Contrasts of Arabia with Jordan, Cairo and Alexandria

Duration

14 Days

Physical rate

Moderate

Starting city

Riyadh

Available

April 2023 / March 2024

Cities to visit: Riyadh; Al Qasab; Shaqra; Ushaiqer; Buraidah; Medina; Al Ula; Tabuk; Petra; Wadi Rum; Al Aqaba; Eilat; Santa Catalina; Moses Well; El Cairo; Wadi El Natrun; Alejandria; Rosseta

Detailed day by day description

Introduction

This tour is part of our flexible coach touring range, guaranteed with a minimum of 2 people. Once the tour is booked, it is guaranteed so it will definitely go ahead, and will never cancel.

This tour is guided in English only. Please note if English speaking attendance numbers are low, the tour can become bilingual either accompanied by two tour leaders, one for each language, or a single tour leader providing explanations in both languages.

The tour offers flexibility, allowing you to customize it to your preferences. By clicking 'Quote or Book,' you will have the choice to select your desired start and end dates and destinations within the tour's defined parameters. Given this flexibility, it's important to note that the same people, tour guides or drivers may not be on your entire journey.

Day
Welcome to Saudi Arabia, a country of contrasts that will leave you with unforgettable souvenirs! Transfer to the hotel. In the evening, we will include a transfer with entrance ticket to Boulevard Ryadh, the largest park in the kingdom, which will surprise you with its animation and life. The park has curious attractions, numerous restaurants with specialties from many different countries, live shows and, above all, a fountains eye-catching show with colored water. Free time to stroll around, enjoy the place and dine in one of its restaurants. Return to the hotel.
Today (the order of activities may vary depending on the time of year) we will visit the impressive capital of Saudi Arabia. We will include the climb to the tower of just over 300 m high, the "Kingdom Centre", with its beautiful design and its "bridge-shaped" viewpoint that offers spectacular views over the city. We will also visit, surrounded by a beautiful park, the National Museum, the largest museum in the country, where we will learn about the history, culture, and art of the Kingdom. After that we will visit the Masmak Fortress, the ancient fortress of the city, whose interior allows us to understand the incredible change that took place in this city during the last century. Afterwards, we will have time to stroll through the neighborhood, with its souks and commercial life.
Free time for lunch in a shopping center- Mall- where you can choose from the various restaurants and types of food offered there.
In the afternoon we will also visit the district of Al Turaif DIRIYA, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place - on the outskirts of Riyadh - was formerly the first capital of the Saudi dynasty, which we will be able to discover thanks to the vestiges of its numerous palaces and the urban complex at the edge of the oasis of Ad-Diriya.
At the end of the day, we will visit the Al Rajhi Mosque, the largest mosque in Riyadh with its Andalusian style architecture, where we will witness a prayer and have an introduction to Islam that will surely make us learn something about this religion. Return to hotel.
Today we follow the ancient route of pilgrims traveling from Iraq to Mecca, with its many historic towns in small oases. AL QASAB was known since ancient times for its salt and wheat production, also for its poets. We will visit the walled city and the small salt ponds where 200,000 tons of salt are still produced each year.
Desert landscapes of dunes lead us to SHAQRA, a city that is growing along with its university. We visit the well-fortified ancient city, with its picturesque old market and adobe alleys. Continue to USHAIQER. Lunch included before transferring to Ushaiqer Heritage Village, a village that was an important stop for pilgrims because of its springs and the beauty of its oasis. We will also visit its small museum and its Najdi architecture houses with its carved wooden doors, its beautiful windows and triangular roofs. Continuation to BURAYDAH, capital of the province of El Kasim with more than 600 000 inhabitants located in a large oasis. Arrival in the late afternoon and free time.
Early in the morning we will visit the largest Camel Market in the world, located in Buraydah - a city that also houses a camel hospital. The city´s economy is also based on agriculture of oasis products (dates, lemons, oranges, wheat), and annually, around August, holds a huge date market that attracts many people from different places to buy their date annual requirement. We will visit "the city of dates" -more or less active depending on the time of the year- and we will be able to taste this sweet fruit of the palm tree. Afterwards, we will have time to stroll through the city center, with its vegetable market, its great mosque, its jewelry souks and its activity. We will visit the Al Oqilat Museum that tells us about the traditions of Arabia and the customs of the region. Free time for lunch.
In the afternoon, we continue our route by an excellent highway through the desert. Arrival in the evening to the holy city of MEDINA, "the luminous city". We find ourselves in an outstanding historical and religious destination as it is one of the two most sacred cities of Islam. Medina is visited by millions of pilgrims every year and has been forbidden to non-Muslims until very recently. Respect its inhabitants and beliefs and remember to use the required mode of dress. In the evening, we will go to see - today from outside - the Al Masjid Mosque, built by the prophet himself and the place where he is buried. We will be touched to see the thousands of people who enter at prayer time. Dinner included.

