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Jonathan Brasnett
Jonathan Brasnett
Egypt February 2009
After felucca-riding on the Nile, donkey-riding through ancient history and horseback-riding into the African sunset, West Island College's Egypt trip with...
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About Kepri

Egypt

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Duration: 14 days
Excluding flights
All meals & activities included

Summary: This is an intense 14 days journey through Egypt's natural and cultural beauties accompanied by a passionate guide! This itinerary really balances the touristic must-see sites with off the beaten path experiences...

Part 1 - Pharaonic Cairo ►
Part 2 - The White Desert & The Oases ►
Part 3 - The Eastern Desert & The Red Sea ►
Part 4 - Islamic & Coptic Cairo ►

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Creative Organizer
This Montreal-born Egyptian has always proudly identified himself with Egypt... Read BIO ►

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Coach Karim Haggar
Read BIO ►

Upcoming expeditions to Africa

 
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Pharaonic Cairo

  • Wonders of the Old Pharaonic Kingdom
  • Pyramids of Giza, Saqqara and Dahshur
  • The capital’s hippest and most charming restaurants
  • Stay on the Zamalek Island in the heart of Cairo
  • The Cairo Museum and the treasures of Tutankhamen
  • Felucca ride by night on the Nile for the enthusiastic
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Day 1 - Pharaonic Cairo (Description)

The first day will start off with a relaxing night in Cairo, to ensure a smooth transition! We will be staying at a nice little hotel on the Island of Zamalek, the area where all the embassies are situated in this Egyptian capital city.

The island is the host of many charming restaurants and coffee shops that we will get a chance to see during the trip. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, we will walk to one of Zamalek’s best restaurants for supper.

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Day 2 - Pharaonic Cairo (Description)

We will start by visiting the Necropolis of Saqqara where some of the most impressive Old Kingdom monuments are found. Our experienced Egyptologist guide will take us to this palm tree surrounded site has the largest concentration of pyramids in the world.

If you thought there were only 3 pyramids in Egypt, you were wrong! You will see dozens of pyramids, and you will have the chance to see the latest archeological discoveries. The monuments found in Saqqara are from the early Pharaonic dynasties; you will thus see pyramids from the 3rd, 4th and 5th dynasties.

We will also see the first attempt at a pyramid: the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur. The Bent Pyramid is one of the three pyramids built for the father of Kheops, Snefru, founder of the 4th dynasty.

Next stop: the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx! The Great Pyramid of Kheops is the only wonder of the Ancient World still standing today.

After a good Egyptian lunch, we will visit the Cairo Museum for a few hours. In the heart of Cairo, and being of the largest museums in the world, it contains over 5000 years of history.

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The White Desert & The Oases

  • Camel trekking and expedition across the white desert
  • New Year’s celebration under the stars with the Bedouin
  • A dramatic landscape of quartz and clay formations
  • Thermal baths in the hot springs of Farafra and Dakhla
  • Sandboarding on the large sand dunes of the Sahara
  • Al Qasr UNESCO site in Dakhla and the Bagawat Necropolis
  • Visit of a sustainable development NGO and partner in Farafra
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Days 3 - 5 - The White Desert & The Oases (Description)

We are off to the oases of Bahareya and Farafra, with coffee/tea breaks and a meal on the way. Near Farafra, we will end up joining our camel caravan that will be waiting...after having selected our camels we'll be ready to embark on a unique 3-days journey through the White Desert!

In the morning you will wake up and think you are on another planet. For a whole three days we are traveling with camels and tents only...but don't worry we'll have enough water to survive, and enough food for all of us! If you don't end up putting things that are going on in your life in perspective in the middle of the Sahara, you never will! This is the ideal time to think things through and contemplate what you are doing in that fast-paced urban life of yours!

This part of the trip is simply too difficult to describe, you have to try it yourself...we'll be crossing different types of terrain, from the White Desert to the Black Desert to Sandy Dunes to a Green Valley - this is definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

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Day 6 - The White Desert & The Oases (Description)

This fourth day in the western desert is one of the craziest of all! We will be Sandboarding on massive dunes a few kilometers from the campsite. After 2 hours of practicing this extreme sport, we will head to the Farafra Oasis to bathe in Hot Sulfur Springs deriving from hundreds of meters underground. We will then eat a nice lunch in the oasis and relax at our Bedouin hotel for an afternoon tea.

Then we will go out for a walk to visit the museum/house of Farafra’s top artist, Badr, before heading to the Hayat NGO. Hayat NGO helps young women by giving them jobs and by promoting the local craftwork. The NGO also promotes sustainable development and collaborates with Farafra’s city council and the White Desert National Park for waste collection and recycling.

We will then go back to our charming hotel for a relaxing and last night in Egypt’s Western Desert.

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Day 7 - The White Desert & The Oases (Description)

Today we will stop in both Dakhla and Kharga oases before reaching Luxor and we will have to leave early in the morning in order to follow the program.

