Egypt is a country that has a lot to offer to a traveller’s thirsty soul. A great combination of culture, history, sceneries with natural beauty and tons of activities and unique experiences.
Having a limited time in our hands to explore such a vast country our trip was centered in Cairo(al Qahira), the largest city of the Middle East. Cairo is a hectic city with millions of people, crowded often dirty streets and countless stores and markets that can blow your mind away(not always in a good way!).
However it certainly has those oriental vibes that can easily captivate you and make you overlook any kind of inconvience you may face.
Things to do in Egypt
The museum of Egyptian Antiquities
Your trip to Cairo would not be complete unless you pay a visit to the Egyptian Museum. For us it was one of the highlights of our stay. We went there early in the morning and spent almost four hours. An extensive collection of 120,000 items, artifacts, papyrus , sarcophagus, mummies, statuses, jewelry that leave you speechless.
The entrance fee for the museum is really cheap. However, you have to pay an extra ticket if you want to carry your camera inside. Outside you will find lots of guides trying to sell their services which for us was kind of frustrating.
For someone who wants a detailed tour based on historical facts though I guess it would be a good idea. We wandered for so many hours inside and still I feel we didn’t get to see all of its beauty.
During our staying there we were told that a new museum, modern and enormous is being built right next to the Great Pyramids in Giza and all the antiquities would be transferred there upon its completion.
The Great Pyramid of Giza
One of the most visited and photographed sites of the world. And not by chance! Thousands of visitors from around the globe overlook the unbearable heat and roam around the pyramids complex on foot or by riding camels, horses and carriages.
We, fearless as we were, chose the camel riding! It was kind of scary climbing on the camel as they are extremely tall but the feeling and the view from up there was all worth it!
Sometimes the owners of the camel act as tour guides and give you a not so detailed description of the monuments but still interesting to hear. Also, they are more than willing to take you some of the most touristic photos when you make a stop on each site.
After a small ride with the camels, we decided to go on foot so we can take as much time as we wanted to breathe in all the majesty we witnessed. The magnitude of the Pyramids blows your mind away.
We were in awe with the accomplishments of this ancient civilization that still manage to stand tall as a reminder of the past and the capabilities of the human beings. NOTE: Beware of some wandering locals following you around and trying to sell anything for a few money. They can be extremely annoying and coercive.
Off the beaten track – Egypt
OK I have to admit that so far I’ve described common and expected parts of a trip to Egypt. The most precious experience however of that journey was our 2-days desert excursion. After an almost 4 hours drive far from Cairo we made our first stop to Al Bahariya Oasis.
There was a small family business run by two brothers who continue the Bedouin tradition of their ancestors. They provide their safari services and also my give you shelter in their wooden cabins that remind a small camp in the middle of nowhere. We stayed there for like two hours and we were offered freshly cooked lunch, hot tea and fruits. After that our adventure began!
Ahmed, one of the brothers would be our driver and guide. After he prepared and packed everything in his 4×4 we ventured into the Egyptian desert. Driving on a highway for at least 3 more hours until Ahmed made a turn into the sanddunes and kept on going for a while. First stop: the Crystal Mountain. We didn’t stay there for long because of the wind but we had the chance to find unique stones and little crystals that were scattered allover.
Next stop: Valley of Agabat.
Endless sanddunes and enormous rocks that made you feel so tiny in front of their greatness. We walked barefoot and run up and down like kids enjoying the cold sand. After making a stop to a small oasis for some water we headed to our final destination, the White Desert.
Unearthly scenery, we felt like we are on a different planet. Big rocks, uniquely shaped from the windstorms over the years were such a pleasure to the eye. Ahmed found the perfect spot for us to camp and we started setting up an open tent.
Well prepared as he was, he had everything he needed to organize the most special dinner for us. He even built up a fire and grilled some chicken. After that we had some real Bedouin tea.
By that time the sun was already set and we were able to see billions of star appearing upon us. We slept just in our sleeping bags cause we didn’t want to miss that view and I have to say, it was the best night of my life.
Complete silence in the vast desert with a few necessities and a great company is all you need. The next morning we woke up with the sunrise and we noticed so many animal footprints around us. Some overnight visitors like foxes, mice, ravens paid us a visit and ate some of our leftovers.
After we had our breakfast, we packed up and headed to the Black Desert. Normal sand covered with tons of small black rocks that make it a unique landscape.
Later on we returned to Al Bahariya for some rest and headed back to Cairo feeling forever grateful for the greatness we witnessed in such a short period of time.