Please Go Away Experience:
Egypt Founder's Trip
February 11 - 22, 2022
Discover Luxor and Dendera Temple Complex, one of the best preserved temple complexes in Egypt. Experience the fabled Nile River during a four-night Nile River cruise. Explore the legendary Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, Horus Temple in Edfu, the temple of Kom Ombo, and the temple of Isis on the island of Philae.
'Egypt Founder's Trip
Africa’s most populous city, Cairo was founded in 969. The timeless and energetic city occupies the banks and islands of the Nile River in northern Egypt. The oldest section of the city has grown haphazardly over the centuries, creating small, crowded lanes, curio shops, old mosques and tenements. Using Paris as a model, western Cairo was built in the mid-19th century, incorporating boulevards, public gardens and grand, open spaces. In the desert west of Giza, the ancient necropolis of Memphis encompasses the three great pyramids. The pyramid of Djoser, the Sakkara Step Pyramid, is the world’s oldest known pyramid. The wealth of ancient rulers is housed in the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) just outside of Cairo on the Giza Plateau, next door to the pyramids. (Please note: GEM is slated to open in late 2021.) This stunning museum has already become the crown jewel of Egypt and it is one of the largest, most modern, and most renowned museums in the world. One of the first artifacts to be transferred to GEM was an enormous 3,200-year-old, 83-ton statue of Ramses II that had previously stood in the middle of a traffic circle in Cairo known as Ramses Square. The new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization houses the greatest collection of pharaonic treasures in the world. Cultural explorations include experiences such as Tanoura, a traditional national dance in Egypt that first appeared in the 13th century. Performed by men, it was thought to be a bridge to God. This form of Tanoura is distinguished by the use of multi-colored skirts. In fact the etymology of the word has Arabic roots and is translated as a skirt. The basis of the dance is a counterclockwise circling of an artist. The dance carries a religious meaning, and symbolizes, among other things, the rotation of the Earth around the sun. The traditional music of the dance also has Arabic motifs. Traditionally, music is played to the accompaniment of drums, flutes and tambourines.
Included In The Tour Cost:
Hotel and lodge accommodations as proposed, including taxes and fees
All breakfasts, one dinner
Service of a private Egyptologist for included sightseeing
All transfers in an air conditioned vehicle
Domestic flights from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan to Cairo
Entrances at monuments / sites mentioned in the itinerary
Comprehensive assortment of pre-tour materials and amenities
Big Five’s 24-hour White Glove Service® guest assistance
Day to Day Itinerary
Day One: Depart for Egypt
Covid Testing Requirements for Egypt
The Egyptian Government has announced that all passengers travelling to Egypt (including Egyptians) must be in possession of negative PCR test certificate for COVID-19, taken at a maximum of 72 hours before their flight departure time. However, passengers travelling from Japan, China, Thailand, North America, South America, Canada, London Heathrow, Paris, and Frankfurt will be allowed to provide the test certificate performed at a maximum of 96 hours prior to flight departure, due to the long travel and transit period from these airports. Although we understand the PCR testing policy to require a test result performed no more than 96 hours before the original departing flight, we have received anecdotal reports that some travelers have been denied entry when their PCR test was performed more than 96 hours prior to the departure of their connecting flight. Travelers must present paper copies of the test results; digital copies will not be accepted. Children under the age of six of all nationalities are exempt. Additionally, we have been informed that incoming tourists must show proof of health insurance upon arrival. The Embassy is unable to confirm if your specific health insurance policy will be accepted as proof of insurance by the Egyptian authorities and is unable to confirm whether your proposed flight itinerary and the date of your PCR test complies with Egyptian government policy. Please contact the Egyptian Embassy in Washington D.C. or the nearest Consulate for updated information concerning Egyptian government policies and with your specific questions regarding required proof of insurance and PCR testing timelines.
Please note that these are subject to change at any time
Visa Requirements for Egypt
U.S. citizens must have a visa to enter Egypt.
U.S. citizens can obtain a renewable single-entry 30-day tourist visa on arrival at Egyptian airports for a 25 USD fee. A multiple entry visa is also obtainable for 60 USD.
The Government of Egypt has created a website for the issuance of “e-visas.” There are other websites purporting to offer electronic visas, some of which reportedly charge double the official price, but this is the only official Government of Egypt portal for this service. U.S. citizens and the citizens of 44 other countries are eligible to apply through this means in advance of their travel.
