We started off 2023 with a bang – a trip to Egypt. We hadn’t been since 1993 and we had the opportunity to go again, this time with our 2 boys, my brother in law , mother in law and my husband’s uncle. Quite the mixed bag of travellers, I actually wasn’t too sure how it would go.
We flew direct on Egypt Air – pleasantly surprised how great the airline was. We left Toronto Pearson Airport on time – and our luggage arrived with us – so awesome since Pearson is known for its lost luggage or luggage never making it on the plane.
We totally did all the touristy stuff while in Egypt. We started in Cairo – we had our own tour guides and driver. We stayed at The Conrad Cairo , such a beautiful hotel with a view of the Nile. The rooms are being remodelled , so we stayed in one of the new rooms, a welcome fruit arrangement was waiting for us. We had access to the VIP floor, where there was happy hour daily from 5:30- 7:30 pm with lots of food and snacks.
After we landed we met up with our guide and driver , who took us to my mother in laws cousins house- we had a great breakfast and set out for our day of sight seeing. We started at The Egyptian Museum this is the oldest archeological museum in the Middle East, and houses the largest collection of Pharo antiquities in the world. The museum is so large that its very hard to see everything in one day let alone a few hours – we went to all the famous exhibits including King Tut – there was not photography allowed of any kind in the King Tut exhibit. To see all of the famous artifacts that have been in magazines all these years in person was so surreal. We had a dinner on a Felucca – a motorized one as we toured the Nile River- I was not allowed to use my camera as I had my 24-105 mm lens on it. You aren’t allowed to use a lens with a zoom on it – but using our cell phone camera was fine. Dinner was traditional Eyptian food. We did not anticipate how cold it would be in Cairo, we really should have packed better lol, we finally got back to the hotel in time for the end of happy hour – had a few drinks and then proceeded to get some shut eye.
We had the buffet breakfast which was included in our room rate, our first stop that morning was Cairo Citadel or Citadel of Saladin. This is one of the most iconic monuments in Islamic Cairo and is the largest medieval fortification in the Middle East. We spent a few hours at he Citadel and then headed back towards Cairo, we were tired so we went to bed to get ready for the next day.
The next day we headed to Giza to see the Pyramids. This is definitely a sight to behold – one of the seven wonders of the world. Just seeing my boys expression when they saw it up close was priceless. We got tickets to inside the largest pyramid – Khufu (also known as Cheops) 481 feet hight. Only a few of us went in – it was a very narrow space with a very steep incline to get up to the main chamber. There was only one small problem it was a 2 way walkway and some places was so narrow when the next group was coming. It was very cool but a little warm – not as hot as in the summer like the last time I was there. After we came out we went for lunch up the road to a restaurant called Khufu’s House, the food was amazing but so much that we couldn’t finish it all. Sitting on the patio with the Pyramids as the perfect backdrop. We stayed a bit longer that we would have liked and then we proceeded to get our camels to go for our ride. We got there a bit later than we anticipated and were the last group to get camels. There was only 4 camels – I said I wouldn’t go, but was persuaded to go on a camel with my son. The ride is obviously not the smoothest – lol but was fun. We stopped a few times to take photos – our guide was getting yelled at for being so slow – the tourist police kept telling him to hurry up but he wasn’t having any of it – he yelled back at them. When we finally got to the Sphinx – we got yelled at again for taking pictures – the area was closed and we were the last people there – they were setting up chairs for the light show which was going to start in a few hours. It was also Christmas Day for the Coptic Orthodox. I took my photos fast and got out of there – we went to meet the other half of our group.
Our next stop was Khan el-Khalili, Egypt’s most famous market. The market was built on the site of an old mausoleum and foreign merchants have been trading at Khan el-Khalili since the 14th century. It was very crowded and overwhelming with people. I was tired and cranky by this point and just wanted to get out of there – everyone had the same idea and we didn’t stay long – went for a long walk and then back to our mini-bus to get us back to the hotel. Another full day of sight seeing. We had a late dinner in the restaurant.
The next morning after breakfast we went to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. This museum is fairly new – it was partially opened in 2017 but was fully opened in April 2021 – with the moving of 22 mummies. I really liked this new museum and we was thrilled to be able to see this new museum. Our next stop was St. Simon Monastary also known as The Cave Church, which is the largest church not only in Egypt but also in the Middle East. The Cave Church is located in an area known as the Zabbaleen city, meaning “garbage city’. This city has the largest population of garbage collectors and recyclers in Cairo. This area is densely populated, with garbage piled everywhere. We only saw the out door church and not the inside church.
