Egypt, the wonder of travelers for thousands of years, calls us for a pilgrimage to the treasures of this historic land. And what a fascinating time this will be to explore that land as the Egyptians of today learn how to work together across society to create a new Egypt.
On our gay Egypt cultural tour we offer an intimate experience for inquisitive travelers who wish to delve deeply into the history of civilization. From the finest accommodations in Cairo to our own luxurious ship on the Nile, every detail is designed to offer our guests the most memorable experience possible.
We invite you to join us as we sail down the Nile on the River Tosca (in 2018 we charter a private touring on the ss Karim). From our comfortable home on the water, the riches of antiquity become our backdrop as we leisurely cruise through the land of the pharaohs and visit the famous sites to explore their treasures.
In Cairo we start with two nights at one of the city’s finest hotels, next to the pyramids in Giza. From this elegant base we first visit the pyramids, and for those with enough time, we are offering a one-day pre-tour extension that will include leisurely visits to pyramids that few visitors get to see.
From Cairo we fly to Luxor where we board our ship. For one glorious week, we cruise slowly on the Nile between Luxor and Aswan in our privately chartered, historic paddle steamer, watching village life virtually unchanged for a millennium.
Each day we go ashore to visit major archeological sites including: the Karnak and Luxor Temples, the Valley of the Kings in Western Thebes, and the splendid temples of Esna, Edfu and Kom Ombo. Fabulous as these sites are, our journey is made truly meaningful because we refuse to rush you. As our ship cruises along the Nile, we take plenty of time for relaxation and contemplation between our busy days of sightseeing. Previous tour members particularly enjoyed our forays into the countryside where they could establish a friendly rapport with the courteous Egyptian people who have welcomed our groups for over thirty years.
After our week exploring the Upper Nile region, we will return to Cairo to spend the last two nights of our main tour at a luxury hotel which will be our base for seeing the sights of the capital city. During our stay in the city we will tour the lauded Egyptian Museum. Along the way we’ll see some of the Pharaonic, Classic, Early Christian, and Arab monuments built in this ancient land over the course of five thousand years of civilization.
November 17 to 28, 2018 – US $6,998.00
Optional Tour Choices:
$950 Hotel/Cabin Upgrade (per person in shared room)
$1500 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
$1950 Single Supplement with upgrade
$365 Abu Simbel Excursion (including flight from Aswan and guided tour). Subject to change based on airfares
Accommodations at fine hotels for two nights in Giza, on our chartered ship for seven nights, and for two nights at a riverside hotel in downtown Cairo Airport, in double occupancy; All transportation by motorcoaches, cars, horse-drawn carriages, and boats when traveling as a group; Arrival and departure airport transfers in Cairo; Airfare between Cairo and Luxor; Domestic airport departure taxes when traveling with the group; All meals during the main tour except three lunches and one dinner; Wine or soft drinks at the Welcome and Farewell dinners; Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour director (subject to minimum participation) and an Egyptologist; Admission fees to all locations listed in itinerary; Meal and driver gratuities; Porterage at hotels. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Airfare between home and Cairo; Optional half-day Sakkara Pyramid excursion on first official tour day; Optional half-day excursion to Abu Simbel including 30-minute flight from Aswan and guided tour; Three lunches and one dinner; Tips to Egyptologist, local guides, hotel and ship staffs and gratuity for the HE Travel tour director; International departure taxes; Personal items such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls and laundry.
We arrive at Cairo Airport and a transfer is provided for the drive across the Nile. We stay two nights at the lovely Mena House Hotel with its attractive gardens, terraces and fine restaurants, overlooking the grand pyramids at Giza. We will enjoy a reception and our Welcome Dinner at our hotel as we begin our journey into Egyptian history and culture.
