If you’re reading this post as a follow-up to Part 1 of the itinerary, I commend your decision to take a fortnight in Egypt. There is so much to see and do in Egypt that one week will simply not do it justice.
If you just happened upon this article first though, definitely read Planning your time in Egypt – Part 1 to get the complete picture.
EGYPT-DETAILED ITINERARY PART 2
Cruising the Nile is an utterly luxurious, once in a lifetime experience that I believe absolutely everyone visiting Egypt should not miss. Even the 3 star cruises do not scrimp on luxury, or so I understood from Mostafa, our guide. So, whatever your budget is, there is definitely a cruise for you!
On the first day of your cruise, you will visit two iconic temples. The temple of Kom Ombo is an extremely unusual double temple dedicated to two gods in the town of Kom Ombo. One half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile God Sobek, while the other half was dedicated to the falcon God Haroeris.
The other temple you will visit on your cruise is the Edfu temple. This is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt, and the second largest temple, after Karnak.
The rest of the day is for you to enjoy the cruise. Watch little villages from your sun deck, laugh at the enterprising merchants who catch up to your cruise in tiny boats and throw up scarfs and shawls at you, marvel at how bucolic the countryside seems – so far removed from hectic Cairo.
It is time for you to rise and shine early! I mean really early. You need to be up and out by about 4 AM. Why, you ask? Well, to ride a hot air balloon and see the incredible beauty of Luxor spread out below you of course.
Now, I know a lot of people who have done this in Turkey and the photos were beautiful. So, when Khaled, our travel agent asked us if we wanted to include a hot air balloon ride, we immediately said yes! And boy, were we right to do this! The sun rising over the desert-scape, the Nile in the distance, with beautiful fields below you, and the incredible temples on the east and west banks of the Nile is a sight you will never forget.
You might ask what's so amazing about a hot air balloon ride. I'd like to quote Peter Pan here and say, all the world is made of faith, and trust and pixie dust. When you are up there, floating, as though on a cloud, watching the sun slowly making it's way up the sky, lighting up everything under it, you have reason for a bit more faith, some more trust and belief in a lot more pixie dust. Could there be a better reason to do something? Magic is the word for it. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #travelwriter #travel #instatravel #travelgram #travelblogger #wanderlust #ilovetravel #instavacation #postcardsfromtheworld #travelling⠀ #traveltheworld #igtravel #travelblog #travelpics #wanderer #mytravelgram #ig_worldclub #worldcaptures #worldplaces #traveler #nofilter #instagood #potd #TLPicks #colorfulfocus #nomadsofindia #experienceegypt #sunrise #naturelovers #tripwears
After this, have breakfast, make a quick photo-stop at the Colossi of Memnon, and then and visit the temple of Medinat Habu, which is the funerary temple of Ramesses III.
After visiting Medinat Habu, plan on visiting the Valley of Kings and the temple of Queen Hatshepsut the same day. It makes logical sense because these funerary temples are on the west bank of the Nile and sort of clustered together. At the Valley of kings, 63 tombs are open, and you can choose the 3 you want to visit (one ticket=3 tombs). Tutankhamun’s tomb will cost you extra. You might remember seeing the treasures uncovered here in the Egyptian museum in Cairo.
After this return to your cruise and enjoy lazing the evening away.
In the night, your cruise will most likely arrange a show – a belly dancer or a dervish or both. The belly dancer was good, but the whirling dervish was just amazing. He was exactly what I pictured as a little girl, listening to stories of Aladdin or Princess Jasmine. Truly exceptional!
Today, it is time to visit the east bank of the Nile. The sprawling Karnak temple, Luxor temple and the Avenue of Sphinxes await you. Round off your day’s sight-seeing with a visit to the uncluttered and beautifully presented Luxor museum.
In the evening, say good-bye to your cruise ship and check in to a hotel in Luxor.
By now, you have actually seen what most tourists to the Luxor region (ancient Thebes) typically see. Today’s adventures will take you to places that only the most curious travellers go to (aka me!), but it will be a very rewarding day. Pinky promise!
Spend your day visiting the Valley of Queens, the Valley of Nobles and the Deir El Medina. I also visited the Ramesseum, Ramesses II’s mortuary temple, but it is in a sad state of abysmal disrepair and I do not think you should spend any time on it.
