Exodus to Egypt
Caught up in the rat race? Too little time to do the things you like... Stop making excuses! Like many other working parents, my routine involves getting up early, the dreadful school run, rushing to work, desperately meeting deadlines, frantic food shops and the never-ending house chores... Does this sound all too familiar?
I thought there must be more to life then this, so I decided to do something about it. A few clicks later, I knew I was on my way to the land of Pharaohs. My first such adventure and I was travelling all by myself...
As soon as we touched down, I met with my new family for the week - 13 other travellers plus our guides. Suddenly it all began to sink in; I was really here, I'd escaped the norm.
The first day was spent experiencing sights and sounds of Cairo, from the vibrant bazaar to the majestic citadel. Our daring driver navigated us safely and swiftly through the chaotic traffic to the tranquil home of some of Egypt's greatest treasures: the Egyptian museum near Tahrir Square. Known for its vast collection of ancient Egyptian and Nubian artefacts, including the iconic mask of Tutankhamun's mummy, the museum was a welcome respite from the hectic modern streets. Before now tourists would have to crush themselves into the building for a claustrophobic glimpse of these relics; today, we strolled in with ease. Egypt is quiet now, in two senses: there is no sign of trouble or unrest from the revolution, but the monuments are quiet too, without the clamour of the crowds. In a country as fascinating, a pocket of calm like this is unlikely to last long.
Journey to Aswan - A night to remember...
From the hustle and bustle of Cairo we boarded our overnight sleeper train to Aswan. The picturesque town of Aswan felt a whole world away rather than just one night. We strolled along the sleepy streets, meandered through a rainbow of market stalls and simply took the time to drink in the atmosphere of Egyptian life.
After our excursion to Philae Island, where we visited first of many awe-inpiring temples. Next morning we sailed through the rich and tranquil waters of Nile on a traditional felucca vessel towards Luxor. Our guide, Mustafa, was an expert Egyptologist and his vast knowledge certainly made the experience for me. When we returned our captain and crew serendaded with their Egyptian and English tunes, over a sizzling bonfire by the bank of the Nile. Watching the sun rise from the prow of our boat, the reflection shimmering in the waters of the Nile, was probably the highlight of the trip for me.
I jumped at the opportunity to fit in as many optional excursions to make the most of my time away, such as a visit to the humbling Abu Simble - an ancient Egypt marvel well worth the effort, despite a 3am start, the breath-taking Hatshepsuts temple and the mystical Valley of the Kings.
Back to Cairo
Exodus kept the best to the last. The anticipation of seeing the pyramids at the end of the trip was palpable amongst the group - we were all itching to see these legendary tombs. They did not disappoint. I was blown away by the sheer size and scale of the whole endeavour... I even went back to the pyramids that evening for the optional lightshow.
- Do not believe the hype; despite the "Arab Spring" coverage in the media, Egypt is a safe place to visit.
- Excuses don't make great experiences! It's never too late to book a much-needed break. I booked online just a few days before departure and I'm so glad I did.
- And most importantly, I learnt how to walk like an Egyptian!
By Exodus client Mounira Benadjel who travelled on our Highlights of Egypt trip in December 2011.