Middle East Explorer: Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon Itinerary

A 12 day trip to Egypt, Jordan & Lebanon 
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The sights in the Middle East are exquisite with odes to the earliest civilizations enhanced by the beauty of a culture that values tranquility and hospitality. This handcrafted tour explores the best of three countries that are safe to visit to immerse you in ancient cities, pyramids and temples, crumbling relics and the surreal atmosphere of monuments preserved by time. Best of all, the highlights of Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon are now completely clear of other tourists on this itinerary.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Aswan, Temple of Philae, River Nile, Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo Temple, Luxor, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut Temple, Cairo, Giza, Great Pyramids of Giza, Great Sphinx of Giza, Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, Petra, Wadi Rum, Dead Sea, Amman, Beirut, Baalbek, Anjar, Sidon, Tyre, Jeita Grottos, Byblos

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Aswan – Relax in the Desert Oasis

Aswan is calm and quiet with palm trees wafting lazily along the River Nile and chatter emanating from shaded al fresco terraces. This is a classic oasis that is filled with lush colors and surrounded by the stark red of the desert. Your time will be a very soothing introduction to the region as everything in the city moves at a leisurely pace, and the traditional architecture offers a warm welcome. You will be picked up from the airport and transferred to a boutique guesthouse on the banks of the River Nile for an afternoon at your leisure. A number of colorful souks are within walking distance, along with traditional cafes for your first taste of the sweet, fragrant tea that is ubiquitous to the Middle East region.

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer

Day 2: River Nile – Cruise Down the River Nile

In the early morning light, you will stand before the Temple of Philae with its walls inscribed with stories of the Goddess of Magic. Tales hang down from the ceiling, and strange stone faces return your stare for your first impression of Ancient Egypt’s temples. The experience will be magnificent as you will be nearly alone amongst thousands of years of history. Return to the river and set sail on a luxury cruise that will follow the Nile downriver towards Luxor. Stop at Kom Ombo Temple, where dozens of mummified crocodiles fill one room and battles between the gods are carved all across the walls. Then keep cruising, spending the night relaxing on the river and watching the waters turn golden as the desert dunes move from yellow to red to a silhouette.

What’s Included: accommodation, cruise, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Luxor – Be Mesmerized by the Temples Along the Great River

Wake to a desert sunrise with the serenity of the wilderness absorbed by all of your senses. Breakfast is served as you start cruising north, stopping at Edfu Temple, where the cult of the falcon god dominates the ambiance. Columns stand complete, hieroglyphs and sculptures are unmoved, and treasure awaits inside one of the world’s best-preserved temples. There is a mix of Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome to be found here, intimately experienced because the temple was left untouched after being buried in roaring desert sand. After lunch, you will continue your River Nile journey and cruise into Luxor in the late afternoon, feasting your eyes on the tops of temples that are scattered across the banks.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Luxor – Soar Over the Valley of the Kings by Hot Air Balloon and See History from New Perspectives

Tombs hide in the chasms between rugged cliffs, epic temples are carved into the base of mountains, and an old dynasty lies beneath the desert floor. This is the Valley of the Kings and to understand its scale, you will soar above it on a sunrise hot air balloon flight that will celebrate the morning colors of the Sahara. Touch down to a warming coffee, and then get lost in the valley, descending into tombs and sensing the ancient mystique that hangs over the desert here. Sloping corridors are completely covered in murals and gilded decoration and lead towards burial rooms that still feel extravagant after being raided by the looters. You will enter five or six tombs, those of Ramses II and Ramses IV, both large scale examples of how the rulers have contrasting ideas of how they were to be buried.

Keep descending and jackals crafted from stone watch your journey, one of the gods intended to protect the path into the afterlife. Beneath a tomb is another, King Tutankhamen’s wonderfully preserved thanks to its hidden location. Ascend into the sun and drive through the valley to Queen Hatshepsut Temple as the columns stand majestically within a mountain’s vertical face. Complete the day by standing in awe at the imposing Colossi of Memnon and spending a final night on the boat.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Luxor to Giza – Visit Epic Temples and Watch the Sunrise Over the Pyramids

Cross the river to Luxor’s East Bank and the temples of Karnak and Luxor juxtapose with modern city suburbs. Although surrounded, the pyramids rise and create the world’s largest religious monument that will take two or three hours to explore properly. Figures grace the walls, watching you intently and courtyards are packed with columns that spiral into the sky. An avenue of stone sphinxes separates the temples, more examples of Ancient Egypt’s glory years. After lunch, you will fly to Cairo for the most iconic of the old civilization’s as you are guided into the desert by camel in the late afternoon to watch the ancient wonder of the world complete a panorama with the setting sun.

What’s Included: accommodation, domestic flight, airport transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Giza – Explore Inside the Pyramids and See the Treasures of the Egyptian Museum

Spend the morning with the pyramids, the scorched blocks of rock so imposing when seen from close quarters. Enter two of them and take in the grandeur carved across the interior with so much to admire both inside and outside these monuments. Continue your tour with an Egyptologist guide, and you will follow a trail through ancient Memphis, the crumbling pyramid of Saqqara showcasing the incredible age of Egypt. Into the afternoon, the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities will bring you on a journey through the dynasties, the corridors lined with priceless historical relics. Among the exhibits are the riches unearthed by Howard Carter less than 100 years ago, King Tutankhamen’s world glistening through gold and gilded decoration. One of the great highlights of this whole region is how few tourists there are, and this is something you really feel when seeing the treasures of the Egyptian Museum nearly on your own.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Cairo to Petra – Day of Travel Before Sunset Over the Desert

Fly direct from Cairo to Jordan’s friendly capital city Amman. Drink sweet tea in one of the many cafes, admire the minarets of the national mosque, and get a feel for a capital city that has retained the village-like atmosphere of yesteryear. It is then just a three-hour drive to Petra, with a short stop to admire a well-preserved crusader castle. You should arrive in time for sunset, witnessed from a cliff that stands high above Petra, the red and rose of the rock intensified as the sun starts disappearing from the sky. Your accommodation is just outside the World Heritage Site, and you will dine on the rooftop, beneath the desert stars.

