The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, 13 nights' accommodations, some meals, and local transportation, from $1,629 per person — including taxes.
When: Depart April 23, 2008; add $100 for departures on Jan. 9, 23, Feb. 6, 20, March 5, April 9; $160 for Sept. 10; $200 for March 26.
Gateways: New York City; additional cities available upon request and at an additional cost.
The fineprint: Airport taxes, fuel surcharges, and hotel and port taxes are included. Thirteen breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners, and all airport-hotel transfers except on departure are included. Optional sightseeing and shore excursions are limited to 40 persons per group. U.S. citizens may purchase visas at the Cairo airport upon arrival for approximately $15. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $284. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: Jan 18, 2007; afterwards the rate increases by $200 per person.
Contact: Gate1 Travel, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com
Why it's a deal: In comparison, the lowest fares we found for round-trip travel in late April 2008 between New York City and Cairo, plus two additional domestic flights from Cairo to Luxor and from Hurghada to Cairo, totaled $1,519 (multiple airlines). For about $110 more, this package covers the cost of round-trip international airfare from the U.S. and your domestic flights within Egypt, plus 13 nights' hotel accommodations and most meals. In short, this deal provides amazing savings while still giving you the flexibility to choose how you spend your days.
Trip details This 15-Day Egypt with the Red Sea package covers round-trip flights on Egypt Air between New York City and Cairo, plus all domestic flights within Egypt, three nights' hotel accommodations in Cairo, a seven-night Nile River Cruise, and a three-night stay at a Red Sea beach resort in Hurghada.
Tour company representatives will escort you from the airport to your room at the 184-room Swiss Inn Pyramids Golf Resort on the outskirts of Cairo, just 15 minutes from the Pyramids of Giza. You can unwind at the resort's pool, spa, or 27-hole Dreamland golf course. There are four on-site restaurants.
You can spend the following day exploring Cairo on your own or wake up early for an optional sightseeing tour led by a licensed Egyptologist, who will take the group to the ancient pyramids of Cheops, Chephren, and Mykerinus. Continue on to the famous statue of the Sphinx and the renowned Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, which houses the world's largest collection of artifacts from the time of the pharaohs. The full-day tour costs $102 per person and includes a stop at the bazaar of Khan El-Khalili, where you'll find everything from jewelry and fine perfumes to less expensive clothing and souvenirs.
On the third morning, you'll head to the airport after breakfast and board an hour-long flight on Egypt Air to the ancient city of Luxor, where you'll board the “King of the Nile,” a 128-passenger cruise ship with 65 junior-suite cabins. Enjoy the scenery from your cabin's spacious windows as you set sail along the Nile for your seven-night cruise.
Highlights of the cruise include the temples of Karnak, Luxor, and Abu Simbel; the Valley of the Kings and the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen; and the site of the imposing Colossi of Memnon, a pair of 60-foot sandstone statues of the pharaoh Amenhotep III that have stood guard at the ancient necropolis for approximately 3,400 years.
Shore excursions can either be purchased locally or prebooked as a package for $120 per person. It's possible to explore these places on your own, but the guided tour option assures that all passengers will arrive back to the ship in time for departure (and it includes all transportation and the services of an English-speaking guide).
Next up is a three-hour journey by coach bus to Hurghada, where you'll stay at the all-inclusive Grand Makadi Resort on the Red Sea. The hotel boasts a private beach, a pool, tennis courts, and four restaurants. Optional excursions include snorkeling among the coral reefs at Giftun Island ($63) and a guided visit to the monasteries of St. Paul and St. Anthony ($76), which date back 16 centuries to the era of the early Coptic Church.
Last, you'll depart after breakfast for the one-hour return flight from Hurghada to Cairo. You'll have the rest of the day free to explore the capital city on your own, or you can board a half-day guided tour of the ancient city of Memphis on the western banks of the Nile ($62). Spend one final night in Cairo back at the Swiss Inn Pyramids Golf Resort and make your own arrangements to get to the airport the next morning for the flight back to New York. (Taxi shuttle service costs approximately $24 per person.)
For more suggestions on what to see and do in Egypt, consult the official Web site for Egypt's Tourist Authority. Before you go, check the weather forecast, the local time, and the exchange rate on BudgetTravel.com.
A word of caution: Egypt suffered terrorist attacks in 2004, 2005, and 2006, in areas along the Sinai peninsula, as well as several that targeted crowded tourist destinations in Cairo. Americans visiting Egypt should be vigilant and alert to their surroundings. Before you go, consult the U.S. Embassy in Cairo Web site for up-to-date security information.