Middle East Discovery Trip Notes

    • 27
    • XESTC
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $3,680
      CAD $3,915
      AUD $4,070
      EUR €2,975
      GBP £2,435
      NZD $4,825
      ZAR R37,010
      CHF FR3,670
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    • Explorer
    • Original
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There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. View later Middle East Discovery.
Print Version
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2014
Middle East Discovery
Trip code: XESTC
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
****A tip before booking****
Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesJoining point instructions
ThemesGroup sizeFinish point
MapAccommodationFinish point description
ItineraryMealsFinish point instructions
Culture shock rating TransportEmergency contact
Physical ratingJoining point Visas
TippingJoining point descriptionCarbon offset
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Middle East Discovery
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Cairo
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Egypt.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Wonderfully chaotic and always colourful, Cairo is a fascinating mixture of modern city and ancient wonders.
There are plenty of things to see and do with free time in Cairo. Travel along the river by felucca, head out to explore the markets or If the crowds and the noise of the city are too much, catch the metro into the oldest part of the city, the Coptic Christian sector - with its narrow cobbled streets and ancient churches, it's a haven of peace and quiet.
A private van will take us to Giza, location of the Pyramids and the Sphinx.
Our final approach to the Pyramids will be across the surrounding dunes by camel, allowing stunning panoramic views of this iconic sight.
Explore the Pyramids up close: the Pyramid of Khufu (The Great Pyramid of Cheops), the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) and the Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus). From a distance Khafre's pyramid looks larger than Khufu's, but this illusion is due to the structure being built on higher ground. When they were built they were covered in gleaming white limestone - now most of the casing stones have been removed but you can still see some on the apex of Khafre's pyramid.
There is time for an optional entrance inside a Pyramid, please ask your group leader to assist. The inside thoroughfares of the Pyramids are very small and very warm, so for those suffering from claustrophobia it is not recommended.
The statue of the Great Sphinx still retains the mysteries that have puzzled scholars, tourists and scientists for thousands of years. Made from an outcrop of stone left behind from the quarrying for the Great Pyramid, it has been buried by desert sands, excavated and repaired many times. The body of the Sphinx is almost 60 m long and 20 m high. It was known as 'Abu Hol' or Father of Terror to the Arabic people. We don't know who first built the statue - this is one of the mysteries of the colossal monument.
Please note that you'll be required to walk around the Pyramids complex. It can be very hot in the summer months so be prepared for some hot and sweaty walking with little relief. Don't forget to take some water with you.
Transfer back to central Cairo for a visit to the Egyptian Museum.
With thousands of exhibits, it's easy to lose yourself in the Egyptian Museum's many corridors - but don't miss the Tutankhamun rooms, where the famous golden death mask of King Tut and his gilded sarcophagi are displayed.
Your leader will designate a meeting time at our Cairo hotel to travel together to Giza station.
Travel to Aswan aboard a sleeper train with fold-out beds (approx 13 hrs). The two-berth cabins are comfortable and air-conditioned. All bedding is provided onboard by the porter. Western-style toilets are located in each carriage, but as toilet paper isn't always available it's advised to carry some of your own. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. An included dinner and breakfast are served on board. You may want to purchase something extra beforehand to supplement your meal, particularly if you're a vegetarian as only a single type of meal is served for dinner, which always includes meat. In rare circumstances you may be paired in your cabin with a group member of the opposite sex, depending on the group configuration. On other occasions you might have the opportunity to share with another traveller of the same sex who may not be part of our group, again determined by the group configuration.
Included Activities
  • Pyramids and Sphinx
  • Camel ride at the Pyramids
  • Egyptian Museum
Optional Activities
  • The Citadel - EGP60
  • Cairo Tower - EGP100
  • The Great Pyramid of Cheops - EGP200
  • The 2nd Pyramid of Khafre - EGP40
  • Pyramid of Saqqara - EGP80
  • Sound & Light Show at the Pyramids - EGP75
  • Mummies Hall at Egyptian Museum - EGP100
  • Solar Boat Museum - EGP60
Accommodation
King Hotel or similar (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Aswan
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas: welcome to Aswan. This Nubian city is Egypt's southern gateway to Africa and an important market town - take time here to check out one of the country's best bazaars.
After settling in, head out to enjoy the spectacular scenery around Aswan where the Sahara meets the Nile. Take a motor boat ride to a nearby beach where you can climb a sand dune for a rewarding view.
Visit a nearby village where we join a local family for dinner and an unforgettable insight into the life and culture of the local people.
