Pyramids, Mummies and Cruising the Nile River

Happy Weekend! It is absolutely gorgeous here, the kind of day that pulls you outdoors. I’ll be heading outside for a hike this afternoon with my son, dil and grandsons. They have so many natural areas and parks here to enjoy, all perfect for hiking. I hope you are enjoying beautiful weather, be it spring or fall depending on where you live.

Back in 2015 when I thought I was a year away from turning 60 (I was wrong…can’t keep up with my own age!) having never traveled anywhere outside the United States, I booked several international trips trying to make up for lost time and my lack of travel.

That year I traveled to Kenya…

 

Italy…

Positano, Italy Overlooking Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta Church and the Amalfi Coast

 

…and Cozumel.

 

Bitten by the travel bug I’ve continued to roam, visiting Holland and Belgium…

 

Morocco…

Camel Ride in Sahara Desert

 

Ireland…

 

…and Germany. I almost made it to France but got sidetracked with a severe case of the flu. One day I’ll get there. One day.

Christmas Markets, Cologne Germany, December 2017 06

 

That “oh-my-gosh-I’m getting older-and-haven’t-traveled-anywhere” panicky feeling has mostly subsided, but the desire to travel has not. If you love traveling to far away places and learning/experiencing new things, you know what I mean. Once wanderlust sets in, the only cure seems to be scheduling that next trip.

Teresa, a lovely BNOTP reader who has since become a great friend, joined me on the trip to Holland and Belgium. She joined me again the following year on a trip to Ireland. During that trip we talked about future adventures and we both expressed an interest in visiting Egypt.

A Hike Around Ballynahinch

 

I’m not sure why but I’ve always been obsessed with Egypt. Two favorite books that I’ve downloaded from Audible and have listened to several times over the last few years are:  1. The History of Ancient Egypt AND 2. Archaeology: An Introduction to the World’s Greatest Sites, which has several chapters on Egypt.

When I started traveling, one of the first things I did was Google for trips to Egypt. I could find none. Puzzled, I started asking why and learned all the travel companies had removed Egypt from their schedule due to problems occurring in the country at that time. Every so often I’ve continued to Google for tours hoping Egypt would open back up again.

A while back I noticed Overseas Adventure Travel had once again added Egypt to their travel options. I’ve traveled with OAT twice and enjoyed both trips. Unfortunately, all their Egypt tours booked up immediately. They are currently booked two years out. A lot of other travel companies have tours available to Egypt now, but the prices are pretty steep. I was thrilled when Teresa called suggesting a trip to Egypt this year with the aid of a company with great reviews and reasonable prices.

Now is an excellent time to go and very affordable since the dollar is strong. Working with a guide at Egypt Tours Portal, Teresa put together a wonderful 15-day itinerary that will take us to Cairo, Hurghada, Luxor, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Alexandria, then back to Cairo. We’ll see the Giza Pyramid Complex which includes the 3 main pyramids, 6 smaller pyramids, the great Sphinx, the Valley Temple and the Karnak Temples. Some of the tours will be by night including a Karnak temple and the Temple of Luxor. Sounds exciting!

Giza Plateau, Great Sphinx, Pyramid of Khafre

Photo: Wikipedia

 

This trip will also include tours of Hatshepsut Temple, Colossi of Memnon, Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo Temple and several temples in Abu Simbel. We’ll visit the High Dam, Philae Temple, Ben Ezra Synagogue, Egyptian Museum, Khan El Khalili Bazaar, the Catacombs, Pompey’s Pillar, Citadel of Quitbey and the Alexandria Library. I’m sure I’ve left something off.

Photo Encyclopedia Britannica

 

One of the places we’ll be staying is the Marriott Mena House in Cairo. It boasts amazing views of the pyramids!

Photo: Marriott Mena House

 

I think that will definitely be a surreal experience, sipping a glass of wine from the balcony of my room while gazing out at the pyramids of Egypt.

Have you traveled to Egypt before? Any recommendations for places to stay or must-see places to experience? Would love to hear about your travel experiences to Egypt, or elsewhere!

