All Inclusive Holidays to Egypt – Western Desert

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This is an eleven-day Safari in the Western Desert of Egypt including Cairo, Siwa and Bahareya and the White Desert National Park. You can add additional days to any stage of the trip as you will not be traveling with any other groups and so we can tailor your trip to suit your own availability and budgets. Minimum group size is 2 people but the cost of 920 EUR is based on a group size of four people. If there are two of you traveling the cost per person is 15% higher to cover the fixed costs of guides and transit connections to Siwa and Baharyia.

Tour overview:

Day 1: Arrival to Cairo. Overnight  in the Victoria hotel

Day 2: Guided tour of the Pyramids and Khan-el-Khalili (Islamic Cairo and ancient bazaars). Overnight in the Victoria hotel

Day 3: Transfer to Siwa.  Overnight in Siwa Villa

Day 4: Guided tour of the main historical sights of Siwa Oasis.  Overnight in Siwa Villa

Day 5:  24 hour Desert Safari. Overnight camping in the Great Sand Sea

Day 6. Come back from the Desert.  Siwa Villa

Day 7. Free days in Siwa. Daily activities organized according to your requests (no extra charge).

Day 9. Transfer from Siwa to Bahareya with a few stops in the ancient abandoned oases on the way. Overnight in a 3* hotel in Bahareya

Day 10. Quick visit to the damous Golden Mummies and the pharaonic tombs of Bahareya before heading to the White Desert National Park. Overnight camping in the White Desert.

Day 10. Transfer from Bahareya to Cairo. Victoria  hotel.

Day 11. Transfer to Cairo airport for your return flight.

 

If you have already seen details for Cairo in one of the other All inclusive holidays to Egypt, please move straight to the Siwa Oasis section where the program changes.

 

Day 1 Arrival – Cairo

Arriving at Cairo airport, you are met in the arrival hall by our driver. He will have a car or people carrier depending on the size of your group. You travel directly to the 3 star Victoria Hotel in Downtown Cairo. It has that old Agatha Christie feel, but is spotlessly clean with each room having its own en suit and beautifully polished wooden floors. Depending on what time of day you arrive you can choose what we do next. Most guests arrive on the afternoon BMI flight or the Friday BA night flight from London and due to you arriving late, have a drink or two at the hotel bar and off to bed. To organise your flights seeGetting to Siwa – Planes. For dinner either try the restaurant at the Victoria hotel or, even better, go for a walk and enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants nearby.

 

Day 2 Pyramids – Cairo

At 8 am your guide arrives to the hotel and takes you for a whole day out at the Pyramids and in the streets of Khan-el-Khalili bazaars.

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By around 8:45 you arrive to Tarek’s stables. Tarek is  our man in Giza and has one of the  best liveries in Cairo.  Each one is chosen a horse that  suits his/her riding experience and off we go.

You ride for 10 minutes through the old town seeing people getting their horses and camels ready for the coming day’s tourists along with children going off to school and people going about their daily business.

You turn a corner and go through the back door to the pyramids,  your guide from Tarek’s stable deals with the gate keepers keepers requests for baksheesh so if any one asks you for money here, just ignore them, you have already paid. You move out into open desert. If you are a rider you can gallop off here and ride around in the desert any where you want, keeping an eye on where the ones who don’t ride are with the guide. You have a full hour to ride around and slowly turn north towards the pyramids.

You ride along in silence until some yells “WOW, LOOK OVER THERE!” and, out of the mist, looms the top of the Great Pyramid. You ride closer, slowly taking in the immense size and presence of the six pyramids that lie before you.

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You ride right up to the pyramids and dismount your horses. Rasha, your tour guide for the day, will be waiting for you at the bottom of the middle pyramid and your guide from Tarek’s stable will take you there. Rasha gives you many ‘wow’ facts about the pyramids and explains how they were built and how long it all took.

You can take as long as you like walking around the pyramids. Depending on which one is open, you can go inside one of the three large pyramids right down into the middle of the structure, if you can handle the claustrophobia and heat that is.pyramids-gv

Included in the tour is entrance to the Pyrmids complex and inside of one of the pyramids (only one of the three Pyramids is open at a time) or the boat house next to the Great Pyramid. You can split your group up and do both and if any one wants to go into both they can, the just need to pay for one themselves. You just need to let Rasha know before you arrive at the pyramids so she can buy the tickets for you in advance at the ticket office which is about a mile away and you will need to give her the money for in case you would like to do both, the boat house and the Pyramid.