There's an option to travel to the magnificent temples of Abu Simbel on day 4. Built by Ramses II, it was the gateway to Egypt for Southern Africans and its imposing facade clearly delineated the line between what was the Pharaoh's land and what was not.
There are two ways to make the journey south to see these remarkable temples.
Some travellers prefer to fly from Aswan to Abu Simbel. The flight time is 40 minutes each way. Flights can be booked online through EgyptAir: http://www.egyptair.com/English
Return flights vary throughout the season, depending on the day of the week you fly and how far in advance you book, but expect to pay between US$250-300. Due to the southerly location it's recommended to book the early flight and visit Abu Simbel at sunrise to avoid the heat
A less expensive option is to hire a minivan with other group members who are also interested. Prices can fluctuate depending on the number of pasengers travelling. This can be organised from Aswan. The ride is 3 hours each way with a very early departure from Aswan at approximately 4am.
Please note that Abu Simbel is an optional activity. Your group leader won't be travelling with you on flights. However will accompany the group on the bus option. The entrance fee is paid on arrival at the site, and if you wish a local guide can be hired on arrival.
For those that don't wish to travel to Abu Simbel, a visit to nearby Philae Temple is highly recommended. Dedicated to the goddess Isis, the temple was painstakingly moved and reassembled after the construction of the Aswan High Dam flooded its original island location.
Included Activities
  • Nubian village visit and meal
Optional Activities
  • Philae Temple - EGP60
  • Boat to Philae Temple - EGP10
  • Sound & Light Show at Philae Temple - EGP75
  • Nubian Museum - EGP60
  • Unfinished Obelisk - EGP40
  • Monastery of St. Simeon - EGP35
  • Kalabsha Temple - EGP40
  • Tomb of the Nobles - EGP40
  • Abu Simbel Temple - EGP115
  • Aswan to Abu Simbel: return transport by bus (price from per person - minimum 4 passengers) - USD90
  • Aswan to Abu Simbel: return flights (book with www.egyptair.com - prices from approx) - USD320
Accommodation
Isis Corniche Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Day 5 Nile Felucca
Board feluccas to spend a day out on the river and then a night under the stars. Our Nubian sailing crew provides all the meals, which are hearty and delicious.
A felucca is a traditional wooden boat with broad canvas sails. The boat has a canopy that offers shade and protection from the elements, however there is no cabin or enclosed section. Please note that conditions are basic during our felucca trip but if you are prepared to rough it a bit you are sure to have the adventure of a lifetime.
Sleep outside on the deck of the felucca on mattresses. While blankets are provided, a sleeping sheet is recommended. During the colder months (October to March) it can get very cold at night (as low as 5C) so a sleeping bag is highly recommended for this period. Sleeping bag hire is not available.
There are no toilets on board our Nile felucca, but while sailing we'll stop at your request on the riverbank for toilet stops with nature. At the completion of the day's sailing we'll assemble a western-style toilet and tent close by on the riverbank. Any assistance from the group in building the toilet tent is always much appreciated.
Please note that we may need to make slight alterations to our Nile itinerary throughout the year, depending on winds and currents. As the felucca is a sailing craft without any outboard engine, if there's no wind - we won't travel very far.
Nonetheless, watching the sun setting across the Nile in the evening is a sight you'll remember. This is the absolute highlight of the trip for many of our travellers.
Included Activities
  • Overnight felucca sailing trip
Accommodation
Overnight Felucca (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Luxor
After farewells to the felucca crew, take a private van to Luxor (approx 3.5 hrs). There's an option to visit either the Temple of Kom Ombo or the Temple of Edfu on the way.
From the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of wonderfully preserved reminders of the Pharaohs.
Take a private van to the west side of the Nile.
Visit the Colossi of Memnon - two 17 metre-high statues on Luxor's west bank. Carved from granite blocks they represent the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Hop on to donkeys (in the winter months of October-May only) for a ride of a different kind through the local villages and fields of sugar cane (approx 30 mins).
Continue on to the spectacular royal burial site of the Valley of the Kings to visit three of the most interesting tombs. Here your group leader will explain the history and legends of these remarkable people.
Please note that a visit to King Tutankhamen's tomb is not included in our visit, but can be arranged as an option with advance notice. Ask your leader for details if you're interested.
Be treated to lunch at our local guide's house - a fantastic chance to experience life in Luxor. The women on the trip are welcome to visit the ladies of the house.
Some options for your free time in Luxor include:
Visit the Luxor Museum.
Hire a bicycle to ride out into the surrounding countryside.
For a more upscale experience, check out the Winter Palace, a lovely five-star historical building with wonderful views over the Nile - a great place for a refreshing cocktail.
