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Addis Ababa to Cairo

This classic overland route between Cairo and Addis Ababa will take you from the splendours of ancient Egypt through the vast desert of Sudan and to the historical and cultural highlights of Ethiopia. After exploring Cairo with its world famous Pyramids of Giza and phenomenal Museum of Antiquities, we'll visit the fascinating city of Alexandria, and follow the Red Sea down to Luxor - here we will visit the Valley of the Kings and the colossal Karnak Temple before taking a sailing trip on a traditional felucca. Most Egypt trips end here, but with Dragoman you'll be much more adventurous and continue via the iconic Temples of Abu Simbel into the vast desert wilderness of Sudan. Travel in this part of the world is tough and frequently challenging, but as a reward we get unparalleled access to places such as the Pyramids of Meroe and the ruined temples of the Kushite kingdom, as well as enjoying some of the most remote and atmospheric wild camps in the world. From there we head into the wonderful country of Ethiopia, an extraordinary land with a unique cultural heritage of opulent monasteries, stunning churches carved out of the mountains, and incredible scenery. In Ethiopia you'll visit all the historical sites such as the ruins of Axum and the phenomenal rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, and trek in the spectacular Simien Mountains. Finishing in the cultural hub of Addis Ababa, this unforgettable trip will leave you with many lasting memories - overlanding is truly the best way to explore the Nile Route and beyond, join us on this incredible adventure!

  • Duration: 49 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites
  • Physical rating: Demanding
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: ECA2/158008
  • Starts: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Finishes: Cairo, Egypt
You will Visit
  • Addis Ababa
  • Debre Markos
  • Bahir Dar
  • Lalibela
  • Mekele
  • Woldiya
  • Axum
  • Debark
  • Adi Arkay
  • Simien Mountains National Park
  • Gondar
  • Gedaref
  • Khartoum
  • Naqa
  • Musawwarat
  • Meroe
  • Karima
  • Dongola
  • Wawa
  • Wadi Halfa
  • Abu Simbel
  • Aswan
  • Nile Felucca
  • Luxor
  • Edfu
  • Marsa Alam
  • El Quseir
  • Eastern Deserts
  • Zafarana
  • Port Said
  • Alexandria
  • Cairo

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Addis Ababa

Border Information: If joining in Addis Ababa, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (IATA code: ADD).

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting.

On the next day, we will have a free day to explore Addis Ababa and visit the city's many museums and sights. If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, this day will be spend arranging this visa.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Addis Ababa before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Addis Ababa.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

02

Day 2: Debre Markos

We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Debre Markos we will stay in a basic local hotel. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

03

Day 3-5: Bahir Dar

Today we will complete our drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

On our first full day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile. 

On our second day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to take optional visits to some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

04

Day 6-8: Lalibela

Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

On our first day in Lalibela, we will have an included full-day guided tour of the world-famous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.

On the second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yemrehana Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.

In Lalibela we will stay in a local hotel.

05

Day 9: Mekele

Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have a full days drive through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele.

We will stay in a decent local hotel in Mekele.

Estimated Drive Times - 9-10 hours

06

Day 10-11: Danakil Depression

After breakfast meet your 4 x 4 vehicles and drive to Hamed Ella. On the way you will pass through the beautiful Tigre Villages and the escarpment of the Afar depression, this is commonly known as the cradle of mankind is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. Along the way you will see camel caravans going to the traditional salt minin or to the North Eastern highlands of the country, loaded with salt bars in the old traditional way. We will also stop at Brehalle where we will get our permits and scouts for the trip into the Danakil Depression. 

On the second day we drive to Dallol. Here in Dallol you will visit the beautiful land covered by salt, sulfur and different minerals that gives the area a spectactular colour. We will then continue on to Lake Asale to watch the Afar and Tigre men cut the salt into bars and load up their camels before they head to the highlands of Ethiopia. 

We will wildcamp at Hammed Ella both nights for this excursion. The final day we will then make our way back to Mekele visiting villages along the way. 

07

Day 12: Mekele

Today we will make our way back to Mekele where we will stay in a basic hotel overnight. 

08

Day 13-14: Axum

Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

The next day we will have an included half-day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to make optional visits to other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

In Axum we will stay in a basic local hotel.

09

Day 15: Debark

Leaving Axum behind us, we continue our journey with a full day of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the small village of Debark. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!

Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options that we will have during our excursion starting the following day.

Here we will stay in a basic hotel.

Estimated Drive Times 9 - 10 hours.

10

Day 16-18: Simien Mountains National Park

Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot Lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.

We will spend 3 nights in the incredible Simien Mountains National Park. On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.

On our first day we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the opportunity to summit).

Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather. 

Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the National Park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared!

11

Day 19-20: Gondar

Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar! 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

On the next day, we will have an included half-day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church. 

