Pharaoh Trails & Sun Dance Festival Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Aswan (Flight via Cairo)
Our driver will be waiting for you at the airport to take you to your accommodation.
On our first day wake up to the warmth of the Egyptian sun and smiles of the locals. Spend some time relaxing at our hotel and after a late breakfast, get ready as we head out on our first adventure to visit the Temple of Isis at Philae.
The Temple of Isis at Philae is one of Nubia’s most important monument sites saved from a watery grave by UNESCO’s rescue project, which transferred the monuments block by block from Philae Island to Agilika Island.
Consisting of The First Pylon (the temple entranceway), The Forecourt (the temple’s main courtyard), The Second Pylon (the entry to the inner temple), The Vestibule, The Sanctuary: House of Isis and the Gateway of Hadrian, the imposing buildings that stand today were erected by the Ptolemies in the last two centuries BC and by the Roman Emperors in the first three centuries AD. Even after their move to Agilika Island, the magnificently preserved temples of Philae still retain their power to impress.
After a truly incredible day of sightseeing, we will return for a sumptuous Egyptian dinner on the Nile before heading to Abu Simbel at 11pm in readiness for sunrise at the temple.
Day 3: Sunrise and the Sun Dance Festival
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Abu Simbel – wow, just wow! Abu Simbel is a complex of two massive rock temples situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his Queen, Nefertari. They were built to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. Because of their remote location near the Sudanese border in southern Egypt, the temples remained unknown until their discovery in 1813.
The main temple really is a sight to behold. Carved high into the face of the mountain with four seated colossi flanking the entrance, and stretching back into the rock itself, the interior consists of a series of halls and rooms extending back a massive 185 feet from the entrance.
The most remarkable feature of the site is that the temple is precisely positioned so that twice every year, on 22nd February (Ramses II’s ascension to the throne) and 22nd October (his birthday), the first rays of the morning sun shine down the entire length of the carved temple to illuminate the back wall of the innermost shrine and the statues of the four gods seated there. This is the Sun Festival.
As the early sun rises, slowly tracking into the internal chamber of Ramses II’s temple at Abu Simbel be prepared for a moment of tranquil astonishment, Egyptian mystery and sheer magic. Be part of the crowd who gather outside to witness the gradual stream of light sneaking through the stone and enlightening the chamber within. Gaze in awe as time stands still while the chamber and the statuettes of Ramses, Ra and Amun are illuminated by the exact alignment of the sun outside. Unbelievably, only the statue of Ptah – the god of darkness – remains in the shade at all times!
After observing this fantastic event at sunrise and exploring the remainder of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site, we will drive back to Aswan visiting the award winning Nubia Museum along the way. Opened in 1997 and designed by Egyptian architect Mahmoud al-Hakim, the Nubian Museum is full of antiquities recovered from tombs, temples and settlements – a must see for all you history lovers. The museum is also home to a beautiful garden and an Amphitheatre for local and international music and dance performances.
After a hugely busy day, we will retire to our evening accommodation on board a traditional Felucca where dinner will be provided before a quiet evening of relaxation under the stars and a good night’s sleep as our Felucca.
Rise and shine for a delicious breakfast before our departure to Luxor, but, before leaving Aswan, we head to Kom Ombo, which stands on the Nile between Aswan and Edfu. The Kom Ombo Temple, as it is more commonly known, is a unique double temple shared by Sobek and Horus, each having its own gateways and chapels. Sobek, the crocodile god, and Horus the Elder, the falcon-headed god, are the two primary gods so the temple was also known as the ‘House of the Crocodile’ (Sobek) and the ‘Castle of the Falcon’ (Horus).
After saddling up, we will head out for an afternoon of horse riding along the West Bank of the Nile, through the local villages and within the sugarcane fields for you to experience our home first hand. Have your camera at the ready to capture the smiles of the locals, the beautiful scenery and the authentic scenes of real Luxorian life.
After breakfast we will saddle up and head by horse along the West Bank of the Nile, through the local villages and within the sugarcane fields for you to experience our home first hand. Have your camera at the ready to capture the smiles of the locals, the beautiful scenery and the authentic scenes of real Luxorian life. Lunch will be at our guests house light Egyptian buffet.
In the afternoon we will introduce you to the first of many faster paced rides into the desert and along Mount Thebes.
Dinner will be a bbq at our guest house. The Perfect end to our first day in Luxor.
Day 6: The ULTIMATE trail ride through the land of the Pharaohs
Our morning takes us into the countryside of Luxor, where the lush green sugar cane fields are perfect for a good canter and the scenery is spectacular! Watch the farmers working in their fields just as their ancestors did using old traditions.
