Spend a whole day uncovering the majesty and mystery of Petra. Follow your local leader down the narrow path of the Siq for your first unforgettable glimpse of the hand-carved Treasury.. Spend the night at a Bedouin desert camp in Wadi Rum an enjoy a traditional meal, cooked underground and served al fresco beneath a starry sky.. Set sail on one of the world’s most iconic rivers with an included felucca trip down the Nile. Relax and soak up the landscapes as scenes of everyday Egyptian life pass you by.. Unwind in the vibrant beach resort of Hurghada and take a day trip to explore the extraordinary ecosystem and coral reefs off Giftun Island.
Travel with Intrepid and Lonely Planet on a 22-day odyssey into Egypt and Jordan. Wander the rock-carved city of Petra, relax on the Gulf of Aqaba, cruise along the Nile in a traditional felucca and explore Luxor. As you travel these lands of courageous adventurers, mighty pharaohs and biblical prophets, be greeted by the hospitality of Bedouin and Nubian hosts. Combining bucket-list highlights like the Pyramids of Giza with world-class relaxation by the Red Sea, this trip will introduce you to the diversity of these two nations.
Ahlan Wa Sahlan! Welcome to Jordan – cosmopolitan, contemporary and teeming with biblical history. Your Lonely Planet Experience begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm today, where you’ll meet your local leader and travel crew. If you do happen to arrive early, be sure to take in the sweeping views of Amman from the citadel, explore the Jordan Museum that’s home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, or take a trip out to the ruins of Jerash – an ancient walled town that remarkably recalls life 2000 years ago. After meeting up for your briefing, head out on the town, perhaps feasting on ara’yes – Jordan’s answer to a toasted sandwich, packed full of spiced meat.
This morning, travel by minibus to Mt Nebo (approximately 1.5 hours). Mt Nebo is the place where the prophet Moses is supposedly buried and is said to have seen the 'Promised Land'. Explore this sanctuary, checking out the remarkable mosaics inside its fourth-century church. On a clear day, the views over the Dead Sea to Israel and the Palestinian Territories are spectacular. Afterwards, take a 30-minute drive to the super salty Dead Sea. Technically sitting below sea level, it’s perfect for swimming and floating in, and the mud on the sea floor is said to have healing properties – so lather up! Continue on to the crusader castle of Kerak, sitting in a commanding position on top of a cliff overlooking Kerak town and the valley below. Spend time exploring the seven-level fortress and learn the legends of 12th-century battles between Crusaders and Muslim armies. Continue on to Petra for the night (approximately 4.5 hours).
The jewel of Jordan, the lost city of the biblical Nabateans, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – Petra is a magical hand-carved wonder. Today, you’ll have the chance to discover this sixth century BC masterpiece with your small group. Be dwarfed by the towering rock formations as you squeeze through a narrow path called the Siq until you reach the grand entrance of the iconic Treasury. Gaze up at the intricate carvings and details, and spend the afternoon exploring the site at your own pace. There’s the old Roman road, other temples and old tombs, as well as the rock-hewn amphitheatre to explore. For those feeling more adventurous, take a challenging hike up a set of stairs to the smaller but no less impressive monastery, taking approximately one hour. After arriving back at your accommodation, why not find a traditional bathhouse to rejuvenate after a day of incredible sightseeing.
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with a short drive to the extraordinary desert scenery of Wadi Rum – a rugged lunar-like landscape framed by huge sandstone mountains (approximately 2 hours). Head on a half-day jeep safari, taking you through some sublime scenery and uncovering traces of ancient civilisations seen in the many carved inscriptions found throughout the area, from pictographs to Thamudic, Nabataean and Arabic texts. The most enduring monuments in Wadi Rum are those carved by nature – natural rock bridges, towering rose-coloured sand dunes and scattered rocky peaks. Spend the night sleeping in a simple desert camp, with the choice of sleeping under a camel hair tent or out under the starry night sky. Enjoy a delicious dinner cooked in an earthen oven by your desert dwelling Bedouin hosts, and soak in your truly unforgettable surroundings.
This morning, leave Wadi Rum and make tracks for Aqaba (approximately 1 hour). You’ll have some free time in Aqaba today, and have the option of day-use rooms to freshen up and store your luggage. Early in the evening, bid your Jordan local leader farewell and transfer to Aqaba port to board a comfortable air-conditioned ferry bound for Nuweiba. Depending on timing, weather conditions and delays, this journey over the Gulf of Aqaba can take between 2.5 and 5 hours, so be sure to have a good book or device with you to kill the time. On arrival, meet your Egyptian group leader and transfer to your accommodation for a well-earned rest.