Note: The Al-’Ula region is one of the most beautiful areas in the world, however its hotel infrastructure is extremely limited. On some occasions we will spend two nights in Medina (visiting in this case in the afternoon the Al Madinah Museum) leaving very early for Al-’Ula on Tuesday.
We will explore Medina. We will walk around the immense Prophet´s Mosque (Al Masjid an Nabawi), an amazing and luminous mosque of ten minarets with a capacity for one million visitors.. On the hill of UHUD, an important pilgrimage site, where the prophet´s forces clashed with Meccan troops. You can walk through its vast esplanade and climb the hill but remember to do so in silence and respecting the hundreds of pilgrims surrounding us at any given time. At the Mosque of Quba, in the year 622, the prophet and his followers laid the first stone of what was to be the first mosque in history, although the present building is more recent. From here, we will walk to the nearby garden and well of Ethiq where the different tribes of the place went out to drink water and greet the Prophet and his companions recently arrived in Medina after their persecution in Mecca. Afterwards we will have some free time in the city center to stroll around the shopping areas or -if you wish- visit the Hejaz Railway Museum (in the former Ottoman railway station).
In the afternoon we travel to one of the most spectacular places in the world: The region and oasis of AL-’ULA: an authentic open-air museum surrounded by nature, where you will find rock formations, canyons and ravines that compete with the majestic treasures carved by its ancient inhabitants. After arrival we will go to The Elephant Rock, "Jabal Al Fil" an impressive geomorphological phenomenon, a 52 meters high rock in the shape of an Elephant. Dinner included.

In the region of Al-’Ula we will visit the enclosure of HEGRA (Madain Saleh), declared World Heritage by UNESCO, of Nabataean culture "the Other Petra" amazes us with its tombs excavated in the rock in a desert environment full of mystery. Lunch included. We will have free time to stroll and enjoy its comercial streets, and its magnificent Oasis. In the middle of the afternoon, we will leave for TABUK. Dinner included.
We visit Tabuk, a city over half a million inhabitants, active provincial capital and one of the oldest cities in the country. We will visit the castle whose origin is 3500 years before Christ, and inside it, a museum tells the history of the castle and the city, from the great explorers who visited it, such as Ibn Battuta, to the pilgrims who stopped to drink from the fountains on their way to Mecca or Medina. After the visit, we will enter the Mud House Museum, a recreation of the interior of an adobe house where we will learn what traditional life was like in the past in this type of housing. Subsequently we walk through the active commercial area of the city center and we reach the old train station, today a museum that preserves the steam machines that connected Damascus with Medina.
Only 100 km separate us from JORDAN. Border procedures and continuation to WADI MUSA (town created around Petra), we will visit the Spring of Moses, where allegedly Moses hit the rock with his rod and the water gushed out, and the Petra Museum, an excellent sample that allows us to understand the history of the Nabataeans and get to know magnificent pieces found in the area. Dinner included. Travelers who wish to do so can go in their free time to an old Turkish bath or get to see the lights and sounds show in Petra.
Today we have the most exciting day of the trip: First, we visit the impressive archaeological site of PETRA, which is accessed through a narrow canyon, and discover the temples and tombs excavated on the cliffs in this city that was founded 300 years before Christ. After lunch (included) we leave for the impressive desert of WADI RUM . At the Visitor Centre we board 4x4 vehicles to visit some of the most impressive landscapes. We stop in the town of RUM to visit the ruins of the Nabatean temple. We include a 45-minute camel ride through the desert. We will also visit the Khazali Canyon . In this spectacular place, we will see the engravings that reveal the origins of the Arabic language. Dinner and accommodation included in a desert camp.
***VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the warlike situation in Israel, while the conflict is ongoing, the passage through EILAT will be eliminated from the stage. The stage will be carried out by crossing by direct ferry from Aqaba, Jordan, to Taba, Egypt, thus avoiding passing through Israel.
After breakfast, we leave for AQABA , Jordan’s second city, lying on the banks of the Red Sea. We walk through the center before continuing to the border of ISRAEL, EILAT and arrive in this modern and tourist city with its excellent beaches. There’s time to relax, have lunch and stroll around. Are you tempted to have a swim? We then continue towards the EGYPT border, and into Sinai. On the way, there’s chance to take photographs of the Pharaoh’s Island with the powerful fortress of Saladin. Continue to SAINT CATHERINE . Arrival, accommodation and dinner included .
FEES: At the border crossing from Jordan to Israel and from Israel to Egypt, every traveler must pay an entry/exit fee for the different countries. Jordan: $15 (exit fees), Israel: $32 (exit fee), Egypt: $45 (entry visa, which is actually $25 visa + $20.Approximate rates and subject to change without prior notice by the authorities of the country. Drones and cameras with a 5,5 mtr zoom are prohibited as well as other types of professional equipment cameras ( Europamundo is not responsiblefor objects that may be seized at borders by the authorities of the countries)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to exceptional circumstances or due to a small number of participants, it may happen that we will cross directly from Jordan to Egypt by boat, taking the AQABA- TABA FERRY with a duration of just over two hours. During the ferry crossing, there will be no assistance from any guide.
At the foot of Mount Sinai, we visit the impressive walled monastery of SAINT CATHERINE. According to tradition, this is where Moses saw “the Burning Bush that burned without being consumed”. The monastery, which is a sacred place for Jews, Christians and Muslims, belongs to the Orthodox Church and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then continue on through the Sinai Desert’s picturesque landscapes. Lunch included in route. Stop at the WELL OF MOSES, a biblical site that looks like a small oasis. We will leave Sinai through the tunnel under the SUEZ CANAL . Arrival in CAIRO at the end of the afternoon. Accommodation.
Full day visit where we explore the famous Pyramids of Cheops, Kefren and Micerinos ( tickets to go inside the pyramids are not included), and also the impressive Sphinx, which is sculpted from rock. Visit to the Egyptian Museum with its ancient art and where the treasure of the Lost Tomb of Tutankhamen is kept. Lunch included. Citadel of Saladin and the Alabaster Mosque. We will take a walk through the Coptic neighborhood where we visit the Hanging Church built above a Roman fortress.
Distance : 280 km
Landscapes: Stretches of deserts and the rich agricultural region of the Nile Delta.
Notes: Please dress appropriately for the visit of the monasteries. On certain religious festivals monasteries may remain closed to tourist visits.
07.30 hrs- We leave Cairo, traveling to the Wadi Natrum region, an area known for its Coptic monasteries since thousands of Christians, fleeing in the fourth century from Roman persecutions, settled in the area. The monasteries, fortified because of the attacks suffered in different historical periods, are places that receive the visit of many pilgrims and will allow us to discover their traditions. Coptic popes are chosen from among the monks of these monasteries.
09.00 hrs- Monastery of Saint Macarius. Entrance included to the monastery, founded in 360, where one of its monks will guide us through the enclosure.
10.00 hrs- Saint Macarius, departure.
10.45 hrs- Anba Bishoy´s Monastery. Entrance included. The fortified tower of this monastery, founded in 340, is accessed by a drawbridge. We will visit - also guided by a monk - the church, the refectory and the fortress, where several Coptic Popes are buried. Time to stroll through the lively area and visit the huge new cathedral.
11.45 hrs- Anba Bishoy, departure. We continue our route to the north of the country.
13.45 hrs- Alexandria, arrival in this port city of more than 5 million inhabitants. Lunch included. We visit this afternoon the great fortress Qaitbey (entrance included) , built in 1480 on a narrow peninsula where the Hellenistic lighthouse was located, which was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. After that, by coach we travel the cornice, chaotic, noisy, commercial or elegant according to the areas. Free time. Accommodation.
Distance: 350 km.