Egyptian immigration officials occasionally have denied entry to travelers without explanation. U.S. citizens who have experienced difficulty with their visa status in Egypt or are concerned about their eligibility for a visa upon arrival should apply for a visa at an Egyptian embassy or consulate prior to travel, but a visa obtained prior to entry does not guarantee admission to Egypt.
Visas for gainful employment or study in Egypt must be obtained prior to travel.
*Be sure to check the Covid requirements for your connecting flight!
Day Two: Arrive in Cairo
On arrival in Cairo, you will be met by your Big Five representative right before Immigration and will be assisted with Immigration and Customs formalities and then, you will be transferred to your hotel.
Depending on flight arrival times, you may be with others from our group!
Standing on the site of the historic Semiramis Hotel, the Semiramis InterContinental Cairo is a symbol of true hospitality. The hotel features free WiFi to the business and leisure traveller. Located in the heart of the city centre, facing the River Nile, the hotel features 726 luxurious rooms and suites, twelve restaurants and bars, extensive meetings and events ballrooms and is close to the Egyptian Museum, the Cairo Opera House and the Cairo Tower. The Citadel, old Cairo, downtown shops and commercial centre are nearby. The Giza Pyramids and Cairo International Airport are just 25 km away.
Day Three: Visit Ancient Giza
We will kick off our journey with a visit to the Pyramids of Giza. Nothing evokes the long and intriguing history of Egypt as powerfully as the pyramids. Rising from the desert, Khufu (Cheops), Khafra and Menkaura seem to symbolize the enigmatic tug of Egypt in our imaginations. The Great Pyramid of Cheops immortalizes the son of Sneferu and Hetepheres. Though little is known of this pharaoh, his monument, the largest of the three, is comprised of 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing an average of 2.5 ton.
The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact. There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure.
We will also visit the colossal statue of the Great Sphinx, which has stood guard over the pyramids for more than 4,500 years. Carved from an outcrop of rock, the Sphinx remains the ultimate symbol of Ancient Egypt with its lion’s body and human head. The history and the lifestyle of ancient Egyptian pharaohs come alive before our eyes through the skilled narrations of our specialist guide.
In the afternoon, we will visit the new GEM (Grand Egyptian Museum).
Day Four: Depart Cairo to Luxor
We will depart Cairo this morning and take a domestic flight to Luxor (1hr). Upon arrival in Luxor, we will meet our driver and be transferred to the hotel.
Discover the sumptuous history of a hotel that's hosted royalty and celebrities: the 5-star Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor! Built in 1886 on the banks of the Nile and surrounded by century-old Royal Gardens, the hotel overlooks the Nile and the West Bank Ne cropolis. It's an oasis of tranquillity - and a gateway to the splendours of pharaonic times. Come and bask in an atmosphere steeped in history, romance and adventure - all while enjoying the modern conveniences only a 5-star hotel can provide
Day Four Continued: Temple of Karnak and Temple of Luxor
We will depart Cairo this morning on a domestic flight to Luxor.
In the afternoon, we will explore the temples of Luxor and Karnak. The temple of Luxor is close to the Nile and parallel with the riverbank. King Amenhotep III - who reigned 1390-53 BC - built this beautiful temple and dedicated it to Amon-Re, king of the gods, his consort Mut, and their son Khons. This temple has been in almost continuous use as a place of worship right up to the present day. It was completed by Tutankhamun and Horemheb and added to by Ramses II. Towards the rear is a granite shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great. Today there is a former church that is now a mosque, right within the city wall of the temple. The streets of Luxor buzz just outside the temple.
The Temple of Karnak is the largest Temple in the World! The complex contains a group of Temples such as the Great Temple of Amon Ra, The Temple of Khonso, The Ipt Temple, The Temple of Ptah, the Temple of Montho and the Temple of the God Osiris. A 20m high, mud brick enclosure wall, surrounded all of these buildings.
Day Five: West Bank + Valley of the Kings
Today, we'll explore the Valley of the Kings and Queens. The Valley of the Kings consists of the East Valley, where we can find most of the tombs of the New Kingdom Pharaohs, and the West Valley, which has only one tomb open to the public, and that is the tomb of Ay, who succeeded Tutankhamun to the Egyptian throne.
