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The land that gave birth to the first great civilization needs little introduction. The pyramids, the minarets, the Nile – the scope of Egypt is magnificent. Cairo’s core has remained unchanged since the founding days of Islam. Luxor, the site of ancient Thebes, is lined with warrens of lavish burial chambers and boasts some of the most impressive monuments in all antiquity. Further south at Aswan, even more geometrically imposing temples write a testament to the power of archaic gods and omnipotent pharaohs. It is here that the Nile is best explored by ancient sail, on a felucca (Egyptian sailing boat) at the hands of the prevailing currents and winds.

Cairo

Cairo

Situated along the Nile, Cairo has ancient origins, located in the vicinity of the Pharaonic city of Memphis. The city started to take its present form in 641 A.D. and is the home of the ancient Egyptian civilization, with its temples, hieroglyphs, mummies, of course, pyramids. The famous "Liberation Square," also commonly known as Tahrir Square, is the epicentre of modern Cairo. Visit the fabulous Egyptian Museum, housing the world's largest collection of Pharaonic relics. Not to be missed are objects from the Tomb of Tutankhamen. The young king's funerary mask is made of solid gold, inlaid with lapis lazuli, cornelian, quartz, obsidian, turquoise, and colored glass. The inner coffin is also made of solid gold.

South of Cairo, we travel to Saqqara and the extensive ancient necropolis on the plateau above the Nile Valley. Here we visit tombs and pyramids dating to the Predynastic, Old Kingdom, New Kingdom and Late Periods of ancient Egyptian history. Continue on the high desert plateau along Pyramids Road to the magnificent Pyramids of Giza and the iconic Sphinx and the Temple of the Sphinx - the colossal, recumbent human-headed lion was conceived of by the ancient Egyptians as the sun god Re-Horakhty - "Horus of the horizon." Also see the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the last surviving representative of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and consider a camel ride in the desert.

Luxor

Luxor

Spectacular, vast desert and Nile River scenery brings us to Luxor, "The City of Palaces," preserved for centuries under the desert sand. The imposing Temple of Luxor, as it stands today, was largely the work of Amenhotep III and Ramesses II. The Great Temples of Karnak and Karnak Open Air Museum feature an amazing array of statuary, enormous columns and reconstructed temple structures.

Also see the Valley of the Kings - the most remarkable archaeological destination in the world, and burial place of most of the pharaohs of Egypt's New Kingdom. The actual Tomb of Tutankhamun is arguably the most famous of the tombs in the Valley, the scene of Howard Carter's 1922 discovery of the almost intact royal burial tomb of the young king.

Aswan

The stone quarries of ancient Egypt located here were celebrated for their stone, especially the granitic rock, Syenite. They furnished the colossal statues, obelisks, and monolithic shrines that are found throughout Egypt, including the pyramids. In the 1950s archaeologists began raising concerns that several major historical sites were about to be under water due to the construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile. A rescue operation began in 1960 under UNESCO and the Great Temple of Abu Simbel was preserved by relocating 22 monuments and architectural complexes to the shores of Lake Nasser. Here one can also see Geziret El Nabatat (The Island of Plants). This island in the Nile River is planted with rare species of plants, trees, and exotic native flowers.