The next morning after breakfast, we take the short drive to see the plateau dominated by the pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mycerius, and by the Sphinx. For those who are not claustrophobic, exploring inside one of the pyramids is an awesome experience. We also inspect the beautifully restored solar boat of King Chephren and enter the Valley Temple in which the mummified body of the king rested before being interred in his pyramid.
In the evening, we will attend the spectacular Sound and Light performance at Giza, unforgettably set against the backdrop of the three great pyramids and the Sphinx.
a man and his camel trotting in front of a great pyramid
For those with a little more time, we are also offering a one-day pre-tour extension, including an extra night at the Mena House. We will take a half-day tour to the Red and Bent Pyramids that until recently were on a military reservation and closed to the public, and to the well-preserved Sakkara Pyramid.
After checking out from our Cairo hotel, we take a morning flight to Luxor. Our first stop will be the magnificent Temple of Karnak, the largest religious building in the world. Ancient Egyptians came to present petitions at more than twenty sites within the temple complex, the most impressive being the vast Hypostyle Hall of Seti I.
It has been said that the pyramids are more stupendous, the Colosseum in Rome covers more ground, and the Parthenon of Athens is more serene, but for sheer majesty, this hall with its gigantic columns exceeds them all. It is truly one of the wonders of the world.
regal statues on guard at the temple of karnak
After exploring Karnak, we drive to the harbor and embark on the River Tosca for our 7-night cruise, with full breakfast, luncheon, afternoon tea and dinner daily.
During our week’s cruise we enjoy our ship’s amenities and the ever-changing river scenery of palm trees, rolling hills, golden sand dunes and cultivated land. We’ll pass several villages where, from the ship’s sundecks, we can view the activities on the riverbank. There are also splendid opportunities for bird watching.
The captain will decide on the exact order and timing of our shore visits, but during the week we will go ashore to visit the temples of Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo and Luxor, as well as exploring the ancient city of Aswan and its Nubian heritage. The following gives an example of what we will see on a typical cruise.
Once aboard our ship we have dinner while sailing upstream to Esna where the River Tosca is raised through a lock some forty feet to the upper level of the river. We spend the night in Esna harbor, then in the morning visit the temple of Khnum, the creator god. Later in the day we visit Edfu, where we drive in horse-drawn carriages to the enormous and best preserved temple in upper Egypt, dedicated to Horus, the sacred falcon god. Upon our return to the ship, we’ll continue our southbound, upstream voyage toward Aswan, and tie off for the night at Kom Ombo.
In the morning we inspect the Roman double temple dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god, and to Haroeris, a form of the sun god. This temple is most picturesquely sited on the riverbank, a short walk from our dock. We reach Aswan in the afternoon and dock for a couple of days in this enchanting town with its near-perfect dry climate and amazing texture of light. You may wish to stroll through the bazaar where Nubian spices, handicrafts and charms are for sale and where gallabiya outfits are custom-made overnight.
Today we will board a traditional boat called a felucca, then tack across the river under a billowing white sail. Upon reaching the West Bank, we will climb aboard camels (or walk) to see the abandoned 6th Century Coptic monastery of Saint Simeon, set on a hillside overlooking the golden desert. We will also stroll through the fine Aswan Botanic Garden on Kitchener Island, then visit the new Nubian Museum. Around sunset, we will take a small boat across the reservoir created by the Old Aswan Dam to the temple island of Philae, where we will watch the ancient history of the region come alive in a Sound & Light Show. After the show we return to the ss Karim for another night docked at Aswan.
the ss karim with a gorgeous pink and purple sunset on the nile river
This morning is free to join our optional excursion to visit Abu Simbel, or to explore Aswan’s bazaar on your own. The extension includes a 30-minute flight, then a guided tour to view the rock tombs that were raised from the riverbank so they would not be inundated as Lake Nasser filled up behind the High Dam. They rank among the most stupendous monuments of ancient Egypt and mark the most southern extent of the kingdom of the Pharaoh Rameses II.