Marriott Mena House, Cairo

Photo: Marriott Mena House

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Comments

  1. Cynthia Garrett says:

    I guessed correctly! Sounds like a fabulous itinerary, Susan. You will be there ahead of us since our trip will be in March 2019, so I’m super excited to hear about your trip and all of your tips!

  2. Book a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the valley of the kings in Luxor. I traveled to Egypt last October and the hot air balloon ride and seeing Abu Simbel were my favorites.

    • Teresa scheduled one of those for us. I declined taking one when I visited Kenya, but I’m going to go for it this time. Hopefully, they know what they are doing. I bet it’s an amazing experience. Do you feel out of control in a balloon ride? Thanks, Mary!

  3. Renee Fleury says:

    I’m really looking forward to your Egyptian posts. I’m reserved on the OAT trip for 2020 (to get the single supplement). Actually going to Morocco this fall so liked your pics. I’ve been following you since we met in Italy and enjoy your posts! Renee

    • Thanks so much, Renee! I would love to hear all about the OAT trip after you return. I bet it will be great…I really enjoyed the trip I took with OAT to Morocco!
      When I talked to OAT a few days ago, they still had one single space left for 2020. I bet it’s gone by now. I asked why there were so few single spaces on each trip. The OAT rep said they only had two single spaces on each trip because the yachts for the Nile cruise portion of the trip are small, so they really couldn’t do more than 2 per boat. He also said they added a second boat, apparently, there was just one going at first. Sounds like they need to add a third or a fourth with the number of folks wanting to go now.

  4. I’ve always been fascinated/obsessed with Egypt too Susan! Your trip sounds amazing and one I’d love to take one day. I will look forward to following along on this amazing trip you’ll be on and hopefully I can make it there myself one of these days.

    • Thanks, Judy! Judy, not sure if you’re a member of Audible, but if you are, I think you would enjoy the books: The History of Ancient Egypt and the book Archaeology: An Introduction to the World’s Greatest Sites. I’ve listened to both a couple of times and they are great. Both are part of Audible’s “The Great Courses” series so are quite long. One if around 25 hours long and the other one is around 12 hours long, so you definitely get your credit’s worth since each is only one Audible credit to acquire.
      I’ll definitely blog about this trip and share if I think it’s a good one to take via Egypt Tours Portal. There are several “free” days so I probably wouldn’t take this tour if I were traveling alone, like I would with OAT and GCT tours.

  5. Bernie says:

    I got the “we’re not getting any younger” travel bug too (64 next month). We booked a bike trip from Prague to Vienna at the end of June with friends. I need to up the training a little. 7 days 200 miles. Guided, support van, e-bikes available, meals and 4 star hotels. (Oh yeah, and brewery and winery tours).We’ve added 3 days to the front end of the trip (Prague) and 4 days on the tail end (Vienna). Wish me luck and Happy Trails to you!

  6. Susan, I haven’t been to Egypt. But, I can’t wait to get your review when you make the trip. It sounds fascinating. My hubby and I are discussing this afternoon where we want to go, we have been fortunate to travel extensively but there is still so much to see.

    • I know what you mean–each time I scratch another country off my Bucket List map, it’s like a drop in the ocean! lol I need to go to a really big country sometime so my map doesn’t look so unfulfilled! lol

  7. Susan, You will not be disappointed. Do not miss the lightshow at Karnak. You are going to all the fabulous places and I’m glad that you’re staying at the Mena House.
    Take a dip in the pool, early in the morning, dive under the water and when you come up again the largest pyramid will be right in front of your eyes.

  8. Mary from Virginia says:

    Wow!! That sounds exciting! I’m so glad you have a great friend to travel with! You girls be careful and share lots of pictures. Pack your vitamins!

  9. Pamela says:

    So excited for you. We did a similar itinerary in April 2016 and was my favorite trip of all time. The Mena House is iconic, you won’t be able to sleep. Be sure to watch Death on the Nile before you go. I’d suggest to bring several boxes of Propel to add to your bottled water (Amazon sells in bulk pkgs of 10 boxes of 10).