What’s Included: accommodation, international flight, airport transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Petra – Take In the Incredible Rock-Carved City of Rose

The chasm grows tighter as you walk into Petra, swirling red rock rising high above your head. Nature closes in, stark and desolate, and then you duck through a narrow gap, and a whole city extends with buildings carved into the rock face. Donkeys plod past, and you follow their journey, snippets of dust puffing up as you wander to monasteries deep in the mountain. The design is remarkable, and it is easy to spend hours admiring the columns and curves of the buildings. Colors swirl in the sandstone rock and no two buildings are the same, each with a unique mix of reds and maroons and softly tinted rose. You will spend the whole day here, visiting the major sights but also taking a peek into the tiny caves that surround them, once the homes of the residents who occupied a Roman city that’s as great now as it was 1,500 years ago.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Wadi Rum to the Dead Sea – Take a Desert Jeep Safari and then Enjoy the Charms of the Salty Sea

Compelling and confounding, Jordan’s landscapes fill this day of discovery. Take a jeep tour into Wadi Rum, where roaring sand dunes rise beneath the bright red mountains slopes, and the legacy of Lawrence of Arabia has its origins. Tires swerve up and over the dunes to tiny natural springs, the sense of solitude becoming more and more persuasive. Spend the morning in the desert, and enjoy a picnic lunch shaded by the red cliffs. Then drive out to the Dead Sea, its blue-gray color back-dropped by strange cliffs of green. The afternoon is at your leisure, and the iconic experience is to test out the famously salty waters that can keep most people afloat. You will spend the night at the best hotel in Jordan, a five-star property overlooking the sea.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Amman to Beirut – Delve Into the Vibrant Middle Eastern Culture of Lebanon’s Amazing Capital

Beirut defies the world, flourishing after the years of civil war. The mortar-ravaged buildings are no more, now replaced by flashy new developments. Fine dining restaurants line the promenade while elegant boulevards are flanked by high fashion stores. Beirut is a city that does not look back, and lives are lived to the fullest, taking the traditions of Middle Eastern culture into the modern era. For many years, Beirut was known as the Paris of the East, and there is still a sensual Parisian type of charm, but it is more appropriate to think of Beirut as the region’s great success story as lively city with an unshakable commitment to culture. Fly here from Amman, and a local guide will give you a relaxed introduction to its sights and styles before you spend the first of four nights at a Relais & Chateaux property.

What’s Included: accommodation, international flight, airport transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11: Beirut – Examine the Magnificent Roman Ruins of Baalbek and Eastern Lebanon

Scattered across Lebanon are some of the world’s largest and best preserved Roman ruins. These locations have not been looted, nor have they been reconstructed, something that creates a more rustic experience. Dedicated to Jupiter, the temple at Baalbek is the most spectacular example, both elegant and imposing in equal measure. Wander across the thick slabs of stone, stand beneath the classic Roman image, and admire the jigsaw pieces that stand unconstructed. Nearby Anjar is from the eighth century, city walls enclosing souks and maze-like lanes with a medieval atmosphere, and a lunch stop here is a great insight into how traditional culture has hardly changed in the east of Lebanon. Return to Beirut in the late afternoon for a free evening in a vibrant city.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 12: Beirut – Find the 7,000-Year-Old Byblos and the Fabulous Jeita Grottoes

It often feels remarkable that Lebanon’s sights are so unknown. Take Byblos, a city with seven millennia of history, and the site where the Roman alphabet was founded, and you will probably be the only foreign visitor. Look next to the Jeita Grottoes, a subterranean lake that stretches for more than five miles, and again, you are likely the only visitor. These sights are found north of Beirut, easy to visit on a day trip from the capital. Time in Byblos is followed a two-hour cruise along the lake to pass surreal sculptures and caves that hint at an ethereal world. Back in Beirut, you will have dinner reservations at a high-end restaurant perched above the Mediterranean, where the cuisine takes local tradition into a contemporary fine dining realm.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 13: Beirut – Take In More Roman Remains on a Day Trip from Beirut

Lebanon is compact, and there is hardly anywhere in the country that is not within a two-hour drive of the capital. Today, you will explore the south of the country and begin at the world’s largest surviving Roman hippodrome in Tyre. Many old Roman buildings continue to be inhabited, a juxtaposition of old and new worlds in this port town. Nearby is a sea castle cast adrift in the Mediterranean, its foundations crumbling yet its turrets still standing proud. Move next to the historical trading town of Sidan for an immersion in the labyrinthine souks of a medieval era. While Jordan’s treasures are mostly rural, Lebanon’s are urban, the relics of the past surrounded by the atmosphere of today. So while you are discovering the heritage and history, the locals will be inviting you to share a toast of tea to the present.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 14: Beirut – Departure

You will depart the region from the international airport in Beirut, but you can relax first with a morning at your leisure at your gorgeous hotel before your airport transfer.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Price 

Your custom trip package will include accommodations, transportation within the country, guided tours and activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. 

Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!