Put Cairo, Egypt on Your Bucket List

Put Cairo, Egypt on Your Bucket List

Who doesn’t have visiting the Pyramids and Cairo, Egypt on their bucket list? Normally, my wife and I travel and explore on our own. In this case, we chose a packaged tour with a company called Ramasside. It of course included visits to various sites in Cairo, the Giza Plateau, the Pyramids, and a cruise on the River Nile. All transportation, hotels, a personal guide, and even meals aboard the boat were included. The company offered everything from one to 30 day tours.  

Flying into Cairo, Egypt, our guide met us at the airport. He helped check us into the five-star hotel in Giza, where we had our especially incredible first view of the Great Pyramids. The site appeared to be a desert mirage, right on the edge of the city. We did a food tour first thing, so we could sample and learn about the food we’d be eating during our visit. That afternoon we visited the famous Muhammad Ali Mosque, which overlooks and offers a magnificent view of the sprawling city with its 20 million inhabitants.

Mohammed Ali Mosque Cairo, Egypt

Day Two of Cairo, Egypt

Day two found us exploring the Giza Plateau, where the Sphynx and three gargantuan Pyramids have been standing guard over Cairo, Egypt for over 4,000 years. Our transportation included a camel ride into the desert on the Giza Plateau. We had plenty of opportunities for great photographic memories. 

Sphinx

Being on the plateau was spine-tingling, but standing next to the biggest Pyramid, Khufu, with stones the size of small cars, was jaw-droppingly amazing. Having a personal guide to keep peddlers at bay and explain the history of what we were looking at made for an exceptional educational experience.   

I know safety is without a doubt a big concern to anyone considering Egypt. Our hotel, many of the ruin sites, and even museums, had armed guards and metal detectors at the front doors. With a private car and guide at our side the whole trip, we never felt unsafe.  

A Cruise Up the River Nile

From Cairo, we took an overnight train to Aswan. They shuttled us to our cruise ship on the River Nile. These boats are not like the giants that tour the Caribbean. All the cruise ships were the same size — three levels and a sundeck, with private rooms that hold around 120 passengers. You can eat all meals on board, unless you choose to eat elsewhere in one of the ports of call. From Aswan, we boarded a small, private boat that took us to Philae Temple Complex on Agilkia Island.

River Nile Cairo, Egypt

Our first viewing of an Egyptian temple and its ruins seemed incredibly cool. Our guide delivered us there before any other tourists, and we had the whole island practically to ourselves. The guide explained the cartouche hieroglyphics to us. The hieroglyphics seem to be ancient storyboards that describe special events. We ended our evening at the temple site with an especially fantastic light-and-sound show that gave us an insight as to how the ancient Egyptians lived.

Egyptian Tomb Valley of Kings

The scenery along the Nile River was interesting. While it was a luscious green along both banks, the desert sat firmly beyond that. We passed sailboats and fishing boats that ventured out from small villages. Transferring to a small private boat from the cruise ship once more, we explored smaller waterways that flowed into the Nile and visited the village of Nubia. The market was a kaleidoscope of color, offering everything from exotic spices to hand-woven crafts. Moreover, the incredibly friendly people even invited us to enter someone’s private home, where they served us tea and water.  

Nubia

Exploring the Many Egyptian Ruins

MemphisBack on our ship, we sailed north along the Nile, visiting other temples and ruin sites, like Kom Umbu, Edfu, Esna, and Luxor, where we took in another light show. All temples and ruin sites are unique in their own way. Many different monarchies constructed the temples and ruin sites trying to explicitly outdo their predecessors.  Carved from quarries miles away, the workers floated the giant stone structures down the river on barges or rafts to their locations.  

From Luxor, we took in the Habu and Karnak Temples. We also looked at the ruins in Memphis, the old capital of Egypt. We toured the Valley of the Kings, where undeniably elaborate and ornate passageways and tombs were carved into the solid rock mountain. The burial chambers found themselves as the final resting places of many Kings, Queens, and other monarchies. Executioners killed the builders who created the tunnels and caverns to undoubtedly conceal and keep their secrets. 