    • Oh, I can’t wait! I think I listened to the Audible book long ago, now I need to see the movie. Good idea! It looks like the temps won’t be too bad in October, more like Georgia temps.

  10. Michelle says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for years, and I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment – but EGYPT! What an incredible adventure! I’m so excited for you!

    Do yourself a favor and listen to the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters on Audible. They’re fun, campy books and all set in Egypt in the early 1900’s. Obviously Amelia and Radcliffe are fictional, but the settings, some of the names mentioned, and the Egyptological fieldwork are all real. It’s a fun way to introduce yourself to some Egyptian archaeological history.

    Can’t wait to read all about your trip!!

    • Thanks, Michelle, and thanks so much for being a reader all these years!
      I will definitely check those books out. I’ll have plenty of time to listen since the trip isn’t until October. The Great Course series on Egypt at Audible is also fascinating!

  11. Each trip more amazing than the last! So glad you have a blog so we can follow along–I have so much fun watching vidoes and see photos.

  12. Ann E Seigman says:

    Susan, I am so happy for you that you are travelling and filling out that world map! We have a little getaway planned for the Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island for our anniversary in October. We just can’t decide where to go on our next big trip. We love Europe and other countries that we have visited so much that they always keep calling us back. I think it may be Israel next year, to walk where Jesus walked. My dad always said, “Go while you can, the day will come when you won’t be able to go anymore, but you will have the memories”! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to go whenever and wherever you wanted?!

    • Thanks, Ann…it has a long way to go! I should have started traveling when I was 18. lol
      Mackinac Island sounds wonderful! I think OAT has a trip to Israel, you may want to take a look at it. I love their small group size.
      Yes, it definitely would! On the trip to Ireland, I met a man who has spent all his spare time traveling and travels even more now that he has retired. He has literally been everywhere and most places multiple times. It was amazing listening to all the places he had seen…lots of interesting stories to tell!

  13. Julianne Lovelace says:

    Susan:
    Lynn and I traveled to Egypt years ago before the travel ban. It was the most amazing trip we’ve ever taken.
    Julianne

  14. franki says:

    WOW!! That one took me by surprise!! YOU GO GIRL!! franki

  15. Wow!! Sounds exciting! I hope it is not too hot. I will so look forward to all your tales and photos.

    • It looks like the temps will be really nice by October. I’ll slather on the sunscreen and wear a hat to be safe, though. Thanks, Rose!

  16. Merrelyn Adams says:

    Have you been to Petra? It is amazing.

  17. Lydia Stoufflet says:

    My family and I traveled Egypt several years ago and stayed at the Mena House. The evening we arrived, we looked out the dining room window and saw the pyramids all lighted. It took my breath away! The light show at The Temple of Karnak is out of a movie set—just amazing. You are in for the trip of a lifetime, and I am so excited for you!

  18. Sounds wonderful Susan!! I just got back from a week in Lexington Kentucky and it was fabulous! The horses with their fouls ripped my heart in two . I’ve been to Europe several times and adored the experience but nothing was as beautiful as this . The horse farms and people were devine . They were heartfelt and real . We travelled across the entire state of Ohio and I thought of you . We chose to drive so we could see the beautiful countryside. We have two more trips scheduled for this year . We plan to drive to these destinations as well , There is so much to see here . Have a safe trip .

    Arleen

    • Ohh, that sounds soo sweet! My front porch was designed after the porch on the house at Gainesway Farm, a horse farm in Kentucky. I pass through Kentucky on my way to Ohio, but never stop. Would love to see more of that state one day.

    • Dionne says:

      Arleen, thank you so much for your comment! I am a Kentucky girl, born and bred, University of KY grad, and lived in and near Lexington for over 20 years. We think Kentucky is wonderful, and it is so good to hear you had a great time here! I think our great state gets a bad rap sometimes, so thanks for your kind comments!
      Susan, love your blog! I never comment, but BNOTP is my fave!