As the crowds begin to arrive, if you chose not to go inside one of the pyramids, you venture into the building that looks like a huge desktop printer next to the largest pyramid. Inside is the oldest boat in the world. Rasha will take you around and explain in detail how and why it was built. It also has clean toilets, on of the very few available in the Pyramids complex.

After looking around the three main pyramids, you walk down to the Sphinx and with no rush, when you have had enough time, you walk back out into the main street and your minivan takes you from the desert back to the heart of the city.

You leave the Pyramids with Rasha in the same people carrier you arrived in so you can leave your bags etc in there. You head back into Cairo. Your next stop is the Khan El Khalili Bazaar in the ancient Islamic part of Cairo but you will stop at a traditional Cairo restaurant Rasha recommends for lunch before getting to the markets. You will need to pay for this lunch as it is too complicated for me to get Rasha to pay for it. It doesn’t cost much and it gives you the choice to have what you want. Once you are all refreshed, you are dropped off a mile or so away from the Khan El Khalili market and stroll through the non-touristy streets to get a real feel of old city and what life was like here in medieval times. Rasha trained for 4 years in Egyptian antiquities and will be able to answer your questions.

Out of the touristy areas you are a novelty and get to meet the locals. I never get bored of coming through the old markets that lead up to the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. Opportunities to take pictures of the old ways of life and the 1,000-year-old buildings are everywhere.

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People go about their daily business and donkeys deliver the gas bottles as they have done for years. You can smell the different sections of the market, the spices and sweet potatos for sale from the street vendors.

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Islamic Cairo has more Islamic monuments than any other city in the world and most of them are right here in the old city, all around you, giving you a real feel of medieval life. You stroll along the street in no hurry, stopping for tea or a juice from the local juice bars and using when needed the not-so-clean toilets dotted around the markets.

After tea you head off into the various markets were there are all sort of things for sale and depending on what you are looking for and depending on where we go. We have our own shop in Siwa so you can get some good deals on certain items from us, but it’s more fun to do your own haggling and buy it here.You walk through the markets and monuments until you reach El Fishawi’s, the famous cafe in the middle of the Knan El Khalili bazaar for tea and clean toilets;)

Most of the items sold in the bazaar are not high quality and it takes a good eye to spot the difference. You can practice your bargaining skills and test your eye for an unusual antique or just walk around and take it all in if you are not in the mood for shopping.

 

You can spend as long as you like in the Khan El Khalili market. Once you have had your fill, Rasha will telephone the car and you are picked up and taken back to the Victoria Hotel. It’s a big day out, but a memorable one. Rasha will be able to give you some advice on where to head for dinner that evening.  The neigboughrhood offers you a whole range of dining options, from 1-LE-per-sandwich street stalls to fancy 80-year old traditional colonial restaurants. This evening restaurant and bar bills are down to you.

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Please remember any bars or clubs you visit in Cairo will not be included in the ‘ all inclusive’ costs, but I am happy to recommend where to go if you want to experience the Cairo night life.

Day 3 Travelling to Siwa

Around 7.30am, depending on when you want to leave, your driver appears at the hotel and your bags are all collected and put into the people carrier ready for your journey. You can stop whenever and wherever you want. Around lunchtime you pass the Commonwealth War Graves at El Alamain. It’s a moving place, and reading the stories of each soldier lost in the battle here, which they say changed the course of the Second World War, makes your reflect and imagine what it was like.

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You follow the Mediterranean coast for another two hours down to Marsa Matrouh were you stop for a great freshly cooked lunch at one of the local restaurants. There are two kinds of restaurants in this town, the ones that serve seafood (only fresh local catch) and those that serve everything else. You need to let your driver know whether you want fish or not-fish, life is that simple here :)

You spend the afternoon driving through the remotest place you have probably ever been. You enter the Sahara Desert where you start to realise… you really are going Somewhere Different.