In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

12

Day 21: Gedaref

Border Information: Exit Ethiopia at Metema, enter Sudan at Metema.

Today we will leave Ethiopia behind us and drive to the small town of Gedaref, en route to the Sudanese captial of Khartoum.

In Gedaref we will either stay in a basic local hotel in the town or bush camp in the deserts outside.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

13

Day 22: Khartoum

Today we have a full day's drive to Sudan's capital of Khartoum.

In Khartoum we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

14

Day 23-24: Khartoum

Border Information: if joining in Khartoum, you will most likely enter Sudan at Khartoum International Airport (IATA code: KRT).

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm - please look for a note from your leader at the hotel reception when you arrive with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to collect your passport in order to get everyone's visas registered the following morning.

The next day will be free to independently explore Khartoum, including possible optional visits to the impressive Grand Mosque and the bustling Omdurman market.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Khartoum before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Khartoum.

In Khartoum we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

15

Day 25: Naqa

Today we will head north out of Khartoum to explore the Kushite temples of Naqa and Musawwarat.

Tonight we aim to wild camp in the deserts near Musawwarat.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

16

Day 26: Meroe

Today we will head north to visit the incredible and haunting Meroe pyramids of the Kushite era. We will then continue on to Karima. 

We aim to wild camp in the deserts near Karima.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

17

Day 27-29: Karima

Over the next 3 days we will journey north through the remote areas of Northern Sudan and the vast Sahara Desert. En route we will visit many ruined temples of the Kushite era, including the Nuri pyramids and the pyramids at Jebel Barkal mountain near the town of Karima, the Deffufa of Kerma near Dongola, and the Temple of Soleb near Wawa.

On all of these nights we will wild camp out in the remote deserts, which is the true highlight of travelling overland through Sudan!

Estimated Drive Times - 4-8 hours each day.

18

Day 30: Wadi Halfa

Today we will come to the end of our long journey through the wilds of Northern Sudan and reach the dusty frontier town of Wadi Halfa on the southern shores of Lake Nasser.

The rest of the day will be free for us to explore the hills above Wadi Halfa, or to relax in the shade!

In Wadi Halfa we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

19

Day 31: Abu Simbel

Border Information: Exit Sudan at Qustol, enter Egypt at Qustol.

Today we will cross the border into Egypt, and take the first available transport ferry across to the west side of Lake Nasser and the small village of Abu Simbel. Here we will have an included visit to the phenomenal Temples of Ramses and Nefertari, with a possibility to visit the sound and light show after sunset (if it is running).

In Abu Simbel we will stay in a basic local guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

20

Day 32-34: Aswan

Today we continue our drive by joining the 11:00am convoy to Aswan, where we will have 3 full days to enjoy to wealth of history and culture that Aswan has to offer, and to make optional visits to Philae Temple, Elephantine Island, the Nubian Museum, and the Aswan Dam.

In Aswan we stay in a comfortable hotel in the centre of the town, next to the Nile River.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

21

Day 35: Nile Felucca

Today we will board a traditional felucca sailboat for an overnight adventure exploring the Nile by boat.

Our accommodation tonight will be on board the felucca.

22

Day 36-38: Luxor

This morning we start our journey north through Egypt and visit the incredible Temple of Edfu, an awe-inspiring temple dedicated to Horus built during the Ptolomaic era, which is considered to be the best-preserved cult temple in Egypt.

After this we will head to Luxor, a beautiful modern town built on the site of the Ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes, where we will spend 3 nights exploring the incredible historical sites here.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

On the following day we will have an included guided tour around the world-famous Karnak Temple, which is walking distance from our hotel. This temple contains some remarkably preserved painted walls and many awe-inspiring pillars and obelisks, and was the centre of religious life in Thebes. Our tour will last about 2 hours, and then we will have free time for the rest of the day to explore the temple independently, and to visit the other sites in Luxor such as the smaller Luxor Temple in the town centre, and the small but beautiful Luxor Museum, which is filled with priceless treasures from the area.

On the following day we will have an included tour to the West Bank, which will encompass the Hatshepsut Temple and the phenomenal Valley of the Kings, the location of the tombs of the Pharoahs of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt.

In Luxor we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

23

Day 39-40: Marsa Alam

Today we will drive to the beautiful southern Red Sea village of Marsa Alam. We will also have an included visit the remarkably preserved Temple of Hathor at Dendara en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

We will have 2 days in Marsa Alam to relax on the beaches, enjoy many optional activities on the Red Sea, or to take an optional overnight camel safari out into the nearby deserts of Wadi-el-Gamal!

In Marsa Alam we will stay in a basic local beach guesthouse.

24

Day 42: El Quseir

Today we will spend some more time at Marsa Alam, before heading up the coast to explore the nearby Ottoman fort at El Quseir.

