Egypt. The land of Pharaohs, pyramids, temples and the mighty Nile River. Talk to most people about touring Egypt these days and the first question they ask is “Is it safe?” We were about to find out for ourselves exactly how safe a trip to Egypt feels right now.
Our journey began in Cairo with accommodation at Le Méridien Pyramids where we were met by Marion and Dennis Bunnik, our hosts. The third family member, Sacha, joined us later in Luxor.
Cairo’s overcrowded streets and chaotic traffic were an experience. Public transport is minimal and with a population the size of Australia’s, distance is measured in time, not kilometres. Depending on the day of the week and the time of day it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to reach your hotel.
But it was well worth it when we saw the view from our room. Where else can you open your curtains and gaze upon one of the ancient wonders of the world, the Great Pyramid of Giza?
Over the ensuing days we were treated to all the magnificent sights that Egypt has to offer. We saw the earliest pyramids dating from 2575-2465 BC and the modern-day engineering marvel, the Aswan High Dam.
We walked through the Valley of the Kings and entered King Tutankhamen’s tomb. We shopped in the bustling Khan el Khalili Bazaar in central Cairo. Abu Simbel amazed us, along with so much more including the temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the Colossus of Memnon.
We were treated to the same small group- style arrangements that Bunnik offer all their clients with a maximum group size of 20 in Egypt and a wonderfully knowledgeable Egyptologist on each coach.
Our experienced guide, Manal, kept us informed and entertained along the way with just the right amount of information. Travelling with this vibrant, warm Egyptian national was also extremely handy when navigating our way through crowds, looking for clean bathrooms and finding a bargain or two at the many market stalls that can be found in most areas you will visit.
A pleasant one-hour flight took us to Aswan. After an overnight stay in the Mövenpick hotel we boarded the Royal Lily, a Nile River cruise boat owned by the hotel chain for a three-night cruise. With only 240 kilometres between Aswan and Luxor we stopped to visit temples at Kom Ombo and Edfu as well as just spending some time relaxing in order to recharge for the next few busy days.
Tourism is rising slowly again and today, happily, there are 112 boats once again running between Aswan and Luxor.
In exploring Egypt’s wonders, we visited markets, bartered for treasures and trinkets with local hawkers and shopkeepers, saw mosques and temples, rode around Luxor in a horse and carriage and much, much more. Never at any time did I hear any member of our party say they felt unsafe or threatened any more so than anywhere in today’s world.
We were welcomed into Egypt so very warmly; schoolchildren especially loved seeing us and thanked us graciously for visiting. We all loved the shopping and while some members of our group contributed fairly generously to the Egyptian economy, I think each of us also took a little piece of Egypt home in our hearts.