  19. Patricia says:

    What an amazing itinerary! I love travelling and exploring new cultures and customs. Egypt is on my bucket list. But this year is Ireland, Scotland and the British countryside, and next year will be VietNam and Southeast Asia. So many fabulous places. Enjoy every minute!

    • Ireland is beautiful, Patricia…you will love it! Would love to see Scotland, too! You have some amazing trips planned!

  20. Okay now, I am really jealous!!! But so excited for you!!! I’ve been obsessed with Egypt since 6th grade when we were introduced to Ancient History. What a dream……..I’ve read everything I can get my hands on and have seen all the videos and TV programs on that fascinating country.

    So glad you are going with a friend, stay together and be careful……sunscreen and hats……

    And 6th grade was just a couple of years ago…….LOL

    • Thanks, Cleo! We will, we’ll have a guide with us on almost all the trip, so we should be in good shape. Egypt is so fascinating, I so agree! I’m going to watch as much as I can find before I go.

  21. Cyndi Raines says:

    So happy for you Susan! How exciting to see Egypt! Of all your trips Africa is my favorite, but this may be a tie breaker! Lol. I love to travel too. We’ve just completed a nice trip south and visited The Biltmore! What a house!! You’d love it, the gardens were lovely too. And yes, you need to put Mackinaw Island on your bucket list for places to visit here in the US, which isn’t too far from Ohio. It will be fun to read and see your photos of Egypt.

  22. Kathy P says:

    This trip sounds wonderful. Egypt is the one place my husband has always wanted to visit. We were starting to make plans back in 2001 and then 9/11 happened. Then came so much unrest in that country it still wasn’t safe to go. We are starting to think about going now, so will be looking forward to your posts. Have a wonderful time!

    • Hopefully, things have calmed down now. Hope you guys are able to go sometime in the future, Kathy! I’ll be the test dummy for ya and we’ll see how it goes. 😉

  23. mrsben says:

    So happy you will be off on another adventure, Susan. Myself, I’ve never been to Egypt whereas my Grandmother travelled there when she was in her late 70’s as it is was always a place she wished to see and in her album there are some fantastic photos of the pyramids. (Needless to say it was well before 911 and the travel bans.) All said; I am sure you are going to love it. -Brenda-

  24. Melinda says:

    Susan – I am so excited to read that you are headed to Egypt this year. Your news gave me a good excuse to take a trip down memory lane of my tour of Egypt in 1981. Only a few years have passed since then!! I had the pleasure of staying at the Mena House and at that time it was part of the Oberoi chain. I’m sure there have been many changes and upgrades over the years but I hope they did not move the location of one of their main dining rooms. One of the many moments when my jaw dropped on that trip was at breakfast my first morning in Cairo. I had arrived in the middle of the night so I had no real sense of where the hotel was (or what it was near!). At breakfast there wasn’t much of a view out the huge windows of anything other than the huge palm trees right outside the dining room because there was a sandstorm blowing through at the time. The storm ended while we had breakfast and I will never forget looking out the window and all of a sudden a massive pyramid appeared. I will never forget that moment! At the Mena House, you are literally right below the pyramids at Giza. I absolutely loved every minute in Egypt and I’m sure you will as well. I hope you can see the sound and light show at the Sphinx as well as at Karnak. If you can see Abu Simbel at sunrise, go for it! It was another jaw-dropping moment for me. Also, try to take a sail in a felucca on the Nile at sunset. I echo Michelle’s recommendation in an earlier comment that you read Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody archeology series set in Egypt at the turn of the century. The books are set at the turn of the 20th century but her descriptions of the Egyptian scenery are still just as fresh today. Sounds like you will be seeing all of the “must see” sites. So happy for you!

    • Wow, that sounds like a dream experience, Melinda! I can’t wait to see it all in person. There will definitely will be some pinch-me moments on this adventure, I can see that now! I purchased the first book in the Amelia Peabody series and have been listening to it. Sooo enjoying it! Thanks for the suggestion! I love Amelia Peabody and her frankness. lol I had to Google today to see how the top of the Great Pyramid looked after listening to her describing it in the second chapter of the book. Not sure I want to go inside any of the pyramids though after hearing the way she described the air inside. lol

    • Thanks for the suggestion, I just “won” a bid on 6 of her Egyptian books on Ebay- it will be my summer reading before the trip To Egypt:
      The Snake, The Crocodile and The Dog-
      Crocodile on the Sandbank-
      The Mummy Case-
      The Falcon at the Portal-
      Silhouette in Scarlet-
      Any others that are must reads?