The road to Siwa is very good and comfortable to travel on, you can read a book whilst driving along. The desert here is vast and as you stare out of the window and see the camels grazing at the side of the road you can image traveling to Siwa like Alexandre the Great. You can stop for tea in the Bedouin tea house half way and normally sleep for the rest of the journey.camels-matruh

 You arrive in the early evening in time for G&T’s on the roof terrace around the open fire and a quick tour of the Siwa Villa by Mohammad, the house keeper, and Ludmila. They are both full-time staff and are here to make your stay as enjoyable as it can be. To see detailed pictures of the Siwa Villa inside and the Siwa Villa from the outsidehave a look here. One or two drinks on the terrace and off we go to the best restaurant in town for a good meal. Back to the villa where you can sit around the fire till the early hours catching up with friends.

Day 4 The Sights – Siwa

At around 10 am,  Rohaim, who works for the local antiquities department and who speaks very good English meets us at the Siwa Villa.

If you prefer stay fit while on holiday you can rent a couple of bicycles for this tour or just enjoy the very Siwan means of transportation – a donkey cart.

amun-templeRohaim is passionate about Siwa and its history and it comes through in his talks.  The temple of the Oracle has huge ‘energies’ we are told by some of our guests. It has a colourful past and is mentioned throughout Greek history. This is where Alexandre the Great came to see if he would be king. Prince Charles came to visit a few years ago, no one asked if he found out the answer for him. The Oracle was one of the seven centers of knowledge in the Mediterranean area. Your guide takes you through the whole story from the establishment of the oracle to the time when the villagers moved out in favour of the Shali mountain. He will give you an insight into the Berber culture and way of life that is often amusing as well as interesting.

The pharaonic tombs inside the Mountain of the Dead have paintings as it has been the burial ground for Siwa for aound 2000 years. There are hundreds of tombs here, several dating back to the pharaonic times.

Lunch and  Dinner will be served in a restaurant of your choice in town.

 

Day 5 Desert Safari, Siwa

Around 10 am your desert guide arrives at the Siwa Villa to pack our tent into his jeep and collect the blankets and we set off around 10.15 am for our desert adventure.

Nasser is one of the few true professional drivers in Siwa and knows his way around. He has been driving in the Great Sand Sea in the Western Desert in Siwa for many years and enjoys taking our guests around.

We head out into the Great Sand Sea for some serious dune hopping. We have discovered some very interesting places out in the desert that we like to keep a secret so as to not publicise their locations to other desert travelers. Some of the fossils, mummies and petrified forests are in danger of becoming extinct (again) due to people taking home the fossils as souvenirs.

We insist that, were there are rare fossils, people do not take any home, there are places where we will take you where it’s perfectly OK to take some shells or fossilized leaves as there are many of them. It was the bottom of the ocean a few million years ago, so taking a shell from the desert is like… taking a shell from the beach.

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Siwa is one of the best places on earth to sand board. We have the biggest dunes!

Somewhere Different has its own collection of sand boards and toboggans for hammering down those huge dunes, just like in the TV ads.

After a day of exploring the desert and flying over some very big dunes we set up camp under a large dune for protection against the wind. Nasser sets about cooking the evening meal. You are required to do nothing but sip on a cold beer or climb to the top of the dune to watch the sunset. But if you help Nasser set the wind breaks and make the fire, you’ll get more involved in the whole sleeping out experience.

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Take it all in whilst dinner is prepared and the camp for the night is set up. Barbequed chicken and vegetables or what ever you chose in the market the day before. We sleep out under the stars in the dunes without a mosquito or bug in sight. You might if you are lucky see a desert mouse, they have long back legs and tiny front legs. They are the size of a walnut and very quite, but they will have been in, stolen the chicken scraps and be gone before you can see them, you’ll just see their tracks in the morning which you can follow for miles, literally. We have never found where they live.mouse-camp-siwa

 

Day 6 Day off – Siwa

On the way back to Siwa in the morning we pass by Bir Wahed to have a soak in the hot and cold springs right out in the desert. Bir Wahed gets very busy in the afternoon so this is the best time to visit when no one is around.

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After the whole 24 hours in the desert you’ll probably be tired and covered in sand so we’ll let you have a lazy day in Siwa doing what ever you want. The donkey cart and jeep are always available to take you anywhere you want to go, so swimming or exploring the old town, it’s up to you. Dinner is somewhere different on this day as we go to our friend’s house for a traditional meal in a traditional Siwan home. The men have to sit in one room and the visiting women only are allowed to meet the women folk of the family in a separate area of the house. When dinner is ready we all join up together in the ‘men only’ room for dinner which is normally a bit of a feast with too much food!

