10 Days in Egypt
As far back as our memories go, we can all remember being amazed by the stories of ancient Egypt, the cradle of civilization. The mystery of how the pyramids were built, the unbelievable cache of treasures buried deep in tombs, the strange ritual of mummification, the art of hieroglyphics, and the wonder surrounding this unique civilization that existed 4500 years ago. There are few places on earth that so tightly grip our imagination and curiosity and it's all the more powerful when finally standing at the foot of the Great Pyramids of Giza, or exploring underground tombs in the Valley of the Kings surrounded by hieroglyphics, or standing beneath the massive pillars of the Karnak Temple in Luxor. The pages of our history books come to life right in front of us for 10 days that can only be called epic.
Our seasoned Detours travelers will note some differences with this itinerary. While we incorporate the same fun relaxed atmosphere that you've come to expect, this particular trip includes more structure each day, early mornings to beat the heat and crowds, and more inclusions in an effort to provide maximum comfort and safety in this unique part of the world. Check out the itinerary, inclusions, and trip notes for our upcoming 10-day Egypt adventures below.
NOTE: The dates of Ramadan in 2024 are March 10 to April 8. Some travelers may want to experience Egypt during Ramadan while others may not. It's a really unique time to experience Egypt, and in tourist areas you'll notice very few differences, for example some sites might close slightly earlier but this doesn't impact our schedule as we visit them earlier in the day to avoid the heat and crowds, and the restaurants where/when we dine will be open for visitors. Of course, it's a personal choice and so we suggest keeping this in mind when choosing your preferred travel dates.
**NOTE: While the time spent in each destination remains the same on every departure, the order of stops will be different based on the cruise schedule**
There's no better place to kickstart your exciting adventure than right in the heart of bustling Cairo. Unique to our Egypt trip only: You'll be met at the airport by a representative holding a 'Detours' sign, who will personally assist you through the arrival process from start to finish, and even see that you get to the hotel via the arranged and included transportation.
On day 1 at 4:00pm, your Detours trip leader plus our local guide will meet the group in the hotel lobby and be ready to welcome you to Egypt over a drink and casual get-to-know-each-other, while preparing you for the adventure ahead. A great (and included) welcome dinner on the banks of the Nile follows, with Egyptian food and great views.
Our fabulous local guide is Hend, she's co-led every Detours group since we launched this itinerary and is regularly mentioned as a trip highlight by our travelers. She's a very qualified Egyptologist with 4 years of academic training and 15 years of experience leading group tours through her home country. You're in great hands with Hend who will lead the group through Egypt alongside one of our very own Detours trip leaders.
On day 2 we'll start the morning with a trip to the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx! After we take in this incredible wonder of the world and learn some of its history, we'll take a short drive to a panoramic photo stop with an epic camel ride on the side (optional). In the afternoon we'll head over to the new GEM (Grand Egyptian Museum) to take a sneak peek inside. It's still not "officially open" (10+ years in the making!) but the building itself is a must-see!
Included Activities: The Pyramids of Giza & Sphinx, GEM (Grand Egyptian Museum).
Optional Activities: Entry inside King Cheop's Pyramid, Camel ride.
On the 3rd day we'll head to the airport together and jump on a short 1-hour flight down to Aswan (or Luxor - depending on the cruise schedule) for a few days of exploring the many incredible sights along the banks (and beyond) of the mighty Nile River, considered the source of life for thousands of years of Egyptian civilization.
Soon after arrival into Aswan - we'll take a boat to visit the beautiful Temple of Isis (the Goddess of health, marriage and wisdom) located on 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.
NOTE: Days 3-7 are reverse if the Cruise schedule goes from Luxor down to Aswan, all of the same inclusions/options apply.
Included Activities: Traditional Felucca boat ride, Temple of Isis, Philae Island
Optional Activities from Aswan: Abu Simbel, Nubian Museum
There's no better way to experience this beautiful region than by casually cruising down the Nile River on a comfortable ship with all the amenities of an upscale hotel. On our 4th day we'll board our floating home for 3 nights, where we can enjoy watching the daily life on the banks of the Nile from the comfort of our guest rooms, or the rooftop sundeck, the pool, or the bar. It's a fantastic way to enjoy constantly changing scenery, while also having plenty of opportunities to jump off to explore impressive sites along the way.