Return to Cairo

Back in Cairo, our guide took us into the old city. We saw the church where Mary and Jesus hid to avoid being slaughtered by the Romans. Many places share scars from centuries of conflict between Muslims and Christians. We obviously visited the oldest market in Cairo, which looks like the setting for an Indiana Jones film. Sitting on a patio at a coffee house, Cathryn got a henna tattoo while I had my shoes cleaned and polished. Locals sipped tea or coffee and smoked hookahs.

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo was certainly the perfect place to cap our visit. There are four and five thousand-year-old artifacts, like the mask from King Tut’s tomb and a copy of the Rosetta Stone. I found it completely ridiculous that England stole and has kept the original Rosetta Stone ever since its discovery. You could certainly spend a week in the museum trying to see all the statuary, mummies, sarcophagi, and other Egyptian relics. It’s the best museum I’ve ever been in, bar none.   

Egyptian Museum

Traveling to Cairo, Egypt

If you’re thinking about traveling to Cairo, Egypt, please don’t be afraid to visit. Ramasside, our tour operator, was everything they promised and more. We’d highly recommend using their service. We had one guide in the city and another on the river. They were both super knowledgeable, courteous, and flexible to our needs. Our 12-day tour was around a thousand bucks each, not including our direct flight from Toronto to Cairo. With the level of service from Ramasside and everything that was included in their tour, we thought it was a steal.  

Hatshepsut Cairo, Egypt

Hatshepsut Temple

 

42 thoughts on “Put Cairo, Egypt on Your Bucket List

  1. I love the photos in this post. To be honest, Cairo was not a place I had on my bucket list until reading about your travels. The people of Nubia sound very welcoming and it’s so interesting that they would invite strangers into their home. The Hatshepsut Temple looks incredible. Do you know what the reason is for the heightened security presence?

    1. Thanks, Valerie, I try to take unique photos and offer a different perspective than the overly-abused selfies in front of famous landmarks. The people in small villages are poor and welcome visitors not only to teach their culture, but to draw tourism dollars. The temples were all amazing and I would suggest researching them if you go, but the guide was super knowledgeable in explaining them. They take security seriously there, in part because or terrorism and their proximity to other countries that harbor them. I think of it as a preventive measure as opposed to the reactive policing we have here…offering only thoughts and prayers after mass shootings. It may look intimidating seeing guards with automatic weapons standing outside your hotel, but it made me feel a lot safer. Security around the pyramids and temples helps keep the idiots at bay…those idiots who think nothing of carving their initials or tagging ancient artifacts.

  2. Me me me! I love to visit Egypt, and it is one of my dream destinations! 🙂 I can’t wait to travel again…

  3. What an incredible place to visit! I would love to see Cairo some day and explore the pyramids and other historical places.

  4. So much beauty and history to experience in Cairo. Egypt has been in my travel bucket list for the longest time. I hope I get a chance to travel there sometime.

  5. Egypt, my neighbours are from that place. They talked about so many beautiful things about their hometown. I love to visit there, but not sure if I can travel that long.

  6. This is the #1 item on my bucket list! I’ve always wanted to travel here, but was just too afraid due to safety concerns and violence. Hopefully I will be able to visit one day.

    1. I’m not sure what country you’re from, Ebony, but with the security measures I saw in place I felt more secure there than in many cities I’ve visited in the U.S. I hope you get there too.

  7. Egypt is towards the top of my must visit list! thanks for sharing your stories and great photos. that’s so cool someone invited you into their home for tea. That must have been quite a great experience.

    1. Thanks, it was a great experience, and just because they are a different culture with different beliefs, it doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly.

  8. Egypt is always fascinating for me. It’s not only just pyramids but also the mosques and churches. I am planning to visit the Middle East in 2021.

    1. Good for you, Rukshar, I didn’t mention much about the churches and mosques but we saw some truly amazing ones.

  9. My partner and I had the pleasure of touring Egypt last year and loved every bit of it, including the Nile, Luxor, Aswan, Philae, Kom Ombo, the train from Cairo to Aswan and of course the Giza Plateau, Valley of the Kings etc. Afterwards we also enjoyed spending some time at a resort in the Red Sea Riviera, which I really recommend to anyone visiting Egypt. The Egyptian Museum is certainly impressive (and the new one being completed at the Giza Plateau likewise promises to be fabulous). Also the trip we took north to Alexandria to see the sights up there on the Mediterranean was extremely worthwhile. Egypt just has so much going for it, most of it of course being outside Cairo. Great post and fab photos!

