Voyage through the Red Sea

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    Destinations: Middle East
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Tour Description

We start our 2012 Red Sea adventure with a two-day Egypt tour where we view the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, along with several of Alexandria’s impressive monuments. We then explore Byblos and Baalbek, Lebanon. After a daylight transit of the Suez Canal, we resume our Egypt expedition with visits to the Monastery of St. Catherine and Luxor. Then, it’s on to Saudi Arabia, then Sudan, Eritrea, and more, as well as the sublime islands of the Dahlak Archipelago with its migrating seabirds and plethora of marine life.

Red Sea Expedition Highlights:

• Visit five amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Giza, Baalbek, Byblos, the Monastery of St. Catherine and an included overnight excursion to Luxor.
• Step ashore in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where we tour the well-preserved old town and browse the colorful souk, filled with exotic spices, finely-woven carpets, and fragrant incense.
• Visit fascinating Suakin, Sudan, where traditional lifestyles and livelihoods have changed little over the centuries.
• Enjoy a daylight transit of the Suez Canal, learn about its construction, and ancient trade routes.
• Snorkel or dive in the remote Dahlak Archipelago, a haven for seabirds and a natural paradise for marine life.
• Discover beautiful Art Deco architecture and the lively café culture of Asmara, Eritrea.

With Zegrahm Expeditions, virtually everything is included in the cost of your Red Sea expedition:

  • All gratuities, from porters and ship’s crew to tour guides
  • All accommodations, including pre-voyage hotel night
  • Welcome dinner and orientation briefing to get to know one another and get a good sense of what’s to come
  • Daily activity options, including cultural tours, nature walks, Zodiac cruises, and snorkeling and diving
  • World-class lecture and expedition team
  • All meals onboard and with the group ashore
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and landing and port charges
  • All transfers on the group arrival and departure days
  • Gift certificates for recommended expedition gear and reading materials
  • Comprehensive pre-departure packet to prepare you for your Red Sea and Egypt tour, with everything from currency information and weather to shipboard amenities and a packing list Medical and emergency evacuation insurance
  • Dedicated Zegrahm program manager and air coordinator to answer all your questions
  • Photographic journal upon returning home to relive your Red Sea and Egypt tour

Itinerary

Day 1

Depart USA

Independent overnight flight to Jordan.

Day 2

Amman, Jordan

Arrive in Amman this evening and transfer to our hotel for the first of a two-night stay.

Day 3

Amman

After a morning at leisure we set out to explore one of the oldest cities in the world. Spread across 19 hills, Amman’s light-colored stone houses lend it the sobriquet, “the white city.” In the busy downtown, modern towers and boutique shops meld with the legacies of ancient civilizations, a hilltop citadel, and Greco-Roman ruins. We visit an 8th-century palace built by the Omayyad Arabs and a restored Roman theater. The National Archaeological Museum provides an overview of Jordan’s fascinating heritage. Return to the hotel for a briefing and our welcome dinner.

Day 4

Amman / Petra

In the morning we drive south along the King’s Highway through the picturesque Jordanian countryside, passing traditonal villages and the spectacular canyon of Wadi al-Mujib en route to the Castle of Kerak. Dating from 1132, this stunning edifice lies within a walled crusader city situated along an ancient caravan route between Egypt and Syria. We continue our drive to our hotel in Petra in time for dinner and overnight.

Day 5

Petra

We rise early this morning to visit the astonishing ruins of Petra, capital of the Nabataean civilization, which flourished between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D. In a dramatic approach we enter the Siq, a narrow chasm flanked by 600-foot-high rock walls, which opens into the ancient city. Unfolding before us are spectacular rock-cut tombs, temples, and a theater, each carved from vividly hued, iron-rich sandstone, hence the nickname “the rose-red city.” The grand façade of the Treasury, remarkably well preserved, bears testimony to Petra’s prominence as a wealthy center monopolizing the lucrative trading routes north of the Red Sea. After lunch at the ruins, those who wish may climb to the Monastery or choose to visit the excellent museum before returning to our hotel.

Day 6

Petra / Wadi Rum / Aqaba / Embark Clipper Odyssey

We continue southward this morning and arrive in Wadi Rum, the majestic valley made famous by T.E. Lawrence, “Lawrence of Arabia.” We transfer to 4x4 vehicles for a drive through the dramatic sandstone formations that tower over the desert floor strewn with immense boulders. Continue to Aqaba where we embark the Clipper Odyssey and set sail in the evening.

Day 7

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt / Monastery Of St. Catherine

Two tour options are available today. Those who wish to visit the ancient Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Catherine, a World Heritage Site, disembark early this morning for a 3-hour drive through the rugged and beautiful terrain of the Sinai Desert. Enjoy a private visit to this remarkable holy site, which preserves the world’s second largest collection of manuscripts and view the exquisite 6th-century icons, the ornate chapel, and what is believed by many to be the Burning Bush—the reason for building the monastery on this remote site.

Alternatively, enjoy an excursion to Ras Mohammed, a beautiful national park at the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Snorkel or dive in crystal clear waters, which harbor more than 200 species of coral and nearly 1,000 species of fish. After lunch return to Sharm el Sheikh to explore the town on your own.