You will finish your visits in the early afternoon. Take it easy for the rest of the evening.
Get an early morning flight out of Luxor and fly into Cairo. Use the day to explore Islamic Cairo. There are mosques galore, what with 88% of the population being Muslim. You can choose from the Mohammad Ali Mosque, Saladin’s citadel (obviously not a mosque, but handy to visit because it also houses the Mohammad Ali mosque and has gorgeous views), Ibn Tulun Mosque, Sultan Hassan Mosque, and the mosque of Al-Azhar.
If you want to visit just one or two, I would suggest you definitely go to Mohammad Ali mosque and the Sultan Hassan mosque. The Mohammad Ali mosque is worth visiting for the sheer beauty of its interiors, while the Sultan Hassan mosque is one of the largest in the world, with four liwans devoted to the four Sunni schools.
If you did not visit Khan-Al-Khalili market on the day you landed, use this afternoon/evening to explore its twisting lanes and perfumed stores.
Today is the day you have waited for! You finally visit the Pyramids of Giza, but that is not all you will do. You will also visit the step pyramid at Saqqara, the oldest known stone building complex, also called Djoser’s step pyramid.
There is nothing I can say about the Great Pyramids that hasn’t been said already. They are grand, breathtaking, mind-boggling and a whole host of other similar adjectives. All this and more cannot prepare you for their magnificence. So fair warning – prepare to be amazed! Following this, visit Saqqara to see how the ancient Egyptians started their pyramid building spree with this modest step pyramid.
Use this day for a day trip to Alexandria. Alexandria is an incredibly exciting city to be in, and is actually worth one night and two days, but with limited time, a day trip is better than no trip at all. 🙂
Leave around 8 AM, and spend the late morning visiting the incredible Bibliotheca Alexandria. There are guided tours in English here. You can join one of them to go through the entire library and its rare manuscripts collection. Once done here, visit Pompey’s pillar, the Serapeum (dedicated to the Greco-Egyptian deity Serapis) and Alexandria’s catacombs- the Kom El Shoqafa. In the early evening, take a stroll along the corniche. In the right weather, this could be an extremely romantic way to end your visit to Alexandria. Drive back to Cairo on the same day.
Now, I just checked with my contact in Egypt, and I understand that the white desert is still open for day trips, but camping is completely forbidden. Well, then, day trip to the white and black desert it is!
You will start very early, drive for a very long time, and then transfer to a four-wheel drive and drive again for a very long time, but when you finally get to the white desert, it will all be worth it. Blue cotton candy skies offer a stark contrast to the glistening white sand all around you. And….is your mind playing tricks or is that a chicken there? Wait!!! That is a sphinx and here is a mushroom!! These incredible geological formations are an inherent part of the magic of the white desert.
After this, you will visit the gorgeous crystal mountain and black desert. The black desert is a bleak land of rolling volcanic hills, and as you stand there, sun shining down upon you, you will contrast it with the white desert and be glad for both!
Nearly at the end of our trip, aren’t we? Well, we have one more day, and we will make the most of it. Spend the morning visiting the ruins of Memphis – there isn’t much to see today but this was the capital of Egypt from the times of Menes. That’s really old guys!
You will see a lot of archaeological work going on-giving you an idea of how the pyramids and many other temples like the Medinat Habu were unearthed from under the sand. Near the ruins is the Dahshur pyramid complex, with the famous bent pyramid and red pyramid. Definitely pop over for a look. You will see how the Egyptians transitioned from step pyramids to the bent pyramid, to the red pyramid, and finally on to the Great Pyramids.
In the afternoon, visit Coptic Cairo. 10% of Egypt’s population consists of Coptic Christians, and there are some important sites to see here. The fortress of Babylon encloses the hanging church, the church of Saint George, a Coptic museum and a convent, all worth visiting. I also enjoyed visiting the Ben Ezra synagogue, where baby Moses was maybe found by the princess.
You can also visit the cave-like space where the holy family lived for a few years. There is a church on top of the space now. Is this legend or history? I like to think both; after all legends and history have been irrevocably intertwined for several millennia now!3