The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, six nights' accommodations, most meals, shore excursions, and sightseeing tours, from $1,799 per person—plus an estimated $185 in taxes.
When: Sept. 3, 10; add $100 for Sept. 17, 24; add $800 for Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Dec. 3, 10; add $900 for Nov. 5, 12, 19, 26, Dec. 31; add $1,200 for Dec. 17; add $1,600 for Dec. 24; additional departures in 2009 available.
Gateways: New York City. Add $98 for Baltimore, D.C.; $110 for Detroit; $276 for San Francisco; additional cities available.
The fine print: Entrance fees, a tour guide, ground transportation by air-conditioned bus, airfare within Egypt, and fuel and port surcharges are included. Does not include taxes of about $185 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement from $399. U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and a visa for travel in Africa; you can obtain a visa at the Cairo airport for $15. See all our visa advice. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: Foreign Independent Tours, 800/248-3487, foreign-independent-tours.com.
Why it's a deal: A recent Kayak search yielded a $1,174 flight on Alitalia from New York City to Cairo. For an additional $810 (including taxes), FIT takes care of the airfare as well as your accommodations (including a three-night cruise), most of your meals, and all the sightseeing and entrance tours. Consider that you'll also save time by booking a package instead of booking each element separately.
Trip details: The Nubian Jewel — A Cruise Tour begins with an overnight flight from the U.S. to Cairo on Egypt Air. You'll be transferred to the Hotel Sofitel Le Sphinx Cairo, your base for the first night in Cairo. It's located in a park near the Giza pyramids and the Sphinx, and all 280 rooms are air-conditioned. You can also take advantage of the pool, 24-hour room service, and two restaurants.
After breakfast the next day, you'll take a 90-minute flight on Egypt Air to Aswan in the arid southern region of Nubia, whose rich history dates back to 3,100 B.C. Locals speak Nubian as well as Arabic. (Note that Nubia extends into northern Sudan, but this itinerary steers clear of that large, conflict-ridden country.)
In Aswan, you'll board the 52-cabin Eugenie, built like the Nile steamships of the 1800s. You'll spend three nights in a standard cabin; upgrades are available from $150 per person.
You'll have lunch on-board and then visit the Kalabsha temple, built by the Roman emperor Augustus. You'll also see Beit El Wali, a temple with ancient drawings, and Kertassi, a columned monument. There will be afternoon tea and a dinner on the boat.
For the next two days, you'll cruise Lake Nasser, which was created after the Aswan High Dam was built in the 1960s. At risk of being destroyed, the monuments in the area were painstakingly moved. During the cruise, you'll see the Wadi el Seboua temple—guarded by sphinxes—as well as the temples of Amada and Derr, the tomb of Penout and Abu Simbel, a massive area with two twin temples, built in the 1200s B.C.
After disembarking, you'll head back to Cairo (again on Egypt Air) and stay in the Hotel Sofitel Sphinx Le Cairo for the remaining two nights. You'll explore the Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza and tour the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, which has hundreds of artifacts from the time of pharaohs (think sarcophagi and other cool mummy stuff). You can add nights in Cairo for about $70 per person per night.
September is still high season in Egypt, so expect crowds and hot temperatures (in the 80s) during the day, with high 60s at night.