Off the Beaten Track – Itinerary
Day 1: Cairo Arrival – guest house stay
Day 2: (AM) Riding at Giza and the Sphinx – (PM) Riding Option 2 or Museum visit
Although our holiday is designed to take you off the beaten track, it would be a crime to shy away from the Great Pyramids of Giza, especially when we do it on horseback! An awe-inspiring ride that’s unique to this part of the world and allows you to experience one of the classic seven wonders of the World.
Our morning ride takes us to the top of Giza’s plateau where we will venture inside the smaller Pyramids and the Sphinx. Lunch will be served at our favourite Egyptian restaurant overlooking the Pyramids where you will have your first encounter with delicious Egyptian food!
The afternoon offers two alternative activities. For history lovers we have a guided tour of Cairo Museum, old Cairo and Khan el Khalili Bazaar. The Museum houses over 120,000 ancient artefacts from Egyptian history, including the entire collection of Tutankhamen’s relics. Your guide will introduce some of the many important pieces as well as allowing you some time to wander through the Museum to peruse the collections. Once we’ve finished our tour of the Museum, we will head to Abu Tarek for lunch. Abu Tarek is a multi-story restaurant that serves wonderful Koshary – it is a special Egyptian treat.
You might have noticed a wall in parts of Cairo. This wall served to protect ancient Cairo and another city called Ayyubid from the Crusaders. Today, as we learn about the history of the Citadel, we also venture inside the wall to the highest point, the Mohamed Ali Mosque. This ancient mosque is simply beautiful and will offer greater insight into the main religion of Egyptians, Islam.
Next up is the Khan el Khalili Bazaar. It is a wonderful depiction of an ancient outdoor shopping centre. You will have the opportunity to wander the narrow alleyways and see many items unique to the Egyptian markets. As you continue to wander, you will have the opportunity to traverse Cairo’s oldest street—El-Moez Street. This pedestrian only street, just beyond Khan el Khalili, is an open-air museum and runs over half a mile. Moez Street is less touristy and provides those who travel it a unique look at Islamic architecture.
If you are much more of a saddle junkie than a culture vulture and would prefer to continue getting to know the horses, there is a high-speed afternoon ride across the desert in place of the Cairo tour above. We’ll stop off for Egyptian tea and a chance to watch the sun set behind the Pyramids before riding back to the stables and finishing off the day with dinner.
Dinner will be at our guest house or a local restaurant.
Day 3: Travel Day to El Fayoum and Relaxation
After breakfast, we’ll hop in the car and head to El Fayoum. Less than two hours from Cairo lies El Fayoum – the vast salty Lake Qarun comes into view and the arid monotonous plains are replaced with a lush patchwork of farming plots, sunflowers swaying in the breeze, and tall date palms with water buffalo lounging in the shade beside them.
The small village of Tunis will be our home for the next few days. Located on a hill facing a large saltwater lake, the village overlooks the edge of the desert on the other side of the lake. It is one of the most beautiful places in Egypt. Home to several attractions from different eras from Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic, to sand dunes, palm trees, lakes and valleys, wild animals, bird species. It’s a land of unspoiled nature and bursting with rich history, a place well worth discovering!
Days 4-6: Riding, Village Stay, Pyramids Whale Valley, Pottery farm, Magic Lake, Bird Watching
Fayoum has so many amazing opportunities for stunning riding, as well as many incredible adventures to enjoy out of the saddle. During our three days here, we will try to jam-pack as much as we can into our programme.
While in Fayoum we will visit Wadi Al-Hitan, a unique destination in the desert which is full of whale fossils as well as other animals and reveals the evolution of whales from land mammals to sea creatures. We’ll head to the local pottery farm, enjoy local cooking and barbecuing, gaze at the stars under the Milky Way, camp at the Valley of Whales and hike at the break of dawn to experience amazing Egyptian sunrises. We’ll also spend sunset by the Magic Lake; a great place to camp and marvel at the stars in peaceful darkness.
We’ve got sandboarding for adrenaline junkies, which is available at “Qoussour El-Arab” (optional).
For nature lovers, the winter months offer incredible bird watching at Lake Qaroun and Wadi El-Rayan, and for the historians amongst us, there is Maidum Pyramid, Qasr El-Sagha Temple and Karanis (Kom Oshim).
On top of all of this, there will be plenty of time in the saddle too with riding included on two of the three days. We will do our best to showcase the best of stunning Tunis village during your stay. At the end of day 6 we will drive back to Cairo and stay overnight.
Day 7: Riding at Abu Sir – Non-Riding Tour of Saqqara and Memphis – Fly to Luxor
We are back in the saddle for our morning ride across the amazing deserts of Abu Sir. This is one of our favourite spots for really letting our horses go wild. With so much space, there really is the opportunity to open up and fly without wings! Our riding trip is around three hours long and after some lunch, we will continue onto our afternoon adventures.
We will visit Sakkara by car and with our Egyptology guide. Saqqara is an amazing display of how tomb and pyramid-building progressed; a necropolis containing burials from different dynasties. It includes both royal and non-royal tombs, mastabas and cemeteries. We’ll also visit the Serapeum of Saqqara where we will enter a series of tunnels to see the sarcophagi of the Apis bulls, sacred to the god, Ptah.
