Years later, as I read the history of Egypt, I was fascinated with the idea of visiting the Great Pyramid of Giza. I had planned for the Egypt trip many times but for some reason or the other those plans never worked out. However in 2013 December I finally made up my mind to visit my dream place and was reluctant to let this opportunity go. I started off as a solo traveler and became great friends with 18 of my fellow travelers whom I met for the first time in my life and Our group leader Prasanta gave us a brief of the journey.The next 10 days were magical. The land of Pharaohs hold a thousand stories and I witnessed each moment on my trip as our guide Khalid shared his knowledge on the history, the rich heritage and the culture of this ancient civilization. He proved to be an amazing story teller and narrated and enacted the stories in such a manner we can never forget. Our Journey started off from the Ancient City of Cairo.
So we landed in Cairo International Airport…
As we boarded our bus and headed towards the Hotel, I grabbed a window seat to catch a glimpse of the city. Cairo has a striking resemblance with any random Indian city. Even the vehicles on the road were similar and I was surprised to see Auto Rickshaw on the Roads of Cairo. A part of the city is not very clean and a little clumsy due to construction works going on here and there.
Over the next few days as we visited the popular tourist spots, strolled through the markets and walked on the roads of the city ,the locals easily spotted us as Indians ,came and told us about their admiration for Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan and their obsession with bollywood movies.
We explored the cities of Cairo-Alexandria-Luxor and visited the most important tourist spots like Pyramids of Giza, Sphinx, Sakkara, Cairo Museum , CataComb , Alexandria Library , Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Valley of Kings ,Karnak temple and Luxor temple . The engravings and hieroglyphics on the walls of the temples trace history of a golden period of Egypt.In Valley of kings I felt there is magic in the tombs of the great Kings with their imposing architecture and marvelous paintings.Even afterover 5,000 years, the paintings retain their original colours and tell the story of civilization gone by
The sites of the West Bank of luxor in the peaceful glow of dawn from a hot air balloon can be described in one word:surreal.
Nile Cruise was a perfect chance for us to get off road and sail into history. Our Cruise sailed from Luxor to Aswan . The days spent in Nile Cruise were unforgettable. Mesmerized by the beauty of the surroundings, we spent our lazy days on the Cruise deck chatting , reading magazines and clicking pictures .We visited Edfu and Kom Ombo Temple located on the bank of River Nile . After a beautiful boat ride we reached the Philae temple located in Agilika Island and also enjoyed a ride in the traditional sailboats or feluccas of Egypt.
From Aswan (the final destination of the cruise) a convoy left for Abu Simbel and after a 3 hours of scenic ride across the Sahara dessert we reached the Temples of Abu Simbel on the Western Bank of Lake Nasser. The time difference between India and Egypt is only 3 hours 30 mins but when you visit these magnificent places time difference feels like a million years. Everything about Egypt is so full of character.
The Treasures of Tutankhamun preserved in Cairo Museum include some of the finest collection of Gold ranging from several Gold sarcophagi to Gold Jewelry studded with precious stones…the collection stands out for its unique craftsmanship .The thousand years old Mummified bodies of the Great Pharaohs preserved in the Royal Mummy section of Cairo Museum is worth a visit .
In my itinerary I have given a historical significance of each of the places we visited.
Major Attractions :
1.Pyramids of Giza
3.Light and Sound Show in Giza
5.Cairo Museum and Royal Mummy Section in Cairo Museum
6.Khan al Khalili Market
7.Alexandria downtown, Alexandria Library
9.Valley of Kings
12.Hot Air Ballooning in Luxor
14.Abu Simbel and the Ride from Aswan to Abu Simbel across the Sahara Dessert
15.Nubian Tribe Dance
Overall tourism scenario in December 2013:
December is the best time to visit Egypt but due to the political unrest going on in the country…. the tourism of the country suffered massively which have in turn affected the economy badly .During my visit to Giza(A Major tourist attraction in the world), I noticed there were only 2-3 tourist buses in the spot. It was really challenging to refuse the hawkers who have clearly out-numbered the tourists.
Armed military men came with each of the tourist groups to ensure their safety and this was a great gesture from the Government of Egypt .
The People of Egypt were very hopeful that the January 2014 elections will put an end to all their problems as the right candidate would be voted to power and positive changes will take place….and the economy of the country will improve greatly.
When to Go:
October to February is the perfect time to visit Egypt
1 Egyptian Pound= Rs 8.43
The Egyptian Cuisine is similar to Indian food in many ways.
Rice , Brinjal and Potato form an important part of their everyday meal and Non-veg dishes include Fish , Chicken and Beef.
If you are looking out for KFC, it’s just outside the GIZA complex.
Pick up glassware, souvenirs, and dates from the Khan al khalili market, Cairo and Luxor Market ,Luxor .
Papyrus is available in the Government Shops.
You need to carry mineral water with you wherever you go.
Egyptians do not serve regular water with meal. Everywhere water is chargeable.
To avoid unwanted attention, respect the sentiments of the locals and dress accordingly. Avoid unnecessary argument with the hawkers .