Egypt was there in my bucket list from quite a long time but I would be visiting it somewhere so soon…had not thought about it and the reason behind it was my mom’s passport that had got expired. I did this trip with WOW and this was my second one with them. When I saw the Egypt itinerary first I was like really wow….but then when i scheduled my slot with the PSK for my mom’s passport renewal, it gave me a date of 12th of Dec(normal) and 4th of Dec (Tatkal) to the earliest. The Egypt dates were from 21st to 31st Dec and I had to send out all the documents to the WOW guys for the Visa by 5th of Dec. So all I was a little upset was with the slots that I was getting. But little I knew about my mum’s luck that somewhere around 15th of Nov, the PSK guys opened up a tatkal slot for 17 Nov though the passport offices usually do not work on sat/sun days. And there I was with a slot confirmed and mom was with the passport with in the next 3 days. That was real quick and we were all set to travel to the land of Pyramids. My mom had this fascination about Pyramids from her childhood and she always had thought of visiting and entering inside one and now she was all excited about it. Ours was 10 days trip and we departed Bengaluru on 21st Dec early morning, having a transit at Abu Dhabi, there by reaching Cairo at around 12 noon.
We checked in Mercure Le Sphinx Hotel in Cairo which was very near to the Great Giza Pyramids and easier for us to visit it for the evening Sound and Light show. Once we freshened ourselves after our flight journey, we were all excited to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx at least from far as the Sound and light show happens in front of the Pyramids only in the evenings for an hour and our visit to inside the Pyramids was scheduled for the 28th. Our show started at 7pm and it was freezing cold in an open air auditorium which can have around 1500 ppl seated at a time for the show. The moon above us in the clear sky was in full bloom and the climate was very windy. People could rent out blankets for 20 EGP and so did most of us in my group. The Sound and Light show narrates the story about Egypt’s history with a dramatic combination of sound and light. It was beautiful. Since the time of our visit to Egypt was in the winters, it was chilly but I feel other wise the open auditorium would have been cool enough to beat the heat of the deserts.
After the show we did have our dinner at a local restaurant and headed back to our hotel so that we could have some rest before our next flight to Sharm El Sheikh, the next morning.
Post our early breakfast and check out from the hotel, we boarded our flight to Sharm El Sheikh. This is an Egyptian city on the southern tip of Sinai Penninsula on the coastal strip of Red Sea. I had not heard about this place earlier but once we landed there and checked in Sheraton Sharm, I was totally mesmerized with the beauty of the place. Our hotel was facing the Red Sea (which was totally blue ;P) and the beauty of it was beyond explanation. I was totally spell bound as i had never seen anything like this before.
We had our lunch in Sharm city and then spent some time in shopping till late evening before relaxing ourselves in the Hotel. It was a full moon night and the rising moon from the Red Sea was amazing and once it went up in the sky it had its glittering effect on the waters….totally speechless. Standing in the balcony, gazing at the clear sky and romancing with the moon, hearing the waves of water in the background and sipping on some hot tea…what more could you wish for !!!
The next day, after our breakfast we went out to do some in house activities. we had options of getting inside a submarine vessel in Red sea, quad biking and the boat ride. We opted for the first one. We enjoyed every glimpse of the incredible underwater world of the Red Sea. There were variety of fishes all around peeking at us with curiosity and trying to find about us 😀 . We soaked our eyes totally in the blue waters with sun rays peeping everywhere and this beautiful panoramic view continued for more than an hour. Once it was done, we headed out to the city again for our lunch and some more shopping. We checked out the hotel to board our flight back to Cairo.
The next day was our flight to Aswan post early breakfast. On arrival, we proceeded to visit the Aswan High Dam. This dam is 364 feet high and is a rock fill dam across the Nile River completed in 1970. The construction of this dam holds a very high importance for the Egyptian government as it had the ability to control flooding in a better way, provide increased water storage for irrigation purpose, in generating hydro-electricity and finally it had a significant effect on the economy of Egypt.
Later we visited a Nubian village to experience the simple life of the local people of Nubia. We visited the village through a Felucca ride. Now a Felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat, used on the Nile and more widely in the Mediterranean region. It’s rig consist of one or two lateen sails. This ride was fun as the young boys on the sides of the boat kept us entertained singing their local songs. Once we reached the village we went to a local house and did some shopping on hand made crafts. Here was another chapter of Khatron Ke Khiladi for my mother. She lifted a baby crocodile….i mean baby….yeah right it was a so called baby. She eventually kissed it also. I was like mom….how could you do it. Anyways that was not my cup of tea 🙂 . There after we visited the Philae temple on the Philae island. Philae is an island in the reservoir of the Aswan low dam. Philae temple was built in the honour of goddess Isis – the chief deity of the island. Next, we drove to the Nile river cruise port and checked into our ship (M/S Traviata Nile Cruise). It was time for some rest and enjoy the cruise for 3 more days with lots of Island hopping.
