An Authentic Egyptian Experience
Egypt offers a host of unforgettable experiences. Enjoy a magical stay on the west bank of Luxor, or make your home in a small Egyptian-owned hotel in the village of Habu. Sit in an outdoor cafe across the road from ancient temples, watching village life pass by.
You’ll feel as though you have been transported back to biblical times as you watch women in long black robes herding sheep with bundles of sticks piled high on their heads. Men on camels carrying freshly cut cane will join the scene, while children on donkeys carry the largest cabbages you have ever seen.
The west side of the Nile is where you will find the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. Temples and great statues litter the surrounding area.
After several years, Queen Nefertairi's tomb is open again. Seeing it for the first time is absolutely awe-inspiring. The colours are breathtaking, the finest details are intact, and nothing has been touched up.
Seti the First’s temple is also open once more after over 40 years. For an even better view of the ancient temples, you might opt for a hot air balloon flight at dawn. Feel the thrill of soaring over ancient temples and monuments and skimming over the tops of date palms as you land in the magical rose pink light of a desert dawn.
Sail the Nile on a Dahabiya
A Dahabiya is smaller than the usual cruisers that travel the Nile. It sports sails at each end, and the size depends on the number of cabins (which range from four to ten). The boats will take you where the large cruisers can’t go, allowing you to see so much more. What’s more, three meals are prepared for guests each day by an on-board chef.
Until the 1870s, the Dahabiya was the standard way for tourists to travel up and down the Nile. Originally built to carry celebrities and royal families, it functioned as a luxury pleasure boat.
Guests are picked up in Luxor and taken to Esna (50 km south), where the crew of the Dahabiya will help with the boarding process. The Nile adventure starts by sailing towards El Kab, the ancient city of Nekheb, where the remains of the temples and tombs can be seen. Later, the boat will set sail for a small nearby island where it will moor for the night, and those onboard can enjoy dinner on the sundeck or the banks of the river Nile.
The next day will see the adventure heading to Edfu, home of the beautifully preserved temple of Horus. This temple was buried under the desert sand for hundreds of years, and is amazingly well preserved. There is time to walk through the small riverside villages or relax in a deck chair with something cool to drink. Later, lunch is enjoyed on the sun deck as the Dahabiya sails towards Kom Ombo, where the double temple of Sobek and Haroeris can be seen before dinner is served around a campfire along the Nile.
The village of Daraw - once the last stop for camel traders from Sudan
after a forty-day journey through the Libyan desert - is the next destination. After a walk through the village and camel market, the boat sails further towards Koubania, a Nubian village near Aswan that boasts lovely gardens filled with citrus and mango trees. The colourful murals on the walls and authentic food and music are enchanting. A motor launch to a small nearby island surrounded by a lake created by the British high dam will treat visitors to the spectacular sight of the Temple of Isis complete with intricate hieroglyphs.
The Aswan street bazaar is filled with brightly coloured scarves blowing in the breeze, piles of spices, the aroma of incense and cooking food, and turbaned men smoking shishas and drinking strong black tea.
A bus drive from Aswan will transport adventurers to Abu Simbel and the majestic temple that Ramses II built for his beloved wife Nefertari on the shore of Lake Nasser. Board feluccas - ancient sail boats still used in Egypt for sailing the Nile – from here, enjoying the islands, bird life and the wind that makes the area famous for sailing.
See Cairo, the Sphinx and the Pyramids
With its population of 20 million and myriad cultural wonders including the oldest pyramid (the Step Pyramid at Saqqara), Cairo provides a stark contrast to the country life of Aswan and surrounds.
People never seem to forget the first time they set eyes on the pyramids at Giza off in the distance, and then start seeing the fabled Sphinx coming into view as they draw closer. Entering one of the pyramids by day and then attending a Sound and Light show by night is a great way of enhancing this multi-sensory impression.
Originally a royal lodge for the Khedive Ismail, Mena House is one of the most unique hotels in Cairo. It’s located in the shadows of the Great Pyramids of Giza, and has a rich history that’s reflected in its luxurious interiors with their exquisite antiques, handcrafted furniture and original works of art. It’s little surprise that Mena House has played host to kings, emperors and celebrities over the years.
However you plan to explore Egypt, you’re gauranteed to take home experiences and memories never to be forgotten.
Enjoy a guided Authentic Egyptian Experience with seasoned sacred travel facilitator Joanna Castle.