My Story: Egypt has been my aspirational travel destination for a very long time. Perhaps it originated from my love of reading Where’s Wally history mags (depicting brains coming out of noses during the mummification process…..). Perhaps it was the intrigue ignited by documentaries narrating the curse of Tutankhamen’s tomb. Though I cannot pinpoint exactly when the fascination started, it’s always been somewhere that I’ve wanted to go. A lot.
Three Word Description: Arid, Beauty, Stories
Must Pack: Enough light-weight clothing (there’s a story in this!), Clothes line, Hand Sanitiser
Getting Around: If you are travelling as a group, the easiest is to hire a driver for the day. Negotiate the payment prior to getting into the car and ask to see the license. Be careful of taxi’s. If you are travelling alone, a pre-arranged tour is easiest.
To Eat: Kushery, kushery, kushery! It’s a dish of rice, lentils, chickpeas and macaroni topped with tomato sauce and onions. It is very inexpensive and you also get the local flavour in bulk. The kebabs are also excellent, but eat from a place with filled with long lines and many locals. Avoid salads, ice in your drinks and water that is not bottled (even when brushing your teeth, use bottled water) – generally our tummies are not used to foreign water sources.
1. Pyramids. I prefer visiting the pyramids at Dashur more than the Great Pyramid of Khufu (which is more famous) because the pyramids at Dashur are older and there is less of a crowd. Arrive early, before the tour groups make their way. The Red Pyramid is a must see as you can venture inside it (Indiana Jones style!) Sometimes the guards will let you take pictures inside the pyramids if you give them ‘baksheesh’ (tip/bribe) – then it becomes a call of morality on your part.
2. Abu Simbel. The easiest way to get there is to travel by minivan / bus as part of a police convoy from Aswan. Although you do have to set out at the break of dawn (literally), the two massive rock temples are truly impressive. They were carved during the reign of Ramesses II – one for himself and one for his wife Nefertari. It’s a beautiful vision: the warm soft glow of the sun rising above these two magnificent structures (there’s nothing in my mind which is comparable and words do not do it justice).
3. Cruise Ship. There’s something surreal about taking a cruise ship down the Nile (whilst reading death on the Nile by Agatha Christie if you are so inclined). You may also be introduced to the wonder of towel art/ origami. Although this is best experienced when you are least expecting it.
4. The Egyptian Museum. How else to describe it except to say that it is a massive house filled with all types of old, beautiful treasures. The Royal Mummy Room is where you get to see up close 27 royal mummies from Pharanoic times. A lot of the artefacts from King Tut’s tomb are housed there.
Don’t Miss: Talking to the locals! They are a friendly bunch. Some of them may try to sell you papyrus (banana palm?) or take you to their uncle’s shop where they will try to sell you perfume etc etc etc. Use common sense, travel in groups (particularly if you are female) and trust your gut….if something feels wrong, do what you need to do to get out of the situation. However, don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from experiencing a beautiful country.
1. Learn the handy phrase La Shukran, which means no thank you.
2. There’s a list of good hints from the people at Ask Aladdin here. (Cheating I know, but it’s better than anything I can write.).