If time allows, balloon flights are offered from the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. There are many companies who offer these flights. While we can arrange the balloon experience with our preferred operator, who has provided good and safe service in the past, we must advise that you are free to choose your own balloon flight operator if you have specific safety concerns. Please note this is an optional activity so any balloon flight is taken at your own risk.
Generally the activity is advertised as a flight over the Valley of the Kings. No matter what any agent says, this can't be guaranteed as the flight is entirely dependent on the direction of the wind. From our experience, very few flights actually go over the Valley of the Kings and instead fly close to Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon. While you may have booked a 'sunrise' balloon flight, please be aware that this doesn't always eventuate in time for the sunrise due to logistical reasons and weather conditions.
Catch an overnight sleeper train from Luxor to Cairo (approx 10 hrs).
Included Activities
  • Colossi of Memnon
  • Valley of the Kings (3 tombs)
  • Donkey ride (seasonal - not in summer)
  • Home-cooked traditional meal with local family
Optional Activities
  • Kom Ombo Temple - EGP40
  • Edfu Temple - EGP60
  • Karnak Temple - EGP80
  • Open Air Museum at Karnak - EGP40
  • Sound and Light Show at Karnak - EGP100
  • Luxor Temple - EGP60
  • Mummification Museum - EGP60
  • Bicycle Hire - EGP25
  • Tomb of Tutankhamun - EGP100
  • Hatshepsut Temple - EGP52
  • Medinat Habu Temple - - EGP40
  • Ramasseum Temple - EGP40
  • Valley of the Queens - EGP50
Accommodation
Royal House Hotel or similar (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 8 Cairo
Walk through Coptic Cairo where some Egyptologists believe there has been a settlement since the 6th century BC. The Romans built a fortress here, of which some walls still exist today. After the Romans, it became a Christian stronghold, with as many as 20 churches built within a small area. There are only five remaining today and during our tour we'll visit the following: the Hanging Church (Church of the Virgin Mary) built into the walls of an ancient Roman fortress; the Monastery and Church of St. George; the Church of St. Sergius (Abu Serga) which legend says was built atop a site where Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus rested on their flight from Herod; the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is Egypt's oldest and dates to the 9th century; and the peaceful Greek Orthodox cemetery.
Visit Islamic Cairo and the frenetic backstreets of the local bazaar - Khan el-Khalili. A labyrinth of narrow streets and passageways, Khan is one of the biggest and oldest markets in the world.
Included Activities
  • Coptic Cairo walking tour
  • Islamic Cairo and Khan al-Khali bazaar visit
Optional Activities
  • Coptic Museum - EGP60
  • Islamic Art Museum - EGP50
Accommodation
King Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 9 Dahab
We drive east crossing the Suez Canal into the Sinai. We head south along Gulf of Suez coast and through Sharm el Sheikh. We then continue driving north along Gulf of Aqaba to Dahab.
With a name meaning 'gold' in Arabic, Dahab has transformed from a Bedouin fishing village into a popular tourist town, luring travellers with its excellent diving. Its location between the Sinai Desert and Red Sea makes it ideal for all kinds of adventure activities, while Bedouin influences mean it hasn't lost its authenticity.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Red Sea Beach Camp
Travel by van to our Red Sea beach camp, close to the town of Nuweiba (approx 2 hrs).
This is a harsh and barren land of sprawling windswept plains and rugged mountains, but it's also home to some fantastic beaches. The tiny settlement of Sawa Camp is reminiscent of its Sinai neighbours, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheik, before mass tourism arrived. Thankfully Sawa Camp is still a hidden gem for Intrepid groups. Set on one of the only stretches of fine golden sand along this coast, this is a place that you'll be raving about to your friends for years to come.
Stay in simple but comfortable beach huts with the water right at our front door. The huts in our camps are made from local palm trees and have a mattress on the floor with sheets and mosquito nets provided. The toilets and showers are in a communal block.
The Red Sea coast is justifiably famous for its beautiful scenery, both above and below the water. Why not start the day with a fantastic snorkelling trip to discover this spectacular world.
There's time to make an optional scuba dive on nearby reefs.
Later relax on the golden sands watching the mountains of Saudi Arabia light up at sunset, and finish the day chatting with our Bedouin friends over a delicious freshly squeezed fruit juice. Enjoy!
