A day at the incredible Pyramids of Giza is only the beginning. Discover the Valley of the Kings, Petra, Wadi Rum, Jerusalem’s historical religious sites and experience the unique sensation of floating in the Dead Sea.. Experience the best of each country with feature stay accommodation – three unforgettable evenings on a Nile riverboat, isolated elegance at a luxury camp in Wadi Rum and old school opulence in Bethlehem in a grand palace.. Gain an unmatched understanding of the region while travelling with experienced local leaders and spending time with the locals. Discuss history with a geopolitical expert, meet a local Rabbi and join three families for dinner in their homes.. Lift the lid on Middle Eastern cuisine when you dine in fantastic local restaurants in Amman, Cairo and Jerusalem, learn the tricks of the trade during an immersive cooking class and enjoy a dinner at a Bedouin camp cooked in a traditional zarb.
Embark on a 21-day Premium adventure through the Middle East, from the heartland of ancient Egypt down the iconic Nile River, to the desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, both sides of the Dead Sea and the centre of the Christian world in Jerusalem. Take flight to the temples of Abu Simbel, sail on a Nile riverboat and break bread with local families and communities. Discover lost kingdoms in Jordan, camp under the desert stars in traditional Bedouin accommodation and marvel at some of the world’s most impressive sites in Jerusalem. Uncover the swathes of history alive in this region, joined by expert local guides and a small group of likeminded adventurers.
Welcome to Cairo! On arrival at the airport, take an included transfer to your hotel. You are free to arrive at any time today before an important welcome meeting, held at 6 pm. If you do arrive early, perhaps get out and explore the busy streets, finding a hole-in-the-wall eatery for a snack like ta’ameya – Egypt’s take on falafel. Or you may wish to make the most of your fabulous hotel – the pool area offers magnificent pyramid views. After your welcome meeting, where you will meet your local leader and fellow travellers, head out for an included dinner with the group. Here your leader will introduce you to the dazzling variety of Egyptian cuisine, known for being fresh, delicious and unique to the country. Best enjoyed when shared, tuck into an array of traditional dishes like fatta, a dish made with rice, bread and meat in a garlic and vinegar sauce, and kushari, a tantalising mixture of pasta, rice, lentils and fried onions.
This morning, tour the mighty Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx with your small group and expert leader, who is a trained Egyptologist. Seeing these ancient and iconic structures up close is a memory that will stay with you long after your time in Egypt is over. For an additional charge, you may be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops). After stopping to purchase some lunch, pay a visit to the long-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum, the largest archaeological museum in the world and home to a collection of Tutankhamen’s antiquities, many of which have never been displayed before. Your leader will take you through some of Egypt’s dynastic history, and you will have plenty of time to explore on your own – home to almost 100,000 artefacts, there’s a whole ancient world to uncover.
Nile Cruise - Aswan
Catch a morning flight to Aswan – Egypt’s southernmost city. Its relaxed charm is due in no small part to its large Nubian population. Here you will board a Nile riverboat, your feature stay accommodation for the next three nights. There’s no better way to soak in the ancient history of the Nile and the incredible sights along its banks. Enjoy all the comforts of a world-class hotel, including a swimming pool, sundeck, restaurant and cabins with panoramic windows to watch riverside life stream by. Travelling by riverboat allows you to get to the heart of each destination while ensuring the journeys in between are every bit as interesting. Travel to Philae Island and visit the beautiful Temple of Isis – the goddess of health, marriage and wisdom – rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated here. Your leader will share stories of the history and changing landscape of the island. Then, board a traditional felucca sailing boat where you can sit back and relax with some drinks as the sun sets over your beautiful surroundings. Stop off at a Nubian village on an island in the middle of the Nile. Walk through the village before sitting down to dinner with a local Nubian family in their home. Enjoy traditional Nubian food, swap stories with your friendly hosts and gain a unique perspective into their way of life.
Nile Cruise - Edfu
Enjoy a peaceful morning on board your riverboat, then set out in the afternoon along the river, relaxing in the sun on deck and taking in the desert hills forming a backdrop over the lush riverbanks. Arrive at Kom Ombo Temple, sitting spectacularly on the river’s edge. Your leader will let you in on the secrets of this ancient temple. Built in approximately 181 BC, Kom Ombo is dedicated to two gods – Horus (god of protection) and Sobek (god of fertility, linked to the Nile’s water). Each god has a dedicated section – north or south – and there have been recent discoveries of mummified crocodiles in the Sobek section. Afterwards, return to your riverboat and continue to Edfu where you will dock for the evening.
Nile Cruise - Luxor
This morning, you will be moored near Edfu and may have the option to venture independently into town to see the nearby temple. Sail towards Luxor passing through the Esna Locks. You may have to queue to proceed through the locks, but this is a great opportunity to sit back with a drink in hand and observe life on the Nile – listen to the shouts of the many captains as they navigate their way through the various small boats of merchants selling their wares to a captive audience. Arrive at the open-air museum of Luxor – from the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of wonderfully preserved reminders of the Pharaohs. Today you'll explore the Karnak Temple. One of the world's most celebrated temple complexes, Karnak is a house of the gods built over a period of some 200 years. Your guided tour of this vast temple of impressive pylons, obelisks and chapels will reveal its finest sections, such as the Avenue of Sphinxes and the Great Temple of Amun.
