120 different scripts. Inside, its main reading room can hold 8 million books and accommodate 2,500 people under its distinctive sloping roof. After our guided tour through this striking landmark, check in to the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. Settle in to your elegant Mediterranean-View Room where you’ll have time to refresh before for dinner.  (B+L+D)
Day 5 - Exploring Alexandria
Founded in 331 BCE by Alexander the Great, this legendary port city has much to see that bears witness to its ancient glory. With our engaging guide, your touring begins with the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa. Just discovered in 1900, this vast complex of rock-cut tombs was used for nearly 200 years starting in the 2nd century AD. With ornamented columns, labyrinthine passages, funeral halls and relief carvings in a variety of styles, the Catacombs are a vivid illustration of Alexandria’s unique blend of Egyptian, Greek and Roman traditions. At Pompey’s Pillar, you’ll discover an impressive monolithic column that was erected in 300 AD to honor the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
Outside of town, explore the lovely Montazah Palace and Royal Gardens. Set on nearly 150 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds along the Mediterranean, you’ll discover two striking palaces. Built as a hunting lodge in 1892 by the last ruler of the Mohammad Ali Dynasty, the Salamlek Palace has been restored on several occasions and served as a presidential residence. On the same grounds, the newer Al-Haramlik Palace is distinguished by its fanciful blend of Moorish, Turkish and Florentine architectural elements. Before returning to your luxury hotel, you’ll also visit the ancient Roman Amphitheater.  ((B+L+D)
Day 6 - Back to Cairo
After breakfast, you’ll make the return journey to Cairo, arriving in time for lunch at Andrea. Then continue to the Waldorf Astoria Heliopolis Towers for check-in where you’ll have time to relax and refresh before dining tonight here at our luxury hotel. The Waldorf Astoria’s convenient location close to the Cairo airport is ideal for your morning flight tomorrow to Luxor. (B+L+D)
Day 7 - Embark the Oberoi Zahra
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to Luxor where the luxurious and intimate Oberoi Zahra awaits. Settle in to your spacious light-filled stateroom or suite and then gather with your fellow passengers for lunch.
In mid-afternoon, go ashore to visit two of Egypt’s most celebrated sites of antiquity, beginning with the great Karnak Temple. With our skilled Egyptologist leading the way, you’ll stand before its massive pillars and admire the grand Hypostyle Hall; encompassing more than 50,000 square feet, this is the largest hall of any temple in the world. Continue to the nearby Luxor Temple, built in the 14th century BC and connected to the Karnak complex by the nearly 2-mile long Avenue of Sphinxes. The temple walls of Luxor are embellished with skillful carvings of the Gods of Karnak accompanied by a festival procession of priests, musicians, dancers and sacred cows. With keen insight from our Egyptologist, today’s sightseeing offers a fascinating look into the culture and beliefs of ancient Egypt. Return to ship for Tea in the Lounge, and time to refresh before this evening’s welcome cocktail reception and dinner.  (B+L+D)
Day 8 - Explore the Valley of the Kings
The Oberoi Zahra enjoys private docking facilities along the Nile; so stepping off quickly and efficiently away from the cluster of other ships and their passengers, you’ll have more time to explore ashore with our expert Egyptologists.

Focusing on the sites of the West Bank, where 64 ancient Egyptian rulers are buried in the Valley of Kings, this morning’s tour includes Madinat Habu - the tomb of Ramses III with its impressive exterior walls. The fabled final resting place of King Tutankhamen and the fabulously decorated tomb of Ramses VI are also among the highlights. Equally as fascinating as these tombs is the ancient village of Deir el-Medina. More than 3,000 years ago, this community was home to the thousands of artisans and laborers who constructed the tombs and temples in the Valley of Kings. In addition to this unusual archaeological site, your morning sightseeing also includes the Colossi of Memnon, two towering statues of Amenhotep III that stand like guards along the road to the Valley of Kings. (B+L+D)
Day 9 - The Temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo
After a leisurely breakfast, join our engaging Egyptologists ashore in Edfu to explore the Temple of Horus, considered by many scholars to be the best-preserved cult temple in all of Egypt. Built later than many of the other sites along the Nile, it is still a stunning example of traditional Pharaonic architecture and ranks as the second largest temple in Egypt – after the great Karnak Temple. Rich in design, intricate in detail and ingenious in its massive construction, the extraordinary quality of every element here attests to the paramount importance of the falcon-headed Horus.