We'll visit the tomb of the famous Tutankhamun, who was buried in a tomb that was unusually small considering his status. His death may have occurred unexpectedly, before the completion of a grander royal tomb, so that his mummy was buried in a tomb intended for someone else. This would preserve the observance of the customary 70 days between death and burial. King Tutankhamun's mummy still rests in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings. On 4 November 2007, 85 years to the day after Carter's discovery, the 19-year-old pharaoh went on display in his underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its golden sarcophagus to a climate-controlled glass box. The case was designed to prevent the heightened rate of decomposition caused by the humidity and warmth from tourists visiting the tomb.
Then we'll continue to the Valley of the Queens, on the west bank of the Nile. This barren area in the western hills was chosen due to its relative isolation and proximity to the capital. The kings of the 18th dynasty, instead of the traditional building of pyramids as burial chambers (perhaps because of their vulnerability to tomb robbers), now chose to be buried in rock-cut tombs. Visit the tomb of Nefertari, one of the largest in the Valley of the Queens. It is 520 square meters, and covered with pictures of Nefertari. Her husband the pharaoh is not represented in any of the pictures. Nefertari can be seen wearing Greek silver earrings in one of the portraits. These would have been sent to her as a gift for diplomatic reasons. The tomb was robbed in antiquity. In 1904 it was rediscovered and excavated by Ernesto Schiaparelli. Several items from the tomb, including parts of gold bracelets, shabti figures and a small piece of an earring or pendant are now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Additional shabti figures are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Visit also the temple of Queen Hatshepsut of Dynasty XVIII was built just north of the Middle Kingdom temple of Mentuhotep Nebhepetre in the bay of cliffs known as Deir el-Bahri. In ancient times the temple was called Djeser-djeseru, meaning the ’sacred of sacreds’. It was undoubtedly influenced by the style of the earlier temple at Deir el-Bahri & Hatshepsut chose to site her temple in a valley sacred to the Theban Goddess of the West, but more importantly it was on a direct axis with Karnak Temple.
The Colossi of Memnon are two huge ruined statues, around 17m high, once stood at the entrance gate of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, though very little of the temple behind them remains today. They were cut from two massive granite blocks, brought from quarries near Cairo, and carved to represent the pharaoh.
Day Six: West Bank + Tombs of the Nobles
Today, we'll visit the Tombs of the Nobles. This is a less visited area but still very impressive. There are large, row tombs dug during the late Second Intermediate Period and early Middle Kingdom. We will find tombs belonging to priests and officials of the 17th and 20th dynasties, including some rulers of the 17th dynasty.
Continue to Madinzt Habu, which is the name commonly given to the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, an important New Kingdom period structure in the location of the same name on the West Bank of Luxor in Egypt. Aside from its intrinsic size and architectural and artistic importance, the temple is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea Peoples during the reign of Ramesses III.
Next, we'll visit Deir-el-Medina, an ancient Egyptian village which was home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom period (ca1550–1080 BC). We will also visit Ramessum. King Ramses II called his temple "The Temple of Millions of Years of User-Maat-Ra", which was one of his titles that means 'the Power of the Justice of Ra'. Work in the temple continued from the beginning of the reign of Ramses II until the 22nd year of his reign. But not long after the end of the New Kingdom, the Ramesseum was stripped of its wealth by hungry citizens; and its buildings were used as quarries for the construction of other monuments. Tombs for major and minor court officials were put into the bedrock beneath it; small shrines built from its stones; and a Christian church built within the ruins. Today, the entrance to the temple is a narrow doorway in the northeast corner of the enclosure wall. The huge First Pylon (now badly damaged) is 67 meters wide and originally about 24 meters high. Similar to the scenes of many other monuments of Ramses II, those of the Ramesseum depict the wars of the King against the Hittites.
Day Seven: Drive from Luxor to Aswan
Today we will be transferred to Aswan by vehicle. En route, we will visit the Edfu Temple as well as Kom Ombo.
The site of Edfu Tell was known as Wetjeset-hor (classical name Apollinopolis Magna), the place where the god Horus was worshipped and where the battle between Horus and his traditional enemy Seth in ancient mythology took place.
We'll also visit the Temple shared by two gods Sobek & Haeroris in Kom Ombo.
The Temple of Kom Ombo stands on the east bank of the Nile, right next to the river. It was mainly dedicated to the God Sobek, the crocodile God, together with his wife, in another form of the Goddess Hathor. The Temple is of Greco-Roman structure, dating back to the year 119 BC, when Ptolemy VI, who started the construction, built it out of limestone .