Optional Activities
  • St. Catherine's Icon Museum - EGP30
  • Red Sea scuba diving (approx for 2 dives) - USD75
  • Red Sea snorkel hire (per day) - EGP20
Accommodation
Sawa Camp Hut or similar (2 nts)
Day 12 Aqaba
Take a ferry across the Gulf of Aqaba to Jordan (approx 2 hours). Your Egyptian leader will help you board the ferry and say good-bye. Please note that you'll be travelling on this ferry unaccompanied by a group leader. You'll be met at the Aqaba ferry terminal by our local representative who will receive and process visas for the group and arrange a transfer to the hotel where you'll meet your Jordanian leader.
The ferry crossing can be rough on occasions and those who suffer from sea sickness may want to prepare themselves. Please note this ferry crossing sometimes experiences delays and patience is required. This is a fast ferry and sometimes it can be cancelled without notice. For some trips we may be required to take the slow ferry which can take anywhere between 3-5hrs. Due to adverse weather conditions there's a possibility the ferry will be cancelled all together, forcing us to stay an extra night in Egypt. The ferry itself is modern with western-style toilets on board.
Stay in the coastal resort town of Aqaba, the country's only seaport.
Accommodation
Aqua Vista Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 13 Wadi Rum
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with a short drive (approx 1 hr) to the extraordinary desert scenery in Wadi Rum.
A 4-hour jeep safari takes us through some of the most beautiful and sublime desert scenery on the planet, a true highlight of this trip.
Wadi Rum is full of weird and beautiful lunar-like rock formations. Traces of ancient civilisations can be seen in the many carved inscriptions found throughout the Wadi Rum area, from pictographs to Thamudic, Nabataean and Arabic texts. The most enduring monuments in Wadi Rum, however, are those carved by nature - the natural rock bridges, towering rose-coloured sand dunes and scattered rocky peaks.
Sleep in a simple desert camp where you'll have the choice of sleeping under a camel hair tent or out under the stars. A mattress and blankets are provided. Please be aware that while the desert may be very hot during the day, it will still be cool at night and warm clothes and a sleeping bag is highly recommended when travelling outside of the summer months. A dinner cooked in a local earthen oven is included. Western-style toilet facilities are available. Conditions are basic at our desert camp, but the company of our Bedouin hosts is warm and you'll treasure the memory of sleeping beneath the twinkling desert night sky.
Included Activities
  • 4WD jeep safari and desert camp
Accommodation
Wadi Rum Desert Camp or similar (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Petra
Travel by van from Wadi Rum to Petra (approx 2 hrs).
Hewn out of the rose-coloured rock face, the ancient Nabataean city of Petra is one of the Middle East's most spectacular destinations, and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Visit Petra with a local guide, starting with the exciting walk through the narrow Siq to the Treasury. After admiring the iconic view, continue through the site along the Roman road, past impressive rock-cut tombs, temples and the amphitheatre.
Please note that when entering Petra as a group, a complimentary horse ride is included in the ticket price from the entrance point down to the Siq. Intrepid doesn't recommend that passengers take this option due to the safety and insurance liability involved.
Explore the rest of the site at your own pace. For those with the energy, there's the challenging but highly rewarding walk up the steps to the stunning Monastery (approx 1 hr). Please note a lot of walking is required to see all the sites and viewpoints of Petra. A basic level of fitness will enhance your enjoyment of your visit.
The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was discovered by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer. It was once described as 'a rose-red city half as old as time' in a sonnet by John William Burgon and UNESCO has described it as 'one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage.' In 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage site. So you know you are in for an amazing experience here.
It's difficult to determine exactly when the history of Petra began. Evidence suggests the Horites, probably cave-dwellers, inhabited the area, lending their traditional habits such as burying the dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves to the next wave of inhabitants - the Nabataeans.
Evidence of the earliest Nabataean settlement is also sketchy. Some of the characteristics of the site appear partly Egyptian and partly Greek in style. Strangely, few inscriptions have been found at Petra making dating the civilization a real challenge for historians. We do know the Nabataean settlement doesn't go back farther than the 6th century BC.
In 106 AD, Petra was absorbed into the Roman Empire and the native dynasty came to an end but continued to flourish for a century after. Eventually the building of tombs ended and trade moved away from Petra, which fell into steady decline over the centuries. Over time many of the tombs' treasures were stolen by treasure hunters and their glory and whereabouts are unknown.
According to Arab tradition, Petra is the location where Moses struck a rock with his staff and water came forth.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Petra
Optional Activities
  • Petra by night - JOD12
Accommodation
La Maison Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Days 16-17 Madaba
Travel the King's Highway to the historic crusader castle of Kerak. Take time here to explore the evocative ruins and to discover the legends of the 12th-century battles between the Crusaders and the Muslim armies led by the Arab hero, Saladin (Salah ad-Din).