In El Quseir we will stay in a pleasant campsite.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

25

Day 43: Eastern Deserts

Today we will travel up the stunning coast of the Red Sea and into the Eastern Deserts, visiting the ancient Coptic Monastery of St. Anthony en route.

We will aim to stay in a simple local guesthouse in Zafarana en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

26

Day 44: Port Said

Today we will head further north, and follow the Suez Canal to its northern outflow into the Mediterranean Sea at Port Said.

In Port Said we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

27

Day 45-46: Alexandria

Today we will follow the Mediterranean coast across the Nile Delta to reach the bustling city of Alexandria, where will spend 2 nights exploring the sights. We will have the chance to visit the beautiful modern Alexandria Library, explore several historical sites, and to go diving in the Mediterranean.

In Alexandria we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

28

Day 47: Cairo

Today is our final drive day to the colossal, busting Egyptian capital of Cairo. We will aim to arrive in the later afternoon. Please note that if the traffic is particularly heavy, we may not be able to safely drive right up to the hotel due to parked cars blocking the streets; in this instance we may have to take the truck directly to a parking area and take taxis to the hotel.

In Cairo we will stay in a comfortable hotel located in the pleasant district of Dokki, a short taxi or metro journey from downtown Cairo.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours

29

Day 48: Cairo

Today we will set off in a local chartered minibus for an included full-day guided tour to Memphis, the pyramids at Saqqara, the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

We will aim to be back in Cairo for around 4:00pm today and stay overnight in the same hotel.

Tonight is the last night of the trip so we will go out for our final night group meal together!

30

Day 49: Cairo

Border Information: if finishing in Cairo, you will most likely exit Egypt at Cairo International Airport (IATA code: CAI).

This morning we will head out on our final activity, an included half-day guided visit to the Egyptian Museum. We will go to the museum by metro or by taxi, and be shown around the vast and breathtaking collection of historical relics and treasures, including the sarcophagus of Akhenaten, the mummy of Ramses II and of course the incredible golden mask of Tutankhamun!

Please do not book flights out of Cairo before about 6:00pm if you would like to make sure you have enough time to fully explore the museum before the trip ends.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Cairo. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Overland journey north of Addis Ababa, passing through the immense Blue Nile Gorge
    • Boat trip on Lake Tana from Bahir Dar to visit the monasteries
    • Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar
    • Guided tour of the ancient rock churches and monasteries at Lalibela
    • Journey out on an incredible 3 day/2 night excursion to the Danakil Depression. 
    • Guided tour of palaces and temples in historic Axum
    • Guided treks in the Simien Mountains National Park
    • Learn all about medieval Ethiopia on a half-day guided tour of the castles, churches and baths of Gondar
    • Explore the ancient Kushite temples of Naqa and Musawwarat
    • Guided visit of Meroe Pyramids
    • Visit to the Kushite temples and climb to the summit of the distinctive Jebel Barkal mountain
    • Explore the ancient Kushite Royal Pyramids at Nuri, near Karima
    • Visit the pre-Kushite Temple of Deffufa, a 5,500 year old Nubian archaeological site built by the Kerma civilisation
    • Cross the Nile and explore the remote Kushite Temple of Soleb
    • Visit the awe-inspiring world-famous Temple of Ramses II and Temple of Nefertari in Abu Simbel
    • Discover the River Nile by boat on an afternoon and overnight felucca trip
    • Take a guided tour of the Ptolomaic-era Temple of Horus at Edfu, considered to be the best preserved temple in Egypt
    • Guided tour of Karnak Temple, Luxor
    • Explore the phenomenal royal tombs at the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank of the Nile
    • Visit the impressive Temple of Hatshepsut, built to honour one of Egypt's most influential Pharoahs
    • See the remarkably well-preserved painted murals in the Temple of Hathor in Dendara
    • Explore the Ottoman Fort at El Quseir
    • Visit the ancient Coptic Monastery of St. Anthony in Egypt's Eastern Deserts
    • See the famous and influential Suez Canal near Port Said
    • Visit the site of Dashur, with the fascinating Red and Bent Pyramids built by the 4th Dynasty Pharoah Sneferu - includes entrance to the interior of the Red Pyramid
    • Explore the Pyramids & Sphinx at Giza
    • Explore the world-famous site of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the tombs of three Pharoahs of the 4th Dynasty, and the oldest and only remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
    • Visit the ancient 3rd Dynasty necropolis of Saqqara, including Djoser's Step Pyramid, the oldest complete stone building ever built in the world
    • Explore the remains of Memphis, the old capital of Lower Egypt
    • Guided tour of the Cairo Egyptian Museum
    Accomodation
    • 25% Camping - 75% Hotels
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