Our cruising trip ends with what many will consider the highlight of it all - the Valley of the Kings and Luxor. We'll go underground in the Valley of the Kings to explore royal tombs and learn about the vibrant hieroglyphics that surround us in each one. We'll explore the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, who was the most famous queen of Egypt and ruled for the longest period.
Included Activities during the Cruise portion of the trip: Kom Ombo Temple, Valley of the Kings (entrance & 3 tombs), Queen Hatshepsut Temple, Colossi of Memnon, Karnak Temple, Traditional felucca boat at sunset.
Optional Activities during the Cruise portion of the trip: Abu Simbel, Hot Air Ballooning, Luxor Temple, Additional tombs in the Valley of the Kings (Seti I, Ramses V, Ramses VI, Tutankhamun).
On the morning of our 7th day, we'll wander around in awe at Karnak, one of the world's most celebrated temple complexes, built over a period of some 2000 years, some of it dating back to 2,055 BC - that's over 4000 years ago!
Afterwards, we'll jet back to Cairo on a 1-hour flight, then head back to the same hotel we started in for the remainder of the trip.
Our 8th day in the city introduces some of the flexibility our travelers expect with a day of options. Maybe you'd like to check out the ancient city of Memphis and Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara (Egypt's first Pyramid) or give yourself some time for a poolside drink in the sun or spa day. This is a day to experience something that specifically interests you, before we are welcomed into the home of a local family for a delicious dinner all together.
Included Activities: Dinner with a family in Cairo
Optional Activities: Half-day trip to Saqqara/Memphis, Alexandria Day trip, Egyptian Museum, Coptic Cairo.
Cairo is packed full of amazing sites to experience and this day is spent exploring the best of them together. These include the NMEC (National Museum of Egyptian Civilization), which holds the mummies of 18 kings and 2 queens and is the first museum in the Arab world dedicated to all the historical periods and their impact on the area.
From there, we'll ascend to the Citadel of Saladin built in 1176 to protect the city from the Crusaders invasion. Perched above the city, this makes for a great viewpoint in addition to its historical significance and architectural beauty. It's here that we'll visit inside the stunning Mosque of Muhammad Ali and have a fascinating and beautiful introduction to Islam from our guide Hend.
The last stop of the day is the eclectic souks of the Khan al-Khalili Bazaar, which is an essential Egyptian experience. You'll have plenty of time to lose yourself in the colors and aromas of this fascinating marketplace, one of the worlds’ oldest. We’ll learn how various vendors prepare popular food, explore the Al Attarin spice and El Sagha gold markets, and take a break for tea at the iconic Feshawi Café.
Included Activites: NMEC, Mosque of Muhammad Ali, visit to the Khan al-Khalili Bazaar.
Our Egyptian adventure together comes to a close today in Cairo, after an incredible 10 days of unique experiences you'll never forget. There are no scheduled activities today, leaving you free to book your departing flight from Cairo any time on this 10th day.
Included is your departing 'concierge' service which is transportation from the Hotel to Cairo airport where a representative will meet you and assist with your departure, right up until you go through passport control.
We don't like staying in smelly shacks on our vacations and we're pretty sure you don't either! You work hard to go on vacation and we believe you deserve an enjoyable, comfortable place to wind down at the end of each day. We put a LOT of time into finding the perfect accommodation for your trip. Check out our approved accommodation to see where we've stayed in the past and where we'll likely be staying on your trip.
CAIRO: Intercontinental Semiramis
Standing on the site of the historic Semiramis hotel, this IHG property is situated right on the River Nile and features an outdoor pool, great dining options, a Spa, small arcade of convenient shops, and is within walking distance of the Egyptian Museum.
While we don't normally use big-brand hotels on our trips, in Egypt, we've found that it serves as the best combination of comfort and convenience for our guests. The Intercontinental is in a great location, it's safe to walk on the streets nearby and over to the island of Zamalek (though you'll want to ignore any of the locals who are trying to 'help' you cross the street - as our guide says, in Egypt - nothing is for free!) We also love that at this hotel all of the staff are trained in diversity and inclusion, and are familiar and welcoming of its international, LGBT guests.