The next morning we had an early flight to Luxor, where we were getting on Royal Lotus which is a Movenpick boat, for our Nile Cruise. It was much warmer than in Cairo – not crazy hot but warmer.
We visited the Temple of Karnak. This is not a single temple but a temple within temple with shrine within shrine. The pillars and entrances are vast, with Hatshepsut’s obelisk standing 29 1/2 meters. Passing trough the shrines was incredible. Our next stop was the temple of Luxor built by King Ramsesses II. This temple was not built to adorn a god or to a god figure but was built in dedication of the kings. We went back to the ship and the next day we visited Valley of the Kings. royal burial ground for pharaohs such as Tutankhamun, Seti I, and Ramses II, as well as Hatshepsut Temple. We visited 3 tombs – tombs are opened on a rotating basis, you have to pay extra to get into King Tut’s tomb, which we opted not to do, It’s in the desert, and you almost feel like you are in a Star Wars movie the way the tombs are hidden in the mountains, with only the doorways showing. Seeing all the tombs with the hieroglyphics and chambers was very cool. Lots of people inside – when I visited 30 yrs ago it was all concrete and dirt on the ground inside – now there is wooden floor walkways with glass in front of the concrete walls – preserving the hieroglyphics. On our way back to the boat we stopped at Colossi of Memnon. We got back to the boat and set sail for Edfu. The next morning we had an early morning horse and buggy ride to The Temple of Horus, we saw the sun rise while we were there, super cool. This is the 2nd biggest temple in Egypt. After our visit we took the horse and buggy back to the boat and set sail for Aswan with a stop at the Kom Ombo temple. This is a double temple, which is the only one of its kind in Egypt. The right hand side is dedicated to Sobek and the left hand side is dedicated to Horus.
Then it was back on the boat and we sailed towards Aswan. It was also galabeya night, where guests can dress up in a loose-fitting, traditional Egyptian garment. Not everyone dressed up but we did, there were a few other guests on the boat that dressed up the night.
The next morning we got up at 3 am so we can take a private tour bus to Abu Simbel. We had to be on the road by 3:30 to que up because the highway opens at either 5:30 am or 6 am and closes again around 7 pm ( I could be wrong on the times) this is due to high jacking by pirates. We saw the sunrise from our bus and stopped for a break – the journey was about 2.5 – 3 hours each way about 290 km each way. Our private bus had water and snacks provided by the boat on board, along with a boxed breakfast.
Abu Simbel is located on the man made Lake Nassar which is 280 km Aswan and 100 km from the boarder of Sudan. There are two magnificent temples which were built to honour the great pharaoh Ramses II and his wife Nefertari. When the new High Aswan Dam was built UNESCO stepped in to help relocate the temples to higher ground as they would be flooded and damaged. The larger temple was built on an east-west axis so that the early morning sun reached the inside of the temple and shine on some of the statues inside. This happens on February 22 and October 22 every year. We got back in the bus and headed back to Aswan to see the Philae temple, which is located on Agikia Island. It was a short boat ride away. This temple was also moved by UNESCO due to the constant floodings where the temple used to be. The Philae temple is also known as the Isis Temple. Visiting this temple we were the only ones – there were no other people other than us for quite some time – which was very cool. Then we went on a Falucca ride of the Nile to visit the Botanical gardens. When we got back to the boat – we had dinner and were so exhausted that we called it an early night as we had to get up early again to catch our flight back to Cairo.
The next morning we boarded our flight back to Cairo and checked into the Conrad Hotel again for our last night in Egypt. We had dinner with family, after checking out the next morning we heading to my ML cousins house to spend the day until it was time to catch our flight back home.
Despite all the early mornings and days filled with sightseeing we had a wonderful time in Egypt and we were so happy to share this with our boys and so happy their grandmother was able to share the experience with them as well. So many wonderful memories.
Have you been to Egypt? Was was your thoughts and experiences while visiting? Would you go again?
2 thoughts on “Our first trip of 2023 – Egypt :”
An exotic country in north Africa, Mariola. I hope to go there sometimes.❤️
LikeLiked by 1 person
its very exotic and the Nile cruise was magical -I hope you get to visit one day soon