Highlights of EgyptEgypt
Egypt had been on my bucket list from the time I was a little girl. I LOVE history. I studied ancient history in high school, and I couldn’t wait to actually see all of the amazing things I had seen in pictures my whole life in the flesh.
Many people have asked me if I felt safe while in Egypt, long story short…yes. This was one trip I knew I wasn’t going to travel solo, so I booked though a travel company called Travel Talk (who are one of my favourite companies I’ve travelled with). They pick you up from the airport on arrival, organise all your transport and accomodation during your tour and also have some included meals. Another thing that I love about Travel Talk is that your guide is from the country of your trip. I felt this gave me a better insight into the everyday lives of the locals, as well as being able to try local restaurants and shops that I might not have discovered if I travelled solo.
A few notes to prepare yourself before travelling to Egypt
-It is a fairly cheap country to travel around. You can get easily get a meal and a drink for less than $5, and entry to sights are super cheap too.
-Egypt is predominately a Muslim country, so make sure to dress appropriately to avoid offending the locals or attracting unecessary attention.
-Another piece of advice for safety: avoid any demonstrations or protests and stay in a group, especially later in the day/evening.
-The locals can be very pushy with sales, especially at tourist filled areas like the pyramids. They will offer to take photos for you…which afterwards you find out is for a small fee. It’s usually only $1-$2, but be warned that nothing comes free!
-In summer, Egypt is HOT! Many tours will be significantly cheaper in summer, but be prepared for the weather. Most of the sights you will visit have limited shady areas, so pack appropriately and ALWAYS carry water!
Now I could write a million pages on Egypt and it’s ancient wonders, but I’ll summarise the highlights of my trip.
The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx (Cairo)
What does everyone think of when they think of Ancient Egypt? The Pyramids! There is no shortage of pyramids in Egypt, and Cairo is the best places to start. You don’t have to drive far to see them, they are literally next to the city. You can walk around the 3 pyramids and even go inside one of the pyramids (tickets are limited so get there early to secure yours!). You will find the locals trying to take photos for you (remember: nothing comes free!) and you can even ride a camel with the pyramids behind you. A short walk away is the iconic Sphinx where you can take the famous “kissing” photo. When I was visiting there was a group of girls from a school in a rural area of Egypt that had never seen girls not wearing the hijab, I think they almost found it more exciting than the pyramids!
Step Pyramid at Saqqara
The Valley of the Kings (Luxor)
This was an absolute highlight for me. Seeing the entrances into the tombs of the Pharaohs hidden in the mountains was amazing! And knowing that there are so may that remain undiscovered adds to the excitement of walking around. Your ticket includes entry into a few tombs, and you can pay extra to enter arguably the most famous of them all, the tomb of Tutankhamun. Here you can see for yourself the tomb that was famously found completely untouched with all its treasures by Howard Carter in 1922. It is mostly empty now, with its contents found in the Egyptian Museum, however the real mummy of King Tut remains here in his final resting place. Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take photos inside the tombs, but if you are sneaky enough you can usually capture a few. Sadly most of the hieroglyphics have lost their colour, although some still remain.
The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Luxor)
Hatshepsut was one of the rare female pharaohs of ancient Egypt, and was said to be one of the most successful #GirlPower! Sadly some of her temple has been destroyed, but when you see what is still standing it is truly breathtaking. I was so impressed to see some hieroglyphics that still had some of their colour, its amazing to think what these structures would have looked like thousands of years ago!
The journey out to this magnificent site was eye opening, especially since we had to wake up at 3am! Our bus joined a number of other tourist groups and joined a convoy surrounded by armed officers for safety (this part I didn’t tell my parents until after the fact!). It’s roughly a 3 hour drive, but well worth it! Believe it or not, this whole site was relocated further back from the water to ensure it is still standing today.
Philae Temple (Aswan)
This beautiful temple sits on it’s own island in the Nile River, reached by a small motorboat you can also visit the High Dam on your way out. You can see many damaged hieroglyphics which has been scratched by Christian invaders.
Temple of Edfu
Karnak Temple (Luxor)
This was definitely one of my favourites! Karnak Temple complex is HUGE, it took the reign and contribution of 30 pharaohs to complete it’s size. It is filled with huge columns, obelisks, hieroglyphics and ruins.
Egyptian Museum (Cairo)
Being a history lover, this was incredibly exciting to see. The Egyptian Museum houses around 120,000 items, but sadly there are no photos allowed inside. The most amazing thing for me to see what the huge amount of items recovered from Tutankhamun’s tomb, how it all fit in there I will never know! The security out the front was also a sight to be seen!
Khan El Khalili Bazaar
To describe this Bazaar in one word…Crazy! Get lost in the streets of the markets and take in all the shop fronts selling good such as jewellery, papyrus, chandeliers and souviners, as well as coffee shops and restaurants and street food to keep your energy levels up!
Citadel of Saladin, Mosque of Mohamed Ali and the Hanging Church (Cairo)
Claiming the highest point in Cairo, the Citadel was built to protect the city. You can walk around inside the Citadel as well as visit the Mosque and Hanging Church. On a clear day you can even see the pyramids in the distance!
Most people who visit Egypt will do a 2-3 day trip down the nile. You can choose to do it in a Felucca (traditional boat) or on a Nile Cruise. I decided to travel like a Pharaoh on a Nile Cruise! It was so special following the route the Ancient Egyptians took, and also seeing the sunsets down the Nile was pretty special!
Sharm El Sheik
A nice rest stop during your long journey cross-country, this is literally a resort town to wind down and chill out for a few days! You can scuba, snorkel, windsurf or even enjoy a camel ride along the beach.
Dahab is another resort-style stop, however I found it much more relaxing. Its not as busy, and to me I felt a much more chilled atmosphere. Here you can go quad biking through the desert, snorkel in the Red Sea, dive the Blue Hole, camel ride on the beach and get around in the back of a ute. Just make sure you have some mosquito spray, there are mozzies everywhere!
Egypt was definitely in my top 3 life experiences. To experience the culture and walk through the monuments that I’d dreamed of seeing since I was a kid is something I will never ever forget!