ASWAN: Movenpick Aswan
Perched right on the West bank of the Nile River, with views over the city, the river, and the giant sand dunes, the 5-star Movenpick Resort is a fantastic home for us in Aswan. Very quick walking distance to downtown (via the complimentary ferry cross-river), a rooftop bar with stunning views, and two beautiful pools, all help make this the most comfortable place to stay in the city. NOTE: Some groups spend their night in Aswan on the Nile cruise ship, rather than on land, depending on ship scheduling.
NILE CRUISE: M/S Movenpick Royal Lotus/Lily (or similar)
With just 60 cabins, the Royal Lotus/Lily are some of the smaller, more intimate of the Nile ship options. With a nice rooftop pool, great on-board restaurant, and all the amenities you'd expect from a hotel room on land. All-in-all a very comfortable way to enjoy a cruise down the Nile River.
*Please note that due to availability, these exact hotels may not all be available during all Detours trips. However, we will always replace these with similar hotels, and will never downgrade.
Egypt has experienced a sustained period of relative calm and peace since their latest regional flare-up ended over 10 years ago. The governments of Canada, USA, and the UK currently do not advise against travel to the areas on this itinerary (Cairo and tourist areas along the Nile River). That said, it's important to use the resources provided by these official governement sources to ensure you are making informed travel choices about any destination you're interested in traveling to. For extra safety, the Tourist Police have copies of our itinerary and know of our whereabouts at all times. Occasionally we'll be escorted by an officer, as is common practice for all tour groups in Egypt.
Local attitudes towards LGBT people mean that this trip may not be right for all travelers. While homosexuality isn't illegal in Egypt, it isn't socially tolerated by most Egyptians. To help improve the comfort, enjoyment, and safety of our travelers Detours partners with local LGBT-friendly inbound operators and accommodation, and uses private services including local guides and transportation. We encourage travelers to respect local customs and behaviors while in Egypt and any country they visit.
In any country that we operate in, we encourage our travelers to respect the local culture, and this should be applied to modesty within a majority-Muslim country such as Egypt. For the safety and comfort of your fellow group members as well as your own, we require that you do not engage in any public displays of affection. The use of online meet-up apps is also discouraged in Egypt. Outside of our group itself, this particular trip is not one with a LGBT-focus.
While this part of the world is known for its hot and sunny climate, we've scheduled our Egypt trips outside of the hottest months of the year to get those great hot-but-not-too-hot days with plenty of sunshine!
March/April: In locations like Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, average high temperatures in March/April range from around 20 to 27°C (68 to 81°F). These temperatures provide comfortable conditions for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Average low temperatures during the night range from approximately 11 to 17°C (52 to 63°F)
October in Egypt offers delightful weather with milder temperatures, making it an ideal time for outdoor exploration. The scorching summer heat starts to dissipate, providing a more comfortable climate for travellers.
In cities like Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, as well as the Nile Valley, daytime temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). The evenings start to become cooler as well, with temperatures ranging from 16°C to 20°C (61°F to 68°F).
The weather in October is generally sunny and pleasant, allowing for enjoyable outdoor activities and sightseeing. However, it's still advisable to wear sunscreen, bring a hat, and dress in layers to accommodate temperature fluctuations throughout the day.
We highly recommend wearing shirts that breathe (i.e. anything but cotton!)
Traditional Egyptian cuisine includes many legumes and vegetables and closely resembles cuisines of Eastern Mediterranean countries. While there are a lot of vegetarian options here, meat-eaters need not worry as there's plenty of options too. Think shawarma, hummus, kofta, pita bread, and kebab. In the areas that we'll be visiting on this trip you'll have the opportuity to experience the local cuisine, while also having varied other options as well. Tea is the national drink so you'll find lots of it! And if you're looking for alcohol, don't worry, it's not actually that hard to find. While local Muslims avoid alcohol, there are many non-Muslims who enjoy drinking in Egypt.