Mid-morning you can prepare to be amazed as our sure footed horses will take you behind the Valley of the Kings and to the top of Mount Thebes so you can see panoramic views of Luxor. Lunch is served in a local village before completing our trial dashing through the sugar cane fields and banana plantations.
This is approx. 6 hours end to end. In the evening we will have dinner on a sailing boat, the perfect way to relax after a long ride.
After yet another delicious breakfast cooked by our friends at Nile House, we will leave the stable by camel for an epic camel safari through the villages.
The birds eye view makes a fantastic setting for photo opportunity as your guides lead your camels through the back streets. Lunch will be served at the hotel and you will have a well-deserved afternoon resting by the pool, and we highly recommend one of the fabulous massages available too!
Day 8: Valley of the Kings
After breakfast, our transport will collect us and take us on another journey back in time. No trip to Luxor is complete without a visit to the unforgettable and awes inspiring Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings never ceases to leave me speechless no matter how many times I visit.
During Egypt’s New Kingdom (1539-1075 B.C.), the valley became a royal burial ground for pharaohs such as Seti I, and Ramses II, as well as queens, high priests, and other elites of the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties, and it was at the Valley of the Kings that Howard Carter discovered the resting place of a boy king called Tutankhamun. On 26 November 1922, with Lord Carnarvon and his daughter in attendance, and using a chisel given to him by his grandmother for his 17th birthday, Carter made a ‘tiny breach in the top left hand corner’ of the doorway to the Tomb revealing the many gold and ebony treasures that remained in place and a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. When Carnarvon asked, ‘Can you see anything?” Carter replied with the famous words: ‘Yes, wonderful things!’
Another massive tick on that bucket list for many visitors to Luxor is a visit to Madinet Habu Temple and we are lucky to have this ancient temple near enough on our doorstep. Built as a mortuary temple for Ramses III (1186-1155 BC), one of the great pharaohs of ancient Egypt, Habu Temple was built on land that was considered to have magical powers by local farmers long before his time.
Ramses often lived in the in the adjacent palace, but other deities resided at Medinet Habu permanently. The Temple is now accessible to visitors, steeped in history and only a couple of hours ride from our stables on the West Bank.
After a light lunch we will set off to Habu passing through local villages and sugar cane fields, where local farmers tend to their crops. On arrival, we dismount and tether the horses outside in the shade before heading inside this magnificent complex to explore and learn more about its history. Our guide will be on hand to take you on a magical tour inside of Ramses and after a cold drink we will ride back at sunset making this the end to a perfect day.
Red Sea Extension
Day 9: Departure or optional extension
Today marks departure day from Luxor Airport if your trip with us ends here. Alternatively, you can add on a 3-day extension in Hurghada.
For those opting for the extension, we continue our tour of Egypt on route to Hurghada at the Dendara complex, one of the best-preserved temple complexes in the whole of Egypt. Here we will visit the Temple of Hathor. Hathor was the goddess of love and joy. Her temple is one of the grandest and most beautiful in this complex. Its grand entrance, detailed carvings, hieroglyphs, and decorated ceilings will have your mind wandering back in time to when the Pharaohs ruled the land.
Our onward drive to Hurghada winds through the mountains and along desert roads late into the afternoon.
When we arrive in Hurghada, you will check in at your hotel. Here you will have dinner and relax before the final leg of our adventure gets underway in the morning.
After a night of comfort in the hotel and a delicious breakfast, we saddle up the horses for a full day of riding, exploring the vast golden deserts and sand dunes that create the backdrop to Hurghada. Away from the crowds, we have plenty of space to really push the horses to their limits and watch them fly before heading back to the hotel for another night of luxury and a few cocktails!
Day 11: Swim with dolphins
Today acts as a ‘bucket list’ tick for many. Not only do you have the chance to experience ‘Real Egypt’ on horseback, but we have also incorporated a full-day excursion which allows you to get up close and personal with wild dolphins.
We will pick you up from your hotel in Hurghada and transfer you to the local marina, where you will hop on board and set sail for ‘Dolphin House’. Here, wild dolphins can be found swimming in their natural environment.
You can jump in, snorkel and swim with these majestic playful creatures – a truly memorable experience and something that must be crossed off your bucket list!
The area is also ideal for snorkelling and offers a chance to see the underwater beauty that hides beneath the surface so after a delicious seafood lunch, you will have time to explore the stunningly beautiful reefs of the Red Sea.
Day 12: Swimming with horses
Our final day in Makadi Bay puts a big fat tick next to another point on many a bucket list. 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.
After finishing our ride, we’ll head back to the hotel so you can prepare for your afternoon departure from Hurghada Airport.