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In a continuing effort to find the best deals possible for unique trips, Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) has something worth considering, especially if you're entranced by the idea of Egypt and Jordan and want a combination of scheduled activities with knowledgeable guides and free time to explore on your own. The company is offering an eight-day trip to Egypt priced from $1,299, a savings of up to $800 per couple if you book before February 29, 2008. The sale price covers your airfare, fuel surcharges, hotels, transfers, many meals, and tours.

You depart from New York-JFK on Royal Jordanian Airlines and stay in Cairo, Amman and Petra for a total of six nights at what the company describes as "deluxe" accommodations, and your arrivals, porterage and transfers are also taken care of. Buffet breakfast is included daily in addition one lunch apiece in Cairo and Petra. Tours that are covered take you to a full day with a guide in Cairo and a full day in Jordan, with Petra, Madaba and Amman as stops. The trip comes complete with an English-speaking manager in both Egypt and Jordan. The first departure, March 4, already has a waiting list, so it's advisable to book soon if you're at all interested in traveling during the cheaper time periods. The March 11 departure starts at $1,399, and subsequent spring departures: March 18, April 1, April 22, and April 29 are priced at $1599, $1499 and $1549. Taxes and fees are not included, and will add on about another $150.

It's a trip that offers a reasonable combination of activity and leisure time, starting with Cairo and a full day of pyramid visits, including the famous Cheops and Chephren and the Spinhx, and trips to the Khan El Khalili bazaars. You have a full day to yourself in Cairo and the itinerary provides some suggestions for sites to see. On the fifth day, there's a short flight that takes you Amman, with a check-in at your hotel in the lost city of Petra. The guided exploration there takes the form of horseback and your own two feet. Day seven is yours to explore Amman on your own, and you depart on the final day.

A long flight overnight to get to Egypt and an arrival late in the afternoon to your hotel may seem like a lot of travel for just six nights, so if that's not a long enough a stay, you can add on a trip to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Extension is priced at $385 for double occupancy for three nights at the Movenpick Resort, but the March 4 and 11 departure extensions are priced at $445, however.

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