The tax on liquor is significantly higher than other alcohol in Egypt, so you might find yourself choosing a local Egyptian wine (yep, that's a thing!) or a beer instead of a cocktail or mixed drink.
You'll want to pack for warm weather in Egypt, so plenty of short-sleeved shirts (ideally not cotton as they don't breathe well in the scorching heat), and shorts to ensure you're comfortable outside in the sun.
While the majority of this trip will be very casual and t-shirts and shorts are completely accepted (just not short-shorts, like booty shorts), you may want to bring a few button-up shirts for nice meals - along with your swimwear and tanktops of course! Comfortable walking shoes are very important on this trip so make this your priority footwear. No hiking shoes required. Flip-flops or sandals can be nice for the boat too. On the Nile cruise there's a dress code for dinner only, where pants must be worn.
It's a good idea to pack a little bug repellent, as the flies can get a little frustrating at times.
Egypt uses the "Egyptian Pound" as their official currency. While many places accept (and prefer!) US Dollars, you'll generally get a better price when using their local currency. There are NO currency exchange shops around Egypt, only one at the airport on your departure out of Egypt (it's located after you've passed through passport control).
We advise arriving to Egypt with the following: 5-7 USD tip for the welcome concierge service, 5 USD tip for the driver (airport to hotel), and your bank card to withdraw EGP from any of the 5 ATMs in the hotel lobby. The maximum you can withdraw per transation is 4000 EGP and you will be able to withdraw from multiple machines (and/or withdraw as you go). You could arrive with 1,000 EGP to ensure you're ready for those first little necessities but the ATMs will dispense smaller bills and are very conveniently located in the hotel lobby. Just remember to always deny conversion (for the better exchange) and 'Current' account is what they call your checking account. Credit cards are accepted in all of our hotels for personal meals (not group meals), and on our cruise but cash will be necessary for things like tips and all group meals and optional activities/entrance fees.
If possible, it's always a good idea to travel internationally with a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. The savings will add up over the course of your trip and may end up being worth the work of getting a new card prior to your trip. Once you're overseas, if presented with the option to pay in the local currency or your home currency, we suggest always choosing the local currency to further avoid fees.
Tipping is a large part of the tourism industry in Egypt. Those who work in the tourism industry in Egypt have come to expect tips at almost every interaction, and that's why we encourage our groups to participate in the tip pool at the beginning of the trip (approximately 70 USD per person) as it takes away the frustration of always looking for cash, and allows our guide to appropriately tip service staff along the way. Your trip leader and guide will cover this topic during your welcome talk/drink. As is standard in the industry, most travelers budget around $10-15 USD per day for their Detours trip leader.
On this partiular trip we've chosen big-brand hotels as they provide a higher level of comfort and safety than the smaller boutique properties that we use in other destinations. They're beautiful properties, all in great locations, with fantastic reputations that we're sure you're going to love! Just note that the 5-star designation can mean different things to different people and in different countries so we encourage you to check out the listed properties online to get a better understanding if this is something that concerns you. A 5 star ranking in one country is not always the same as a 5 star ranking in another.
You'll have one Detours trip leader and Hend, our local guide - during your entire Egyptian adventure! Our leaders are a big part of the success of your experience with us and their job is to help ensure that this is your trip of a lifetime by taking the hassle out of your trip and enabling you to experience everything you came to Egypt for. Don't hesitate to ask them questions along the way and let them know if there's something that can make your trip more enjoyable.
In most of the destinations we operate in, we avoid scheduling activities or transfers early in the morning. However, given the heat and crowds that reach the sites on this itinerary in the mid-day, we know that the best time to experience Egypt is in the early mornings. That's why, on this particular itinerary only, days tend to start quite early to avoid that heat and those crowds. While our scheduled activities and tours may start together at 6am-7am most days, you may even choose optional activities that begin earlier than this, such as hot air balloon rides or a trip to Abu Simbel. If you're looking for a "stay up late, sleep in late" type of trip, this may not be the right itinerary for you.
