London to Cairo

Tailormade Rail and Sea Adventure

London to Cairo – Rail and Sea Adventure – a 16 day Private Tour from £2,400 per person.


A unique flight-free adventure from the UK to Egypt.

In 1989 the famous British actor and explorer Michael Palin set off from London. His goal to travel around the world in 80 days or less – without taking a single flight.

With seemingly little luggage and an inflatable globe tucked under his arm, Michael reached the African continent thanks to Adriatica Line’s Espresso Egitto; a weekly ferry that sailed from Italy and Greece to Alexandria. Sadly in 1995 the service was withdrawn. Since then travellers have been left with no practical option but to take a flight.

A unique tour

This amazing tour is an opportunity for intrepid travellers to once again make the journey to Egypt by combination of rail and sea. Firstly, taking the scenic route by train from London to Italy through the Swiss Alps. Then join the Italian owned Grimaldi Lines weekly ‘Europa-Mediterraneo’ freighter service from the port of Salerno,  located just south of Naples and within a short ferry ride of the stunning Amalfi Coast.

Set sail for a for a fascinating six day voyage to Israel, with stops along the way normally made in Piraeus, Greece and Izmir, Turkey.

 

Exploring the world by cargo ship is one of the best kept secrets in travel. With ships being limited to just 12 passengers, each voyage is a unique experience for those in the know and who are happy to forgo on-board cabarets and buffet meals.

During your voyage you will dine with the captain and his crew in the officers’ mess. Over dinner or just during spontaneous discussion, you will hear many anecdotes and sailors’ tales and learn about their way of life. With the captain’s permission you will be able to explore his ship and join the crew on the bridge, or just relax in your simple but comfortable en-suite cabin or passenger lounge.

Israel

After completing immigration requirements (officials will come on-board to check your passport), you will disembark in Israel at the port of Ashdod, a short bus ride from Jerusalem. During a two night stay explore the Old City with your private guide.

From Jerusalem it’s back on the train for the short ride to modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan, Tel Aviv. Another private tour will help you understand what makes the city buzz and why it’s often known as the bustling Mediterranean ‘Manhattan’.

Egypt

From Tel Aviv you will head south by bus to the border with Egypt which you will cross on foot. After an overnight stay at a first class resort located overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba, the next day you will cross the Sinai Peninsula by private car to Cairo. Your incredible adventure will end with a visit to one of the world’s ancient wonders on a private tour to the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

Ask us about extending your time in Egypt or amending this itinerary to include extra or longer stops along the way. For the ultimate overlanding experience why not take the train south, following the Nile, to Aswan and embark on the weekly ferry across Lake Nasser to Sudan, where you can always expect a friendly welcome.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track
  • Culture 
  • History 
  • Wildlife 

Tour pace

Busy

Tour style

Traveller

Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.

Itinerary

Take a morning Eurostar from London’s impressive St. Pancras station to Paris. Upon arrival at Gare du Nord make your own way to Gare de Lyon. As you will be travelling with luggage we would recommend a taxi, rather than taking the metro. Or for peace of mind we can pre-arrange a private car transfer.

Just let us know at the time of booking. And make sure you allow plenty of time to travel across Paris; we would suggest a minimum of 1½ hours. Or allow a bit longer and why not break your journey for lunch at the fabulous Train Bleu restaurant inside the Gare de Lyon. Opened in 1900, it is decorated in a sumptuous art nouveau style – a great start to your adventure but make sure you book a table in advance (www.le-train-bleu.com/en/).  Continue from Paris to Geneva by TGV-Lyria high-speed train, a journey of just over three hours.

TGV

After leaving Paris the train takes the TGV-Sud Est line and travels up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  For the latter part of the journey it slows down and travels over classic lines through beautiful French mountain scenery, past small villages, mountain forests, dramatic viaducts and scenic lakes. Arrive in Geneva late afternoon and check-in at your hotel, conveniently located next to the railway station. Overnight ibis Styles Genève Gare.

The next day you will travel through the Swiss Alps to Milan with the option to enjoy a meal in the train’s waiter service dining car. Enjoy a leisurely morning in Geneva and perhaps a lakeside walk before taking the afternoon EuroCity train. Alternatively set-off after an early breakfast for the four hour journey and enjoy an afternoon and evening in Milan.

In addition, you might have time to visit the ‘Duomo di Milano’ – the fourth largest cathedral in the world (the largest Gothic cathedral) which took nearly six centuries to complete. Upon arrival at Milan’s magnificent Centrale station make your own way to your hotel, about a five minute walk. Overnight Crowne Plaza City or similar. (B)

Take a late morning Frecciarossa high-speed train for the six hour journey south to Salerno. Stops along the way include Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples. As with all of our rail adventures this itinerary can be tailored to include extra or longer stopovers.

Just let us know at the time of booking if this is something that you would like to consider. Upon arrival in Salerno make your way to your hotel, located in front of the station. Overnight Plaza Hotel or similar. (B)

It is very likely that detailed instructions will only be provided to you by Grimaldi’s local port agent two or three days before you are due to set sail for Israel. However, it is anticipated that you will be asked to make your own way to the port for mid to late afternoon.