Day 8-9

Safaga / Luxor

The Clipper Odyssey arrives at the port of Safaga today and after an early breakfast we depart overland for an overnight tour of Luxor’s magnificent ancient splendors. The enormous complex at Karnak, built nearly 2,000 years ago on the east bank of the Nile, was the seat of Amun, “King of the Gods.” Ptolemy III built the impressive gate, still in near-perfect condition, and we explore the temple’s many sanctuaries, walk among obelisks of staggering height, and along the Avenue of the 1,000 Sphinxes—a “forest” of 134 massive columns, which originally extended from the temple all the way to the banks of the Nile. After check-in and lunch at our hotel, we visit the Luxor Temple, discovered less than a century ago in the heart of the city. Red granite obelisks, the huge Sitting Ramesses II colossus, Amenhotep’s colonnade, and a mosque built atop the pharaonic temple are supremely photogenic highlights. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

The following day, we cross the Nile to explore ancient Thebes, a World Heritage Site, and its Valley of the Kings. Cut deep into the rocky mountainsides and surrounded by the high Gurna Hills are the magnificent tombs of Egypt’s principal pharaohs, including Tutankhamen. We visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut—the only woman who actually ruled as a pharaoh—constructed at the top of three massive terraces. Its walls are decorated in elaborate hieroglyphs depicting her divine birth. We continue to the two “singing” statues of King Amenhotep III, 60-foot-high seated kings, which once guarded his namesake temple and the largest temple of Thebes. For lunch we board feluccas, traditional Nile sail boats and cross the Nile back to the west bank, then return to our ship in Safaga.

Day 10

At Sea

As we cruise toward Saudi Arabia our lecturers prepare us for our cultural experiences to come in Saudi Arabia and Eritrea.

Day 11

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The Gateway to Mecca and Medina, and largest port in the Red Sea, welcomes us this morning as we set out for a walking tour of Jeddah’s well-preserved old city. Many of the traditional houses in this protected area were built from Red Sea coral and are embellished with intricate wooden carvings. The large souq is a feast for the senses, with vendors extolling the virtues of their spices, carpets, incense, and jewelry. After lunch at a festive local restaurant, we explore the Abdulraouf Khalil Art Museum where more than 200 rooms reveal the history of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula. We return to the ship for dinner and set sail for Sudan.

Day 12

Suakin, Sudan

Situated just south of the modern harbor of Port Sudan is the old city of Suakin, which served as a major trading stop on the route to Mecca. We go ashore for a tour this morning and step back in time as we walk pathways between old buildings constructed of coral blocks, while camels, donkeys, and local people remind us that traditional life continues off the beaten path. After a folkloric performance, we return to the ship for lunch and enjoy an afternoon of snorkeling and diving in the warm, marine-life-rich waters of the Red Sea.

Day 13

Massawa, Eritrea

We arrive in Massawa today and disembark after lunch for an exploratory tour of the former village that the Ottomans turned into a major port in the 16th century. The old architecture still reflects the traditional dry coral and wood beam construction, with haphazard balconies leaning over the narrow streets. We view the 15th-century mosque, the sprawling dhow docks, and the colorful bazaar housed in one of the surviving Ottoman buildings.

Day 14

Dahlak Archipelago

The Dahlak Archipelago is a bejeweled smattering of nearly 200 islands, of which only four are inhabited by a population that continues its traditional lifestyle of pearl fishing and goat- and camel-herding. Seabirds nest here in great profusion and submerged coral reefs are home to hundreds of marine species, including dolphins, sharks, dugongs, and several turtle species. Today we explore the region, and enjoy a day of exceptional snorkeling and diving.

Day 15

Massawa / Disembark Clipper Odyssey / Asmara

We bid farewell to the Clipper Odyssey this morning and drive to Asmara for lunch in this friendly, picturesque capital with a distinctly Italian flavor and lively arts and café culture that blossomed during the Italian occupation, from 1869-1936. This afternoon tour the National Museum and the colorful market, with dinner and overnight at our Asmara hotel.

Day 16

Asmara / Frankfurt, Germany

Enjoy a tour of Asmara this morning. The city’s three most prominent landmarks are the Catholic cathedral, the mosque, and the Coptic cathedral, representing the cultural diversity that coexists here. After lunch return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Following dinner at our hotel, depart for the airport for your overnight flight to Frankfurt.

Day 17

Frankfurt / USA

Arrive Frankfurt this morning and connect with your independent flights homeward.

Departures

Pricing Information

Clipper Odyssey

One of the finest adventure ships afloat, the Clipper Odyssey is a 110-passenger luxury expedition vessel, ideally suited for cruising in off-the-beaten-path locales. On all Clipper Odyssey expeditions, guests have access to a fleet of Zodiacs, which allows remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. All cabins on a Clipper Odyssey cruise have an ocean view, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, and sitting area with sofa. Beds can be configured for twin or queen-size sleeping arrangements, and all cabins have an en suite bathroom complete with shower and small bathtub. In the comfort of their cabin, passengers can track the progress of their expedition on the Global Positioning System broadcast—a highlight of a Clipper Odyssey voyage for adventure-minded guests. Additional facilities include a gourmet kitchen featuring American and international cuisine, dining room, lounge, small library and gym, outdoor pool, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. Ship registry: Bahamas.

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.