Our Egypt Nile River cruise aboard the luxury Oberoi Philae and Zahra plus Nile-view rooms at our elegant Cairo hotel promise a truly distinctive journey. And with the smallest groups in Egypt, our attentive Cairo-based team and expert Egyptologists can take you deeper inside 5,000 years of Egyptian civilization and culture.
Day 1 - Welcome to Cairo
Upon arrival, you’ll be met by our Cairo-based staff who will assist you with immigration formalities – from obtaining your visa through baggage claim and customs. From the airport, the drive into the city takes about 45 minutes and brings you to the banks of the Nile River. Here in an affluent and prestigious city-center neighborhood near the Egyptian Museum, you’ll check in to the 5-star Kempinski Nile Hotel. Our stylish and intimate boutique property is perfect for our small groups. Settle in to your Nile-view guestroom and enjoy the rest of this day at leisure.
Day 2 - Extraordinary Sites of Antiquity
The ancient world comes to life today as you explore with our expert Egyptologist, setting out from the Kempinski at 8:00 this morning. Physicists at the University of Amsterdam recently put forth a theory on how the Great Pyramids were built… Behold these amazing structures and evaluate their ideas for yourself! Then behold the watchful gaze of the Sphinx and see the 4,600-year-old Solar Boat of King Cheops. A camel ride across the desert sands may strike you as a bit touristy, but we guarantee you’ll never forget the experience!
Around midday, we’ll take you to the landmark Mena House for lunch and then continue to Memphis, the site of Egypt’s ancient capital. Marvel at the formidable Colossus of Ramses II, on display in a small museum dedicated to this ancient wonder, and then see the beautiful Alabaster Sphinx, discovered just a century ago. At nearby Sakkara, you’ll see the country’s oldest standing stone structure, the impressive Step Pyramid of King Zoser. You’ll also be among the first to admire the vibrant drawings and inscriptions in the 4,000-year-old Tomb of Mehu – newly opened to visitors for the first time in 80 years.
You’ll be back at your luxury hotel around 5:00pm, giving you time to refresh before deciding on where to dine this evening. Right here at the Kempinski, you can enjoy Mediterranean and Italian fare at the Blue Restaurant & Grill or the authentic Ottoman cuisine of Osmanly. Or head up to the 11th floor where The Roof offers casual international dining with breathtaking views. Meals B+L
Day 3 - The Egyptian Museum + Old Cairo
After a sumptuous buffet breakfast, you’ll depart the hotel at 8:00 am to begin your exploration of Cairo. From the Citadel, a medieval fortification set on hill near the heart of the capital, you’ll have fine views of the city. Here you‘ll also admire the impressive Muhammad Ali Mosque, built in the mid 1800’s. Mid morning finds you inside the highly regarded Egyptian Museum of Antiquities; with our expert Egyptologist, your 2.5-hour guided visit reveals ancient artifacts that will deepen your appreciation of the sites you’ll explore along the Nile.
After lunch in a local restaurant, a 1-hour mid-afternoon walking tour through the evocative streets of Old Cairo includes a visit at one of the city’s oldest churches. Continue to the colorful Khan El Khalili Bazaar where gold, jewelry, spices, rugs, textiles, and lanterns have been sold for centuries. Today, it’s a great place to spend an hour or so - browsing for gifts and mementoes! You’ll be back to the hotel around 6:30 pm where the balance of the evening is yours to dine and enjoy as you wish. In addition to the options available at the Kempinski, our Cairo-based staff will be on hand to offer other suggestions and assistance. Meals B+L
Day 4 - Welcome aboard the Oberoi Philae
After breakfast, you’ll be taken to the airport for your included flight to Luxor where you’ll board the luxurious and intimate, 44-guest Oberoi Philae. Settle in to your ultra-spacious light-filled stateroom and then join your fellow passengers for lunch onboard – either in the inviting restaurant, in the lounge, or al fresco at the poolside dining area.
In mid-afternoon, you’ll go ashore to visit two of Egypt’s most celebrated sites of antiquity, beginning with the great Karnak Temple. With our skilled Egyptologist leading the way, you’ll stand before its massive pillars and admire the grand Hypostyle Hall; encompassing more than 50,000 square feet, this is the largest hall of any temple in the world. Your sightseeing continues at the nearby Luxor Temple, built in the 14th century BC and connected to the Karnak complex by the awe-inspiring nearly 2-mile long Avenue of Sphinxes. The temple walls of Luxor are embellished with skillful carvings of the Gods of Karnak accompanied by a festival procession of priests, musicians, dancers and sacred cows. With keen insight from our Egyptologist, today’s sightseeing offers a fascinating look into the culture and beliefs of ancient Egypt. Return to ship for Tea in the Lounge, and time to refresh before this evening’s welcome cocktail reception and dinner. Meals B+L+D
Day 5 - The West Bank of the Nile + Valley of Kings
The Oberoi Philae enjoys privileged private docking facilities along the Nile, allowing you to step off efficiently and easily - going ashore apart from the cluster of other ships and their passengers.
