Going to Egypt was definitely a bucket-list trip, even in the midst of the many trips that we’ve taken. We were wary of going, but not afraid. After the Arab spring, and change of government in Egypt, many tourists had been scared away, but we were determined to go, and talked to enough people who confirmed our thoughts that it would be okay. We decided to hire a fulltime guide, who would help us with the itinerary and manage all the transportation and timing. We booked our own flights and hotels. We found a guy on the internet at Real Egypt Tours who had good Tripadvisor ratings, and after some email back and forth, we had the trip all arranged.
#1 - Luxor Temples
#2 - Seeing 1st falling star in Egyptian Desert
#3 - Camel ride at the Pyramids
#4 - Egyptian Koshari fast food
#5 - Making bread in Luxor village home
#6 - Desert Jeep Safari
#7 - King Tut’s tomb and Valley of the Kings
#8 - Egyptian driving
#9 - Aggresive street vendors
What to do next time:
#10 - Take the trip inside the pyramid tunnels
#1 - Luxor Temples - Our first stop in Egypt was Luxor and the temples there were as ancient and impressive you could imagine. The columns and carvings and sheer scale and age of everything was amazing. Thousands of years ago is a very long time.
#2 - Seeing 1st falling star in Egyptian Desert - While we were in the desert (see #6), I promised the kids that they could see a falling star. No one had every seen one, and they weren’t sure they ever would. One night we all laid down in the sand, and looked up into the sky, and I told them we were going to lie there until we saw one. We spent about 30 minutes gazing, looking and constellation, seeing satellites, and then it struck, streaking halfway across the sky. They were all impressed, and it was worth waiting for.
#3 - Camel ride at the Pyramids - The pyramids themselves were massive and unbelieveable. We took a camel ride at dusk around the pyramids. It was picture-perfect backdrop. The kids and I took a few minutes to attempt to scale the side of the pyramid, before we were sent away by the guard. It was worth the risk.
#4 - Egyptian Koshari fast food - While in Cairo, our guide took us to a typical fast food place, which only sold two items, Koshari and Rice Pudding. The establishments was huge, think of the biggest McDonald’s you’ve ever been to and multiply it by 6 stories, and it was packed! We had to go to the highest before a table was available. The Koshari was delicious, a mix of pasta, rice, beans, with a savory tomato sauce spooned over the top.
#5 - Making bread in a Luxor village home - One of the things we like when booking a guided tour by a local company, is the ability and tendency they have to give you local experiences that you would be hard-pressed to replicate on your own. While in Luxor, we were treated to a donkey ride, ending up in a backyard of a local villager. They were making bread in the outdoor backyard brick oven, using an old flat stump as their working table, and feeding the fire with dried cow manure. We all took a turn helping to knead and shape the dough, and place it and turn it in the oven. In addition to the break-making, they served us a traditional egypt lunch meal, with lots of cucumber and carrot, and of course the freshly made bread from the backyard oven.
#6 - Desert Jeep Safari - We spent two days and a night on a jeep tour through the deserts of Egypt. The landscapes were majestic, wide and vast. We saw a petrified forest, and camped near and ancient whale fossil graveyard. We sandsurfed with very limited success, and climbed sand dunes, and desert mountains.
#7 - King Tut’s tomb and Valley of the Kings - What a place this was, imagining walking into these myriad tomb, and finding them partly full of literal ancient treasure. Seeing King Tut’s tomb was the most impactful, because a few days later, we saw the museum in Cairo which housed the King Tut treasures. It was awesome to set foot in the original tomb itself, and then to see everything on display.
#8 - Egyptian Driving - Egypt was without question the craziest, most dangerous driving I’ve ever seen. It was actually frightening to be a passenger in the taxi. An example was when the driver passed our hotel on the elevated freeway, and simply turned and drove the wrong way down the freeway onramp. It was never comfortable.
#9 - Aggresive street vendors - While in Luxor, after the formal tour for the day, i wanted to go out and take a stroll along the Nile boardwalk. But no sooner had I left the hotel complex, when I was literally surrounded by street vendors, eager to sell me a drink, or hat, or carriage ride, or boat ride. I wanted nothing, but they would not take no for an answer. As I walked along, with my daughter Emily beside me, they also walked, asking me questions, trying to engage in conversation, and giving me their sales pitch. One could only send them on their way by raising one’s voice, at which point the vendors took mock offense, and placed the blame on me for rebuffing their friendliness. It was irritating and exasperating, and ruined the nice walk.
What to do next time:
#10 - Take the trip inside the pyramid tunnels - we had such a wonderful time on the desert safari, that we got back to Cairo and little late, so we missed the opportunity to walk into the pyramids through the ancient tunnel system. I would have liked to have done that.