Tour the spellbinding Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, dine at the fascinating Sofitel Old Winter Palace hotel in Luxor, and sail the Nile for four nights aboard a beautiful river cruiser. Day 1: ARRIVE IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to your legendary hotel, where Agatha Christie was a frequent guest.
Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah
Day 2: ISTANBUL / Hagia Sofia
Today explore the Byzantine and Ottoman masterpieces of Istanbul. Visit the exquisite sixth-century Basilica Cistern built by Justinian I. Next, enter the spellbinding Hagia Sophia; first dedicated on Christmas Day of 537, it is one of the most extraordinary buildings in the history of architecture and tells an epic story of survival. Next, explore Topkapi Palace, once the center of the Ottoman government and court from which the Turks ruled most of Europe and the Middle East. By design, the court-defined grounds and palace were created to express the Ottoman ideal of the perfect life. Explore its porticos, terraces and tulip gardens. Discover its great halls, exhibits of rich costumes and jewels and ornate royal chambers with views of the sea. After lunch, set off on a private boat ride on the Bosphorus, the legendary strait connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean and famous for its long and deep harbor, the Golden Horn. Take in the views fringed by Judas blossoms of splendid mansions and Istanbul,™s majestic skyline. Return to your hotel to relax and refresh before a walk through cosmopolitan Pera, the present-day heart of Istanbul. See neoclassical and first republic buildings before gathering at a local restaurant for a special welcome dinner.
Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah | Meals: B L D
Day 3: ISTANBUL / The Golden Age
This morning you explore the 19th- century New Ottoman Baroque at Dolmabahce Palace, the largest and finest example of Ottoman Baroque in the city. A baroque-style, European- fashion palace on the shores of the Bosphorus, Dolmabahce is among the largest examples of the westernized palaces created in response to the overwhelming changes in the post-renaissance world. Its halls, chambers, gardens and baths are beyond compare and reveal the link between classic Ottoman tradition and modern Turkey. Next, discover Rustem Pasa Mosque in the Blacksmith,™s Market, known for its outstanding Iznik tiles. Interact with local vendors while you stroll the charmingly busy Spice Bazaar, originally devoted to spices and herbs, before making your way to the dazzling Grand Covered Bazaar. Originally built in 1461 as a monument to honor the Rise of Istanbul, it houses 3,500 shops selling everything from gold and silver jewelry, rugs and tiles to antiques and souvenirs.
Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah | Meals: B L
Day 4: LUXOR, EGYPT / Jewel of the Nile
Fly to eccentric Luxor, Egypt, home to an extraordinary concentration of ancient treasures. Transfer to your hotel located on the banks of the Nile. Later, gather for a beautiful dinner at the famous Sofitel Old Winter Palace hotel, where Agatha Christie wrote her 1937 novel Death on the Nile.
Steigenberger Nile Palace | Meals: B D
Day 5: CRUISING THE NILE / Epic Temples and Valleys
This morning, join your Egyptologist on the Nile,™s east bank for a guided tour of the Temple of Karnak, a colossal complex with its expertly designed Great Hypostyle Hall and statues of Ramses II and Tutankhamun; this temple also served as a backdrop in Christie,™s Death on the Nile. Board your five-star Nile cruiser for the next four nights. Later, disembark for a tour of the West Bank and Necropolis of Thebes, where you explore the Valley of the Kings, which houses over 60 tombs for the Great Pharaohs. View the fabled Colossi of Memnon and, time permitting, visit the Valley of the Queens.
Sanctuary ‘Sun Boat IV’ | Meals: B L D
Days 6-8: CRUISING THE NILE / Remote Riches of Egypt
In Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie,™s characters cruise the Nile aboard the fictional S.S. Karnak; for the next three days, you also enjoy a luxury cruise on this legendary river. Begin with a visit to off-the-beaten-track Qena, deep in the Nile,™s finest and most remote scenery. Travel overland to Denderah, where you visit the darkly beautiful Ptolemaic Temple of the goddess Hathor. Cruise back to Luxor to visit the Temple of Luxor. On day seven, cruise to Edfu and the Temple of Horus, built in 230 BC to honor the falcon- headed god. Disembark at Kom Ombo (hill of gold,) to explore the Greco-Roman temple dedicated to Haroeris (the sun god) and Sobek (the crocodile god), so dedicated because crocodiles once basked on this stretch of Nile. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner and Egyptian costume party, complete with traditional music and the opportunity to dress in galabeyyas (robes), for a sensational Musical Connection. On day eight, cruise to Aswan where you ride a motorized boat to Philae Temple on the island of Agilika. Continue to the granite quarries, site of the Unfinished Obelisk. Weather permitting, board a felucca (Egyptian sailing boat) around the Aswan islands. Sail around Elephantine and Kitchener,™s Islands, spying the splendid Aga Khan Mausoleum. Tonight, join your fellow guests for a special farewell dinner.
Sanctuary ‘Sun Boat IV’ | Meals: B L D
Day 9: DEPART CAIRO
Fly to Cairo this morning and connect with your homebound flight or choose to extend in Egypt,™s capital to visit the Giza Pyramids and Khan el-Khalili Bazaar.