Pharaoh Trails & Sun Dance Festival Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Aswan
Our driver will be waiting for you at the airport to take you to your accommodation on board our traditional Egyptian sailing boat where a warm Nubian welcome awaits you. Dinner and relaxation.
Day 2: Philae Temple and High Dam, Transfer to Abu Simbel (Non-Riding Day)
On our first day wake up to the warmth of the Egyptian sun and the smiles of the locals. Take breakfast on the top deck of our boat with picturesque views of the River Nile.
Our first morning in Aswan is spent exploring the High Dam and Lake Nasser. This huge freshwater reservoir, formed by the construction of the high Dam at Aswan, provides a relaxing gateway to the south of Aswan to visit the monuments placed along its banks and to enjoy a motorboat ride to The Temple of Isis at Philae. The Temple of Isis at Philae is one of Nubia’s most important monuments and was saved from a watery grave by UNESCO’s rescue project – this transferred the monuments block by block from Philae Island to Agilika Island.
We will stop to have lunch at one of the local restaurants before returning to our boat to prepare for our drive to Abu Simbel, ready for the following morning’s biannual spectacle. The drive takes around 3 hours and we aim to arrive to our guesthouse in the early evening, allowing time for dinner and a few hours of rest before the sunrise in the morning.
Day 3: Sunrise and the Sun Dance Festival (Non-Riding Day)
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. 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 return back to our guesthouse in Abu Simble for breakfast and a shower before starting our drive back to Aswan. Transfer time approx 2 hours.
On return to Aswan we will have the afternoon to relax on the sun deck of a traditional Felucca where dinner will be provided before a quiet evening of relaxation under the stars and a good night’s sleep. There is an option to visit the Nubian Museum in the evening for those who are interested.
Day 4: Kom Ombo, Sobek Crocodile Museum, Transfer to Luxor (Non-Riding Day)
Rise and shine for a delicious breakfast on our sailing boat before our departure to Luxor, stopping off along the way, first at the Temple of 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).
We will aim to arrive in a Luxor for an early dinner at our charming Egyptian guesthouse close to the River Nile where you’ll eat some of the best food in Luxor and experience the best service and hospitality.
Day 5: Habu Temple Ride & Karnak Temple
Rise and shine for an 7am departure, it’s time for another tick off the bucket list for many visitors to Luxor – a visit to Medinet Habu Temple!
Leaving the stables around 7.30am, it takes us about 2 hours to ride up to Habu Temple, passing through local villages and sugar cane fields. 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. 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 adjacent palace but other deities resided at Medinet Habu permanently. During the Libyan invasions of the late Twentieth Dynasty, Medinet Habu sheltered the entire popular of Thebes.
We will have a light brunch after our visit, around 11am, before riding back in time to change for our afternoon adventures and our non-riding tour to the East Bank of Luxor, starting with the incredible Karnak Temple. Karnak is the largest religious complex on the planet. Forget all you have come to expect in regard to scale and space and be astonished by the Temples of Amun-Ra and his divine wife, Mut, and their son, Khonsu.
We will be on hand to show you through the labyrinth and explain the purpose, meaning and history of the amazing ruins of Karnak. Many visitors walk right past one of the treasures of Karnak – its Open Air Museum.
We will introduce you to some of the architectural wonders which have been re-erected in all their glory in this museum. Enter the Great Hypostyle Hall built by Seti I, father of Ramesses the Great – over 6000 sqm, 134 columns. The 12 which flank the processional way are 23m tall – words, facts and figures can never do justice to the experience that is Karnak. After Karnak we will visit Luxor Temple, largely built by the New Kingdom pharaohs Amenhotep III (1390–1352 BC) and Ramses II (1279–1213 BC). This temple is a strikingly graceful monument in the heart of the modern town. Also known as the Southern Sanctuary, its main function was during the annual Opet celebrations when the statues of Amun, Mut and Khonsu were brought from Karnak, along the Avenue of Sphinxes, and reunited here during the inundation.
Our finale ends with a tour of Luxor Museum – this wonderful museum has a well-chosen and brilliantly displayed and explained collection of antiquities dating from the end of the Old Kingdom right through to the Mamluk period, mostly gathered from the Theban temples and necropolis.
