Legendary Empires: Giza, Baalbek, Byblos, Petra, Luxor
This expedition has no scheduled departures at this time.
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
An itinerary from a previous expedition is displayed below.
Day 1 Depart USA
Depart on your independent overnight flight to Cairo, Egypt.
Day 2 Cairo, Egypt
Arrive in Cairo and transfer to Oberoi Mena House Hotel. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and briefing.
Day 3 Cairo / Giza
Our tour begins with an exploration of the Egyptian Museum’s extensive collection of ancient artifacts, including treasures from King Tutankhamen’s tomb. We continue to Giza, where we view the impressive Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 4 Cairo / Alexandria / Embark Clipper Odyssey
This morning we drive to Alexandria. We visit numerous monuments, including Pompey’s Pillar, the catacombs, amphitheater, and the new Library of Alexandria, opened in 2002. This evening board the Clipper Odyssey and settle in before we set sail.
Day 5 At Sea
Enjoy a relaxing and educational day at sea as our lecture series begins.
Day 6 Beirut, Lebanon / Byblos
This morning we arrive in Lebanon’s historic capital, Beirut, and depart overland to beautiful Byblos. The city’s history reaches back 7,000 years and offers a panoply of Phoenician, Roman, and Byzantine-era ruins. This seaport, from which the words “Bible” and “book” are derived, once imported papyrus and exported it as scrolls. A highlight is a visit to Byblos Castle, built by Crusaders and enclosing a picturesque walled city of Phoenician monuments.
Day 7 Beirut / Baalbek
Today we drive across the fertile Bekáa Valley to Baalbek, one of the most impressive sites of the ancient Roman world. We explore the well-preserved temples of Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus, surrounded by lovely gardens, as well as the Roman Acropolis, considered to be among the most important ever built.
Day 8 Beirut / At Sea
Often called the “Paris of the Middle East,” a city tour showcases Beirut’s collage of modern and ancient architectural marvels as we drive through the commercial Hamra area and past Martyr’s Square. We also visit the National Museum where artifacts from prehistoric times to the medieval Mamluk period are on display. Browse the colorful market for mementoes before we return to the ship for lunch.
Day 9 Port Said, Egypt / Tanis
We disembark in Port Said and depart for Tanis—once capital of Egypt from 1070 to 715 B.C., this is the most important archaeological site in Egypt’s northern delta. Our historians guide us through the city, which is studded with obelisks, statues, and columns.
Day 10 Port Said / Suez Canal Transit
Today we begin our southbound transit of one of the world’s greatest engineering feats: the 101-mile-long Suez Canal. Learn the history of the canal and the trade routes that preceded it and enjoy views of the varied landscapes.
Day 11 Sharm el Sheikh / Monastery of St. Catherine
From the coastal town of Sharm el Sheikh ascend nearly 5,000 feet to explore the splendid 6th-century Byzantine Monastery of St. Catherine. The church houses one of the world’s most magnificent collections of gold icons, dating back to the 5th century, and the museum has a sampling of manuscripts second in importance only to those of the Vatican.
Day 12 Sharm el Sheikh
Today we board local boats for a cruise to Ras Mohammed, where the Gulf of Aqaba meets the Gulf of Suez. Here we enjoy a delightful snorkel experience among some of the world’s best coral reef ecosystems.
Day 13 Aqaba, Jordan / Petra
Disembark this morning in Aqaba, Jordan’s only seaport. A short drive brings us to the superb ruins of Petra, capital of the Nabataean civilization, which flourished between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200. In a dramatic approach we enter the Siq, a narrow chasm between 600-foot-high rock walls, which opens into the ancient city. Before us are spectacular rock-cut tombs, temples, and a theater, each carved from vividly hued, iron-rich sandstone, which earns it the nickname “Rose-Red Petra.” The façade of the treasury, remarkably well-preserved, bears testimony to Petra’s prominence as a wealthy center monopolizing the lucrative trade routes north of the Red Sea. Dinner and overnight at Movenpick Petra Hotel.
Day 14 Petra / Wadi Rum / Aqaba
We drive south to Wadi Rum, the majestic valley made famous by T.E. Lawrence and featured in the epic movie Lawrence of Arabia. For lunch we enjoy a sumptuous feast of local specialties, sheltered by Bedouin tents and surrounded by dramatic sandstone formations that tower over the desert floor. This evening we return to our ship in Aqaba to overnight pier side.
Day 15 Aqaba / Pharaoh’s Island, Egypt
Today we board a wooden sailboat for a scenic cruise to nearby Pharaoh’s Island. We go ashore to visit the photogenic 12th-century fortress and have the opportunity to snorkel in the warm turquoise waters. We return to Aqaba where there is time to explore on your own before we depart for Safaga.
Day 16 Safaga / Disembark / Luxor
After an early breakfast we disembark the Clipper Odyssey in Safaga and depart overland to Luxor. After check-in and lunch at our hotel, we visit the Luxor Temple, discovered less than a century ago in the heart of the city. Red granite obelisks, the huge Sitting Ramses II colossus, Amenhotep’s colonnade, and a mosque built atop the pharaonic temple are supremely photogenic highlights. Dinner and overnight at the Hilton Luxor.
Day 17-18 Luxor
We have two full days to explore Luxor’s magnificent ancient splendors. At the enormous complex of Karnak we are greeted by Ptolemy III’s impressive gate, still in near-perfect condition, walk among obelisks of staggering height, and along the Avenue of the 1,000 Sphinxes. Cross the Nile to ancient Thebes, a World Heritage Site, and its Valley of the Kings. Cut deep into the rocky mountainsides and surrounded by the high Gurna Hills are the magnificent tombs of Egypt’s principal pharaohs. Visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, constructed at the top of three massive terraces and continue to the two “singing” statues of King Amenhotep III, which once guarded his namesake temple and the largest temple of Thebes. We also board feluccas, traditional Nile sail boats, for a scenic cruise along this legendary river.
Day 19 Luxor / Cairo
Board our flight to Cairo this morning and transfer to the Fairmont Hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Attend a festive farewell dinner this evening.
Day 20 Cairo / USA
This morning transfer to the airport for your independent flight, arriving in the USA the same day.