Embark on a journey through ancient history on a grand tour of Egypt, where you’ll sail the River Nile aboard one of Sanctuary Retreats' boutique ships, discovering the hidden gems of Africa’s longest river. This memorable cruise is paired with a luxurious hotel stay in Cairo offering pyramid views, and a heritage hotel in Aswan with an idyllic riverside location. What’s more, you’ll enjoy an included scenic flight to the temples of Abu Simbel, a visit to the Valley of Kings with knowledgeable Egyptologists and a sail aboard a traditional felucca boat.
Start your holiday in style as you enjoy included UK airport chauffeur transfer and airport lounge access before your flight to Cairo. On arrival, a private transfer will see you to your idyllically located hotel – Marriot Mena House. This luxurious modern hotel offers splendid pyramid views, fine cuisine and draws design influences from ancient Egypt with exposed limestone and tall columns. Spend the rest of your day at leisure and relax by the pool in preparation for the adventure ahead.
The following day after breakfast you’ll meet your Egyptologist guide, who’ll take you on a discovery tour of the iconic sites and pyramids that dot the nearby landscape. In the morning you’ll visit Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt before exploring the necropolis at Saqqara, where you’ll find the oldest known of Egypt’s 107 pyramids. In the afternoon you’ll visit the only survivor of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” and the most famous pyramid in Egypt, the Great Pyramid and it’s 4,500 year-old history, before a final stop at the legendary Sphinx, that guards the entrance to the Pharaoh's burial site.
Stay: Marriott Mena House
In the morning, catch the sunrise over the pyramids from the hotel before heading into Cairo for a further day of exploration. You’ll start at the Egyptian Museum, which is home to an impressive collection of artefacts, where its 120,000 objects are spread out over 107 halls and includes items taken from King Tutankhamun's tomb, as well as gold masks, well-preserved hieroglyphs and decorated sarcophagus. From the museum head to Al Azhar park, in the Islamic neighbourhood for lunch, before walking up to the Citadel, a medieval fortress which is perched high above the city offering panoramic views. Visit the citadels mosque and museum before a final stop at the Khan El Khalili bazaar, one of the largest in the Middle East, and where you can walk the labyrinth of narrow lanes, soaking up the sights and sounds of vocal hagglers and local merchants.
Stay: Marriott Mena House
Breakfast & Lunch included
After breakfast, you'll be taken to the Airport for your flight to Luxor. On arrival, you'll transfer to a private dock to board your luxurious Sanctuary Retreats Nile boat to begin your five-day journey along one of the world's great rivers. After a welcome Zaffa of drums and flutes, you’ll visit the Luxor Temple, where previous kings were once crowned and for a brief time, where the Romans governed the area. After lunch on board, head to the west bank, where you’ll explore the famed Valley of the kings, a tomb in the Valley of the Queens and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut before a final stop at the Colossi of Memnon and its two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Back aboard, you’ll enjoy afternoon tea and perhaps a refreshing plunge in the ship's top deck pool, watching life on the Nile pass by before a welcome dinner of gourmet delights, canapes and complimentary Egyptian wine and beer.
Enjoy breakfast with Nile views before making landfall to visit the Temple of Karnak, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the vast complex displaying a mix of decayed temples, pylons and chapels. After a short sail to Esna and lunch on board, you’ll disembark on the west bank, where your expert Egyptologist will guide you through the Greco-Roman Temple of Khnum and its beautifully preserved great-hypostyle hall. Learn the storied past of the hall and see first hand the excavation efforts that went into resurrecting it from centuries of Nile floods and silt build up.
Today you’ll visit the Temple of Edfu and one of the best-preserved shrines in Egypt. Built between 237 and 57 BC, the shrine boasts walls full of inscriptions of language, religion, mathematics and building construction details – a sign of how advanced civilization was at the time.
As you cruise further down the Nile, you’ll have the chance to take part in an Egyptian cooking class, an ideal time to try your hand at cooking your favourite traditional Egyptian dish – perhaps only recently discovered. And, in the afternoon you’ll visit the Temple of Kom Ombo, which was dedicated to the crocodile-god Sobek before an evening full of entertainment with an “Egyptian Nights” themed dinner party. Dress up in traditional galabeyyas, dine on a lavish buffet of local specialties and enjoy the company of your fellow shipmates.
Enjoy breakfast on board before a short motorboat ride to the island of Agilika and the Philae Temple, a well-preserved temple which was impressively dismantled and moved from the first cataracts of the Nile to its new site by the efforts of the UNESCO Nubia campaign. And, you'll visit the granite quarries which supplied the Egyptians with the hard stones needed to construct the great pyramids and the many other iconic temples along the Nile.
This afternoon you’ll enjoy a traditional experience aboard a felucca, an Egyptian wooden sailboat, where you’ll sail around Elephantine island, Lord Kitchener's Botanical Gardens and the Agha Khan Mausoleum – a highlight of the cruise.
Enjoy a final breakfast on board before arriving into Aswan and transferring to the luxurious Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel for a final two nights. Its idyllic location on the banks of the Nile combines heritage character with victorian charm that has played host to kings, celebrities and royalties from around the world. Enjoy the views from the hotel pool or head into the Old Town to explore at your own pace – both fantastic options.
The following day take a short scenic flight south to the ancient temples of Abu Simbel, known as the Nubian Monuments for it’s two distinct rock-cut temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The vast complex was built by Ramses II, Egypt’s longest ruling Pharaoh, and features colossal statues of Ramses II himself and temples dedicated to his wife and children. Walk among the ancient ruins and limestone walls before a return flight to Aswan and a final night in Egypt.
Stay: Sofitel Old Cataract
Rise early to catch a final sunrise over the old city before a private transfer will take you to the Aswan airport for your flight home. If you wish to have more time in Aswan, ask our Egypt specialists about extending your stay.
"I put together this itinerary to showcase the remarkable sites and ancient tombs of Egypt in pure indulgent luxury. From the Pyramid views at the Marriott Mena House to the Nile-bank setting of the Sofitel Old Cataract, these two properties combine heritage and modernity seamlessly. Both these iconic hotels are paired with a memorable cruise down the Nile River aboard a boutique Sanctuary Retreats ship – a pairing for the ages."
Low Season from: £3,975 pp
Mid Season from: £4,870 pp
High Season from: £5,160 pp
Low Season: May to September
Mid season: January, April & December (apart from Christmas, New Year and Easter)
High season: February, March, October & November
Special rates apply for travel over Christmas, New Year & Easter - please call for details.