Next stop, Luxor. I’ve always marvelled at the ability of Irish pubs to pop up in unlikely places. I can now add our dinner venue in Luxor to the list. While some got up for hot air ballooning they later described as their highlight (I regretted not going) the rest of us had slightly more sleep before heading to the Valley of the Kings.
Wow. The tombs of these ancient royals and the stories that went with them had me truly fascinated. When I walked down the stairs into the tomb, battling my conflicting needs to look where I was going so I didn’t eat it in front of my new friends and stare at the preserved hirogliphics and decorations on the walls and ceiling I came upon the huge stone sarcophagus and was uncharacteristically speechless.
Hechepsut’s Temple and complicated family history were the next fascinating stop. I’d try to explain the story but I’d probably get it wrong somewhere. Plus, Sam tells it better than I ever could. With a 3am wake-up call and extra charge, Abu Simbel was something not everyone was initially sure about, but with Sam’s reassurance we opted in. it was the best decision I made all trip. With the Nile on one side and the temples on the other, walking up towards the four sitting figures guarding the temple, you can’t help but feel their gigantic eyes watching you. I could go on and on about the sheer greatness of these temples but I wouldn’t do them justice. Like the pyramids, the tombs and the other wonders, they need to be seen.
That afternoon we got our first taste of life aboard our felucca with our Nubian crew. I’m still not sure how they put together such tasty food with such limited room and resources but they did. Our felucca was basically a sailing boat with a big flat deck lined with mattresses, cushions (and blankets at night). We spent our next two days sailing down the Nile, swimming, drinking and watching locals fish, wash and feed their livestock. Every few hours we pulled up on the banks to eat lunch, pat some donkeys or water buffalo.
At night we sat around a fire, chilled, danced to music provided by our awesome Nubian crew, who felt more like close friends at that stage, played cards and generally enjoyed each other’s company. For a lot of people, the felucca trip was the highlight of the tour.
After we (reluctantly) disembarked from our felucca, we were staring down the barrel of a nine hour drive back to Cairo, but before this, we had a couple of stops. Karnak Temple was the biggest, most impressive temple I’ve ever seen. I’m glad in a way that we saw it last as the sheer size of it made some of the others pale in comparison. At the papyrus gallery we learnt that like so many inventions (just ask Sam) paper can also be traced back to the Egyptians.
After a long drive back to Cairo and a late start, we visited the Cairo Museum. I could have spent all day walking and looking at the artefacts. The highlight was the multitude of treasures found in Tutenkamun’s tomb; jewellery, chariots, canopic jars, figurines, jewels and other riches. When the chance to see the actual mummies from the tombs came up, I jumped at the chance, but when I entered the room and realised these were the actual human remains I wasn’t fully prepared. When I looked at their now gaunt faces I tried to imagine them in their living form. I said a silent thank-you for the amazing things they left behind for me to see and headed back to the bus and eventually our hotel to have a few last beers by the pool with our new friends.
It was with a heavy heart, but a head full of memories we got on our transfer back to Cairo Airport. “I wish we had gone to Dahab,” Brett pondered “I would have loved a few more days.”
“Me too. Maybe we should just jump out and head back” I mused.
But our nine days was up and it was time to head home.
I cannot recommend a trip to Egypt enough. The hotels were awesome, Sam’s knowledge and enthusiasm make him the ideal guide and the sites visited were nothing short of awe inspiring.
Before I left for Egypt I heard from many people that I shouldn’t go, that it was not safe.
I can confidently say that there was not one point on this trip where I felt unsafe or threatened in any way. This was an experience of a life time, and with fewer tourists and lower prices, there is no time like the present to visit this amazing country.
Guest Blog By Naomi Quirk
If you’ve been inspired by Naomi’s experience and would love to visit Egypt for yourself then head to https://www.traveltalktours.com/destinations/egypt-tours/ now for a range of our Egypt only and Egypt combo tours.