Ancient Civilisations Explored

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Dragoman

As the title suggests, this trip really explores the ancient cultures of Northern Africa. It travels between Cairo and Addis Ababa, two of Africa's great modern day cities. But along the way it passes through the lands and history of three great cultures.

The most obvious is the land of Ancient Egypt, and we have over 18 days to explore the Egyptian Nile Valley and it's myriad of ancient relics, such as the Pyramids of Giza and Saqqara, Thebes, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, Aswan and of course Abu Simbel. We also make time to explore the Nile by an overnight Felucca trip.

The next of the great cultures is the least known, the Kushite Kingdom of Sudan's Nubian Desert and this is where we really come into our own, as our overland vehicle and camping equipment, allow us to camp out in the desert at some of Africa's finest ruins. Finally, we have over three weeks to really get to grips with Northern Ethiopia, its mountains, deserts and its wonderfully ancient Christian culture.

Highlights
  • See the mummy of Rameses II in the Cairo Museum
  • Guided tour of the pyramids, tombs and other wonders of Egypt
  • Explore the ancient city of Alexandria
  • See the famous Suez canal
  • Relax on the beach of the Red Sea resort, Marsa Alam
  • Marvel at the incredible sights of Luxor
  • Explore the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings
  • Guided tour of the Temple of Horus at Edfu
  • Enjoy an overnight trip in a traditional felucca on the river Nile
  • 2 days in Aswan to explore the history and sights
  • Marvel at the temples of Rameses and Nefetari at Abu Simbel
  • Wild camp in the Sahara desert of Sudan
  • Guided visit of the Meroe pryamids
  • Wander around the bustling and fascinating city of Khartoum
Tour Staff
Two Dragoman Crew Members, Local Guides where necessary
Transport
Overland Expedition Vehicle, Private Bus, Ferry, Boat
Destinations
  • Africa
  • Middle East
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Sudan
Tour Types
  • Adventure
  • Overland
  • Discovery
  • History
  • Local Living
  • Cultural
  • Attraction-Based Hikes
  • Diving
  • Dolphin Watching
  • Eco
  • GAP Year
  • Trekking
  • Walking
  • Historical
  • Jeep & 4WD
  • Local Guide
  • Mountain Hikes
  • Wildlife
  • Overland truck
  • Sightseeing
  • Snorkelling
  • Walking Tour
Day 1

Border Information: If joining in Addis Ababa, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (IATA code: ADD).

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting.

If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, you will need to arrive at least 2 working days early to collect the visa.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Addis Ababa before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Addis Ababa.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.


Day 2

We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Debre Markos we will stay in a basic local hotel. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).


Day 3

Today we will complete our drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

On our first full day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile. 

On our second day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to take optional visits to some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.


Day 6

Today we visit the unique village of Awra Amba. This village values every member equally and everyone is encouraged to participate in all affairs of the community. This a stark difference to the traditional ideas of the other settlements in the area. We will stay within the village itself and take a tour around the community with a village elder. There is a chance we will be able to meet the enigmatic founder, Zumra Nuru, if we are lucky!


Day 7

Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

On our first day in Lalibela, we will have an included full-day guided tour of the world-famous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.

On the second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yemrehana Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.

In Lalibela we will stay in a local hotel.


Day 10

Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have a full days drive through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele.

We will stay in a decent local hotel in Mekele.

Estimated Drive Times - 9-10 hours


Day 11

After breakfast meet your 4 x 4 vehicles and drive to Hamed Ella. On the way you will pass through the beautiful Tigre Villages and the escarpment of the Afar depression, this is commonly known as the cradle of mankind and is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. Along the way you will see camel caravans going to the traditional salt mine or to the North Eastern highlands of the country, loaded with salt bars in the old traditional way. We will also stop at Brehalle where we will get our permits and scouts for the trip into the Danakil Depression. 

In Dallol you will visit the beautiful land covered by salt, sulfur and different minerals that gives the area a spectactular colour. We will then continue on to Lake Asale to witness the beautiful salt flats. 

We will stay in a local homestay during this excursion. The final day we will then make our way back to Mekele visiting villages along the way. 

This is an extremely intense enviroment and a very adventurous two days, certainly a once in a lifetime experience. However, if you feel like your personal fitness can not withstand this pressure then there is a chance this may not be the trip for you.


Day 12

Today we will make our way back to Mekele where we will stay in a basic hotel overnight. 


