Egypt wasn’t a destination that I had really heard much about. Other than the fact that it housed the pyramids, an ancient wonder of the world, I didn’t know what to expect when we pressed ‘go’ on booking our return flights to Cairo. We had a voucher, Egypt was one of the options and it was a good time of year to visit so we went for it and wow, I’m so glad we did! Below I’m going to share the holiday highlights (which it’s hard to narrow down!) and some tips for planning your trip.
Cairo & Giza
Landing the night before, we had one full day in Cairo. For this we’d organised a tour of the key sites, with the highlight, of course, being the Pyramids of Giza and the great Sphinx (same location).
The pyramids really were amazing and I feel the need to emphasise this because before we went I’d heard a lot of people saying that they were good but they were right next to the busy city. Now don’t get me wrong, they are close, but for me it didn’t take away from the magnificence of seeing these huge architectural marvels. They weren’t as close to the hustle and bustle as I’d imagined and they really are amazing to see. I would recommend this to anyone traveling to Egypt.
After the pyramids and Sphinx we went to the civilisation museum, which was fascinating. The main attraction here is a hall containing 20 royal mummies (18 kings and 2 queens), unfortunately we couldn’t take any pictures here so you’ll just have to take my word for it that this was incredible. The exhibition provides great insights into the history and is definitely worth a visit.
We wrapped up our day with a trip to the Cairo Citadel, a hilltop fortress with panoramic views and a beautiful mosque - well worth the stop.
And finally we dipped into the Khan al-Khalili old market, honestly this is the only bit of the day that I wouldn’t recommend, it’s really busy and you have to be hyper aware of pickpocketing. I normally like markets, but this is one I would skip.
We then took a short flight to Luxor where we were transported away from the busy streets of Cairo to a much calmer environment.
We stayed at the Pavillion Winter, which was a beautiful sanctuary just off the Nile. As you step into the hotel’s grounds everything becomes more peaceful. It was filled with lush nature, really welcoming staff and a lovely pool to park ourselves next to.
When we weren’t chilling by the pool we were out experiencing what felt like not only holiday highlights but holiday of a lifetime highlights…
Hot air balloon over the Nile and Desert
Our second day was our main adventure day in Luxor and we kicked it off bright and early with a hot air balloon ride. This was amazing, the views were incredible, you could see temples, desert, mountains, the nile and lush farmland all in one go.
The only thing I would say about the hot air balloon rides is that if you really want to do a sunrise one you will need to be careful when booking. We thought we had booked sunrise but the sun had definitely risen by the time we were taking off! It didn’t take away from the experience though and I would really recommend this.
From our hot air balloon we got picked up and taken on a private day tour (with aircon - phew!) around the beautiful temples and tombs of Luxor.
3 highlights to pull out were Queen Hatshepsut’s temple, the valley of the Kings (tombs of royalty) and Karnak temple. These were all incredible, the amount of work and detail that went into everything is beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. Combine this then with the scale, as everything is just huge, I don’t think I’ve ever been so in awe before.
We wrapped up the evening exploring Luxor temple, which was all lit up as it was going dark and this was a really beautiful way to experience a temple differently.
Nile boat trip
Our final activity in Luxor was a Felucca trip up the Nile. The boat trip itself was really beautiful, it was just the two of us and our tour guides and this in itself is something that I would recommend. However, I would ensure you opt for just a boat trip rather than any ‘island visits’.
We were taken to ‘Banana Island’ where we witnessed animal cruelty going on, not something we wanted to support in any way. These details are obviously not included when they advertise the trips, so be careful when selecting your activity.
Sharm El Sheikh
Our holiday ended in Sharm El Sheikh, where we got to snorkel, dive, see dolphins, go quad biking and do a day boat trip. All of this alongside a few days of chilling on the beach, we couldn’t have planned a better end to an action packed holiday.
This was my first time properly snorkelling and diving and Egypt is amazing for this. There was so much sea life so close to the top of the water and we saw eels, stingrays and found Nemo!
The diving instructors were really supportive and helpful, we started off having half the session in the pool to get used to everything before moving into the sea and as a beginner they were really good at making you feel comfortable.
Once again, our hotel here needs a shout out. We stayed at The Royal Savoy where the staff were so incredibly friendly and helpful, food and drinks were everywhere all the time! And it had its own private beach where you could snorkel which was a real treat.
All in all Egypt was a great trip, we practically had a holiday highlight every day and so many new and amazing experiences.
The one watch out would be to just be conscious when you’re booking tours to make sure you’re going with a reputable local company and getting what you’re expecting. Egypt is a place where everyone is trying to get your business so you just need to be prepared for this.
We documented our trip with a GoPro and have so much cool footage that we can now look back on. This is a trip I would massively recommend getting a GoPro for - from hot air balloon rides, temples and underwater filming, a camera that can survive your adventures with you is 100% necessary!