  25. penney helms says:

    Hope this is your best trip ever-it certainly was mine. Been dreaming of it since I read “Lost Queen of Egypt” in 7th grade. Went on trip planned by AAA, and returned 6 weeks before the revolution started. Very odd to have visited places mentioned in the news a few weeks later. There is some mind-numbing poverty, and beware of vendors who will offer you hot tea (serious expectations of large purchases in return for hospitality). Also, it sounds like you won’t drive, which is good, as Egyptians in Cairo consider lights and traffic signs as simple suggestions. However, the clash of cultures is fascinating. The ancient sites will stay with you forever. I was lucky enough to get a well-done henna tattoo. These are temporary, but are beautiful scrolling art. Was seriously warned to NEVER touch water except from bottle. Brushing teeth was a trip. The old Egyptian Museum was a one-of-a kind experience. Besides the artifacts, which are not always stored well, it is a trip back to Victorian times when it was built. Not sure what status is of new museum out near pyramids.

    • Those sounds exactly like what going to Morocco was like in March 2017. Everything you mentioned applied to that trip. Several folks in our group got the Henna tattoos. Thanks for those warnings, Penny. We will be visiting the museum, I believe. I think you’re referring to GEM, the Grand Egyptian Museum. I think parts of it will be open while we are there. Hope we get to go inside during the trip…not sure if we will.

  26. Hi Susan! Your itinerary sounds amazing! Looking forward to hearing about your pre-trip plans (love reading about how you prep for each trip!) and your travels there!

  27. It sounds like you’ve got it all planned, but the trip we took cruising down the Nile on a dahabiya was one of my top two lifetime trips. One of the owners is French and has opened a guest house on the other side of the Nile, not the tourist side, and it is fascinating to stay near all the antiquities. https://www.nourelnil.com/about/

  28. Jane Clary says:

    This is so exciting! Is this a standard tour or a customized one for you?

    • It was customized for us. Teresa just shared the places we wanted to see and they put the tour together for us. A guide will be with us for the majority of the tour, which will be really nice. I’ve never done one like this so will be fun to see how it goes.

  29. Susan, I think you might enjoy Elizabeth Peter’s mystery series featuring the indomitable Amelia Peabody, an Egyptologist of the late 19th century/early 20th century. The series is set in the golden age of Egyptian archaeology; the time of Shepheard’s hotel in Cairo. They might help while away the hours until your departure! I think the first one is Crocodile on the Sandbank.
    “Another dead body. Every year it is the same. Every year, another dead body…” – Abdullah, p. 151, Lion in the Valley
    Sounds like a fabulous trip.

    • Thanks, Helen! I purchased the first book on Audible a couple of days ago and am really enjoying it. I’ll be making a long drive in a couple of days so will get to listen a lot more then. Enjoying it a lot, so far! lol Yup, I saw that quote when I googled to read about the author, Elizabeth Peters, who is really Barbara Louise Mertz. Interesting woman! Sadly she passed away 4 years ago.

  30. Carol Norton says:

    A good friend went and got back to the States after travel was shut down. One of the highlights of his trip was riding a camel! So ride a camel!!!

    • lol I did that in Morocco last year. Not sure if we’ll do that this year on this trip. That’s me on a camel in this post…took that photo of my shadow against the dunes as we trekked across the Sahara. 🙂

  31. I went to Egypt in the early 90’s and it was the most memorable of any trip I have taken. I loved it there, but then I am a history, archaeology, ethnic music and dance geek! We spent 2 weeks there but were not able to make it to Abu Simbel/Aswan. We went with someone who does business there and were able to visit with a lot of his friends, so not on a tour. Hopefully I will be able to go back one day. As someone else noted, do not drink the water! Be sure to use bottled water only, or tea/coffee (where the water has been boiled). And yes, take a hat and sunscreen. I know you will have an amazing trip!

