When I decided to go to Egypt over this year spring break, most people thought I was crazy. “But it’s not safe!” was still ringing in my ears as I landed in Cairo. Well, I promise you, fellow Texans, it is safe (enough) and it is amazing. If this African country isn’t on your bucket list already, add it! There’s so much more than just pyramids to see.
Granted, I was part of a tour group—escorted by Sherif, our genius and congenial guide. Egypt can be a dangerous place, but so can every major city here in the U.S. You just have to be smart—don’t go off alone. Pretty normal, straight-forward travel advice for any third world country. Unfortunately, the impoverished state of the country is hard to miss—but there’s plenty of beauty to see as well.
We started off in the capital, which meant that the tour of the Great Pyramids (which you can see peeking between buildings as you drive through the city) was up first. I thought this was strange—to do the most exciting thing on day one, but I was very mistaken. The sphinx and pyramids were fantastic, don’t get me wrong (we even rode camels around them!), but I enjoyed the rest of the trip much more than expected.
After Cairo, our group set sail on the Nile—in a small cruise ship! The American dollar goes far in Egypt—one of ours equaling to about eight of their Egyptian pounds. We wined and dined, lounged on the upper pool deck, and each time we docked, we were met with some of the most gorgeous sights we’d ever seen. Luxor, Edfu, and Aswan each presented their own treasures—temples upon temples upon temples, delicious food, insane markets, hookah lounges, vast museums, belly dancing and of course, more temples.
The Valley of the Kings was a highlight—we even went on a sunrise hot air balloon ride over it before walking through the tombs themselves. We also decided to take a quick flight to Abu Simbel, a massive rock temple that was my personal favorite stop of the trip—it was just simply majestic.
Hurghada was our last stop—we charted a yacht and snorkeled in the Red Sea! The water was brilliantly blue and we saw bright, beautiful fish and even got to hold a pufferfish. We also swam through a large cluster of purple Moon Jellyfish—they don’t sting, so no worries. It was a great way to end the trip, especially since almost every other day had required quite a bit of walking. On that note—be prepared to sweat. It’s respectful to cover up as much as possible in Muslim countries—no short dresses or low-cut tops). Egypt is such a historical place, but it’s more than just the mummies, gold and hieroglyphics. It’s such a unique experience—you just have to go!