From the hotel to Salerno’s port it is about 3km and your hotel can arrange a taxi. Join the Grimaldi vessel and meet the captain and his crew. Settle-in to your simple but comfortable en-suite cabin. Please keep in mind that facilities cannot be compared to passenger carrying cruise ships. For example, it is unlikely your cabin will be equipped with a television, so we suggest you bring plenty of books.

You will be able to plug in electrical devises (please bring a European style adaptor), so you can use a laptop or tablet computer. It is unlikely wi-fi will be available although for a small charge you should be able to send and receive emails. Overnight Grimaldi ship. (B.D)

Although the exact routing will often change depending on cargo requirements we anticipate that today the ship will be at sea with no ports of call. Meals will be served in the officers’ mess. You will be informed of the meal hours for breakfast, lunch and dinner by the captain or his crew.

Please respect the meal hours and kindly note that food and drinks cannot be served in your cabin. You must understand that meals are prepared by a standard merchant navy cook. They reflect the preferences and the necessities of the crew. For this reason special diets cannot be catered for.

Get to know your crew and learn about the workings of the ship. The gross tonnage of most of the vessels used on the Salerno to Israel route is about 50,000 and the passenger accommodation which can be accessed via a lift, is located on the upper decks. You will have access to outside deck space and deck chairs are provided.  Overnight Grimaldi ship. (B.L.D)

Today we would expect the ship to make a stop at the port of Piraeus, located about 8km west of Athens city centre. As there is no pre-determined time of arrival or departure you should not assume that it will be possible to go ashore. It is very much at the discretion of the captain and will be dependent on the amount of cargo, such as containers and/or vehicles which will be taken off the ship and new cargo to be loaded for the onward voyage.

Your captain or crew will keep you informed. Should you be granted permission to go ashore then it is essential that you can be contacted by mobile phone. Please ensure you travel with a fully charged phone and that it is enabled to receive and make international calls. Under no circumstances can the ship be delayed should you not be back by an agreed time. Overnight Grimaldi ship. (B.L.D)

Subject to cargo requirements today we would expect the ship to call at the city of Izmir, Turkey. As with all other ports of call any opportunity to go ashore will be at the captain’s discretion. It is essential you observe all instructions about when you must return to the ship. Overnight Grimaldi ship. (B.L.D)

Today is expected to be your final full day at sea. During the voyage your cabin will generally be cleaned and made-up daily. This work is often done in the earlier part of the morning before the crew need to attend to other duties. The cabin steward does not provide a laundry service, but you will have the use of a washing machine. So today will be a good opportunity to perhaps catch-up on some laundry.  Overnight Grimaldi ship. (B.L.D)

The ship is expected to dock in the port of Ashdod before midday, although this will once again depend on cargo requirements. Israeli immigration officers will come on-board to check your passport, after which you will be free to say farewell to the crew and disembark.

The crew or Grimaldi’s port agent will be able to assist you with a taxi for the 6km journey into the city. Before leaving home please purchase some Israeli Shekel cash in case exchange facilities or an ATM are not immediately available at the port.

Jerusalem

After being dropped off at the central bus station, purchase yourself a ticket from the machine provided (otherwise you can pay the driver) for the next available bus to Jerusalem, a journey of about 1hr 20mins. Buses leave about every 45 minutes so it is unlikely you will need to wait very long. At the time of writing the fare is ILS 16 or about £4 and the route number is 448.

Upon arrival at Jerusalem’s central bus station make your way to your hotel, which will take about 15 to 20 minutes to walk. Or take a taxi if you prefer. It is anticipated that you will be at your hotel in plenty of time for dinner. Overnight Prima Palace Hotel. (B)

After breakfast make your own way to Jaffa Gate which is one of the seven main Gates of the Old City of Jerusalem. The walk from your hotel will take about 20 minutes or your hotel can arrange a taxi. Meet your guide for a private four hour walking tour and experience the city’s most compelling sights.

Choose your personal highlights and work with your guide to create the perfect route through the Old City’s narrow lanes and diverse neighbourhoods, or step outside the ancient walls into the New City’s bustling streets. Take a stroll through Jerusalem’s café culture and climb the Temple Mount; absorb the hushed atmosphere in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and chink a note into the pale face of the Western Wall.

After the tour your guide will be pleased to suggest other sights for you to explore on your own or make your way back to your hotel. Overnight Prima Palace Hotel. (B)

Today you will travel by train from Jerusalem’s Yitzhak Navon station to the coastal city of Tel Aviv. Make your own way to the station which will take about 20 minutes to walk, or ask the hotel to arrange a taxi. Purchase a ticket from one of the machine provide for the next train.

