Egypt has always been one of those places that I dreamed of going to... but never thought about how to really make it happen. It's also one of those places that gets the side eye.... like "is it safe to go there??" If I listen to the news, the answer is no... but I decided to listen to my heart instead.
Fortunately, I had two friends that also felt a tug at their heartstrings for Egypt. We saw the reports about terror attacks, and the travel warnings... but we were not deterred. If anything, these warnings just made us more determined. So in 2015.... we made it happen....
In case you also wish to travel to Egypt, here are a few...
1. Check Travel Advisories: Pay attention to travel warnings, but take them with a grain of salt. You may hear of dangerous riots or protests... but it's very rare that you will "stumble" upon one. Stay alert, but if you're not an idiot (or a part of some freak accident) you should be fine...
I highly recommend the Camel Rides
2. Book a Tour Guide: I'm usually all for winging it, going it alone, rolling with the tide, que sera sera... but Egypt is not one of those go with the flow places. It's nice to have someone to show you the ropes, explain the customs and give you the lay of the land. Not that you have to let them plan every single second of your trip, but it's nice to have a friendly face to call on. It's also nice to have someone who can share with you, in detail, the history of their country and cultures. (I suggest Memphis Tours, their service is top notch and their also provided security and wifi in our van)
Joy Chatting it up with our Tour Guide
Ferocious Guard Dog
3. wear cool loose clothing: We were lucky and it was only 85 degrees the week we there... but 99% of the time it's 90's and above. I would suggest loose, airy clothing. But no short shorts.... Egyptians think of shorts as underwear. If you are in shorts and tank top.... you're basically walking outside naked, in their opinion. I packed a lot of white clothing... my friends thought that I was crazy. But white reflects the sun which helps to keep you cool.
4. Give yourself time: We made the mistake of cramming three cities into a 7 day trip. By day 7 we were exhausted. I'd suggest at least 10-14 days for a proper visit... longer even.
Taking a Rest by the Pyramids
5. Go shopping: The local bazaars have great items for your home like rugs, lamps, statues, hookahs... just make sure to leave ample space in your luggage. And learn how to negotiate. Most sellers will give you a price that is double what they expect to make. Example: A seller tells me that an item costs $100. If I say $20, that's too low and I'll risk making the seller mad. But if I start with $75... I'll end up paying to much. So I offer just under half of the original cost, ie $40. Eventually we will land around at a price that's around $50. Everyone is happy!
Locally Crafted Shoes
Beads and Coral from Sharm El Sheikh Market
Local Merchant and my old man crush.
Bazaar in Cairo
6. See the Whirling Dervishes: Do the cheesy tourist stuff... like seeing the Whirling Dervishes. This is a spectacular show that you shouldn't miss! There are shows on most nights of the week in Giza and Cairo. Make sure to get there early so that you can get a front row seat!
Whirl Baby Whirl
Drop it like it's Hot!
7. Take a Cruise: We took a dinner cruise on the Nile.... mostly just so we could brag to our friends "Have you ever cruised the Nile, well I have, cuz I'm special like that" *hair toss.
Making friends with the crew
Me and the girls looking chic!
8. Take a Dive: In the Red Sea..... The color of the Red Sea is the bluest blue that I've ever seen in my life. And with the desert as it's backdrop, the Red Sea is truly gorgeous. We booked a scuba diving trip in Sharm El Sheikh.... one word... Amazing!
Hitting Rock Bottom... in the Red Sea
This was my first time diving ever... so the instructor held my hand for safety.
Successful first Dive... all smiles!
We booked our tour with Easy Divers.. best instructors ever!
Erin soaking up the sun after a morning of diving
9. Hang out with the Bedouins: Mt. Sinai desert is a must visit (also in Sharm El Sheikh). There are tours that will take you through the desert to a local Bedouin campsite. You can take a camel ride, cook with the locals, enjoy traditional food, dance and smoke shisha. There's an overnight tour as well as a day tour. I wish that we had time to spend the night under the stars... but the day tour did not disappoint.
Campsite Entrance Decorated in local rugs
Our "Taxi" to the Camp Site
Chatting it up with the fellas
Joy learning how to make traditional bread
Great Place if you like scrambling... if the tour guide will let you
Walking the Camp Ground
Taking a glimpse at saturn
10. Go to a Mosque: I'm not a very religious person, and I was raised Christian... but you don't need to be religious or Muslim to marvel at Mohammed Ali's Mosque.
Views from Muhammad Ali's Mosque
Last but certainly not least... Check out the Pyramids: This is just a no brainer!