An exciting start to an exciting place! And Heathrow’s Terminal 2, called the Queen’s terminal was just the beginning. It was certainly a pleasure to pass through, lovely restaurants everywhere and shops – including John Lewis!
Egypt Air was comfortable – they don’t serve alcohol – but with a good selection of films in the seat back the time passed quickly – and soon we landed in Cairo. It was a lovely warm night when we arrived, and we were through the formalities quickly and at our hotel ready for sleep!
…because next morning we were up at 6 am – to get to the Pyramids early and before the day warmed up too much. We had plenty of time to see all the Giza Necropolis, to walk around them, climb the first few blocks, ride a camel and then we were off to Aswan. I couldn’t believe I was at Giza, just for one morning – but I have the pictures to prove it!
At Aswan, we boarded MS Sonesta Moon Goddess and we settled into our rooms all with private ensuite bathrooms, hairdryers, fridge and television as well as a balcony with a table and 2 chairs – everything we needed! That evening we were treated to a traditional Felucca Trip on the Nile around Kitchener’s Island and the Mausoleum of Aga Khan. It was truly magical floating silently on this majestic river, the sun slowly setting, giving the river a deep red glow.
Meals on board were good, with a selection of wine and beers and afterwards the entertainment was casual and relaxed in the lounge bar. Travelling on the Nile, it’s wise to rise early in the morning as the temperature can be too hot for sightseeing later in the day – and so we started exploring the amazing sights of this stretch of the river from Aswan up to Luxor.
First we visited the Granite Quarries, where a whole obelisk was carved out on the ground, it was inexplicable to see how it was quarried. Then we went to the massive High Dam, which supplies Egypt with electricity and learned how the flooding is controlled. Man’s triumph over Nature!
And again a human feat of engineering on Lake Nasser and the Temple of Philae. The temple was lifted out of the water ( the stilts are still there to be seen) onto a nearby island after the dam was built and the area flooded. A momentous undertaking and almost impossible to tell just by looking at the rebuilt temples. It was beautiful and so interesting to learn about the history of this famous site.
Then we returned to our ship for lunch and sailed to Kom Ombo where we visited another temple. That afternoon we let life on the Nile pass by as we sat in the sun by the pool on our sun loungers and sailed to Edfu.
Next day, up early again, we had a horse drawn carriage ride to Horus Temple in Edfu … so impressive and … no crowds! Our knowledgeable guide Ehad brought its history to life for us. You must use the guides, they are the essence of any trip to Egypt.
That afternoon we cruised through locks to reach the famous Luxor temple at dusk …magic! Magic is all I can say when the light slowly changed and the lit up columns and temples glowed, as if alive against the black backdrop.Enjoying all this atmosphere we dressed up in Egyptian costumes for a Barbecue Party on the top deck! It was a bit of extra fun and we all joined in.
The highlight of all things Egyptian – the Valley of the Kings and Queens – was planned for the last day. Again being there early we were almost on our own and managed to walk into four tombs without queues. We took our time to enjoy it all including of course Tutankhamun’s, the newest and most famous. All the treasures which were found here are displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo – so that would be a perfect finish to a cruise on the Nile.
In the afternoon we visited the last but most impressive Karnak temple, the second largest in the world. It boasts the largest number of columns and the highest obelisk, it was wonderful; and as we were all quite familiar with the gods and pharaohs we had learned about over the last few days we actually managed to identify them on the walls ourselves!
Saying goodbye to the friendly and helpful staff we were soon on our flight home. There is a flight from Luxor to Heathrow on certain days of the week, so this can be a convenient way to return home.
In terms of the food I was careful when I ate off the ship, and I only drank bottled water. We sanitised our hands all the time, so a trouble free time – health wise. Local traders are desperate to sell you something but are very friendly, and do not take offence if you don’t buy.
Late autumn or early spring is an ideal time to visit, and for the foreseeable future you have the benefit of experiencing these wonders of the world without the crowds – but really – I felt very safe – and I would not have missed this unforgettable experience, for anything!
What do you need to know about Egypt? Give me a call – Egypt is one of the world’s greatest treasures – and your visit will be one to treasure.