Days 7 Siwa

You last day in our oasis for you to discover a few more of its secret corners  before you leave. You have access to  jeeps, one donkey and cart and a whole desert to explore… our you can still finish that book. We have walks through the gardens, sunset trips to sacred mountains and out to the hot springs in town, or if you have something you want to do, and don’t know how to do it, ask, we’ll either know or enjoy working it out.

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Depending on what time of year you come to Siwa and who is around, we will put together a bespoke itinerary for you for every day after we have had a chance to get an idea of what you want to do. For example you may have gang of kids with you and so we will suggest lots of swimming and Sandboarding. If your into bird watching we’ll plan in a drive out to the lake were the migrating birds rest. If you want to change anything whilst your in Siwa, except the desert safari, it’s easy to do, so don’t worry about getting it all right before you come. When you make your enquiry about booking this tour, let us know what interest you and a bit about yourselves so I can put together an itinerary that I think will suit you and make your holiday somewhere different special.

Day 8  Siwa – Bahareya

An early start with Nasser  who picks you up at 7:30 am to get cleared through the check point to go to Bahareya. Mohammad packs all your bags on the roof rack and makes sure you have not left anything behind. We make sure all the passports and permissions for the 420 km desert crossing to Baharyia are all correct and off you go.

Unlike many other drivers Nasser doesn’t just stay on the bad road for the entire way, he takes you to some really amazing places, that once were Roman settlements, and , as some book say, may have been towns of an ancient empire of which Siwa was the capital. So, even if you have to spend a few hours just sitting in the car, it is still a great day crossing and discovering the wonders of the Western Desert of Egypt. You’ll have a pickinck lunch prepared by Nasser in the cool shadow of one of the mountains of Citra oasis. Nasser enjoys cooking and likes to tell you stories about the old days while he is preparing the food, but he’s a bit shy and needs a little encouragement and several teas to get those tales of the ‘old ways” flowing.

You arrive to Bahareya in the late afternoon. A good shower and/or a dip in the hot spring is all you need after the long day day of driving throught the desert. The dinner is expecting you at the hotel. Enjoy your meal and we suggest you have an early night, because you are going on yet another desert advenutre tomorrow.  You are on the Western Desert tour after all 🙂

Day 9 Bahareya and the White Desert National Park. 

Around 9:30 am your desert guide picks you up  and you go to see the two ‘must sees’ in Bahareya. The Golden Mummies that were discovered by a boy walking along with his donkey  the donkey fell into a small hole in the ground and over 10,000 mummies were discovered. The mummy room has over 15 mummies on display. The other ‘must see’ is the pharaonic tombs on the edge of town that, due to only being recently discovered, are some of the best examples of painted pharonic tombs in Egypt and definitely worth the climb down a long stairway deep into the Centrex of the tomb to see them.

After the seeing the amazing work of the human mind and hand you are headinf off to see some incredible creations of nature. An our and a half down the road you’ll see one of the most unearthly landscapes on earth. I swear an extraterrestrial creature would fit in this background much better than humans and jeeps. You’ll spend your day taking endless pictures and excercising your imagination, while your vocabulary for the day will most probably shrink to “Amazing!”, “Beautiful!”, “Incredible!”, “Incredibly beautiful!” and again… “Amazing!”.

We are not putting any picture of the White Desert here as, as you will see with your own eyes, no pictures do this place justice.

Day 10 White Desert – Cairo

After a breakfast in the desert you’ll come back to Bahareya, where another car will be expecting you to take you to your hotel in Cairo. It’s a 3-4 hour drive from Baahreya to Cairo, so you should have a few hours that everning to buy your last souvenirs and enjoy another evening in this busy city.

Day 11 Departure

Depending on when your flights are your driver will pick you up from the hotel and take you  the airport and back to reality!

The above itinerary has been tried and tested and has a good balance of lots of adventure combined with relaxing days to take it all in. Due to Somewhere Different only catering for private groups, we can add in additional days to the itinerary in Siwa and arrange more trips to the desert or hot springs out in the gardens.  For inquires about this tour go to All Inclusive Holiday form and let us know you are interested in the ‘Western Desert and Siwa’ holiday, a rough idea of dates that would suit you, the number of people in your group and any additional days you would be interested in adding to the tour. I can then look at flights and specific dates and provide you with a total cost for the tour. Click here to view our otherMake an enquiry about this holiday

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