Travel by van to Madaba, via the Dead Sea and Mt Nebo.
A Dead Sea float is a must for any trip to Jordan. Here at the lowest point on Earth (420 metres below sea level) the water is seven times saltier than a normal ocean at 30% salinity. The Dead Sea is the second saltiest body of water in the world after Lake Asal in Djibouti. When swimming this means you are extremely buoyant and seem to float on top of the water rather than in it.
The mud here is supposed to have healing properties and many visitors like to cover themselves from head to toe for a beauty mud bath. Stop at a private beach with pools and a gentle slope to the water. Towels are available for hire. Don't forget to pack your swimwear for today.
Make a stop at Mt Nebo where the prophet Moses is said to have seen the promised land and is supposedly buried. Explore this sanctuary and view the remarkable mosaics of the 4th-century church.
The historical town of Madaba is famous for its Ottoman-style houses and beautiful Byzantine-era mosaics, including the famous 6th-century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land at St George's Church. Other mosaic masterpieces found within the Church of the Virgin and the Apostles and in the Archaeological Museum depict a rampant profusion of flowers and plants, birds and fish, animals and exotic beasts, as well as scenes from mythology and everyday pursuits such as hunting, fishing and farming. If these interest you, you'll be delighted to know that literally hundreds of other mosaics from the 5th to 7th centuries are scattered throughout Madaba's churches and homes.
Madaba is practically a satellite suburb of Amman, but it has a village feel and friendly locals.
Take the opportunity to relax by the pool of our comfortable hotel. There's a poolside restaurant that's yours to enjoy. As it's sometimes difficult for the hotel to identify who are hotel guests and who are restaurant guests, all orders for food and drink are required to be paid for at the time of ordering. As the restaurant is in practice a separate business to the hotel this also applies to room service orders. This is a slightly different system to much of the rest of the Middle East. Any food or drink you wish to bring into the hotel may only be consumed in your hotel room.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Istanbul.
Included Activities
  • Dead Sea
  • Kerak Castle
Optional Activities
  • Roman ruins - JOD8
  • Gladiator show - JOD12
  • St George Church - JOD2
  • Roman Theatre - JOD1
  • Bethany Baptism site - JOD8
  • Citadel and National Archaeological Museum - JOD2
  • Minivan hire for Jerash/Amman sightseeing from Madaba - JOD80
Accommodation
Mariam Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Days 18-19 Istanbul
Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so it will come as no surprise that this vast metropolis is home to a beguiling mix of different cultures and traditions, blending the influences of both east and west. Originally founded by Greek settlers over 2000 years ago, Istanbul originally went by the name of Byzantium, then Constantinople when the Romans made it the capital of their eastern empire. Today, intriguing Istanbul is a bustling mega-city with a population of over 12 million people and a rich history and food scene waiting to be explored.
Before the meeting if you have time, consider exploring some of the Sultanahmet area, including the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar (closed Sunday). Please ensure you are dressed appropriately to visit the Mosque should you wish to enter. It is considered good custom to make a small donation of 1YTL to the mosque after the visit. The mosque uses this money to help those of the congregation who are in need.
On the morning of day 2 we set out on a walking tour to discover some of the hidden charms of Istanbul, the city that bridges Europe and Asia. We explore some of the city's dazzling array of cultural and historical sites and also get off the beaten track discovering backstreets and lesser-known sites. Each of our leaders has their own unique view of Istanbul to show you, an insight that only someone very familiar to a city can give.
At the end of your walk you might like to visit Topkapi Palace at your leisure this afternoon. Like any museum, some people could spend all day in there and for others an hour or two would suffice. It is up to you. The rest of our afternoon is free. For a change of pace check out Taksim across the water.
The rest of our afternoon is free to check out the Grand Bazaar (note the Bazaar is closed on Sundays), make a visit to Aya Sofya, the home of beautiful mosaics and an incredible reminder of the city that was once Constantinople. Consider taking in some famous sites such as the Ancient Hippodrome, formerly the cultural focus of the Byzantine Empire. See Istanbul's most famous landmark, the Blue Mosque. Whilst entry is free, it is good custom to make a donation of a lira or two after your visit. This is a working mosque and part of its role is to look after the less fortunate in the community. Visit the Archaeology Museum which contains an incredible array of ancient exhibits of particular interest the artefacts from infamous Troy. Visit the atmospheric underground Cistern, a vast underwater storage tank built in 532 AD. If all of this makes you a little tired then an hour or two spent in a hamam (Turkish bath) will leave you rejuvenated for the start of your journey. Maybe head down to the Bosphorus and take a ferry cruise on one of the world's most celebrated waterways or grab a fresh fish roll for lunch. For Monday departures we recommend you visit the magnificent opulence of Topkapi Palace on day 1 as it is closed on Tuesday.