Disembark your riverboat and travel to the Valley of the Kings. Buried under the arid hills here are over 60 tombs of pharaohs, many richly decorated with reliefs and paintings. With your leader, explore this place, where the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (16th to 11th century BC) were secretly interred for all eternity, and where discoveries are still being made. Your leader will explain the history and legends of these remarkable people, and the significance of the many paintings and hieroglyphics, still well preserved in the deepest tombs. Entry is included to three tombs of your choosing, as well as access to the tomb of Tutankhamun. The unearthing of the young Pharaoh’s resting place is one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries, and today you will have the chance to explore the painted chamber and marvel at his famous golden sarcophagus. Continue to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut – a colonnaded building set against high cliffs that create a spectacular natural amphitheatre, then view the Colossi of Memnon – two 17-metre-high statues on Luxor's west bank.
Board a flight bound for Cairo this morning. On arrival, settle in to your hotel then head with your group to the Al-Azhar neighbourhood to visit Khan al-Khalili Bazaar – a sprawling maze of alleyways including the gold market, cloth market, 'perfume street' and the spice market. Continue to the 9th-century Ibn Tulun Mosque – one of the oldest and largest in Egypt. Its perfectly proportioned courtyard and distinctive minaret make it a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. Stop off in Cairo’s oldest coffeeshop for an Arabic coffee or mint tea as you watch the world go by. It’s a known fact that the very best food in Cairo is made inside local homes, but few visitors get the chance to experience this for themselves. Tonight, you will be one of the lucky few as you are welcomed into the home of a local family for dinner. Sit down to a wonderful meal of traditional dishes which you’ll share with your friendly hosts and gain an inside look at modern Egyptian life.
Today you will leave Egypt and catch a flight to Amman, Jordan’s contemporary capital that’s steeped in biblical history. You will be met by an Intrepid representative at the airport and transferred to your hotel where a meeting will take place at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. After your meeting, head out to a local restaurant for a welcome dinner with your group and leader. Sharing food is a huge part of Jordanian culture and eating out is a social affair that’s packed with flavour. Tonight your leader will introduce you to some of the country’s most beloved dishes, like mansaf, a dish made with lamb, yoghurt and rice, and kunafa, a delicious dessert made with pastry and cheese.
This morning, leave Amman for a short drive north to Jerash where you’ll find some of the world’s best Greco-Roman ruins. Reaching its peak as a favourite of the emperor Hadrian, Jerash holds a striking collection of archways, theatres, baths, public buildings and colonnaded streets. Your leader will share the incredible history of the ruins and help you imagine what life once looked like in this glorious Roman city. Grand columns encircle the city's centrepiece of the Oval Plaza – an atmospheric place to linger after exploring Jerash's riches. Afterwards, return to Amman and head to a cooking school run by a mother and her daughters, where you’ll get a special look behind the scenes of Jordanian cuisine. You’ll feel as through you’ve stepped into the welcoming home of a local grandmother as you learn how to make classics like tabbouleh, flat bread and lentil soup with passionate guidance and generations of culinary know-how. The flavours, recipes and warmth of this evening are sure to stick with you long after your time in Jordan is over.
Today you will make the journey from Amman to the Dead Sea. Named for the lack of life in its waters, this lake is so intensely salty that the water density makes swimming very difficult, but bobbing on the water's surface is a truly fun and one-off experience. En route, stop off at Mount Nebo and hear the story of how Moses saw the Promised Land before he died from what is believed to be this very spot, and St Georges Church, best known for its Byzantine mosaic depicting a map of the Holy Land. On arrival, enjoy some time to float in the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea, relax on your hotel’s beachfront or take a dip in one of three swimming pools or jacuzzi.
Depart the Dead Sea and drive to the ancient Crusader castle at Shobak – your leader will explain how this ancient castle was originally built to protect the eastern flank of the Latin Kingdom and its trade routes to the sea before it fell to Saladin in 1189. Enjoy superb scenery and stop off at the viewpoint overlooking the Dana Nature Reserve before arriving in the late afternoon to your Petra accommodation. Petra dates back to the sixth century BC and is considered the crown jewel of Jordan, featuring an impressive series of tombs and dwellings carved directly into the rock. On arrival, there is time to check out the town that has grown around the site and to relax, ready for a big day of exploring Petra tomorrow.
Today will be spent uncovering the secrets of Petra with the knowledgeable guidance of your leader. The iconic view of the Treasury's glorious facade, glimpsed from a narrow cleft known as the Siq, is perhaps the single-most striking sight of the entire region. The Siq leads through the rock and is at points only a few metres wide, with walls soaring up to 180 metres on either side. Explore the old Roman road, amphitheatre and several ancient tombs. You will also have time to climb to the Monastery if you wish, providing a magnificent view of the entire site. There is a cafeteria on the site, where you can enjoy your own light lunch. The rest of the day will be at your leisure. This evening, perhaps take the chance to witness Petra by night if your dates align. Seeing the Treasury plaza lit up by candlelight while Bedouin music plays is a truly memorable experience.