The specific promotions described in this article have now passed, but it remains online so that the resources named will be of future use to travelers.
As home to Biblical landmarks, famed pyramids, the residue of British, French, Roman, Muslim and Turkish rulers, and one of the oldest civilizations on the planet, Egypt has much to offer travelers. For the official overview of the country, visit the site for Egypt's Ministry of Tourism (www.egpyttourism.org). And if you're coming from the States, it's a good idea to read up on the latest travel advisories issued by U.S. State Department (http://travel.state.gov).
If it's an independent, budget-minded vacation you're after, Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) is offering Egypt vacation packages starting from $799. The least expensive is a trip to Cairo with departures available between now and March 26. January departure dates (January 2Â¿9, Jan 10) are priced at $1,479 and $1,139, but departures between January 11Â¿March 26 drop to $799. The price is based on flights out of New York City to Cairo and includes daily breakfast and five nights' accommodations. You may also customize the trip and add on excursions to the Pyramids, Sphinx, and more. You'll stay at the Movenpick JV Pyramids Hotel, a five-star bungalow village spot at the foot of the Pyramids of Giza, about 10 miles from Giza's city center.
For an escorted tour, the price jumps considerably. Gate 1 also runs longer trips, including "10-Day Discovery of Egypt," which starts from $1,779 and hits Cairo, Aswan, Edfu, and Luxor. Eight nights of accommodations, all transfers, almost all meals, sightseeing with an English-speaking guide, entrance fees and more are included -- in other words, just about everything except souvenirs. This package is available based on New York departures (others are possible for additional fees) February 5, 19 and March 5 ($1,859), March 19 ($1,779), April 2 ($1,899) and so forth. All prices quoted for Gate 1 trips are the cash discount price and include airline fuel surcharges.
Foreign Independent Tours (tel. 800/248-3487; www.fittours.com) is running a handful of tours to Egypt, including "Egypt: The Real Deal" priced from $979 from New York (JFK) and $1,279 from Los Angeles. The package includes round-trip airfare, five nights at Sheraton Royal Gardens in Cairo, buffet breakfast daily, comprehensive sightseeing (entrance fees are covered), transfers and an English-speaking Egyptologist during sightseeing. Rates are valid between January 31 and March 31. The only catch is that you must depart on a Saturday, but you'll stay right in Cairo. Optional add-ons abound such as a Great Citadel and Mosque tour ($75) or a dinner cruise ($65). Extensions are available to Jordan, Alexandria, Sharm el Sheikh and more. FIT offers at least a dozen tours, including one that focuses on Jewish Heritage and three deluxe tours with, of course, a deluxe price.
Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) is offering a "Pyramids Express Tour" from $1,299 for eight days. The price includes airfare, deluxe hotel accommodations at the Sheraton Cairo Hotel and Towers overlooking the Nile, buffet breakfast daily, airport/hotel transfers, and a full day of touring that encompasses the Pyramids at Giza, the Sphinx, Old Cairo and the Egyptian Museum. There's also the opportunity to add on an extension to the Lost City of Petra (where Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed). The sale price is based on a New York-JFK departure that includes a cash discount and savings of up $600 per couple off the regular price, if reserved by January 24. Three of the eight days are spent on the Nile cruise. It's also possible to add on a tour of the Red Sea and/or the Lost City of Petra in Jordan. The January 31 and May 23 departures are sold out, but February 14, March 14 are available for $1299; April 11's departure is priced at $1399.
Misr Travel (tel. 800/223-4978; www.misrtravel.com) has been taking people to Egypt since 1934 and offers trips that range from budget-conscious to adventurous. For about $100 less than FIT's price (but with less handholding and fewer perks), Misr's "Super Saver" is priced at $899 for a trip that departs January 26 for six nights. Nonstop airfare from New York-JFK is included along with daily breakfast and transportation to and from the airport to your hotel. Departure taxes, entry visa fee ($20) and a $50 processing fee are not included.
Among Misr's other trips is a popular "10 Day Red Sea Dive Experience" priced at $2,415 per person until March 31; year-round departures are available. The trip is based on a departure from New York-JFK to Cairo, and then a transfer to Sharm el Sheik, the diving destination of choice on the Red Sea. Included are all transfers and sightseeing (you'll also visit the expected places -- pyramids, sphinx, temples), nine nights of accommodations at a five-star hotel with breakfast daily, local airfares, and a four-day day dive package with tanks and other equipment. Departures are possible any day except Monday and Wednesday. Note: while trip information is available on their site, it is currently being updated and should reflect the information provided here by press time, according to Misr's Eunice Roy.
Finally, for an insider's tour that costs a little more, Caravan-Serai (tel. 800/451-8097; www.caravan-serai.com), a Seattle-based travel company, specializes in trips North Africa and the Middle East. Their "Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs" tour puts you in a five-star hotel, gives you extensive, insider insight into local life, and even includes a Nile cruise. The nine-day, eight-night trip, priced at $1,350 for two passengers, offers a combination of free time and scheduled excursions, some meals, and transportation in an air-conditioned coach with an English-speaking guide; sometimes company founder Rita Zawaideh leads the way. Compared to other packages, this one may seem pricey because it doesn't cover airfare but keep in mind you are paying for a unique experience with a company that creates tours for small and medium sized groups. Zawaideh, who was born and Jordan and whose family members run overseas offices in several of the countries they tour, says that connection "makes it very easy to get people what they want. Also, local family members often spontaneously invite the groups into their homes for a taste of Arab hospitality," she says. Sometimes that involves observing an olive harvest, or simply eating a "30-course breakfast" at the home of one of her relatives, she says.