Our very own Rachna Pandit recently returned from Egypt after travelling on our 14 day King Ramses tour. Here she tells us all about her experiences in this fascinating country and why every traveller should add it to their travel agenda this year.
Oh what a country and what an extraordinary experience! I have returned to Australia but I have left my heart in Egypt. Yes, I am besotted with Egypt! When I close my eyes and think of Egypt what comes to mind is a myriad of cars battling and honking their way through the manic streets, the reverberating sound of the daily azan, harlequin of galabeya’s and hijabs, the psychedelic souks brimming with trinkets, the intriguing flavours, aroma and gurgling of the shisha, ambrosial hibiscus tea, the world’s best and most flavourful baba ganoush, the consequential and infinite Nile River, the mind-boggling abundance of history and finally and most importantly the charming and hospitable people. Oh, I never want to open my eyes, take me back to Egypt.
When someone says Egypt commonly the first image that one thinks of are the famous Pyramids of Giza, the only remaining ancient wonder of the world. The sheer magnitude and history of these pyramids is awe-inspiring. A surreal experience! All you can do is take a step back and try to fathom what has baffled experts for thousands of years, “are these real? How were they constructed?”. The Pyramids of Giza were only the first stop on our On The Go, 14 day King Ramses tour. In the next few days, we visited various other sites. Some of my favorites were the majestic Philae Temple dedicated to Goddess Isis in Aswan, Abu Simbel located on the western bank of Lake Nasser where you witness the four towering statues of King Ramses II, the temple of Luxor by night, The Valley of the Kings where you can opt to visit the legendary King Tutankhamen’s tomb and the Queen Hatshepsut’s temple. While on tour we were accompanied by a local Egyptologist tour guide named Alam. He had an unfeigned passion for his country and a wealth of knowledge, which he imparted on us, giving us a better understanding of the history and significance of the numerous sites we visited – thank you.
Another marvelous experience while in Egypt was sailing the Nile and spending two nights on the humble felucca. Feluccas are traditional sailboats that have voyaged the waters of the Nile since the time of the Pharaohs. These two days on the water were complete bliss! Leaving all your worries behind, soaking in the sun, contemplating life while you watch the Nubian villages go by, swimming in the cool waters of the Nile, star gazing in the evenings and falling asleep to the lull of the Nile was truly a magical experince. Our felucca experience was made even more enjoyable and memorable due to the down-to-earth, ever smiling and fun loving Nubain crew lead by the jovial Shalufa– thank you.
Since the revolution in 2011 Egypt has had a drastic drop in tourism, which has affected their economy. It was disheartening to see that the various historical sites and hotels that were once would have been teeming with tourist’s pre 2011 are now somewhat empty, affecting the livelihoods of locals who work in the tourism sector. Tourists are hesitant to travel to Egypt due to what has been depicted and exaggerated by the media. At no point while in Egypt did I feel unsafe, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and since my return I have encouraged friends and family to visit Egypt as well. Hopefully with the soon to come presidential election the country will gain some stability that will once again boost the local tourism industry.
Egypt is a beautiful country with a rich history and two weeks is merely not enough to appreciate everything it has to offer, however it is sufficient time to tantalize ones interest and lure you into coming back. I for one have been caught in this magnetic countries snare and will return time and time again.