First, after a 3-hour drive, we’ll stop at the historic mud village of Al-Qasr in Dakhla oasis. Al-Qasr is the medieval capital of Dakhla where many ruins and a splendid 12th century mosque lay. You will be impressed by the cleanliness of this preserved town! Al Qasr has recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

After a quick snack, we will head to Kharga oasis to visit the Coptic-Roman necropolis of Bagawat located on a hill. You’ll get a chance to see more than one hundred mausoleums, chapels with Christian drawings from the 4th and 5th centuries and the ruins of a 3rd century church (one of the oldest in the world). If we have time, we will also visit the New Baris (Paris in Arabic) village designed by the famous Egyptian Architect Hassan Fathi.

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The Eastern Desert & The Red Sea

  • Red Sea diving to discover the amazing coral reefs
  • Relaxing on the most beautiful beaches of the area
  • Wadi El Gemal Protectorate camel trekking
  • Cultural exchange with the Baja Tribe of the Eastern Desert
  • Visiting one of the oldest monasteries: Saint-Antoine Monastery
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Days 8 - 9 - The Eastern Desert & The Red Sea (Description)

We head out towards the Wadi El Gemal Protectorate which begins on the beaches of the Red Sea and ends deep inside the Eastern Desert valleys. We will likely make it to our campsite at night – this is our base for the next few days. Our cute little huts were built to counter the extreme heat that occurs in this area in the summer.

We will get to spend a whole day snorkeling and relaxing on the beach. In this southern part of the Red Sea coast, the beaches are virgin and many mangroves can be seen growing along the shore. The ecological balance here is still intact, just like it should, and the coral reefs are sure to impress you with their vivid colours and the crystal clear water colour that lets you see as if you were in an aquarium. Those who have their licenses will be able to scuba dive, and we will all have the chance to visit some charming islands not too far away, specifically the one called Dolphine Island, as it is known for attracting wild dolphins on a daily basis. We will head back to camp at night for a nice meal prepared by the Bajas.

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Days 10 - 11 - The Eastern Desert & The Red Sea (Description)

Accompanied by members of the Baja community (one of the only nomad tribes in Egypt), we will spend some time in the Wadi El Gemal Protectorate. On foot and camelback, the Eastern Desert and its hidden treasures will be revealed as these people have been in this area for thousands of years and know it like the back of their hand. Through their customs, cuisine and especially interesting coffee (roasted on the spot) we are sure to remember this area that has seldom been visited by tourists or even Egyptians!

As we leave the area, we will pass by the St-Antoine monastery, located at the foot of a mountain, disconnected from civilization. This monastery was founded in the 4th century and is one of the oldest ones in the world. The monastery is home to a team of monks who make their own bread, wine and anything else they deem fit - it is surprising to see how many come from all over to dedicate themselves to keeping this place buzzing with activity.

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Islamic & Coptic Cairo

  • Islamic art and masterpieces of the Fatimid and Mamluk Cairo
  • Coptic Cairo, the hanging church and the Coptic museum
  • Mosques of Ibn Tulun, Sultan Hassan and Al Rifaï
  • Citadelle and fortress of Saladin and the mosque of Mohammed Ali
  • Bargaining at the Khan El Khalili market and walking down town
  • Egyptian cuisine in Cairo’s top restaurants
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Day 12 - Islamic & Coptic Cairo (Description)

Today, our local guide will take us around the capital for an overview of Islamic Cairo with its beautiful mosques and minarets. We will start with the Citadelle of Saladin and the Ottoman-styled Mohammed Ali Mosque, located at the top of the tallest mountain in the heart of the city. We will also visit the Sultan Hassan mosque which is right in front of the more recent but just as unique Al Rifaï Mosque. Finally, the oldest mosque in the city and one of the oldest in the world, the Persian-styled Ibn Touloun Mosque is a perfect way to finish the tour. It is Egypt’s largest mosque and is the only one with an exterior staircase that spirals around its minaret.

In the afternoon we will visit an ancient Mamluk palace located near some interesting Fatimid era streets in Old Cairo. We will take the rest of the day to wander around the streets of the Khan El Khalili Market, the perfect place to practice the art of negotiation! This ancient market, still very much alive today, is a real labyrinth of stores where anything can be found. From commercial souvenirs made in China (not recommended) to really special, antique, unique works of art, this is the place to find gifts for your family and friends.

For dinner we will make our way to local restaurant where you’ll be able to try traditional meals such as Molokheya, Fatta and Moussaka.

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Day 13 - Islamic & Coptic Cairo (Description)

We are spending the morning visiting Coptic Christian Cairo. We will start by visiting the “Suspended Church”, dating back to the Roman days, as well as the extremely old Virgin Mary Church. Right next to these, we will find the Ben Ezra Synagogue, an authentic Jewish synagogue that was built before the Arab invasions (just like the churches).

The Coptic museum holds some interesting artifacts for us to see, and so after visiting the museum we will head to the Nile for a short excursion.

To finish the trip on a positive note, we'll get to go to one of Cairo's most popular restaurants and enjoy a last meal together as this amazing experience will have come to an end...