Welcome to Jordan! Upon arrival our staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in Amman for the start of your trip. They'll help you settle in and introduce you to the local area.
Your first full day of our Jordan tour starts after breakfast, as we make our way to Jordan's famous 'desert castles'. Jordan's desert castles are located on the old trade routes and still house some of its ancient remnants including frescoes, bath houses and wells. We'll explore the desert castles of Qasr al-Kharrana, Qasr Azraq and Qasr Amra before we head back to Amman for lunch at a local eatery, with falafel and hummus on the menu.
After lunch, we'll explore downtown Amman on foot, visiting the impressive Roman Amphitheatre, the Jordan Folklore Museum as well as the Citadel. We'll also visit some of Amman's busy markets, tasting Knafeh - a tasty sweet - while our guide teaches us some basic Arabic greetings and phrases to use during our Jordan tour. We may visit a few traditional handcraft and art galleries, if time permits.
Leaving Amman this morning, we head north to the ancient city of Jerash - one of the largest and well-preserved Greco-Roman cities outside of Europe. Here we'll visit the Forum, explore its Roman colonnaded streets, the Nymphaeum and the Temple of Artemis.
From Jerash, we'll make our way to Ajloun Castle, built in the 12th century and extended in the 13th. It also served as the base for Saladin's Arab forces when he defeated the Crusaders in the 12th century. The countryside of the Ajloun Forest Reserve around the castle is picturesque and green and a popular place for avid hikers, with its hills, mountains and forests just waiting to be explored.
After Ajloun Castle, we head to the village of Rasoun to meet our homestay hosts for the night. After settling in and being shown through the village, we'll walk through hills covered with scrub and forest to see some Bronze Age Dolmens - which are megalithic tombs formed by placing a huge stone slab atop two or more standing stones.
We'll return to our homestay in Rasoun this evening, where we'll be treated to a home-cooked traditional Arabic meal which will be prepared by our host Jordanian family, and we spend the evening chatting with them about life in Jordan.
We say goodbye tour Jordanian host family, after a shared breakfast and head south to Madaba, where we'll marvel at the Byzantine mosaics and the 'Madaba Map' - which is the oldest preserved map of the Holy Land. From Madaba, we'll make our way to Mount Nebo where on a clear day, which is most of the time, you get great views towards Jericho and beyond.
After a tasty lunch, we'll make our way down to our resort right on the banks of the Dead Sea, where you have some free time to swim - or rather float - in its incredibly salty waters and to relax by the hotel pool. Don't forget a newspaper or magazine for your iconic Dead Sea photo!
We start today with a walk through the breathtaking canyons and gorges of Wadi Mujib, at 410 metres below sea level, the lowest nature reserve on the planet.
During the summer months of April to October, we'll take the Siq Trail along the course of the river between towering sandstone cliffs to the base of a large waterfall. The gorge may contain pools deep enough for swimming and you should expect to get a bit wet along the way. In the winter months of November to March, we'll take the Ibex trail along various dry wadis with great views of the Dead Sea to the Raddas Ranger Station where we'll look out for Nubian Ibex. We'll also see the famous rock 'statue' of Lot's wife before returning to the reserve entrance.
We'll then drive along the Dead Sea coast and up through the mountains to Petra. We'll take a break en-route at Lot's Cave, for a local village lunch, and at the huge crusader castle at Shobak.
You have the option for a spectacular and atmospheric introduction to Petra tonight, with the Petra by Night tour. Here you walk through the Siq to the Treasury, the whole way being atmospherically lit up by thousands of candles.
We start our exploration of the Rose Red city of Petra, now one of the Modern 7 Wonders of the World, with a walk through the winding Siq to the magnificent Treasury.
Our guide will explain the fascinating history of the site and the Nabatean people who built it, and we'll explore several caves and tombs. You'll then have time to explore further, perhaps hiking up to the huge Monastery, carved out of the cliffs overlooking the Jordan Valley, or walking up to the High Place of Sacrifice.
Late in the afternoon, we head into the spectacular desert scenery of Wadi Rum for a night under the stars enjoying the hospitality of the Bedouins. We stay in a comfortable camp with a great remote location between the sand dunes and the rocky cliffs, well away from the road and traffic.
You can sleep in your traditional goat hair tent, with a proper bed and all bedding provided, or take a sleeping bag and find a secluded location to sleep outside under the stars.
After breakfast in the camp, we take a jeep safari through the sands and beneath the towering 'jebels' of Wadi Rum, stopping to climb sand dunes and to see some of the strange rock formations, including a spectacular rock bridge.
We'll also do some local activities inspired from the Bedouin traditions, walking with a local shepherd with his sheep and goats to a Bedouin tent where we'll participate in making lunch. We can also join in and learn about other traditional Bedouin activities such as shearing the sheep & goats' hair, milking, grinding grains, making bread and roasting coffee until our lunch is ready. Finally, after really getting a feel for nomadic Bedouin life, we return by jeep to our camp and then drive north on the Desert Highway back to Amman. If you would like to add a few days to your tour and spend some time by the Red Sea, then an extension to Aqaba is available after you finish in Wadi Rum.
This evening we'll walk out to a coffee shop or cafe near our hotel in Downtown Amman to enjoy a shisha, a game of backgammon and to reminisce on our Jordan tour.
We transfer you to Amman airport today to board your flight to Egypt's busy capital of Cairo (not included). Once you arrive in Cairo, one of our staff will be there to meet you before taking you to your hotel, situated close to the Great Pyramids. We'll have some time to settle in before being introduced to the local area and we'll also arrange tomorrow's collection time.
You have the rest of the day to explore Cairo independently. Options are also available to head out on an evening dinner cruise on the Nile River or enjoy a mesmerising sound and light show at the pyramids (both available to book locally on arrival).