The ferry can be rough at times and those who suffer from sea sickness may want to prepare themselves. The journey can take from 2.5 hours to in excess of 5 hours which means that arrival into Nuweiba can often be after midnight. Your Egyptian Tour Leader will be waiting for you regardless of delays. In rough weather, there's a chance the ferry might be cancelled altogether, in which case we'll travel overland through Israel.
It's a short drive to the laidback resort area of Dahab – your base for the next two nights. Dahab, meaning 'gold' in Arabic, has gone from a Bedouin fishing village to a popular tourist town, thanks to the excellent conditions for activities like diving, windsurfing and rock climbing. However, the town hasn't lost its authenticity and lowkey appeal that’s attracted visitors since the 1970s. The rest of the day is free for you to take in the many treats this spot has to offer – cafes, seafood or some snorkelling in the Red Sea. Dahab is well known for its drop-offs – spectacular coral reef shelves that plunge into the vast blue depths of the ocean below. There are also plenty of relaxed bars and restaurants to sit back and enjoy good local food and some sheesha.
In the morning, why not strap on a mask and head to the Blue Hole for some snorkelling at one of the best diving spots in the world. The area gets its name from a submarine sinkhole about 94 metres deep, with an arch in the coral reef down at 54 metres – a challenge that’s only open to highly experienced technical divers. Snorkellers can enjoy one of the greatest spots in the Red Sea here. Float on the surface and look down into an endless world of blue, then make your way around to ‘the Bridge’, where the visibility is always great and the untouched coral swarms with all different types of colourful fish and marine life. After you’ve had your fill of snorkelling, return to Dahab for an evening feast at a waterside restaurant, or perhaps head inland to Assalah, where local joints serve up plates of roast chicken and falafel with some cold regional beer.
Transfer to Sharm El Sheikh Airport and take a 1-hour flight to Cairo. Transfer to your accommodation and enjoy free time for the rest of the day. Cairo is one of the great cities of antiquity and its history can be symbolised by two imposing landmarks – the Pyramids of Giza and the Mosque of Mohammed Ali.
After breakfast, set out to see some of Egypt’s most renowned sights. Visit Giza’s pyramids and Sphinx – instantly familiar yet retaining a mystique and power. Explore these structures that have stood tall for 4500 years, and you may even be able to go inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu for an additional charge. Afterwards, perhaps make your way to the Egyptian Museum, home to one of the world's great collections of antiquities. Wander the treasure-filled halls of the museum, and check out the optional Mummies Hall for a close encounter with some of the country’s most important queens and pharaohs. Later in the evening, meet your leader and travel to Giza train station, where you will board a sleeper train to Aswan (approximately 13 hours).
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas: welcome to Aswan, Egypt's southernmost city. Today is a free day so take the opportunity to see such Aswan sites as the unfinished obelisk or the High Dam. The Nubian Bazaar is a must, while the excellent Nubian Museum is top of many visitors’ lists. Highly recommended is the beautiful Temple of Isis (goddess of health, marriage and wisdom), which was rescued from the rising waters of the Nile and relocated to Philae Island. It's a marvel of decorative pylons featuring some of Egypt's finest carvings – definitely one of the real gems of Upper Egypt. The waterfront promenade, or corniche, runs alongside one of the Nile's most appealing stretches and is the perfect place to stop for a mint tea. Watch the waterfront come alive at dusk, with families out strolling, socialising and relaxing along the corniche.
This morning is your best chance to head out of Aswan and visit stunning Abu Simbel, if you choose to. With the four gargantuan statues of Ramses guarding the Great Temple, this is one of Egypt's most memorable sights. Otherwise, the day is free for you to make your own discoveries. A popular afternoon option in Aswan is a sailboat ride around the islands in a traditional felucca, stopping off at the botanical gardens on Kitchener's Island. Alternatively, you could take a camel ride to the Monastery of St Simeon, an abandoned seventh-century fortress located in the desert on the Nile's west bank. Your local leader will be on hand to help you get the most out of your day. You may prefer to just relax and take in the beauty of the Nile, or do some shopping in the vibrant bazaar.
This morning, jump on a traditional Egyptian sailboat – or felucca – for a morning sail until lunch. After lunch on board the felucca, arrive at a Nubian homestay on the west bank of the Nile. Here, you’ll learn about the local way of life with a walk through the surrounding countryside and agriculture fields to reach the homestay. The house is in traditional Nubian style, with a sandy courtyard in the middle where the family gathers for meals, and bedrooms to the side – this is where you’ll be staying for the night. Get into the swing of Egyptian life by lending a hand in the kitchen to help cook dinner, or maybe kick around a football in the courtyard with the kids. There are few better ways to understand a country and its people than with a local homestay, and you’ll have the chance tonight to soak it all up.