Landscapes: Landscapes of the Nile Delta, with its fertile lands, small towns and thousands of palm trees.
NOTE: The fortress of Rashid is not very visited, sometimes it can be closed (in that case we will see it externally and walk through the picturesque village of fishermen and farmers)
08.30 hrs- We continue our visit of Alexandria , entering the impressive Catacombs Kom Shuqqafa (entrance included) , the largest Roman cemetery in Egypt, we will be surprised by the fusion of Pharaonic and Greco-Roman style. From here we will walk with our guide between narrow, very commercial and bustling alleys to the Pompey Column , an immense column 30 meters high that rises on the ruins of a temple. Afterwards we will stop to photograph externally the new Library of Alexandria , inaugurated in 2002 with a very modern architecture and that reminds us that this city, in the third century BC. was one of the greatest cultural centers in antiquity. The Library of Alexandria at that time guarded more than half a million papyrus scrolls. Lunch included.
13.00 hrs- Alexandria.- departure. Continuation of our route to Rosetta . In this small city, very close to the mouth of one of the tributaries of the Nile, the Rosetta Stone was found, just over a meter high, which was key to deciphering the hieroglyphic writing of the Egyptians since it contains the same text written in hieroglyphics, demotic and ancient Greek.
14.15 hrs- Rashid Fortress, located within walking distance, in a picturesque small village of streets full of local life and with numerous multi-colored fishing boats on the banks of the Nile. Inside its fortress (entrance included) we can see a replica of the Rosetta Stone.
15.00 hrs- Fortress of Rashid- departure
15.30 hrs- Rosetta. Arrival in this pleasant small town next to the Nile where we will walk through the center seeing (externally) the old Ottoman houses with their brick and wood architecture. We will also include a ride on the Nile by boat to admire the views and activity of the fishing boats in the area.
17.00 hrs- Rosetta- Departure.
21.00 hrs- Cairo. Arrival at the end of the day.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and end of our services.

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