I have absolutely no regrets about taking a two-week tour in Egypt. I love the freedom that individual travel gives you, but at the very same time, the friendships and experiences (and less planning on my part!) of organized tours can be an equally remarkable experience. I recognize that Lauren and I are quite lucky. We enjoyed the company of every single person in our group. Two of the participants were traveling on multiple trips with the company, and one had had a sour experience with a whiny, pouty participant on a previous tour. You’re not always guaranteed a good bunch, but I would imagine that for the most part trips like these draw a pretty good crowd. (I’d also like to point out that we were not on a tour bus type of trip where everyone wears headsets and the guide is holding up a flag the entire time).
By going on this trip, all of our accommodation and transportation were arranged, and we were free to choose the activities we were interested in. If I were on a fixed schedule with a short amount of time and trying to cover a lot of ground, this is the perfect type of trip. I could not have planned to do and see all of the things we covered, and for the amount we paid, if we had tried to do it ourselves. So that’s my little pitch for the pros of organized tours.
There was another tour guide from the same company as ours who was guiding a family of four on the same route. Naturally, we ran into them in several spots, which is how we ended up with the nickname ‘the A-team’. Somehow superiority is innate and we deemed ourselves more awesome creatures than the others. In just two weeks time the A-team discovered Cairo, Aswan, the Nile, Luxor, Alexandria & Siwa Oasis and the White and Black Desert. We slept in hotels, under the stars in the desert, on the train, and on a sailing vessel. It was a series of travel firsts for me- I wore a skimpy lime green bikini and other tacky items in my newfound Egyptian wardrobe. I discovered how much I loved kushari and other foods that I tried for the first time. I watched so many magnificent sunsets over landscapes I had never seen before. And I got to see the pages of my art and architectural history books comes to life before my eyes.
In just two weeks, I explored so much of Egypt. I think the only place that Lauren and I would really have liked to visit and didn’t make it to on this tour was Dahab and the Red Sea. I love to snorkel and Lauren likes to dive so that was a little disappointing, but we didn’t include enough time to be able to tack that on at the end of our tour. The great thing about Egypt and traveling to the Red Sea is that it is a great starting point to explore more of the Middle East. It is easy to take a ferry to Jordan and I know many people who did so from Jordan to Egypt as well. Visiting the temples and deserts in Egypt would pair well with a trip to Petra and Wadi Rum. One can also cross the border into Israel. Travelers interested in religious sites might find that Egypt, Israel, and even Jordan are great to combine. It is also easy to go for holidays in Greece or Italy after touring Egypt. Those that love architecture will appreciate the temples in Athens as a nice follow-up to places like the Karnak Temple in Luxor. Though separated by nearly 1500 years, most of the temples in Egypt and Greece were still built before the Common Era and provide an ancient historical perspective. And vacationing in Italy will take one to a different, yet equally interesting, century of architecture, like the 15th and 16th century Renaissance architecture of Florence. And lastly, I would also mention that a trip to several countries in northern Africa would be fantastic. Maybe now is the best time to go to all of the countries in the area but I would love to visit Morocco and had friends who loved Tunisia as well. Lauren and I took an onward flight to explore sub-Saharan Africa after our visit, but Cairo is a great hub for travel into many areas in the region.
This post concludes my Egypt travels, but stay tuned for my next adventures. Despite the recent protests in Cairo, I hope tourism stays strong in Egypt! I just landed in Kenya this week and am getting settled into my new home. I have a few more posts coming on older travels and my recent trip to Portland, but will be sharing Kenya adventures shortly!