and I never had any doubts about our safely but several of our family
and friends expressed concern with us traveling in this part of the world.
As I write this blog we are back home and the only thing we ever felt
in Egypt was warmth and friendship. The world would be a better place
without any news media and politicians.
lucky early in the planning stages of this trip when I happened to come
across Joyce Carta
of Egypt Magic
while doing a series of internet searches. With Joyce’s help we
put together a custom trip that included a private car, driver, and guide.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was about the same price as
signing on with a large tour group and being herded around like bunch
arranged our booking through Fly Well Travel in Egypt and Petra
Moon Travel in Jordan. Amr was our main contact in Egypt. He is
a wizard, he made sure everything flowed smoothly while in Egypt.
We were fortunate to get two really REALLY good guides (Egyptologists)
in Egypt. Abeer Elsaied
(everyone calls her Abby) was
our guide in the Cairo area and Hassen
(last name?) (add email link) was our guide in Upper
Egypt (Aswan and Luxor). Both are such good guides and nice people
that I will make it a point of contacting them ahead of any future
travel to check on their availability.
If you travel to Cairo insist on Abby as your guide.
was very dark when we arrived at the Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel
and so the next morning we had a big surprise. As we walked out
of the hotel, BOOM, the pyramids were right there! It was very exciting
… and the “real” adventure hadn’t even started
is sorta like semi-controlled chaos. I have driven in over 15 countries
but I wouldn’t want to attempt that task in Egypt. Why do
they even bother to paint white lines on the streets to identify
lanes? No one bothers to use them. If the road is 2 lanes wide they
make 3. If the road is 3 lanes they’ll make 4 or even 5 lanes.
Cars going one way and camels and donkey carts on the shoulder going
the opposite direction. Drivers flashing lights, honking horns,
making arm and hand gestures, zooming in and out but yet the traffic
just seems to some how flow rather smoothly (for the most part).
Since road signs are almost exclusively in Arabic it is another
good reason to hire a driver.
in the Cairo area we visited Egyptian Museum, Citadel of Saladin,
the Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali, Khan Al Khalili bazaar, Coptic
Cairo (Hanging Church, Saint Sergius Church, and Ben Ezra Synagogue)
the mosques of Sultan Hassan and Ria'fa, Memphis, Saqqara, the Great
Pyramids, and the Sphinx.
treasures in the Egyptian Museum are mind boggling. We both just kept
saying “How did they do that (make that) way back when?”
Tutankhamun’s exhibit was the most spectacular. I had seen many
of these items in photographs or on TV documentaries but I had to see
them first had to truly realize how magnificent they are.
you are planning a trip to Egypt here are a few tips for planning
a fun, affordable trip.
If you live
in the USA contact
Egypt Magic www.egyptmagic.com
If you live
outside the USA contact
Fly Well Travel www.flywellegypt.com
All of the
guides (Egyptologist) work independently and are contracted by the
tour companies on a job-by-job basis. To ensure you have a likeable,
knowledgeable guide who is punctual, and speaks clear easy to understand
English ask for Abeer (Abby) Elsaied and/or Hassen. Better yet email
them directly to make sure they are available.
(Abby) Elsaied (She only guides in the Cairo area) email@example.com
Hassen (last name?) (He specializes
in Upper Egypt) firstname.lastname@example.org
Do a private
tour rather than signing on with a large group tour. The price is
about the same and you will have a much better time.
between Aswan and Luxor drive rather than taking a Nile Cruise (6
hours vs 4 days). Egypt no longer requires that you drive in a convoy
between the two cities. You can travel at your own pace, see the
sights at your leisure, save 3 days, and some money.
Cairo and Upper Egypt rather than taking the sleeper train. It costs
a little more but I have never heard a kind word about the sleeper
ATMs are everywhere
and as easy to use as buying a cup of coffee.
of US $1 dollar bills to use for tips. Bring a whole wad!
makes a nice souvenir or gift. A custom made (with your name
in Egyptian hieroglyphics) silver cartouche costs around $20
and you can buy a silver chain to go with it for an additional
$20. It is easy to pack, light weight, and affordable.