At the time of writing the fare is about ILS 25 or £6. Services leave about every half an hour and the journey via a newly constructed fast line takes about 40 minutes. Just keep in mind that if you are travelling on a Friday services do not operate after about midday, so make sure you set off in the morning. Upon arrival in Tel Aviv alight from the train at the city’s Savidor Central station, and walk to your hotel. This will take you about 15 minutes or taxis are readily available. Check-in at your hotel.

Depending upon what time you have arrived, you may have an opportunity to explore some of the city on foot. Or look forward to seeing the city the next day when you will meet a guide for a private tour. Overnight Vital Hotel. (B)

After breakfast meet your guide in your hotel. Take in the very best of Tel Aviv and Jaffa with a private, half-day tour on foot and by taxi. Enjoy the flexibility of a private guide, and customise your itinerary to visit only the sites that interest you most. Stroll historic boulevards and visit the wharves in the old port of Tel Aviv, then explore Israeli’s modern history.

Head down the coast to Jaffa, and hear stories about the people and cultures that have shaped this ancient city, or browse the vibrant stalls at a pair of famous markets. Later return to your hotel. Please note that if you opt to travel by taxi you will be asked to pay for the fare in cash. Therefore, please have some Israeli shekels to hand as the cost is not included as part of your tour. Overnight Vital Hotel. (B)

Today you will travel south firstly to the resort city of Eilat and then across the border to Egypt. To reach Eilat you will travel by bus, which leaves from Tel Aviv’s central bus station which is about 4km from your hotel, so please ask your hotel to arrange a taxi. Buses leave about every hour for the five hour trip, and at the time of writing the fare is ILS 70 or about £16 and the route number is 390.

Tickets

Purchase a ticket from the machines provided, otherwise from the driver. Please note that at certain times buses can be busy. If possible please try to buy your ticket the day before, so you can travel at your preferred time. You will arrive at Eilat’s central bus station, which is about 9km from the Taba border crossing. Except on holidays a local bus will be available to take you to the border, otherwise please make your way by taxi (budget about ILS 80 or £18).

After completing Israeli immigration formalities walk the 100m or so across the border to the Egyptian side.  Once you have entered Egypt we would recommend that you stay overnight and get some rest before heading the next day to Cairo. We have purposely selected a comfortable hotel which is located less than a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

Check-in at your hotel which is overs the Gulf of Aqaba. If you would like to break your journey for a little longer so you can fully enjoy the hotel’s excellent facilities just let us know at the time of booking. Overnight Mövenpick Resort Taba or similar. (B)

Important Information

Please note that on certain holidays the Taba border crossing will be closed. This may include Yom Kippur (middle of September) and Eid (May and July). Please check at the time of booking in order that we can ensure your itinerary is planned to avoid any dates when the border will be closed.

Please note that at the time of writing the following exit and entrance taxes apply and will be payable in cash;

Exit from Israel – ILS 106 (approximately £24)

Entry to Egypt – EGP 400 (approximately £19)

Today you will continue by private air-conditioned car across the Sinai Desert to Cairo. Your driver will meet you at an agreed time in your hotel and it is expected the drive will take around five to six hours to cover the 440km distance.

Along the way you will make at least one stop for refreshments (not included in the cost of your tour) before reaching central Cairo and your hotel located overlooking the River Nile. Check-in at your hotel and get some rest or explore the local area on foot. Overnight Ramses Hilton or similar. (B)

Meet your guide at your hotel for a morning or afternoon private tour of the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Drive to Giza and learn about the rich history of ancient Egypt from your tour guide as you explore the 4,500-year-old structures. This can either be on foot or for an additional cost by camel ride. After that, you will have the option to shop for souvenirs at the local bazaars or simply return to your hotel. Overnight Ramses Hilton or similar. (B)

Your tour ends after check-out from your hotel. If you are planning to take a flight a transfer to the airport will be arranged included in the cost of your tour.

We offer this tour for private departures only

Prices start from £2,400 per person, based on two people travelling.

Call us to book.

Tour Notes

A Single Supplement for the London to Cairo trip starts from £620.

At the end of the London to Cairo, one way flights from Cairo to London start at £160. Contact us for a quotation.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

London to Cairo Map

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44 (0)191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • All accommodation
  • Transfers as per itinerary with a private car or minibus – from the Israeli/Egyptian border to Cairo, and upon departure from Cairo.
  • Rail travel based on 2nd class seats. Please contact us for details of first class upgrades
  • Grimaldi Lines freighter voyage from Salerno (or Monfalcone) to Ashdod in an outside (window) cabin including all meals
  • Guided sightseeing tours as per itinerary, with the services of an English-speaking guide or driver/guide
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch)

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Bus and taxi fares*
  • Train fare from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv*
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Entry/exit immigration fees or taxes (payable locally in cash)
  • Meals not stated in the itinerary
  • Drinks
  • Email and wi-fi access
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (Discretionary)

*Further information has been provided in the itinerary. Please assume cash payment will be required

We love the idea of your railroad trips. The Morocco ride was fantastic. We’re looking at your trip thru to Uzbekistan.

John Archer, USA