Day 1 – London to Geneva
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.
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.
Day 2 – Geneva to Milan
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)
Day 3 – Milan to Salerno
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)
Day 4 – Salerno and depart for Israel
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)
Day 5 – Full day at sea
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)
Day 6 – At Sea / Piraeus
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)
Day 7 – At Sea / Izmir
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)
Day 8 - At Sea
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)
Day 9 – Arrive Ashdod, Israel
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.
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)
Day 10 - Jerusalem City Tour
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)
Day 11 – Jerusalem to Tel Aviv
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)
Day 12 – Tel Aviv
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)
Day 13 – Tel Avid to Eilat and Taba, Egypt
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.
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)
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)
Day 14 – Taba to Cairo
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)
Day 15 – Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx
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)
Day 16 – Cairo to Luxor
After an early breakfast you will be transferred to Cairo’s Ramses station where you will board a modern air-conditioned train for the 10 hour journey south to Luxor. Whilst many travellers choose to do this journey using one of the overnight sleeper trains, we would recommend doing the trip during the day. After hectic Cairo the train soon gives way to peaceful green fields, mud-brick houses and towering sandy cliffs beyond, as the train line follows the Nile Valley south. Upon arrival in Luxor you will be met at the station and transferred the short distance to your hotel, located on the banks of the Nile. Overnight Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor or similar. (B)
Day 17 – Luxor
After breakfast meet you guide for a morning private tour of the fascinating Valley of the Kings. After travelling to the West Bank by private, air-conditioned vehicle, explore three of the stunning tombs that were burrowed into the mountains around 4,000 years ago as burial places for the pharaohs. Hear about the different tombs from your informative guide, and then descend underground to see the richly decorated tunnels and chambers of the tombs of rulers such as Ramses III, Ramses XI and Merenptah. Later return to your hotel with the afternoon free. Enjoy the hotel’s century old gardens or explore more of Luxor on your own. Overnight Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor or similar. (B)
Day 18 - Luxor to Aswan
After breakfast you will be taken back to the station where you will board a morning train for the three hour ride south to Aswan. Upon arrival you will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel situated on the east bank of the Nile. After check-in enjoy a leisurely afternoon, before meeting a guide the next day to explore the sites. Overnight Mövenpick Resort Aswan or similar. (B)
Day 19 – Aswan
After breakfast meet your guide at the hotel and leave on a private morning excursion to visit two of Aswan’s must-sees — the Philae Temple and High Dam. Gaze at the High Dam, built across the River Nile during the 1960s to control Egypt’s floods. Then, continue to Philae, riding a motorboat to this ancient island temple dedicated to the goddess Isis. See the courts, colonnades and halls as an Egyptologist guide charts the temple’s history and hear how the temple was moved to its current site to prevent submersion in Lake Nasser. Later return to your hotel with the remainder of the day free for you to relax or to explore on your own. Overnight Mövenpick Resort Aswan or similar. (B)
Day 20 – Aswan to Wadi Halfa – Lake Nasser Ferry
In the morning you will be transferred to the port at Aswan High Dam, located about 16km from your hotel. Here you will board the weekly passenger ferry which will take you across Lake Nasser, south to the Sudanese town of Wadi Halfa. Generally the ferry leaves around lunchtime for the 24 hour voyage, but you should be prepared for a lot of waiting around as delays frequently occur whilst cargo is loaded. This is very much a working ship and most of the passengers will be locals, particularly friendly Sudanese doing trade with their northern neighbour. Your accommodation will be in a private cabin and simple food and drink can be purchased on-board, although we recommend supplementing what will be available with your own provisions which you should buy in Aswan. The majority of travellers who take the ferry enjoy the experience, particularly those who welcome the opportunity to chat with their fellow passengers and learn about their way of life and culture. Overnight ferry. (B)
Day 21 – Wadi Halfa to Tombos
The ferry is due to dock in Wadi Halfa at around lunchtime where you will be met by a local guide, before heading south on the 300km journey by 4×4 vehicle to Tombos. Accommodation for the night will be a seasonal preset camp in the desert, surrounded by large granite boulders. Overnight Preset Camp. (D)
Day 22 - Kerma- Jebel Barkal- Karima
After breakfast make the short drive to Kerma where you will visit the majestic ‘Defuffa’, the monument that characterizes Kerma civilization. Well worth visiting is the museum created by a Swiss archaeological mission after the recovery of seven statues of the Black Pharaohs in 2003. After a picnic lunch you will reach Karima, located about 180km from Tombos, where you will visit the site of Jebel Barkal or holy mountain for a spectacular sunset. Overnight Karima Nubian Rest House. (BLD)
Day 23 – El Kurru- Atbara- Meroe Camp
Today you will continue your journey south, a total journey of about 390km. First stop will be the village of El Kurru, where there is one of the necropolises of the ancient capital, Napata. Here you visit a tomb, which is excavated in the rock under the pyramids and it is decorated with images of the Pharaoh, of the gods and multicolour hieroglyphic inscriptions. Close by you will also see an interesting site of petrified wood, an ancient forest with hundreds of huge trunks. Later drive across the Bayuda desert to the town of Atbara, then onto your accommodation for the night. Your stay will be at the comfortable Meroe Camp, overlooking the Royal Necropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which boasts around 100 pyramids. Overnight Meroe Camp. (BLD)
Day 24 – Meroe to Khartoum
The plan for today is to finish your remarkable adventure with one final rail journey, a ride on the local train which connects Atbara and Khartoum. You will join the morning service as it makes a stop in the small town of Shendi, located a short drive from Meroe, for the three hour trip to the capital. Upon arrival at Khartoum’s North station you will be met and transferred to your hotel. In the event that the train is cancelled or the service has been suspended, then you will be driven to Khartoum, a distance of about 210km. A picnic lunch will be provided for your train journey or if is necessary to travel by road, then a stop will be made for something to eat. Overnight Acropole Hotel or similar. (BL)
Day 25 – Khartoum
After breakfast meet your guide for a city tour of Khartoum. The excursion starts by crossing the confluence between the Blue and the White Nile near the Presidential Palace where in 1885 General Gordon was beheaded by the Mahdi’s troops. Continue to Omdurman, the old capital of Sudan, where you will see the Mahdi’s Tomb, before taking a boat ride to see the confluence of the two mighty rivers. In the afternoon you will visit the National Museum which includes many interesting objects, including two beautiful temples rescued by UNESCO and moved from the Lake Nasser area, when it was flooded by the water. For those who are in Khartoum on a Friday, your tour will finish with an opportunity to attend a traditional whirling Dervishes ceremony – a mesmerising experience. Later return to your hotel where you will be able to get some rest and freshen-up before a late evening transfer to the airport for your international departure. (BL)
- All accommodation
- Transfers as per itinerary with a private car or minibus – from the Israeli/Egyptian border to Cairo, and upon departure from Cairo.
- All road transport in Sudan by private 4×4 vehicle
- 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
- Lake Nasser ferry crossing in a first class private cabin
- Guided sightseeing tours as per itinerary, with the services of an English-speaking guide or driver/guide
- Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
- International flights
- Bus and taxi fares in Israel*
- Train fare from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv*
- Travel Insurance
- Entry/exit immigration fees or taxes (payable locally in cash)
- Meals not stated in the itinerary
- 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