Though Egypt is in the midst of an exciting rebirth, it's still one of the planet's oldest civilizations, and we recently discovered that there's no better way to explore its vast expanses than on two wheels. During the inaugural run of Bike Beyond Boundaries' Egyptian bike tour, we spent our days pedaling to locations along the Nile river to take in historic ruins, monuments, temples, and tombs, and then relaxed at night aboard a luxury 58-cabin river cruiser.
The weeklong trip starts and ends in Luxor (or Thebes, as it was known when it served as the capital of Ancient Egypt), and includes visits to the villages of Aswan, Edfu, and Esna, in addition to a few days exploring some of the many historic sites across Luxor (a city dubbed an open-air museum due to its rich offerings). Daily bike mileage varies from 10 up to 40 miles, depending on which sights are hit – and whether or not camels are involved.
For us that came on the fifth day, when we biked 12 miles out to St. Simeon, an imposing sixth-century Christian monastery, and then swapped bikes for camels for the trek up to the Tombs of the Nobles – deep chambers built into the hillside and decorated with vivid paintings and hieroglyphics. The next day in Edfu (known as the Greenwich Village of Egypt for its ample hookah bars and burgeoning gay population), a local boy challenged us to a bike race. He seemed overconfident, keeping his younger friend balanced on the bike's back pegs at the makeshift start line, and, sure enough, we dropped him immediately. But his huge smile told us he didn't mind being left in the dust, and, to make it official, the two joined us for sugar shakes (popular local drinks made from raw sugarcane and sold at stands all over town) and toasted our victory. [$1,899 excluding airfare, minimum two people; bikebeyondboundaries.com]