While there is no minumum group size on a Detours trip, our maximum group size is 16. Ages of group members vary but almost all our travelers are in their 30's to 60's. Whatever the age of the guests on our trips, everyone's already got something in common, an exciting new experience in a new country! We welcome everyone onto our trips although it’s important to know that most groups are made up of entirely gay men.
No problem! Don’t worry, at least half our travelers come solo and our trip will provide plenty of chances to meet great people within the group, including other solo travelers. As far as your accommodations go, you’ve got two choices. We can either pair you up with another solo group member in a two-bed room for no extra charge, or you can have your own room for a very reasonable surcharge.
Egypt uses the same plug shape that most of Europe uses, with two circular pins. The voltage is 230V with 50 Hz frequency. These days, the majority of items that are plugged into an outlet are built to handle varying voltage and frequency levels, but just to be sure, we suggest checking your item for its accetable range.
To ensure you don't lose connection along the way, your cell phone provider likely has several roaming options available. We suggest reaching out to them prior to the trip to find out which package is right for you as it will depend on how much you intend to use your phone while traveling. Keep in mind that all accommodation and most restaurants have free WiFi available as well.
A NOTE ABOUT WIFI IN EGYPT: Specifically, the Nile cruise operates on a SIM-based WiFi system, which often has weak signals especially when docked close to other ships. The WiFi is also only available in one common area on the ship. Please remember that there are still many places in the world where signal strength won't be as good as what you might be used to at home, so we encourage you to excercise patience and understanding - or to go grab a cocktail and chat with other guests up on the sundeck as you watch the world pass you by, you're here to enjoy it after all!
What's included? • All taxes • All group transport between itinerary destinations • Accommodations for your 10-day Detours experience • Two domestic flights from Cairo to Aswan/Luxor and Aswan/Luxor to Cairo • 3-night Nile River Cruise • Guided visits and entrance fees at Giza Pyramids, Egyptian Museum, Edfu Temple, Karnak Temple, Temple of Isis, Kom Ombo Temple, Temple of Queen Hatshepsut • Entrance to 3 tombs in the Valley of the Kings • 4 lunches • 4 dinners • All full breakfasts • Local Egyptian guide throughout • Knowledgeable and fun Detours leader •
What isn't included? • Meals and drinks outside of those listed above • Activities outside of the those listed above • International Airfare • Visa/departure fees • Optional gratuities •
Additional spending budget? Your big-ticket items are included through the trip, but you'll want to budget for additional spending such as additional meals, drinks, shopping, activities, etc. These costs can vary dramatically with differing personal habits but we suggest expecting to spend an additional $700 USD at the lower end for the more budget-conscious and $1100 USD at the higher end for the splurgers. We suggest arriving to Egypt with approximately 5000 Egyptian Pounds in cash.
Frank B. - USA
May 2, 2022
The Egypt tour greatly exceeded our expectations! All transportation was arranged and on time. Accomodations were top notch. The tour guides were a dream team, making sure we had no worries, while providing a complete cultural experience. Five stars is not enough: 10’s across the board!
Giao T. - USA
May 2, 2022
I had an incredible tour of Egypt with Detours Travel in March 2022. Everything was taken care of from the time I landed in Cairo until I departed 10 days later. The trip leader, Dan, and our local guide, Hend, provided outstanding customer services that enhanced our trip experience. They are so knowledgeable about history and local customs that I don’t think I could have experienced if I took a trip by myself.
I don’t usually write reviews but I like to give a shout-out to Detours as it is a well run travel group tour company and always have nicest travelers in the group. This was my second tour with Detours after the Peru trip and planning to get a third one next year.
Ludovic C. - France
May 2, 2022
A wonderful trip through time. The pyramids are breathtaking. The temples (Edfu, Louqsor and Karnak are my favorite) are stunning. So grateful for having the chance to do a Hot air balloon tour. Thank you Detours, it’s always a pleasure to meet people from all over America and be able to share moments and talks like I shared in the Egypt trip.
Thank you to Hend, our local trip leader. A diamond !
A big thank to Dan, our trip leader. Always smiling, accurate leader. Always all ears for anything. And… thanks Dan for the “flakiness talk” ahah !! See you soon !