Upon arrival to Aswan, we'll head to our hotel and perhaps have time for a felucca ride on the Nile.
Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan
Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan offers two different experiences within its premises; in which heritage is preserved in The Palace, while contemporary elegance is lavishly designed in The Nile wing. The hotel features 4 restaurants and 4 bars.
From your private terrace at Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan, watch feluccas as they sail past Elephantine Island. Most of the 138 rooms and suites offer Nile views; choose from the original Byzantine-style historic palace or the lavishly contemporary Nile Wing. Regally perched atop a pink-granite shelf, this Victorian-era hotel has been extensively renovated with French and Middle Eastern decor while still maintaining its period grandeur. Choose from six restaurants and bars, including the signature 1902 restaurant, serving nouvelle cuisine under a 65-foot dome. The So SPA is a wellness temple in the heart of Nubia.
Day Eight: Sites of Aswan
This morning, we'll visit the Temple of Isis in Philae. This is one of the greatest Temples in Egypt and it occupies about a quarter of the island. It is the main Temple on the island, with its huge, complete, pylons and beautiful scenes.
The Temple is built in the same style as the Temples of the New Kingdom, as well as some other elements, which appeared in the Greco-Roman period, such as the Mamisi (the House of the divine birth of Horus), and a Nilometer, but the Temple became submerged after the first Aswan dam was built in 1906. Today it sits on a nearby island - you can see the remnants of the original island from the shoreline.
We'll also visit the High Dam of Aswan. This was a great project under Nasser. In fact it was one of the most important achievements of the in the last century in Egypt, even for many years it was a symbol of the New Era of the Revolution of 1952. It provided Egypt with water and electricity and secured the country of the risk of the destructive inundation of the River Nile. From the High Dam we can also spot some of the surviving temples along the shores of Lake Nasser.
The Unfinished Obelisk lies, in its original location, in a granite quarry in Aswan. It is 42m in length and was most probably abandoned when some cracks appeared in the rock, during its construction. Had this obelisk been completed, it would have been the heaviest obelisk ever cut in Ancient Egypt, weighing nearly 1100 tons! It is believed that it was constructed and abandoned during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty).
Day Nine: Abu Simbel/Leave for Cairo
Today, we will be transferred to the airport to take our flight to Cairo, where upon arrival we'll be met and transferred to our hotel, the beautiful Four Seasons First Residence in Giza.
Depending on our flight arrival, we may have the chance to visit the new Museum of Civilisation in the afternoon. The museum houses the greatest collection of pharaonic treasures in the world, many of which were at the Museum of Antiquities and transported in a Golden Parade of Royal Mummies in early 2021. Our guide will show us the highlights of these artefacts and acquaint us with the museum’s expansive collections.
Tonight, we will meet Farah Abouseif, a local Cairene who used to work for the United Nations fighting for gender equality.
Four Seasons Hotel Cairo, at The First Residence
Welcome to Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence. A gracious sanctuary of Four Seasons hospitality and service, with impressive views of the Great Pyramids over the old-growth canopy of Cairos ancient Zoological and Botanical Gardens. The Hotel is at the center of the First Residence apartments and shops on the west bank of the Nile. In the heart of Cairo, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence encompasses enchanting views of the Nile River, Great Pyramids, and botanical gardens. The hotel boasts 262 rooms, including 50 suites, which are among the city’s most spacious and lavish. Spend the day lounging by the pool, indulging in an aromatic massage at The Spa, shopping three floors of high-end boutiques at The First Mall, or entertaining yourself at the world-class casino. Steps away from the hotel is the First Nile Boat, a culinary and lifestyle location featuring a Brazilian grill, pan-Asian cuisine, a Greek taverna, and a fashionable nightspot
Day Ten: Dahshur and Saqqara
Today we will have a day to explore desert antiquities dating from the beginnings of a civilization that arose more than 5,000 years ago. In the company of our Egyptologist specialist guide, venture through the countryside to visit some of Egypt's oldest sights. First, go Dahshur which is a royal necropolis located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile approximately 40 kilometers (25 mi) south of Cairo.
It is known chiefly for several pyramids, two of which are among the oldest, largest and best preserved in Egypt, built from 2613–2589 BC. building the Dahshur pyramids was an extremely important learning experience for the Egyptians (who were transitioning from step-sided to smooth-sided pyramids) before they could build the Great Pyramid of Giza. Two of the Dahshur Pyramids, The Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, were constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu (2613-2589 BC). The Bent Pyramid was the first attempt at a smooth-sided pyramid but ultimately wasn't successful. One design flaw was that there was a very unstable base for it made of desert gravel and clay that has the tendency to subside when a large amount of weight is put on top of it.