Return to ship for lunch and a delightful afternoon of scenic cruising. Then step off at our ship’s private pier to explore the Temple of Kom Ombo. Built on a picturesque bend in the Nile, where crocodiles used to sun themselves, this unusual dual-deity temple of the Ptolemaic Period is dedicated to both Haroeris (one of the oldest forms of the falcon-headed God Horus) and, appropriately enough, the fearsome Crocodile God Sobek. (B+L+D)
Day 10 - The Aswan Dam + Philae Temple + Botanical Garden
In contrast to the ancient wonders of Cairo and the Nile, the remarkable High Dam at Aswan is an achievement that belongs to modern Egypt. With enriching insight and narration, you’ll explore this engineering marvel; completed in 1970 at a cost of about $1 billion, it spans more than 2 miles and towers 300 feet. This morning’s excursion also includes the Temple of Philae, rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser after the completion of the High Dam. Now situated on a lovely island, the earliest elements of this impressive complex include a small temple built around 370 BCE and dedicated to the Goddess Isis.
After lunch onboard, you’ll step aboard a felucca, the traditional sailing vessel of the Nile, to visit the Aswan Botanical Garden on El Nabatat Island. Also known as Kitchener’s Island, this small oval-shaped island was given to Lord Horatio Kitchener in the late 19th century when he was commander of the Egyptian Army. With a passion for beautiful flora, he turned the island into a delightful garden filled with hundreds of species he imported from the Far East, India and parts of Africa. (B+L+D)
Day 11 - Temples of Abu Simbel
After breakfast and stepping off ship, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to Abu Simbel. With our expert Egyptologist on-hand, your extensive tour of the Temple of Ramses II reveals one of the world’s most impressive sights of antiquity. Behold these 67-foot high figures of the King, carved from solid rock, and hear the dramatic story of how they were moved 200 feet above their original site to protect them from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. In addition to its oft-photographed statues, the interior hall is decorated with amazing relief carvings that depict a great battle with more than 1,000 stone figures.

We include your afternoon flight back to the capital, where you’ll be escorted to the Waldorf Astoria Heliopolis Towers; conveniently located close to the airport, it’s ideal for your final nights in Egypt.  (B+L+D)
Day 12 - Day at Leisure
This day is yours to relax, explore and enjoy as you wish. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner with wine. (B+L+D)
Day 13 - Farewell to Cairo
After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
River Cruise Highlights
  • Stand between the Paws of the Sphinx, usually off-limits to visitors, for a private field talk with Dr. Ashraf Mohie El-Din, an Egyptologist with extensive experience mapping excavations on the Giza Plateau.
  • Peel back the layers of history in Alexandria, the fabled Mediterranean port-city of Cleopatra.
  • With our private docking facilities on the Nile, you’ll step off ship efficiently for more time to explore ashore with our expert Egyptologists.
  • Fly to Abu Simbel to visit the must-see Temples of Ramses II.
  • Sail aboard a traditional felucca to visit the Aswan Botanical Garden.
  • When the Grand Egyptian Museum opens, it will be included in our touring of Cairo – allowing you to be among the first to visit this lavish new facility.
  • Visit 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
All This Included
This Egypt Nile River cruise aboard the luxury Oberoi Zahra plus our expert Egyptologists in Alexandria and Cairo promises a truly distinctive journey. And with the smallest groups in Egypt, a visit to Abu Simbel, and our private field talk between the paws of the Sphinx, we take you deeper inside 5,000 years of Egyptian civilization and culture.
  • Comprehensive sightseeing and shore excursions with our expert Egyptologists
  • All 34 meals: 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 11 dinners with wine at lunch and dinner
  • 4 nights in an outside stateroom or suite aboard the Oberoi Zahra with free WiFi
  • 3 nights at the luxurious Kempinski Nile Hotel in a Nile-view room with free WiFi
  • 2 nights in a seaview room at the luxurious Four Seasons Alexandria Hotel
  • 3 nights at the Waldorf Astoria Heliopolis Towers ideally located close to Cairo Airport
  • All on-tour transportation, all 3 internal flights, all transfers, luggage handling, hotel taxes, port charges and fees
  • All gratuities are included, except for your Egyptologist guide
Accommodations on this Tour
Cairo: Kempinski Nile Hotel
Alexandria: Four Seasons
Cruising: Cabin onboard Oberoi Zahra
  • Cabin upgrades are available. 
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.

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