Few more pictures of the Cruise and the deck…
Nile River is the longest river in the world that runs over 6,650 kms (4130 miles) across 11 countries and is the primary water source of Egypt. Once we started sailing…it was all together another experience. We woke up the next day leisurely to have our breakfast on board and enjoyed breath taking views while sailing to Kom Ombo. We then visited the Kom Ombo Temple here. Kom Ombo temple is unique because it is in fact a double temple dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god and Horus, the falcon headed god. Much of the temple has been destroyed by the floods from the Nile, earthquakes, and later builders who used its stones for other projects. A few of the three hundred crocodile mummies discovered in the vicinity are displayed in The Crocodile Museum.
We then sailed to Edfu and stayed there overnight. The next day, we visited the temple of Edfu located on the west bank of Nile river. The city was known in Greco-Roman times as Apollonopolis Magna, after the chief god Horus-Apollo. To reach the temple we got into a Horse cart which are present in numbers as they take the tourists to the temple premises. Later we sailed to Luxor via Esna. we were supposed to reach Luxor around 3-3:30pm but to our surprise our Cruise got struck in the weeds of the river Nile at some point. And our tea time with some snacks on the deck of the cruise got extended really long. The captain of the Cruise had to call in some guys to perform the relief operations. We were there stranded for almost more than 4 hrs and had to postpone our visit to the Karnak temple and the Luxor temple to the next day. Finally at around 7.30 pm we started sailing again towards Luxor….and all thanks to the guys who got the cruise back to sail.
The next day we got up early to start our adventurous day, being on the Hot air balloon ride and checked out from the Cruise. We both were so excited to do this one. Luxor hot air balloon rides during the sunrise are one of the most beautiful rides in the world. It offers the views to the Karnak and Luxor temples, valley of the Kings and the valley of the Queens at the backdrop. To reach to the place where the hot air balloon is filled, we had to take a boat ride. We reached there, to just see the hot air balloon all ready to take us up in the air. We all got into the basket one by one for a 45-50 min ride. A single Hot air balloon can take around 20 people at a time. Once our pilot started heating the air in the balloon from the burner, we started to ascend and with in no time we just were in mid air. From an air balloon, we had this perfect view on strategically divided fields. We just never realized that how time went inside the balloon. We then safely landed at a different destination and got ourselves a certificate too. We also visited the Albaster Factory on our way back.
Then we visited the Valley of the Kings which is situated over 1000 ft of limestone and other sedimentary rock. Excavations of tombs took place here for nearly 500 years and you will find around 63 tombs and chambers here. Most of the tombs are not open for public. Later we visited the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. It is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el-Bahari on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings. It is considered one of the incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt. Later we had our lunch in an Indian Restaurant called Taste of India and headed towards the Karnak Temple.
Karnak Temple is one the most beautiful temples in Egypt and huge. It is supposedly the largest religious building to ever be constructed. The size of each pillar is so huge that it would require more than 10 ppl to circumference around it. The visit to the last destination in Luxor was the Luxor Temple. It was built 2000 years ago and is dedicated to trio of Amun, Mut and Khonsu. We checked in to Hotel Sonesta St. George in the evening after a long and tiring day.
The next day we checked out the hotel to board our flight back to Cairo, our destination for the next 3 days. After reaching Cairo, we headed for local sight seeing and guess what….no prizes though 😛 . Our first stop was the world famous, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. It is the oldest and largest of the three Pyramids in the Giza Pyramid complex. It is also known as Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops which is standing 146.7 meters (481 feet) high and the tallest man made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years. The Pyramid consists of three chambers. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The Queen’s Chamber and King’s Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure. The entry to the Pyramids is not recommended for people who are claustrophobic and who have breathing issues basically because there is no much ventilation inside. As soon as you enter the Pyramid there is a narrow path which takes you to a cave like entrance at an elevation. From here you need to bend yourself and walk for almost more than 50 ft or so which again takes you to the Grand gallery again at an elevation. The ascending path in the grand gallery is almost 28 feet high and 153.1 ft long and takes you to the King’s chamber. The whole journey is full of illusion as the structure is slant, the path is also slant in a way and you are straight but you get a feeling as though you are walking slant….absolutely one of it’s kind. Photography is not allowed in the Kings chamber where you can see the stone coffin of the King. The king’s mummy and the treasure has been preserved in the Egyptian museum. The paths to the King’s chamber is two way so basically you have to make way for people from both sides. Once you are on your way back and nearing the entrance, you can feel the air and natural light. The Great Pyramid were built as a tomb for King Khufu from more than 2.3 million blocks and each block weighed more than 2.5 tonnes……..amazing right. We came out of the Pyramids and visited the Sphinx of Giza or just the Sphinx. It is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. The face of the Sphinx is generally believed to represent the Pharaoh Khafre. Later by evening we checked in Holiday Inn Maadi Hotel.
The next visit was to the Egyptian Museum to see the mummies of the Royal family. This Museum has one of the world’s best collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts including 12 rooms filled with treasures from the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamen. We finished our day with some more shopping in the Khan el Khalili old bazaar which is a major souk in the historic center of Islamic Cairo. We also visited the Citadel. Our farewell Dinner was on the Cruise where we witnessed the Egyptian folk dance – Tanoura on some sufi music and some more belly dancing. This was our last night in Cairo and we enjoyed every bit of it. The next day we had our bags packed to fly back to Bengaluru after a wonderful and enchanting visit to Egypt.