Ptah was the local god of the town of Memphis, our next location. He was a patron of artisans and craftsman and was also considered a creator god. Memphis was founded in 2925 BC and the Egyptian king Menes helped to unite upper Egypt and lower Egypt. In fact, it was the capital during the Old Kingdom. Memphis is an open-air museum with many things to see, such as a statue of Rameses II and the famous 80-tonne Sphinx made from one gigantic piece of alabaster.
After our tour we will return to our hotel to shower and have dinner before catching our flight to Luxor around 10.30pm, staying overnight at our private Bedouin Camp with cottage style bedrooms.
Day 8: Luxor – Prayer Call and Breakfast – Afternoon Trail Ride – Bedouin Camp Overnight
Luxor is home to Ride Egypt HQ, the home of many of our staff, their families and our horses. In Luxor we want to show you life off the beaten track… how we live, farm, grow our own food for our horses, and part of that is to learn to eat like an Egyptian!
Today you will attend ‘Eid el Fitr’ prayer and come back to our stable to meet the horses, the team and have breakfast with us at home. Whether you’re Muslim or not, it’s an amazing atmosphere.
You’ll learn to make bread and share local dishes with our Ride Egypt family. Some of the most famous dishes are vegetarian: Foul Medames, Ta’amiyah, Koshari (a mix of rice, pasta, chickpeas, lentils, fried onions, tomato and garlic sauce), Fatta (rice with moistened bread, garlic and tomato sauce) and Molokheyah (you have to try it to know what it’s like), stuffed vine leaves, zucchini (courgette), eggplants (aubergine) and bell peppers. For the sweet tooth Halawa is the treat.
After a morning of traditions, you’ll have a few hours to relax before our first riding trip in the afternoon. Our first ride is a laidback introduction to life here. We will visit the local villages, canter along the Nile and follow sandy trails through banana plantations with mountain views in the background. It’s not a fast-paced ride, but a lovely mix of paces throughout.
Day 9: Full Day Trail Ride – Dinner and Overnight Sailing on the Nile
Today, we are going off the beaten track with our sure-footed and beautiful horses to show you yet another side of Egypt that very few ever get to see.
We’ll ride through the village of Qorna, climb Mount Thebes to see panoramic views of the Valley of the Kings, eat lunch at a local underground restaurant and much more! It’s a full day and you’ll have to leave the details to us so be prepared for surprises throughout the day!
After a long day in the saddle, you will enjoy an evening and dinner on our traditional sailing boat moored close on the West Bank of Luxor with views of Luxor Temple. We’ll have sunset drinks overlooking The Nile and a private dinner under the stars before retiring in comfortable authentic cabins to dream the night away.
In the morning, you will enjoy a fresh breakfast on the sundeck of the boat before disembarking for the day’s adventures ahead
Day 10: You Choose!
Free Day! Today, you choose what you want to do!
Would you like to go site-seeing? Perhaps a visit to the Tombs of Valley of the Kings and Hatshephsut? How about going off the beaten track to Tombs of the Nobles and underground caves of the Workers (our favourite)? Do you want to ride horses and camels or sail The Nile? You could visit the souks, go to traditional village coffee shops, drink tea and smoke shisha.
Today you choose and we will make it happen! For our last evening in Luxor, dinner will be served back at our private camp, cooked over a traditional fire! What could be more perfect to end a long day than a cold beer, the crackle of the fire and the desert silence?
Day 11: Sunrise Trail Ride – Local Breakfast and Check Out
This morning is our last riding trip and it’s at sunrise! Up at around 5am, we will depart from the stables heading towards the Valley of the Kings. We will watch the sunrise over the farmlands and fields, trail ride past Ramesseum Temple and stop for breakfast with the horses overlooking the Temple of Habu. Then we’ll ride back to shower and check out for 11.30.
Optional Extension 1: Red Sea
£550 – 4 Days / 3 Nights
Day 11: Transfer from Luxor to Hurghada by car. Arrive in time for cocktails on the beach.
Travel Day, dinner and cocktails overlooking the sea
Day 12: Full day riding tour.
After a night of comfort in the hotel and a delicious breakfast, we saddle up the horses for the first of our rides. Today you will be exploring the vast golden deserts and sand dunes that create the backdrop to Hurghada. Arabian horses are known for their beauty and this will be your first chance to learn to “fly” with our horses .Lunch will be served overlooking the sea. The afternoon trip on horseback will take us along through the desert along to the turquoise Red Sea. The morning and afternoon rides are approx. 2.5 hours. At the end of the first day you will return to your hotel for dinner and a cocktail.
Day 13: Turtle Bay – Abu Dabbab National Park – Marsa Alaam. Non Riding Day.
