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A Nile cruise had been on my to do list for a long time, I just kept going back to Sinai to dive. On my 12th trip to Egypt I finally, FINALLY did a Nile cruise.

I always want to balance epic-ness and budget and sometimes, I even succeed. Hours of searching the internet for options and reading reviews led me to Nile Holiday. I took the standard 7 day trip with them and added 2 days before and 3 days after.

Budget USD 100-200 per person per day. I was on the higher end because I was traveling solo and upgraded my ship cabin/hotel. Alcohol, international airfare, shopping and tips are all extra.

I built the map and itineraries based on what I did and what I would recommend for people with even more time. Highlights of Egypt โ€“ How to Choose Your Epic Adventure

Day by Day

I started with a basic Nile Cruise Package and did some mods (mods are *, cruise addon excursions are +)

* Day 1

Fly to Cairo, o19vernight at Pyramids View Inn (each room has a view of the Pyramids of Giza and a FAB breakfast on the roof deck overlooking the pyramids) From here you can watch the Giza Sound and Light Show for no extra cost.

Sound and Light Show Giza

Breakfast Overlooking the Pyramids of Giza

* Day 2

Private tour of Saqqara, Dashur, and Memphis to see the first proto-pyramid ever (Step Pyramid built by Imhotep), a tomb of a nobleman (Kagemni), visit and enter the 1st true pyramid (Red Pyramid), visit the Open Air Museum at Memphis.

Step Pyramid of Djoser

Interior of tomb of Kagemni

Bent and Red Pyramids

Open Air Museum at Memphis

Statue of Rameses II at Open Air Museum Memphis

Day 3

Rest Day (If I hadn’t been so wiped out after day 2 I could have done some stuff in Cairo or gone back to Saqqara). Order a cartouche. Chill, do research, enjoy.
Sunset at Giza

Day 4

(Cruise Package begins) Visit Pyramids (including inside the Great Pyramid), Solar Boat Museum, Giza Panorama (headline image), Sphinx, visit gold/silver shop, Egyptian Museum, Khan el Khalili market (souk).

Great Pyramid of Giza w/security officer on a camel

Khufu Ship (Solar Boat) Giza, Egypt

Sphinx Giza, Egypt

King Tut Mask, Cairo Egypt

Khan el Khalili Market

Day 5

Fly to Aswan (depart hotel at 0300!) Boat ride to Philae Island visit Temple of Isis at Philae, visit the Aswan High Dam, visit perfume house, sunset boat ride on the Nile. Overnight on cruise ship.

Philae Island

Aswan High Dam, Egpyt

Sunset Sail on the Nile River, Egypt

Day 6

+0430 Departure for Abu Simbel, cruise to & visit Kom Ombo Temple. Overnight on ship.

Abu Simbel, Egpyt

Kom Ombo Temple, Egpyt

Day 7

Horse drawn buggy ride to Edfu Temple, cruise to Luxor, visit Luxor Temple (normally visit Karnak temple too, but a group of Germans were 90 late to return to the boat so there wasn’t time that day). Overnight on ship.

Temple of Horus at Edfu, Egypt

Cruising on the Nile River, Egypt

Luxor Temple at Sunset, Egypt

Day 8

+ 0415 Pickup for hot air balloon ride over Luxor, Karnak, Valley of the Queens. Visit Colossi of Memnon, Temple of Hatshepsut. Visit alabaster factory. Visit Valley of the Kings, 3 tombs ticket (Seti I, Rameses IV, & Merenptah). Visit Karnak Temple. (Cruise Package ends.)

Hot Air Balloon Ride Luxor, Eg

Colossi of Memnon

Sample canopic jars

Temple of Hatshepsut

Tomb Valley of the Kings

* Day 9

0500 Departure for Dendara (Temple of Hathor) and Abydos (Temple of Seti). Visit papyrus shop. Overnight in Luxor hotel. Fly to Cairo. (Flight back to Cairo was included in my cruise package, but the extra hotel night in Luxor was not.)

Temple of Hathor

Temple of Hathor

List of Pharaohs of Egypt Tomb of Seti, Abydos

* Day 10

0700 Departure for Day trip to Alexandria. Visit Pompey’s Pillar. Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, Citadel of Qaitbay (site of original lighthouse of Alexandria), visit New Alexandria Library. Overnight in Cairo.

Pompey's Pillar

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa

Citadel of Qaitbey

New Library of Alexandria

Day 11 Fly home.

Surprises Good Ones:

I expected once I joined the 7 day trip to be part of a larger group and be shuffling on and off with other people and I was ok with the it, but I had my own guide and drivers everywhere. (If I’d been traveling w/friends or relatives we would have shared the guide & driver among ourselves.) Because of this I could easily customize my days. #itsallaboutme If I didn’t want to go shopping we skipped it. If I wanted (and I did) to buy a papyrus we went to a reputable papyrus factory store.

Papyrus map of Egypt

NOTE: Yes guides and companies will steer you to places where they might get a bonus if they bring in customers. But the guides and companies also know which ones to avoid because they do know which places are family owned or have good reputations.

TIPS

TIP: Unless you absolutely need a hat or shirt or scarf don’t EVER buy them from the vendors as you enter or leave a site. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, say your hat blew off and is now a crocodile snack and it’s August, yes buy a new hat and avoid sunburn. Otherwise these vendors are selling mass made reproductions. Quality vendors won’t be far away, just ask.

TIP: If there is something you have always dreamed of having, like a papyrus map of Egypt ๐Ÿ˜‰ tell your guide. They know the options in each city and will help you. No need to buy everything in Cairo and carry it all around. Or to miss a great demonstration of alabaster carving, most of these are in Luxor not Cairo.

TIP: Generally If you want a decent quality cartouche you need to order it on one day and pick it up the next day, so plan accordingly. Cartouches can be gold or silver, pendants or rings.

TIP: Be involved. Adding on to the last tip. The more you share about what you want out of your trip the more the company and guides will be able to give you the trip of your dreams. I think I traded 20+ emails with Nile Holiday before the trip to customize, add on, and clarify things and it definitely helped! But it wasn’t enough. I recommend spending 10-30min each day talking with your guide about the plan for the next day to maximize your enjoyment. I missed a site close to Saqqara because I didn’t ask the question until it was too late. I’ll just have to go back. Which is fine with me, there are on-going active excavations unearthing relics in Saqqara.

TIP: Pyramids are big, tombs (and temples) are pretty. Yes you can climb inside many of the pyramids, but it’s a small tunnel and you will be bent over or crawling for almost 28m 100 ft or more. The Great Pyramid at Giza has a slanted height of 4 Egyptian feet (1.20 m; 3.9 ft) and a width of 2 cubits (1.0 m; 3.4 ft). Once you get inside you can stand up. But there isn’t much to see. On the flip side tombs and temples are decorated and colorful and almost never include crawling along bent over.

TIP:If you take a photo of a camel (or goat or anything), the minder may ask for money.

WARNING: This was an ACTIVE vacation. I never slept past 0700 and for at least half of the days I was up by 0400. I regret nothing!

I could spend days writing about this vacation. Possibly weeks. Final thoughts for this post, Egypt is amazing and photogenic.

CJ

I have visited 7 continents and 80 countries. I have lived in 9 different countries. I speak English, Spanish, French, and Russian. I like to hike, ski, dive, eat, drink, and wander the wonders of the world.

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