Let me quote the last line of Mark Zuckerberg’s election post… “In my experience, people are good, and even if you may not feel that way today, believing to people leads to better results over the long-term”.
Before our trip to Egypt, we received a lot of warnings and advises, and reading some blogs made me hesitate and question once, is it the right choice, are we really gonna push this? I’m so sure that I want to see the Great Pyramid of Giza and so as the rest of the group. We want to see some ancient temples and sail through the world’s longest and historic river, the Nile River. If I did let fear changed our plans, then we would never had the amazing and funny experiences in Egypt. I wont have this post to testify that there are so many kind and good Egyptians out there. We got a lot of assistance starting from the visa processing until our last day – the souvenir shopping. We gave tips to some and just said “thank you” to others.
I’m thankful of the advises, the blogs I read, they made me more cautious and planned the trip well. I did a lot of research, there are a lot of positive and encouraging posts than negative. Security is important, but, if we always let fear stop us from doing what we want to do, then we will be stuck with What Ifs and Regrets right? So, here’s our one week of fun little adventures in Egypt, last November 2016. I will also give the details of our expense at the end of this post. Enjoy reading.
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P L A C E S & W O N D E R S
Since the pyramid is on the top of everyone’s list, we decided to book our hotel in Giza which is about forty-five minutes away from Cairo International Airport. Giza is a busy, crowded place. Shops, cars, traffic, people everywhere, trash in some areas… you might not appreciate the place on a first sight. Ohhh no, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to discourage you, our experience may not be that smooth nor perfect, but it was great, we had tons of fun. From our flight we sat beside a good Egyptian doctor that is a residence of Qatar. He was so kind to call the Cairo Airport Transportation while we were still in Qatar and book our airport transfer to the hotel. Actually, we arranged a hotel transfer, but the Movenpick in Giza did not even bother to reply, I sent them emails aside from my note in our Agoda bookings. So moving forward, the Cairo Airport Transportation also offered us a tour for the next day, 60.oo USD including the driver and a tour guide. After negotiation we got it for 40.oo USD. The tour includes Saqqara, Giza, papyrus, perfume and textiles shops. For the Papyrus Shop, it’s worth the time, there’s a historic significance though in the end of the story telling is the selling of products. But stopping at the perfume and textiles shops was a total waste of time. So my advice… ask the tour guide if what’s the complete itinerary of your tour and inform the guide not to take you to these shops, really a waste of time and effort.
PYRAMIDs OF SAQQARA
The Step Pyramid of Saqqara was the first ever built Egyptian pyramid. It was not as huge as the one in Giza and it’s quite far (30 mins drive), but it’s beautiful. One-fourth of the pyramid is still on renovation as you can see from the photo above. According to our guide, it’s been 4 years already since they started the renovation. They are taking the stone out one by one, repairing and polishing them then putting them back. Just a few steps away from the pyramind are the ruins of temples and few meters away is the Pyramid of Teti. We went down to see the chambers and tomb of Teti.
What to expect: There were a lot of touts, selling you stuffs and those with donkey… they will ask you to take photo with their donkey and tell you it’s free, then ask for payment afterwards. Prepare coins then.
THE PYRAMIDs OF GIZA & THE SPHINX
When you enter to the vicinity of the pyramids in Giza, the view is surreal! It’s totally different of what’s outside. The place is well maintained. The Pyramids and the Sphinx, so beautiful. And here it is, like what most of the information I got from the website, the tour guide will take you to the stable of horses and camels. It’s just few meters away from the entrance. As expected, the owner will try to rob you with a very expensive service (horses or camel and the tour guide). You have to negotiate. The price went down to from 45.oo to 18.oo USD each, including the entrance fee. Absolutely you can go inside with the car, though there are chances that the tourism police might stop you. It’s up to you if you wanna take that risk.
Our overall experience with the tour in the Great Pyramid of Giza??? Amazing! We love it, worth the negotiation and the price. Others may say that you can still get a better deal but we don’t wanna be that guy as well. Working in a theme parks, we have the idea of the price range of each attractions, and what we paid for the tour was already cheap. By the way, our tour guide, Hassan, he took great photos. We are so grateful, he’s service was excellent.
Tips: In Egypt, the key word is “NEGOTIATE”, and “PATIENCE” is a must, well I would say that even in my own country too, in some places. Some vendors just wont stop bothering you, I’m serious. Even if you already say No, Thank you… La Shurkran, they will still ask you over and over to buy their items, I understand they want to sell but it was too much already. So, patience my friend. And, bring bottled water, it was not hot that time, but you’ll be thristy roaming around and dealing with the touts.
