Egypt is the most absorbing and fascinating country we have visited. The architecture and history dating back 4 thousand years create a surreal and wonderful aura. Every pyramid, every monumental statue… Really make you evaluate how humans could create these phenomenal structures with the resources of the age… absolutely breathtaking!
Since I was a little girl I dreamed about visiting Egypt… I think I have “The Mummy” and “The Mummy returns” movies to blame, thanks Hollywood! My older sister Nicole traveled to Egypt in 2002, she came back with so many cool stories and souvenirs to match, I then knew that Egypt would be the top of my bucket list. After moving from little ol’ New Zealand to the big city life in London, my dream to travel Egypt become that much closer.
Usually we like to travel off our own instincts and make our own adventures, although with the current social/political situation we made an exception. I booked us on Travel Talks 9 day “Felucca Odyssey” tour and I highly recommend it. Going it alone we would have missed so many wonders and not known the extensive history that comes with each. Our fabulous tour guide Sam Makram has a degree in Egyptology and a passion for sharing his knowledge. Plus we got to meet a bunch of really cool people! We really did feel safe the entire time.
Egypt Tour – 9 day Felucca Odysessy
Our tour cost £199 pp, which I thought was quite cheap – accommodation and a few meals were included, but you had to pay for a lot of museum and site entry fees – individually each was not very expensive, although all add up quickly… In saying this all excursions were highly worth it! If you have a student card this will help out! Click here to see the day-to-day breakdown. One of the reasons this tour was so great was because our tour guide Sam Makrem! He genuinely knows everything about Egypt and passionate about his country. His enthusiasm rubs off and personality made the experience that much more wonderful.
You will most likely arrive at Cairo airport, the Egyptian city where the tour starts. When entering the country you will need to pay for a compulsory entry visa, this costs around 200 Egyptian pounds. (have this cash, the airport ATM will take advantage) An transfer was included in the tour which made getting to the Hotel fairly easy.
There is a bus and driver that will transport you to your destinations for the next 9 days. It is nothing fancy but it does take you to A to B and there is a toilet on-board. Be prepared for long stints in the bus, as you will cover a lot of the country
The hotels used for the tour are all 4-5 stars. We usually stay in hostels, so this was luxury. We didn’t have much time at each hotel, as we would arrive in the evening then leave early the next day for our next adventure.
See below hotels for each destination we stayed at;
Cairo – Cataract Pyramids Resort
Hurghada – Sunrise Hotel
Luxor – Steigenberger Nile Palace
The Egyptian eating habitats are different to my western up-bringing. They tend to have a light breakfast of beans, eggs, cheese and jam. And for lunch most families eat large, heavy food around 13:00 – 16:00. Dinner is light but later in the evening as many may enjoy an afternoon siesta.
All meals served came with a pita bread basket, green salads and dipping sauce like Tahini. We ate a lot of delicious falafels and tried Sam’s famous home-made babaganoush on the Felucca boat – it was absolutely delicious, mashed eggplant is the main ingredient. Another first was a whole pigeon and I do mean whole… Most of the bones were so soft that you could eat it. Crunching on the skull is considered the best part. It’s an Egyptian Delicacy, you must try it!
Must see & do
Great Pyramids & The Sphinx – The great pyramids were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and it’s easy to see why. Constructed 2560BC and sitting a remarkable 139 meters high it is truly an immense sight close up. It is astonishing that it is still a mystery how the ancient Egyptians built the Pyramids. Make sure to do the camel ride around the pyramids! It’s a tourist trap but for good reason. The Sphinx was built-in front of the pyramids to ward off any would be tomb raiders, it is a giant creature with a lions body and human head. Don’t forget to get a cheeky kiss!
- Diving in the Red Sea – While Hurghada is the gem of Egyptian diving, amazing dive locations are found around the whole coast of the Red Sea. Expect to see beautiful corals and a wide variety of tropical fish.
- Valley of the King and Queens – The valley known as Biban el-Muluk is home to over 63 hidden tombs including that of king Tutankhamun. It is a valley nestled away behind a mountain range. The Egyptians went to incredible measures to hide their Pharaohs valuable treasures. A handful of these tombs are open to public for a small fee. We definitely recommend visiting them in person.
- Abu Simbel – One of my top highlights (This is a paid excursion – 60 EGP). Abu Simbel has a magnificent story about ancient Egyptian architecture and is worth the money and the 6 hour drive!
- Cruising the Nile on a traditional Felucca boat – In a country engulfed by desert, the Nile River is a beacon of life, and what attracted the Ancient Egyptians to develop civilization here.We spent two nights sleeping on a group mattress on the boats deck, down the river Nile. There are no amenities, it is an authentic and raw experience if you don’t mind missing a few showers.
Tips & Advice
- Best time to travel Egypt is in the winter months (November to March). It still is around 25-28 degrees depending where you are, but that was the perfect temperature when wandering around outside visiting historic sites. The evenings can become quite cold but nothing a decent jumper can’t fix. In the summer months it is humid and dry and can get up to 40 degrees!
- Money – The local currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP). The main cities have ATM’s to get cash out, but be careful when you are in smaller towns off the beaten track. Keep some cash on you as there may not be any ATM’s. We spent around 10-15 GBP a day not including excursions.
- What to wear – I recommend wearing light, loose-fitting clothing, it gets hot during the day but make sure you pack warmer clothes for the evening as it can get quite cold. When visiting anywhere religious you must cover up appropriately. The Mosk we visited gave women a robe which must be worn inside.
- Tipping – It is considered the norm in Egypt. Budget around £2-£4 a day, after our tour we tipped the bus driver and our tour guide Sam as they were so great to us!
- Health and Safety – We already had our Typhoid, polio and tetanus up-to-date and Egypt didn’t require any others. Safety was no issue at all for us! The media tend to hype up the danger levels in countries like Egypt to generate a story. In reality Egypt is full of lovely people who are going about their lives just like everywhere else in the world. I repeat… we never had any issues or ever felt in danger!
- Travel adapter – All appliances require a double round pin type plug for 220 volts AC, 50- hertz.
Helpful words and phrases
Hello Selaam Ma
Goodbye Ma Salama
Thank you Shokran
Excuse me Lao Samaht
How are you ? E-zayak
Good morning Sabah El-kheir
Good evening Masa El-kheir
Good night Tesbah Ala kheir
Today En nahar-da
I’m well, thank you El Humdoolelaa
How much is it ? Bekam ?
Too much ! Ketir !
I don’t understand Ana mish fahem
Leave me alone Etrokny wahdy
Where is …? Fein….?
The bill El Hesab