After an early breakfast you will be picked up and driven to The National Park of Abu Dabbab in Marsa Alaam. The area is made up of white sand, amazing underwater treasures of coral reefs, coloured fish, Turtles & Dugong. Grab a snorkel and explore an alien habitat beneath the waves as you marvel at the colours and variety of the sea life. Relax with a delicious lunch, freshly prepared and served on Abu Dabbab Beach, as your day winds down, you will be transferred back to land and returned to your hotel in time for dinner.
Day 14: Swimming with horses and a 4×4 Sunset Desert Safari with dinner
In the morning, we ride down to the crystal clear shores for a chance to unsaddle and splash about with your horse in the Red Sea while soaking up some Egyptian sunshine at the same time! Nothing really comes close to this unforgettable riding experience. Lunch will be served on the beach and you will have the afternoon to relax and enjoy an optional massage. Swimming with horses has to be our number 1 requested trip when visiting the Red Sea. We will take a morning trip through the desert to the beach where we will remove the saddles and swim in the tranquil crystal clear water bare back with your horse before riding back in time for lunch.
In the afternoon we have a treat in store for you! A Sunset DESERT SAFARI – Forget the risks of exploring the desert alone—and the commotion of large tours—and experience Hurghada’s sands in intimate style with this small-group adventure. Head into the desert by deluxe 4WD, and with a guide to introduce you to its sights and culture. Rumble through a canyon, find fossils, meet a Bedouin family, witness the changing colours of twilight, visit an oasis, and savour a barbecue dinner come sundown.
Day 15: Breakfast and Departure.
Breakfast and check out by 11.30 for your onward journey home.
Optional Extension 2: Nile Dreams – Aswan & Abu Simble
£999 – 6 Days / 5 Nights
Day 11 and 12: Sail from Luxor to Esna Lock – Overnights on Board
Day 13: Edfu Temple and Kom Ombo Visits – Overnight Nubian Guest House
After a delicious breakfast, our driver will pick you up and we will continue onto Aswan, stopping at Edfu Temple. Also known as the Temple of Horus, this is the tallest and best-preserved temple in Egypt. Edfu Temple was designed to honour the divine birth of Horus and the Pharaoh. We will take some time to explore before continuing onto the Temple of Kom Ombo, an unusual double temple built for the falcon god Horus and the crocodile god Sobek. Kom Ombo also contains an engraving which is thought to depict the first use of medical and surgical instruments. Well get our head down overnight at a local Nubian guest house.
Day 14: Abu Simble Tour by Car with Local BBQ Lunch
Abu Simbel is not only an amazing site built for Ramses II and his wife Nefertari, but it also presents an amazing feat of ingenuity. In the 1960s the Egyptian government began construction on Aswan High Dam. Its purpose was to prevent the annual flooding of the Nile River and to bring electricity to all people of Egypt. The trouble with the High Dam was it would permanently flood many of the antiquities. As a result, massive projects were begun to help preserve these sites. Abu Simbel was one of them. Over the course of several years, Abu Simbel was cut apart and reconstructed on a higher plane, so visitors would still be able to stand in awe of ancient Egyptian ingenuity.
Today our guide will take us through both the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Small Temple of Nefertari as we see just how incredible the temples are. We will return to our guest house in Aswan at the end of the tour.
Day 15: Nubian Village – Philae Temple, Botanical Gardens & Kitchener Island – Start to Sail back to Luxor
Today is all about the water! We will visit Philae Temple by water taxi – this temple was dedicated to Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother to Horus. You will learn about the Nubian village as you have time to explore some of Aswan’s outstanding natural beauty. We will take a felucca ride to Kitchener’s Island, to the west of Elephantine Island. It was given to Lord Horatio Kitchener in the 1890s when he was commander of the Egyptian army. Indulging his passion for beautiful palms and plants, Kitchener turned the entire island into the stunning Aswan Botanical Gardens, importing plants from the Far East, India and parts of Africa.
Our last stop is the little-visited Nubia Museum, opposite Basma Hotel, which is a treat and a showcase of the history, art and culture of Nubia. Established in 1997 in cooperation with UNESCO, the museum is a reminder of what was lost beneath Lake Nasser. Exhibits are beautifully displayed in huge halls, where clearly written explanations take you from 4500 BC through to the present day. The exhibits start with prehistoric artefacts and objects from the Kingdom of Kush and Meroe. Coptic and Islamic art displays lead to a description of the massive UNESCO project to move Nubia’s most important historic monuments away from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, following the building of the Aswan High Dam.
Among the museum highlights are 6000-year-old painted pottery bowls and an impressive quartzite statue of a 25th-dynasty priest of Amun in Thebes with distinct Kushite (Upper Nubian) features. The stunning horse armour found in tombs from the Ballana period (5th to 7th centuries BC) shows the sophistication of artisanship during this brief ascendancy. A fascinating display traces the development of irrigation along the Nile, from the earliest attempts to control the flow of the river, right up to the building of the old Aswan Dam. A model of a Nubian house, complete with old furniture and mannequins wearing traditional silver jewellery, attempts to portray the folk culture of modern Nubia.
After a wonderful day touring, we will drive back to Esna to be reunited with our boat. We will have dinner and spend overnight there as we continue to sail back to Luxor arriving on day 16.