Day 13

Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

The next day we will have an included half-day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to make optional visits to other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

In Axum we will stay in a basic local hotel.


Day 15

Leaving Axum behind us, we continue our journey with a full day of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the small village of Debark. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!

Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options that we will have during our excursion starting the following day.

Here we will stay in a basic hotel.

Estimated Drive Times 9 - 10 hours.


Day 16

Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot Lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.

We will spend 3 nights in the incredible Simien Mountains National Park. On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.

On our first day we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the opportunity to summit).

Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather. 

Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the National Park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared! You will need to bring a suitable sleeping bag and mat with you from home to ensure you are ready for this environment.


Day 19

Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar! 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

On the next day, we will have an included half-day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church. 

In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.


Day 21

Border Information: Exit Ethiopia at Metema, enter Sudan at Metema.

Today we will leave Ethiopia behind us and drive to the small town of Gedaref, en route to the Sudanese captial of Khartoum.

In Gedaref we will either stay in a basic local hotel in the town or bush camp in the deserts outside.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.


Day 22

Today we have a full day's drive to Sudan's capital of Khartoum.

In Khartoum we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.


Day 23

Border Information: if joining in Khartoum, you will most likely enter Sudan at Khartoum International Airport (IATA code: KRT).

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm - please look for a note from your leader at the hotel reception when you arrive with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to collect your passport in order to get everyone's visas registered the following morning.

The next day will be free to independently explore Khartoum, including possible optional visits to the impressive Grand Mosque and the bustling Omdurman market.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Khartoum before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Khartoum.

In Khartoum we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.


Day 25

Today we will head north out of Khartoum to explore the Kushite temples of Naqa and Musawwarat.

Tonight we aim to wild camp in the deserts near Musawwarat.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).


Day 26

Today we will head north to visit the incredible and haunting Meroe pyramids of the Kushite era. We will then continue on to Karima. 

We aim to wild camp in the deserts near Karima.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.


Day 27

Over the next 3 days we will journey north through the remote areas of Northern Sudan and the vast Sahara Desert. En route we will visit many ruined temples of the Kushite era, including the Nuri pyramids and the pyramids at Jebel Barkal mountain near the town of Karima, the Deffufa of Kerma near Dongola, and the Temple of Soleb near Wawa.

On all of these nights we will wild camp out in the remote deserts, which is the true highlight of travelling overland through Sudan!

Estimated Drive Times - 4-8 hours each day.


Day 30

Today we will come to the end of our long journey through the wilds of Northern Sudan and reach the dusty frontier town of Wadi Halfa on the southern shores of Lake Nasser.

The rest of the day will be free for us to explore the hills above Wadi Halfa, or to relax in the shade!

In Wadi Halfa we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.


Day 31

Border Information: Exit Sudan at Qustol, enter Egypt at Qustol.

Today we will cross the border into Egypt, and take the first available transport ferry across to the west side of Lake Nasser and the small village of Abu Simbel. Here we will have an included visit to the phenomenal Temples of Ramses and Nefertari, with a possibility to visit the sound and light show after sunset (if it is running).

In Abu Simbel we will stay in a basic local guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.


Day 32

Today we continue our drive by joining the 11:00am convoy to Aswan, where we will have 3 full days to enjoy to wealth of history and culture that Aswan has to offer, and to make optional visits to Philae Temple, Elephantine Island, the Nubian Museum, and the Aswan Dam.

In Aswan we stay in a comfortable hotel in the centre of the town, next to the Nile River.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.


Day 35

Today we will board a traditional felucca sailboat for an overnight adventure exploring the Nile by boat.

Our accommodation tonight will be on board the felucca.


Day 36

This morning we start our journey north through Egypt and visit the incredible Temple of Edfu, an awe-inspiring temple dedicated to Horus built during the Ptolomaic era, which is considered to be the best-preserved cult temple in Egypt.

After this we will head to Luxor, a beautiful modern town built on the site of the Ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes, where we will spend 3 nights exploring the incredible historical sites here.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

On the following day we will have an included guided tour around the world-famous Karnak Temple, which is walking distance from our hotel. This temple contains some remarkably preserved painted walls and many awe-inspiring pillars and obelisks, and was the centre of religious life in Thebes. Our tour will last about 2 hours, and then we will have free time for the rest of the day to explore the temple independently, and to visit the other sites in Luxor such as the smaller Luxor Temple in the town centre, and the small but beautiful Luxor Museum, which is filled with priceless treasures from the area.