Included Activities
  • Istanbul - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Istanbul - Aya Sofya - TRY30
  • Istanbul - Basilica Cistern - TRY20
  • Istanbul - Whirling Dervish show - TRY50
  • Istanbul - Topkapi Palace (incl. harem) - TRY45
  • Istanbul - Chora Church - TRY15
  • Istanbul - Archaeology Museum - TRY15
  • Istanbul - Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Turkish Hamam (incl. massage) - TRY100
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 20 Gallipoli Peninsula
On the eastern shore of the Gelibolu peninsula is the town of Eceabat. A traditional fishing village with loads of character, Eceabat is the closest town to the battefields of Gallipoli. You can catch the public ferry across the Dardanelles to the town of Canakkale for a greater variety of dining and nightlife options if you choose.
This afternoon we journey out with our guide to the Gallipoli Peninsula. The stunning natural beauty of Gallipoli makes it hard to believe that this is the site of one of the most tragic and fiercely fought battles of WWI. This is an opportunity to stroll through time; a moving experience for people from all nations. The battles fought on this land were a turning point in the creation of the Turkish Republic.
Gallipoli was the site of the Anzac landings in the 1914-18 war and one of the Allies great disasters in World War One. Gallipoli was the plan created by Winston Churchill to end the war early by creating a new war front that the Central Powers could not cope with. The stark memorial at Lone Pine is inscribed with the names of the many fallen Anzacs. The nearby museum with its memorabilia is well worth a visit.
This evening you might like to visit the town of Cannakale across the straits from our base in Eceabat. Canakkale is a charming fishing town where you can enjoy exploring the ruins of medieval castles, WWI bunkers or ponder the mythical beauty of the Dardanelles as tankers and boats pass through on their global journeys.
Included Activities
  • Guided Tour of Gallipoli Peninsula
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 21-22 Ayvalik (May-September)
Consider a visit to Troy this morning. The Iliad and the Odyssey have made Troy one of the most recognisable mythological sites in the world. Destroyed and rebuilt in its chequered history, today the ruins of several eras of settlements can be seen. A replica wooden horse at the entrance stands as a testament to the fabled horse, and is a great photo opportunity.
In the afternoon we board a bus south for the journey to Ayvalik (approx. 4hrs).
Located on the Aegean coast and taking its name from the Turkish word for quince (ayva), the charming village of Ayvalik is set around a harbour and looks out to small Aegean islands - a wonderful place to escape from it all. The cobbled backstreets with their old houses and cafes are perfect for exploring.
We spend the afternoon of day 5 on a boat cruise on the Aegean. Swim, chill out, and chat with the locals as they kick back and just relax taking in the scenery. (Please note this can be cancelled due to bad weather conditions.)
These two nights we stay in a family guesthouse with shared facilities. This is a traditional Turkish pension and is a beautiful building filled with history and character. Due to the nature of the building we occasionally are required to accommodate people in triple share here. No rooms have en suite however there are plenty of bathroom facilities for the group.
Please note that on our winter departures from October to April we have an alternative itinerary and we don't visit Ayvalik. Please see important notes for details.
Included Activities
  • Cop Madam visit optional
  • Boat trip
Optional Activities
  • Troy Visit - TRY100
Accommodation
Pension (2 nts)
Days 23-24 Selcuk
A bus ride (3.5 hrs) inland through mountainous landscapes brings us to one of Turkey's most photographed sites - the gleaming white travertine terraces of Pamukkale, which are made from limestone deposits formed when water from the hot springs lose carbon dioxide. The layers of the white calcium carbonate have given Pamukkale its name 'cotton castles'. The pools, now off limits, have been famed for their medicinal qualities since Roman times.
Though we are not able to bathe in the world-famous Travertines, take a walk through them (no shoes please!) and bathe in healing thermal springs at the nearby Roman site of Hierapolis. Home to an oracle at one time, a well-preserved Roman theatre still remains here. Wander the colonnaded streets and discover the necropolis with its many unique tombs, looking every bit like a scene from judgement day.