Nearby, visit the necropolis at Saqqara, where King Zoser's Step Pyramid was "built to last 'till the ends of time". This vast site in the heart of a desert plateau is the largest necropolis in Egypt. Extending for almost 5 miles, the complex forms a collection of pyramids, temples and tombs that is fundamental to understanding the history of Ancient Egypt.
Day Eleven: Coptic Cairo / Depart Cairo
We'll start with Coptic Cairo this morning, where we will visit the famous Suspended Church (Hanging Church), dating to the late 4th and early 5th century. This basilica was named "Al-Mu'allaqah" because it was built atop the south gate of the Fortress of Babylon. Then we'll continue to the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, a 5th century Coptic Church. This basilica is built on the cave in which the Holy Family stayed and is regarded by visitors as a source of blessing. As we stroll along, we will come to the recently restored Synagogue of Ben Ezra, which marks the place where Moses was saved by the water girl of Pharaoh. This is the oldest Jewish synagogue in Egypt, built in 882 AC.
The remainder of the day includes cultural landmarks that span three millennium of Egyptian history. The Citadel commands a complete view of the city. Completed in 1183, the Citadel was surrounded by sturdy walls and towers to withstand attacks from Christian crusaders. Inside, we shall see the lavishly decorated alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali.
Construction on Sultan Hassan Mosque began in 757 AH/1356 CE with work ending three years later "without even a single day of idleness." At the time of construction the mosque was considered remarkable for its fantastic size and innovative architectural components. Commissioned by a sultan of a short and relatively unimpressive profile, al-Maqrizi noted that within the mosque were several "wonders of construction" The mosque was, for example, designed to include schools for all four of the Sunni schools of thought: Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanafi and Hanbali.
Al-Rifa'i Mosque transliterated also as Al-Rifai, Al-Refai, Al-Refa'i, and named in English the Royal Mosque), is located in Midan al-Qal'a, adjacent to the Cairo Citadel. The building is located opposite the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, and was architecturally conceived as a complement to the older structure. This was part of a vast campaign by the 19th century rulers of Egypt to both associate themselves with the perceived glory of earlier periods in Egypt's Islamic history and modernize the city. The mosque was constructed next to two large public squares and off of several European style boulevards constructed around the same time.
Then we'll stroll with our guide through the Khan El Khalili, a bustling warren of shops where you can bargain for rugs, copper and leather crafts, perfumes, and other goods both exotic and familiar.
We will spend part of the afternoon and evening with Farah, Big Five Country Manager, and she will show us the Cairo that locals visit. Farah used to work for the United Nations fighting for gender rights and equality.
You will have time to relax at the hotel before we are transferred to the airport to take our flights home.
Most international flights depart the Middle East in the middle of the night, so we'll leave the hotel around 9-10pm for a 12-2am departure, depending on your flight. You'll return home Monday afternoon/evening with a plethora of stories to tell!
Alternately, work with Sarah on a pre- or post- stay in Cairo, Alexandria, or Sharm el-Sheikh.
For complete details and pricing please fill out the form by clicking the "ready to get started" button below.
$6500/person based on double occupancy,
$7200 for single occupancy.
A $2000/person deposit is due to Largay Travel upon registration. This deposit includes a $250/person administration fee. Final payment is due 75 days prior to travel.
Insurance will be quoted at time of deposit.
Not Included In The Tour Cost:
Any airport taxes (All taxes are government imposed and subject to change without notice)
Passport and visa fees
Travel insurance - I will be able to quote an insurance policy upon deposit.
Excess baggage or shipping charges
Items of personal nature such as gratuities, telephone /fax /internet charges, laundry, beverages, meals and services not specified in the itinerary.
Pay Over Time through Please Go Away and Uplift.
Uplift gives you the freedom to buy what you want now and pay over time. With affordable monthly payments, you can easily budget for your trip. Spread the cost of your purchase over fixed monthly installments with no late fees or pre-payment penalties and with easy auto-pay, there are no payment dates to remember.
We have included an additional overnight in Quebec City and a wonderful foodie tour to discover and enjoy the local specialties prior to this itinerary starting the following day.