On the following day we will have an included tour to the West Bank, which will encompass the Hatshepsut Temple and the phenomenal Valley of the Kings, the location of the tombs of the Pharoahs of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt.

In Luxor we will stay in a comfortable hotel.


Day 39

Today we will drive to the beautiful southern Red Sea village of Marsa Alam. We will also have an included visit the remarkably preserved Temple of Hathor at Dendara en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

We will have 2 days in Marsa Alam to relax on the beaches, enjoy many optional activities on the Red Sea, or to take an optional overnight camel safari out into the nearby deserts of Wadi-el-Gamal!

In Marsa Alam we will stay in a basic local beach guesthouse.


Day 42

Today we will spend some more time at Marsa Alam, before heading up the coast to explore the nearby Ottoman fort at El Quseir.

In El Quseir we will stay in a pleasant campsite.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.


Day 43

Today we will travel up the stunning coast of the Red Sea and into the Eastern Deserts, visiting the ancient Coptic Monastery of St. Anthony en route.

We will aim to stay in a simple local guesthouse in Zafarana en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.


Day 44

Today we will head further north, and follow the Suez Canal to its northern outflow into the Mediterranean Sea at Port Said.

In Port Said we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.


Day 45

Today we will follow the Mediterranean coast across the Nile Delta to reach the bustling city of Alexandria, where will spend 2 nights exploring the sights. We will have the chance to visit the beautiful modern Alexandria Library, explore several historical sites, and to go diving in the Mediterranean.

In Alexandria we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.


Day 47

Today is our final drive day to the colossal, busting Egyptian capital of Cairo. We will aim to arrive in the later afternoon. Please note that if the traffic is particularly heavy, we may not be able to safely drive right up to the hotel due to parked cars blocking the streets; in this instance we may have to take the truck directly to a parking area and take taxis to the hotel.

In Cairo we will stay in a comfortable hotel located in the pleasant district of Dokki, a short taxi or metro journey from downtown Cairo.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours


Day 48

Today we will set off in a local chartered minibus for an included full-day guided tour to Memphis, the pyramids at Saqqara, the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

We will aim to be back in Cairo for around 4:00pm today and stay overnight in the same hotel.

Tonight is the last night of the trip so we will go out for our final night group meal together!


Day 49

Border Information: if finishing in Cairo, you will most likely exit Egypt at Cairo International Airport (IATA code: CAI).

This morning we will head out on our final activity, an included half-day guided visit to the Egyptian Museum. We will go to the museum by metro or by taxi, and be shown around the vast and breathtaking collection of historical relics and treasures, including the sarcophagus of Akhenaten, the mummy of Ramses II and of course the incredible golden mask of Tutankhamun!

Please do not book flights out of Cairo before about 6:00pm if you would like to make sure you have enough time to fully explore the museum before the trip ends.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Cairo. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.


Dates Price Single Availability
16-Nov-2021 for 48 Nights On Request View live deal View live deal
02-Mar-2022 for 48 Nights On Request View live deal View live deal

Touring with Dragoman

Dragoman has a proud history, of nearly 40 years of pioneering overland adventures in their fleet of iconic, orange trucks. They aim to get you completely off the beaten track and really under the skin of the places that they visit, taking the road less travelled, mixing with the locals, learning about their culture, and ensuring that every part of the journey counts towards an amazing adventure.

Dragoman’s life changing overland adventures, visit over 55 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Many trips are a convenient 14-21 days, offering a great snapshot of a region getting you off the tourist trail on a perspective-changing journey.

These short trips can also be combined to create epic journeys lasting several months be it along the fabled Silk Route, a trans-Africa expedition from Cape Town to Cairo, or travel the entire length of the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Or journey from Mongolia down through China, and South East Asia – or in India you can circle the continent. These are incredible journeys that will change your life!

Group sizes are limited to 22, creating a personal experience with the most popular tours having frequent departures so you can easily find a date to suit you. They guarantee more trip departures than comparable operators and strive to offer value with more inclusions, so you don't have to pay extra on the road.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Dragoman

48 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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View live deal View live deal 40 years of pioneering overland adventures!
Group Size:0 - 22
Suitable For: 18 plus
Accommodation:Comfortable Hotel 15 nights. Basic Hotel 18 nights. Camping 1 night. Multishare Hostel 3 nights. Overnight Boat 1 night. Camping without facilities 10 nights
Difficulty:Medium
Meals:Breakfasts x 98, Lunches x 24, Dinners x 24
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