Included Activities
  • Selcuk - Ephesus Archaeological site
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis & Travertines National Park
Optional Activities
  • Selcuk - Basilica of St John - TRY15
  • Selcuk - Archaeological Museum - TRY15
  • Selcuk - Ephesus Terrace houses - TRY15
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis Museum - TRY3
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis Cleopatra pool - TRY35
Meals Included
1 Breakfast
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 25-27 Antalya
Today we travel by bus to the largest Turkish city on the western Mediterranean coast; Antalya. The journey will take around 4hrs.
A fantastic mix of city sophistication and old-world charm makes Antalya a great place to explore. The relatively unspoilt and restored Kaleici, the old city area, is now a historical zone and protected from modern development. With its palm-lined boulevard, internationally-acclaimed marina and old castle, Antalya is a popular destination.
Take an orientation walk with your leader to get your bearings and check out some of the popular attractions. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore on your own.
Some options here include the Antalya Museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse of history and life in this region. The Suna and Inan Kirac Kaleici Museum is located in an Antalya mansion and set up to show ambient life in an Ottoman house. Karaalioglu Parki, with its lovely flowers and great sea views, is a popular park for locals to go for a stroll.
On Day 9 we travel to the ancient and impressive sight of the ruined city Termessos.
Termessos lies about 30km North West of Antalya, high in the Travertine mountains and is one of the best preserved ancient cities of Turkey.
Alexander the Great once likened the city to an Eagle's nest as he failed to conquer it back in 333 BC.
You could spend hours exploring this remarkable site but by far the Theatre is one of the most breathe taking of all the remains. It once seated more then 4,000 people and at an altitude of almost 1000 metres it's hard not to be impressed by this theatre in the clouds.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Included Activities
  • Guided Walk
  • Termessos
Optional Activities
  • Antalya Museum - TRY20
  • Archaeological Museum - TRY15
  • Flight Antalya to Istanbul - TRY140
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
  • XESTC Single Supplement (XESTC)
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
    Tipping
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.
    Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
    Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
    Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
    Important notes
    ***ALTERNATE ITINERARY***
    Due to the increased unrest in the Sinai area we have been liaising with our local operations team in Cairo to ensure the safety of our passengers currently travelling or due to travel on trips to Egypt. With this in mind we have decided to re-route this trip to avoid the Sinai region.

    All departures from 1 Apr 2014 to 1 Sept 2014 will be running on the below alternative itinerary. Departures post 1 Sept 2014 will be re-assessed in August.
    Day 1 -2 Cairo
    Day 3-4 Aswan
    Day 5 Nile Felucca
    Day 6-7 Luxor
    Day 8-9 Alexandria
    Day 10 Amma
    Day 11 Wadi Rum
    Day 12-13 Petra
    Day 14 Dana Nature Reserve
    Day 15-17 Madaba - Jerash
    Day 18-19 Istanbul
    Day 20 Gallipoli Peninsula
    Day 21-22 Ayvalik
    Day 23-24 Selcuk
    Day 25-27 Antalya
    Please ask your booking agent for detailed trip notes.
    RAMADAN & THE EID UL-FITR FESTIVAL 2014:
    In 2014, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 27 June through until 27 July, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.
    FAST FERRY CANCELLATIONS:
    Fast ferries between Jordan and Egypt can be cancelled without notice. On some trips we may be required to use the slow ferry which can take 3-5 hours.
    WINTER ITINERARY:
    We have an alternative winter itinerary in the months from October to April. During the winter the town of Ayvalik is closed as far as tourist infrastructure is concerned, so on these departures we don’t visit Ayvalik. We travel from Eceabat On day 4 to the town of Bergama where we overnight. Early on the morning of Day 5 we take a guided tour of the ancient site of Pergamon. In the afternoon with continue on to Selcuk, where spend the nights of day 5 and 6. On Day 7 we overnight in Pamukkale and day 8 and 9 are spent in Antalyla.
    Winter itinerary applies to all trips departing in April and October.
    Group size
    Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (8 nts), King Hotel or similar (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (2 nts), Isis Corniche Hotel or similar (2 nts), Sawa Camp Hut or similar (2 nts), La Maison Hotel or similar (2 nts), Pension (2 nts), Overnight Felucca (1 nt), Royal House Hotel or similar (1 nt), Aqua Vista Hotel or similar (1 nt), Wadi Rum Desert Camp or similar (1 nt), Mariam Hotel or similar (1 nt)
    Meals
    20 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 5 Dinners
    USD 560.00
    Transport
    Overnight sleeper train, Camel, Felucca, Van, Ferry, Jeep, Bus, Gulet, Dolmus
    Joining point
    King Hotel
    20 Abdel Rehim Sabry Street
    Dokki
    Cairo
    EGYPT
    Phone: 202 333 59455
    Joining point description
    The King Hotel has 90 rooms with en suite bathrooms, television and air-conditioning. Other hotel features include laundry service, roof top bar and restaurant.
