We will never forget..
We will never forget this tour of Egypt, and thank you, so much, Mara and Ahmed, for putting this all together and making it so easy for us to see and do it all. Despite being seasoned travellers, we felt beforehand that seeing Egypt via a small group tour with informed Egyptologists was really the best way to do it…. and now at the end, we are really glad we did it this way!
The ancient sites were sublime and important to us both, aesthetically and spiritually and visually. That is really why we came. We loved the Pyramids, and for Wendy we had a special time re-enacting a much valued family photo of her grandfather in World War 2, riding camels in front of the Pyramids. At Luxor, both Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple were amazing to experience. A special dinner at Mara House was a real treat.
We had a very long bus drive day from Luxor to enjoy visits to Dendera, and especially Abydos Temples, another favourite …. but the ride was a fantastic way to observe the daily life of rural Egypt….. ever revealing new surprises. We liked our visit to the Luxor West Bank Valley of the Kings tombs, though it happened on a very hot day that got up to 46 degrees C… even hot for us Australians! However for most of the tour we managed the dry heat with just a special soaked neck wrap… though Chip also sometimes used a soaked Hyper Cool vest.
Life on the criuse boat was easy.. though we are not ‘cruise boat’ people, and we soon tired of the buffet food and poor coffee …. Loved the caleche ride to Edfu Temple, and were fascinated by the Kom Ombo Temple duality and the mummified crocodiles … though horrified at the huge congestion of diesel-belching cruise boats that all seemed to arrive there at the same time.
At Aswan, Wendy found the Nubian Village a valuable and interesting remnant of a now destroyed culture, almost entirely flooded by the High Dam, but was sad to see it now just a tourist shopping trap. Though the retailers there, better than elsewhere, had got the message that not hassling visitors could get them better results. In fact, overall in Egypt, we did not find the sellers hassling of us too bad most of the time. At Aswan, Philae was our final temple, on its pretty little island. Then back to Cairo.
Throughout, it was remarkable to experiece the excellent condition of these remaining Pharaonic temples and tombs. We had tried to get flights to Abu Simbal, but could not, and were not willing to do a six hour drive for a short visit. But on reflection, we were not disappointed with our substitute activities in Aswan.
We were disgusted by Cairo’s filth and congestion on the roads, and the lack of pedestrian safety for those needing to cross the major streets. We understand there are ‘plans’ to re-create the ‘Parisian’ central Cairo of old. We hope that this work happens…. but first just fix the footpaths and add in more traffic lights for pedestrians!
We were initially daunted by the high level of security, which presumably was needed. We felt safe but protected throughout. And gradually we got up our confidence up to wander out alone…. and were amazed by the warm and friendly welcome of many Egyptians… including the children smiling and saying ‘Welcome to Egypt!’ to us. We saw relatively few other Westerners in Egypt … most tourists seemed to be from Asia and other Middle Eastern countries.
Chip did not enjoy anywhere near as much the tours of sites around Cairo itself, including the (too) many mosques and churches. And the long stints stuck in Cairo traffic. But the visit to Cairo’s Garbage City/Mountain was fascinating… both very impressive and horrifying at the same time!
The interpretations of the ancient sites were very good (especially Mohammed’s in Luxor and beyond). We learnt so much. The logistics management on occasions was not as good in our view, but perhaps that is attributable in part to Egypt itself! Certainly things could go off schedule. But we did see everything in our program.
Altogether, an amazing experience with a great group of compatible and friendly people…. it will take some time to digest!
Mara’s Group Trips