After returning from Abu Simbel, those on the excursion will visit the Aswan High Dam, which was so controversial when it was built, but which supplies a large part of Egypt’s power. We will also see the unfinished obelisk, whose workers carved out a huge slab of rock, but stopped suddenly, leaving it jutting out from the quarry.
In the afternoon we set sail back toward Luxor, riding fast on the downstream current while we enjoy the amenities of the ship, including afternoon tea on the deck as we watch the ever-changing life along the river. We spend tonight docked at Kom Ombo.
Today is mostly a sailing day as we pass sugarcane fields and palm groves that provide a livelihood for the residents of the small villages that dot the riverbank. Sugarcane thrives in the rich soil along the river, so during their harvesting seasons, it may be possible to see tiny narrow-gauge steam engines pulling up to 40 cars of tightly packed sugar cane from the fields to the harbors.
two fishermen in a boat on the nile river with lovely verdant foliage in the background
At least once during the trip we will try to leave the other tourists and walk through a local Egyptian market. During one recent trip we observed a mother selling freshly baked bread from a blanket in front of her home, young boys on donkeys following us on the path and practicing their very limited English, and a mayor in his distinguished robes shooing away the youngest children to make sure no-one begged from their honorable visitors. Contrary to stereotypes, it was also fascinating to see the variety of clothing on both adults and children in this conservative town. Some girls and women wore modest headscarves (usually in very stylish colors!), but others wore western clothes and did not cover their heads. Likewise, while many of the boys and men wore the traditional gallabiya robes, others wore button-down shirts and blue jeans.
camels on the HE Travel gay Egypt Nile cultural tour
Late in the day we pass back through the Esna lock, and arrive in Luxor, where our ship will anchor for two nights. Luxor is the modern name for ancient Thebes, once the capital of Egypt, which consists of two cities lying on the west and east banks of the Nile.
We cross to Western Thebes early in the morning for a busy day of sightseeing, starting with the Tombs of the Nobles. There is no electricity in the tombs so their custodians hold up mirrors to throw light onto walls painted with amazingly bright, lively scenes of everyday life in Egypt 3000 years ago. We drive on to the grand Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and then to the Valley of the Kings, where we inspect several of the tombs, including that of Tut-ankh-amon (if it is open to visitors).
A typically Egyptian luncheon is provided on the terrace of an inn near Medinet Habu. In the afternoon we stop to see the Ramesseum, with a massive fallen statue of Ramses, and we make a brief photo stop at the two weather-beaten Colossi of Memnon, before returning to the ss Karim for our last afternoon tea.
In the late afternoon we drive back into Luxor to visit the Luxor Temple, a magical location as twilight turns to evening darkness, and well-placed lights come on, showing the walls and statues of this well-preserved temple in full relief.
This morning we disembark our ship and transfer to Luxor Airport for our return flight to Cairo. From Cairo Airport we will transfer to our centrally located hotel near the Nile and Tahrir Square, where we will stay for two nights. Lunch and dinner are on your own today.
Today we tour Cairo, the greatest metropolis of the Middle East, to explore highlights of Islamic Cairo. In the morning we visit the alabaster Mohammed Ali Mosque on the Citadel overlooking the modern downtown, and the rarely-visited Gayer-Anderson House, the former home of Great Britain’s last pasha. This unique house served as a location in the James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me. In the afternoon we tour the Egyptian Museum, including the fabulous jewels of King Tutankhamon. We will also allow some independent time in the Museum for those who want to visit the Mummy Room and other corners of this vast museum.
hatsheput in the museum on the HE Travel gay Egypt Nile cultural tour
Tonight we will enjoy our farewell dinner, and share stories about the week we’ve just experienced together in this unique land.
Transfers will be provided from our hotel to Cairo Airport for travelers departing today. If you have an evening flight, the day is free to explore more of Cairo, such as the famous Khan-el-Khalili bazaar, or Cairo’s ancient churches, synagogues and mosques.