This is one of the most rewarding sights in Luxor and one of the best museums in Egypt. Riding time approx. 4-5 hours.
Day 6: The ULTIMATE trail ride through the land of the Pharaohs
Your first full day with our horses – prepare to fall in love with both Arabian and Baladi (local breed) horses who are famed for their beauty and endurance. These wonderful breeds are chosen for their ability to form a cooperative relationship with humans and they are good-natured, quick to learn and willing to please. Longer trails encourage you to experience our horses and country life.
You will see farmers working their fields just as their ancestors did. 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 will be served at a local restaurant and our trail home will take us past The Colossi of Memnon (Arabic: el-Colossat or es-Salamat) which are two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who reigned in Egypt during the Dynasty XVIII. They have stood in the Theban Necropolis for the past 3,400 years (since 1350 BC)! This is a wonderful opportunity for photos together with the horses. This ride is approx. 6 hours end to end. You will have a couple of hours left of the day to enjoy a well-deserved rest by the pool and we highly recommend one of the fabulous massages available too.
Day 7: Valley of the Kings and Sunset Camel Safari
After yet another delicious breakfast cooked by our friends at Nile House, we will begin to retrace the steps of the pharaohs though the West Bank of Luxor starting with a tour of the Valley of the Kings where you will be able to visit at least four open tombs including that of Tutankhamun – the ‘boy king’.
We will return to the guest house for lunch and a couple of hours off before experiencing Egypt by camel! Our camel safari takes you through the villages and along the Nile – the birds eye view also makes a fantastic setting for photos of real Egypt up close and personal, not to mention how beautiful the ride is at sunset along the river.
This is our last evening in this region and we will finish our Luxor adventures with a belly dancing show and an Egyptian BBQ dinner and music. Riding time 2-3 hours.
OPTIONAL EXTRAS ON REQUEST:
- Guided tour and shopping at the souk markets (no charge)
- Sunrise Balloon tour $150
- Private Boat Dinner on the Nile (price on request)
- Massage service at Nile House from £35pp
Day 8: Transfer to Hurghada
After breakfast we will depart from Nile House to begin our journey to the Red Sea for our next adventures! There is an optional but highly recommended stop off at Dandra temple on the way.
We will arrive at the Red Sea by early afternoon. Guests stay at Labranda Makadi Garden which is located in Makadi Bay, just 5 minutes from our horses and stables and in close proximity to the beach. This makes it the perfect destination for those looking for a quality beach holiday by the Red Sea.
Day 9: Makadi Bay Riding
Full day trail ride with our “desert Arabians”. The horses in Hurghada are chosen for their forward-going nature and their ability to gallop endlessly in the deserts. This a superb day of riding including the beach, sea and deserts of Makadi. Lunch is served out and about. Riding time approx 5-6 hours. For less experienced or fit riders there is an option to divide the day, riding two hours in the morning and then riding again in the afternoon with lunch at your hotel in between.
Day 10: Swimming with Wild Dolphins (Non-Riding Day)
Today takes us away from the land and into the crystal blue waters of the Red Sea where we will spend the day lapping up the sunshine and relaxing. However, this isn’t any old boat trip!
Today you will have the opportunity to meet our underwater friends at Dolphin House where you can swim with wild dolphins and stop off at two stunning snorkelling spots. There is an array of underwater beauty around the reefs of Hurghada and this is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Onboard you will also be treated to an exquisite lunch by the wonderful crew on board.
Day 11: Swimming with Horses
No trip would be complete without swimming with horses in the Red Sea. This is a full morning ride with lots of exhilarating canters along the desert before arriving at the sea.
On arrival we will dismount and remove the saddles before entering the sea with your horse. The horses love to swim too so it’s a wonderful trip for both. After your swim you’ll have some time to dry off in the warm sunshine before riding home. Riding time 4 hours. Check out is by 12:00 (late check outs on request at the hotel) and then it’s time to head home or continue with your travels.
OPTIONAL EXTRAS ON REQUEST:
- Quad bike safari £30pp
- Diving & Snorkelling packages on request
- Kite Surfing lesson £45pp
- Cairo day trip by plane £200pp (non-riding)