    1. Sounds like you did it all, Nicole, good for you. We wanted to do Alexandria, but opted for further adventures in S. Africa and Zanzibar to round out our trip. Your tour sounds identical to ours up to the Valley of Kings.

  10. I would love to visit Egypt one day. I’m in awe that the ancient Egyptians were able to buy such massive structures without modern equipment. I will definitely keep your tour company in mind.

  11. I hope you get there, Tracy, for a laugh I suggested the Egyptians had help from Aliens, when they built the pyramids. It is mind boggling for sure.

  12. Egypt was one of the beautiful place to visit with my family I always wanted to go there since I was a teenager

  13. You’re right, this is one of those locations that I think makes nearly every bucket list out there. I’m not usually one to book travel packages either, but I think it would be a smart choice in a location like this. They are able to make sure that you don’t miss any of the major ‘must-see’ attractions.

    1. Sounds like we’re on the same page, Britt. Ramasside was a great company to deal with and tailor-made parts of the trip to suit our needs. Any yes, we saw many things that we would have missed on our own. It was also cool to be chauffeured around like royalty.

  14. This looks like a wonderful and exotic place to visit. Living in rainy England, I long for a summer holiday in a warm climate, but unfortunately it might have to wait until next year. It’s wonderful how welcoming the locals were towards you. I had a similar experience in Brazil, where my family and I were invited to dine at a tiny 2-table ‘inn’ inside someone’s house, surrounded by locals.

    1. Yes, Kathrin, it was a pleasant surprise to be invited in by the locals. Part of our reason for travelling is to experience other cultures and see how they live.

  15. A dream of mine has always been to go to Egypt. I have been fascinated with this country since I was little and started studying about it in school especially King Tut. I got the chance to see the exhibit of King Tut when I was young and I believe that is what hooked me in to this wonderful place. I woudl have to see Egypt with some sort of tour guide as it already appears overwhelming to try to see everything.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I hope you get to fulfil your dream, the Egyptian Museum and King Tut artifacts will blow you away. Just standing beside his solid gold funeral mask gave me goosebumps. And having our own tour guide in the museum and for the trip paid off big time.

  16. Hello Ed,

    I wonder why you’ve decided to take this packaged tour instead of traveling on your own as you always do. My family and I always travel on our own… The package you purchased sounded very expensive with a 5-start hotel, a personal guide and everything included. I was going to ask whether you won a lottery. LOL. But at the end of your informative travel report with the beautiful photos, you said that the cost of your package was about a thousand per person for 12 days. If that’s so, it isn’t too bad.

    Thank you for sharing the fabulous story of your Egyptian vacation! I loved your use of epithets: the “spine-tingling” and “jaw-dropping” sound very appropriate for the places you described. 🙂

    ~ Julia

  17. Thanks for your feedback, Julia. My wife and I are normally budget travellers so I was surprised but leary about all that was included on our trip. I relied on Trip Advisor reviews that were all good and the tour was even better than that, surprising us with the private guide and nice hotel…things we didn’t expect. We figured a guided tour was the best way to go with the language barrier, and different types of transportation and guides we’d have to book on our own.
    I’m glad you enjoyed the story.

  18. I can’t say that Egypt is at the top of my travel bucket list, but I’m certainly intrigued after reading this post, and several others about it. I would definitely need a tour guide as well, and that price sounds too good to be true. I’d agree with you that it was a steal!

  19. This is number one bucket list place to still travel, yet I’m fearful still. One day when I feel it’s safe, I’m going! These photos make me want to throw caution to the wind and just do it!

    1. Do it, Debra, don’t be afraid. I did a lot of research before going and you are safer there than in many places in the U.S. Our tour guide was with us everywhere we went and we never felt unsafe. I’m not sure what your fears are but if it’s a terrorist attack, you have a better chance at winning the lottery. No mass shootings, no muggings, just a great experience. There are lots of tour companies there but we’d highly recommend Ramasside.

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