The folks at Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) want to get you to Egypt and show you the sights and sites. To that end, the company is offering a nine-day trip priced from $1,499 per person (based on double occupancy, naturally) called Pyramids and Nile Cruise, valid for travel later in the year (additional taxes and fees increase the price of each trip by $223). The price reflects an early booking discount of up to $600 per couple if you reserve by August 15, and it includes airfare (roundtrip international and intra- Egypt), fuel surcharges, ground transportation while you're there, baggage assistance, hotels, transfers, along with many of your meals and several tours.
The lowest advertised price reflects the September 9 departure; September 16 is priced from $1,599 and October 7 from $1,799. After that, the prices climb higher in December; the departure on the 30th starts at $2,399. The trips planned for winter 2009 -- January 20, February 10, March 3 and 17 -- are all priced at $1,999 per person. Some travelers might want to take advantage of the extension to Petra, Jordan, which adds a few extra days of archeological activities. The prices for trips that include the extension are higher and the departure dates are different -- September 16's trip starts from $1,999, for example.
Now, about the trip itself. You'll arrive in Cairo and stay at the Ramses Hotel, which overlooks the Nile River. Check in and explore the area -- you're situated within walking distance of downtown attractions including the Egyptian Museum. Your next day in Cairo will be comprised of a guided tour of the Pyramids of Cheops and Chephren, and yes, you'll see the Sphinx, too. The afternoon is at your disposal until it's time to transfer to the airport for the quick flight to Aswan and the Basma Aswan Hotel. That's the starting point for the Nile Cruise, with a tour around Elephantine Island, a visit to the Botanical Gardens of Lord Kitchener. If you haven't had enough activity, the evening provides an optional chance to visit the Temple of Philae. The rest of the days involve tours to the High Dam, Philae Island, Temple of Kom Ombo, along with optional tours to Abu Simbel (additional $229), which contains two temples and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Nubian Mountains. You'll also visit the Temple of Edfu, which took about 200 years to complete, and Esna and the well-preserved Luxor. From there, the trip takes you back to Cairo for the last day at your leisure.
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