    Joining point instructions
    By far the easiest option from the airport is to take a taxi. Airport taxis shouldn't cost more than EGP100 (be prepared to bargain). The drive can take between 40 minutes and 1 hour depending on the time of day and subsequent traffic conditions.
    Alternatively, Intrepid offer a pre-arranged private transfer service. Enquire with your agent on booking. If you have pre-purchased an arrival transfer you'll be met in the immigration area by a transfer officer from our local representative in Cairo. Look for the Intrepid logo and your name.
    If for any reason you don't make contact with the transfer officer by the time you have cleared customs, as can occasionally occur as many flights tend to arrive at once.
    Please call Ramadan Shedid on the following number:
    (+20) 12 2100 5565
    Give your exact location in the airport (find a landmark) and you'll be attended to promptly.
    In the very unlikely event that this process fails, you can find taxis at the front of the airport to take you to your hotel. Please inform your group leader at the initial group meeting if this occurs.
    If your flight is going to be early, delayed or cancelled please call ahead on the above numbers to explain the situation and advise alternative flight details.
    If this is your first trip to Egypt a transfer is recommended.
    Check-in time at our hotel is 2pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.
    Finish point
    Kaleici Pansiyon
    Kılıçaslan Mah Sakarya Sok. No:11
    Antalya
    Antalya
    07100
    TURKEY
    Finish point description
    Kaleici Pansiyon is located within the heart of Antalya's old city. Decorated in Ottoman style, all rooms are equipped with direct dial phone, air conditioning, mini bar, shower, bath bathtub and satellite TV. The hotel also has internet facilities and a swimming pool.
    Finish point instructions
    If you have pre booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.
    If you are making your own way to the airport, which is 15km from where you are staying, the hotel will be able to help you to book a taxi. Please ask at reception.
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local Cairo-based ground representative for the Middle East can be reached on Tel: +2 01096811067. For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week.
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency only, Intrepid's Istanbul Operations team can be reached on +90 532 641 2822
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Melbourne Office can be reached on Tel: +61 3 9473 2650. For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    EGYPT:
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Yes - on arrival
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: Yes - on arrival
    Ireland: Yes - required in advance
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - required in advance
    Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
    United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    Visas are easily attainable on arrival at Cairo airport or Aqaba ferry port for most nationalities for US$25 to be paid in cash, but please check with your travel agent or embassy before departure. On arrival to Cairo airport you buy your visa at any of the banks before proceeding to immigration. You will be given a stamp that you then need to put into your passport yourself. A single entry visa is valid for three months from date of issue and entitles the bearer to one month in Egypt. Multiple entry visas are not available at the airport or any border crossings.
    JORDAN:
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Yes - on arrival
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: Yes - on arrival
    Ireland: Yes - on arrival
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - on arrival
    Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
    United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    Visas are required by all visitors entering Jordan. Single entry visas valid for 14 days and can be obtained, by most nationalities, on arrival at the airport in Amman or at the Jordanian border for approx. JOD40. It can be significantly more expensive to acquire your visa from the embassy in your home country. If you require a stay longer than 14 day, a visa obtained from the embassy in your home country will be valid for 2 months.
    Please note that although there are ATMs in Amman airport, there are currently no ATMs in the immigration halls of Amman airport (but there are currency exchanges), so ensure you have some foreign currency on hand if you do not have your visa in advance.
    Please note that the procedures for obtaining a visa for Turkey will change on 10 April 2014, and from that date onwards visas will no longer be able to be obtained on arrival.
    For those arriving in Turkey on or before 9 April, 2014:
    For Turkey, an entry visa is required for citizens of the following countries (not limited to this list):
    - USA (US$20 on arrival),
    - Canada (US$60 on arrival; CAD$75 for advance application)
    - U.K. (US$20; GBP45 for advance application)
    - Australia (US$60 on arrival)
    - Austria, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Portugal & Spain (varies from US$10-100)
    The visa costs can change at any time and with little notice depending on the political climate of the region.
    For those arriving in Turkey on or after 10 April, 2014:
    Visas for the above nationalities can no longer be obtained on arrival and travellers must apply for an e-visa before they go. Please go to https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ for all the information required about how to obtain an e-visa.
    A valid passport is sufficient for citizens of most other countries including New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland for stays up to 3 months. All other nationalities please check with your nearest Turkish embassy.
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 1154.00 kgs per pax.