THE SLEEPING TRAIN
If you want to explore more of the ancient wonders of Egypt, go to Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel. You can either fly or crawl. And we agreed to crawl – a roundtrip with the sleeping train to save 2 nights of accommodation. Flight and train tickets has almost the same rate, but it’s great to experience the train in Egypt. Aside from the bumps and shaking of the compartment, the trip was good. I personally loved it, the four of us has a private compartment (2 rooms with connecting door) and we had tons of laugh trips while on board.
What to Expect: As I mentioned above, the trip is too bumpy specially if your compartment is the last ones. Toilets were dirty. Expect some delays. For dinner and breakfast it’s okay for me, better than the hotel food we had (Horizon Hotel). But, bring snacks, chips and drinks and enjoy the ride.
The Nile River, it was just in my once upon a time Sunday school stories and now we are sailing here, wow! It was cool plus the perfect weather in a perfect time. We decided to do the Felluca tour before sunset so we can capture the dramatic setting of Mr. Sun while cruisin in the Nile River. It’s one of the best experience ever. Our Nubian captain, he was so polite and respectful to us. He taught us how to navigate the boat, and we did it. If I could spend another time in Aswan, I will definitely do the whole day sailing.
What to Expect: Wonders of Nature. For me, it’s an amazing perfect experience, a must do when in Egypt. There’s a lot of Felluca Captains along the side walks in Aswan offering their service, but we booked our tour with our hotel.
Same as the Felluca tour, we also arranged the day tour to Abu Simbel with our hotel, Philae Hotel. With a 3:30AM call time, the hotel gave each of us a breakfast box with bread, drinks, yogurt, boiled egg and chips that was enough for the trip. But you might consider to bring extra drinks. It’s quite a long road trip through the Sahara. We arrived at the location at around 8:00AM and the place is beautiful. The two temples nestle by the bay of Lake Nasser. They really did a great job in relocating these temples with the help of UNESCO. Ramses left an epic massive art that every Egyptian should be proud of and we travelers, explorers and wanderers are dying to achieve this in our bucket list.
On our third day in Aswan, we supposed to have a whole day tour, checking out the top attractions, but we decided to end the tour after three attractions. Philae Temple was our first stop. I can’t believe that I am crossing the river of Nile again to go to the temple. It was fun specially when we saw our boat, we felt that in any minute we will be in the water. Well, we were all good. We had a great time roaming in the island where the ancient architecture that was built ages ago, in 380BC, is standing. We can’t get enough of an hour and 30 minutes time that was given to us by our driver. The place is stunning, plus the cool weather. Aswan is really amazing having these wonders.
Going to the High Dam took us about 20 minutes but we were just there for about 10 minutes. If you are into engineering and architecture then you will appreciate the place a lot more. The site of Lake Nasser and Nile River is amazing and the dam is in between. But that’s it, as shown in the photos above.
This temple has an outstanding location and scenery. You might think that it is just the same with Philae, but in my opinion they may have similarity but they are totally different. This place is a must visit too. We arrived at noon time so it was quiet. You can be in one side of the island and the attraction is all yours. In this island, there are four different structures that was relocated here with the help of UNESCO. Don’t miss out this place, specially if you want to take beautiful photos, the location is perfect and the entrance fee is cheaper than the Philae Temple.
It is fun travelling with family and friends, specially if you all go along together. As the African Proverbs goes, “If you want to go fast, Go Alone. If you want to go far, Go Together”, true and going together is fun. Having that amazing memories of adventure and able to spend quality time with them is unbeatable. Then, you got to split the expenses instead of shouldering all by yourself.
So, I will share to you the approximate breakdown of our expenses, though some of us did spend more than what’s here. If you just have to spend the necessary stuffs then you can spend less. The sleeping train aside from the airfare, has a big chunk of our expenses, though we saved two nights of a hotel stay, plus we got dinner and breakfast in the train, so it’s all good.
Travel expenses, really varies from each person. For me, as long as you are having fun and wont be broke (again) when you come back from the trip then go for it. My trip in 2015 was a big lesson, that’s why I am cautious in my spending, though to be honest, I sometimes can’t control my being impulsive in spending, specially in food. So, still working on it really.
Here’s our average expenses in Egypt:
Tags: Abu Simbel, Aswan, Egypt, escapades, Felluca, friendshipgoals, Nile River, Pyramid, Roadtrip, Strollsandgoals, travel, Travel Tips, wanderlust, Wonders of Egypt