    • That’s so good to hear, Anna! Archaeology fascinates me, too…love listening to The Great Courses that are about Archaeology on Audible. Will definitely avoid the water, I remember how it was in Morocco…no one drank the water there, either. Thanks for those great tips, will definitely heed them!

  32. Linda Thompson says:

    Can I fit into your suitcase? I loved our visit to Egypt with Cruise Center of Houston TX. The president traveled with us,and a large amount of our stay was on a houseboat floating down and back up the Nile. What a treat. We had a Birdseye view of children playing in the Nile, the farming being done, and sandstorms past the agri strip. Yes, to the balloon ride; we went on the last morning before retipurning to Cairo. It was wonderful to see all that we had seen from above. It is a very safe ride. The balloons are so massive, and each carries a lot of people. Our Egyptologist took me to the spice market one night. The market in Cairo was wonderful. Since we traveled in May after the rebellion in 2011 we had to stay without an armed escort at all times in the market and as one group so I didn’t get to the fabric section. Take an extra pair of good walking sandals; my sandal liners melted the day we were in the Valley of The Kings. Everyone gave you wonderful suggestions. Get used to drinking iced tea that isn’t iced, nor having ice water. It is not the custom of the country. I did teach the people at the tea bar on the house boat how to make iced tea! I hope that you can have our wonderful Wyan as your guide. His knowledge is vast, and he spent a year in the states as an exchange student so his English is perfect. If you have the chance to travel to Alexandria, do…the Library is the most technological advanced librRy in the world. And the view of the sea is gorgeous there. Oh, yes, carry some toilet tissue with you each day. The restroom attendants only give you three sheets after you tip them a quarter. Have lots of quarters. We four ladies tried making life easier for ourselves and just pay a dollar for all of us at a stop. The maids were not happy with that idea. That is probably the best tip I can offer.

    • We will be going to Alexandria and I’m pretty sure that we’ll see the library while there. Photos of it online looked intriguing! Very modern!
      Oh, thanks for that reminder about the tissue, I remember having that same issue in Morocco where they would literally give you three sheets of paper. I will definitely take paper with me at all time in my handbag. Thanks, Linda! Loved hearing about your trip there! It definitely sounds like a trip I’ll remember for a lifetime!

  33. Gnomie says:

    In conjuction with your Egypt trip I would like to suggest a fun read the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters — a series of mysteries books with a feisty heroine and her family first one is “A Crocodile on the Sandbank”.

    • I’m listening to the first one now, really enjoying it! Wish I had known about them before now, love that there’s a whole series! Thanks, Gnomie!

  34. We were there a few years ago for a few weeks. We stayed in a wonderful old hotel in Cairo that was once a British officers club. It oozed with personality with its old patina. We took an overnight train to Luxor, which was a great experience. The area around the pyramids is very commercialized so be prepared for that. Also, the vendors at the historic sites are very, very aggressive. Be sure to buy falafels from a street vendor. They are delicious.

    • Thanks for those tips, Janette! So it’s safe to eat food from the street vendors? Wasn’t sure how safe it was. Your trip sounds amazing! We may take a train ride at some point, not sure.

  35. Oh, I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to hear how it goes. We have wanted to travel to Egypt but have afraid to. Please send details for your trip when you get back.

  36. Suzy Wheeler says:

    I would like information on the Egypt trip and was wondering how I get in contact with Teresa?
    I would like a shorter trip but love her hotel choice.
    Thank you
    Suzy Wheeler

    • She just left today for a trip to Italy. I’ll email her and let her know, Suzy, but you may not hear back from her for a while since she’s on the way to Italy right now.

  37. Suzy Wheeler says:

    Susan,
    I am also looking at a trip to Egypt and would like to get in touch with Teresa…
    I am looking at a shorter trip but I love her hotel selection..
    Thank you
    Suzy

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