Our tour of Egypt begins with a trip to the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo. Home to the fantastic Tutankhamun exhibit the museum hosts a huge number of other ancient Egyptian artefacts. One of our local Egyptologist guides will be accompanying you on this and all of your other sightseeing tours, and you'll find them a wealth of knowledge and full of enthusiasm about Egyptian history, and their country in general. Following on from the museum we then head to Giza on the outskirts of Cairo to visit the Sphinx and the three great pyramids of Egypt. The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), an awesome man-made structure constructed of giant stone blocks, together with the smaller pyramids of Khafre (Chephern) and Menkaure (Mycerinus), the majestic sight of these enormous structures rising out of the desert is a breathtaking spectacle. You will have the opportunity to climb down right inside the pyramids if you wish, though your guide cannot accompany you (a limited number of tickets are available for the Great Pyramid).
This evening we transfer to the station for the overnight sleeper train to Aswan (approx. 12 hours).
This morning we arrive in Aswan and transfer to our hotel overlooking the Nile which is at its most picturesque here, with cascading rapids, lush green islands, and feluccas sailing to and fro. Aswan itself is a melting pot of African and Middle Eastern cultures, most easily experienced by wandering through the busy markets and we build in some free time for you here to do this, walk up and down the Corniche on the banks of the river or visit the Nubian Museum which has a fascinating collection covering the development of the Nubian people in the region.
Our tours in Aswan start this afternoon with a visit the Temple of Philae, a beautiful island complex dedicated to Isis and reclaimed from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, which we reach by a scenic boat ride. We also stop to visit the huge Aswan Dam. The rest of the day is free.
An option is available this morning to visit the temples built by Ramses II at the amazing UNESCO world heritage site of Abu Simbel. We depart very early with the aim of seeing the rising sun over the temples. Transfers, guiding, and entrance fees are included. If you don't visit Abu Simbel, then this morning is free.
We board our traditional Nile felucca at lunchtime to enjoy an afternoon sailing down the Nile. Floating down the Nile on a felucca is one of Egypt's most enjoyable activities and you'll be able to watch local rural Egyptian life pass you by on the banks of the river as you drift past. Our Nubian crew will sail the boat and entertain you on the way, as well as preparing meals for you. Our separate facilities boat will join with us from time to time during the day and moor up with us at night. This boat has a welcome toilet and showers on board as well as a hygienic kitchen where the crew will prepare a delicious evening meal. You sleep on the deck of the boat tonight (mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets provided).
After breakfast on-board we bid farewell to our felucca crew and visit the nearby temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu before continuing on north to Luxor. The town of Luxor is built on and around the ancient site of Thebes, and boasts the largest concentration of ancient ruins in the Nile Valley, if not the world. To the west of the Nile lies the City of the Dead, with its mortuary temples and rock-hewn tombs, whilst to the east lie the Temples of Luxor and Karnak.
After lunch we'll tour the huge temple complex at Karnak, once the religious centre of Thebes and Upper Egypt. It was linked to Luxor by an extensive avenue, lined with sphinxes, and the whole complex was in turn linked to the Nile via a canal through which moved the sacred boats of the god Amun. Entering through a smaller sphinx-lined avenue, built by Ramesses II, you come to the immense pylon entrance. Inside the huge Courtyard are three chapels dedicated to the gods Amun, Khous and Mut. The remarkable Hypostyle Hall has 134 towering columns, each carved with scenes of gods and pharaohs, and hieroglyphic inscriptions adorn the walls.
Later this evening we'll take a walking tour of the smaller Luxor Temple which is right in the middle of town and beautifully lit up at night.
We cross the Nile early this morning to begin our tour of Luxor's West Bank. Home to the Valley of the Kings, the dusty tombs in this ancient burial site are still revealing their secrets today and so it remains one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Our tour includes several of these Pharaonic tombs, as well as the temples of Queen Hatchepsut and Medinat Habu, and the huge Colossi of Memnon.
A spectacular hot air balloon flight over the west bank of the Nile is available this morning (expect an early start to catch sunrise as the balloon rises).
This afternoon we leave the Nile Valley and drive to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada where we check into a 4-star resort. Your stay here is on a 'soft all inclusive' basis, with all meals, soft drinks and snacks included but not alcoholic beverages.
Your day is free today to relax and enjoy your time by the Red Sea. Hurghada is world famous for its scuba diving and snorkelling and the rich Red Sea marine life here attracts divers from all over the world. Other adventurous activities available include wind surfing and kite surfing, glass bottomed submarines, quad biking, camel rides and sea fishing trips. Our local rep based in Hurghada will be on hand to help make any arrangements. Hurghada itself has an interesting marina and old town to explore.
If you wish, we can book extra nights in the resort in Hurghada for you to extend your time here - please contact us for details and prices.
We fly back to Cairo this morning and you then have a choice of either a free day to explore or relax at your own leisure, or to take one of our optional additional tours. These include a city tour which visits the narrow winding streets of Coptic Cairo, the impressive Citadel and Mohamed Ali Mosque as well as the bustling market streets of Khan El Khalili bazaar. Alternatively you could head to the outskirts of Cairo again to learn more about the history of pyramid building by visiting the early pyramids at Saqqara and Dashour, part of the ancient city of Memphis.
Your time is free today for some last minute sightseeing or shopping until we transfer you to the airport for your departure flight. If you have an evening flight departure, then the Cairo City Tour and Saqqara, Dashour and Memphis tours are also available today. Alternatively you can add extra nights to your time in Cairo which would allow you to take a day trip to the colonial city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, or a trip into the desert outside Cairo to see the World Heritage Site of the Valley of the Whales at Wadi Rayan.