Focusing on the amazing sites of the West Bank, you’ll begin your exploration early this morning in the fabled Valley of Kings. Here, the pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty abandoned the pyramid tradition in favor of tombs built deep in the mountainside. Each pharaoh also constructed a mortuary temple at the edge of the valley, some distance away from the actual tombs. Sixty four ancient Egyptian rulers are buried here, but only a handful of the temples remain, including Madinat Habu - the tomb of Ramses III with its impressive exterior walls. The fabled final resting place of King Tutankhamen and the fabulously decorated tomb of Ramses VI are also among the highlights awaiting our exploration here in the Valley.
Equally as fascinating as the pharaohs’ tombs is the ancient Egyptian village of Deir el-Medina. More than 3,000 years ago during the New Kingdom period, this community was home to the thousands of artisans and laborers who constructed the tombs and temples in the Valley of Kings. In addition to this unusual archaeological site, your morning sightseeing also includes the Colossi of Memnon, two towering statues of Amenhotep III that stand like guards along the road to the Valley of Kings.
Return to ship at midday and enjoy lunch onboard as our luxury vessel continues its journey toward Esna. This afternoon, you might wish to be on deck as the Oberoi Philae traverses through the Esna Lock. Afternoon tea and passing vistas of the Nile Valley landscapes with their small village hamlets and timeless scenes of life highlight the afternoon. Dinner will be served this evening at 7:30 as we continue navigating up the Nile toward Edfu. Meals B+L+D
Day 6 - Edfu + Kom Ombo
After breakfast and a leisurely morning onboard, you’ll join our engaging Egyptologists ashore in Edfu to explore the Temple of Horus, considered by many scholars to be the best-preserved cult temple in all of Egypt. Built in the Ptolemaic era between 237 and 57 BCE, later than many of the other sites along the Nile, it is still a stunning example of traditional Pharaonic architecture and ranks as the second largest temple in Egypt – after the great Karnak Temple. Rich in design, intricate in detail and ingenious in its massive construction, the extraordinary quality of every element here attests to the paramount importance of the falcon-headed Horus.
Return to ship and enjoy lunch onboard as we chart a course for Kom Ombo. Throughout this pleasant afternoon of cruising the Nile, you can retreat to your stateroom with its floor-to-ceiling views, or delight in the passing scenery as you enjoy the convivial company of your fellow passengers, either in the air conditioned Lounge or on deck. Following Afternoon Tea, you’ll step off at our ship’s private pier to explore the Temple of Kom Ombo. Built on a picturesque bend in the Nile, where crocodiles used to sun themselves, this unusual dual-deity temple of the Ptolemaic Period is dedicated to both Haroeris (one of the oldest forms of the falcon-headed God Horus) and, appropriately enough, the fearsome Crocodile God Sobek. Return to ship with time to refresh before dinner is served at 7:30. Meals B+L+D
Day 7 - High Dam + Philae Temple + Nubian Museum
In contrast to the ancient wonders of Cairo and the Nile, the remarkable High Dam at Aswan is an achievement that belongs to modern Egypt. With enriching insight and narration, you’ll explore this engineering marvel; completed in 1970 at a cost of about $1 billion, it spans more than 2 miles and towers 300 feet. This morning’s excursion also includes the Temple of Philae, rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser after the completion of the High Dam. Now situated on a lovely island, the earliest elements of this impressive complex include a small temple built around 370 BCE and dedicated to the Goddess Isis.
Return to ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. At 4:00 pm, you’ll board a comfortable motor boat for a brief but scenic journey to visit the Nubian Museum. Designed by the award-winning Egyptian architect Mahmoud al-Hakim, the building reflects traditional elements of Nubian architecture; inside, its carefully curated exhibits include temple, tomb and dwelling artifacts from the ancient Nubian civilization that thrived here along Nile River as far back as 2000 BCE.
Back onboard, you’ll have time to relax and refresh a final elegant dinner. Meals B+L+D
Day 8 - The Temples of Abu Simbel
After a final breakfast onboard, you’ll disembark the Oberoi Philae at and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Abu Simbel. With our expert Egyptologist again on-hand, your comprehensive 90-minute tour of the Temple of Ramses II reveals one of the world’s most impressive sights of antiquity. Behold these 67-foot high figures of the King, carved from solid rock, and hear the dramatic story of how they were moved 200 feet above their original site to protect them from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. This engineering feet to relocate and protect this architectural wonder was so successful and precise that twice a year, on February 22 and October 22, the rays of the rising sun pierce the temple entrance and reach deep into the heart of the temple – just 24 hours later than the original plan! In addition to its oft-photographed statues, the interior hall is decorated with amazing relief carvings that depict a great battle with more than 1,000 stone figures.
We include your afternoon flight back to the capital, where you’ll be escorted to the Waldorf Astoria Heliopolis Towers; conveniently located close to the airport, it’s ideal for your departure flight the next morning. Settle in to your spacious Premier Guestroom for your final overnight in Egypt. Meals B
Please Note: Departures in 2021 will stay at the Kempinski Nile Hotel while the Waldorf Astoria Heliopolis Towers is undergoing renovations. Departure dates in 2022 will stay at the Waldorf Astoria Heliopolis Towers near the airport.
Day 9 - A Fond Farewell to Cairo
After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your onward flight. Meals B
Note: Guests traveling on the Oberoi Philaes sister ship, the Oberoi Zahra, will sail from Aswan to Luxor, enjoying an extra night on-board and visiting the Temple of Dendara, for a 10 day journey.