Last summer was revolutionary for me, not because I travelled across the country (which was absolutely brilliant!), not because I visited some of the most famous historic monuments in the world, not even because I managed to enter the country despite coming from a war stricken Israel and not having the correct visa (more about this here). It was revolutionary because it was my first ever stay at an all-inclusive hotel, and I actually enjoyed it!
Was I a traitor to the travel community? Had I given up on everything I believed in? Had I conformed to behaviours of the average package holiday tourist? The answer here is no. Despite always being dead against all-inclusive travels, I decided to take a break away from the hectic life that I lead and to give myself a genuine rest. You see, the problem is that as much as I love my trips, I tend to come away from them more tired than I was before I went! That was fine at certain times in my life when I was less exhausted, but now things have changed a little. At the time of my trip to Egypt I was 1 year into my PhD research, I had just been promoted at work, I was in the final stages of publishing my book and I had just purchased my first house- crazy times! So as you can guess, I was in need of a little rest.
So for 1 week during my Egyptian adventure I chilled in a lovely all-inclusive hotel in Dahab. I chose Dahab because it was less touristy and less developed than Sharm. The waters were clear and the beach was nice. There was also (conveniently) a nice tourist hospital- I will post about that drama another time.
The rest of the trip however, was go, go, go! From Dahab we travelled to Sharm where we spent one night in a post 5 star resort for one night before taking a flight down to Aswan.
Here we stayed took a trip down to Abu Simbel where we had to travel in police convey leaving at 4am- an interesting experience! the temples were some of the best I have seen though so were well worth it.
We also visited Aswan dam and the Philae temple which were also very impressive. From here we joined a cruise, again not my usual scene but what better way to travel the Nile! The cruise was a brilliant experience and stopped off every day so that we could visit many of the ancient sites scattered along the banks of the Nile.
The cruise ended in Luxor where we were lucky enough to find an area of the Nile safe to swim in- how many people can say that they have swan in the Nile?! We stayed in a lovely hotel and visit the temples on both the East and West banks including Luxor and Karnak and the Valley of the Kings/Queens.
In true backpacker style we then boarded a sleeper train to Cairo. A bit of a down-grade from the 4-5 star hotels that we had been staying in (Egypt is incredibly cheap at the moment), the train was ok, but rather slow. We arrived around two hours late.
Cairo was a great city, full of hustle and bustle. Our main motive here was to visit the pyramids, but unlike most tourists- we got a secret tour! Upon giving the guide a little bit of extra money (a bribe??) we were allowed to climb a small pyramid (I know this is a terrible thing to do, but it was so much fun! And I was careful not to do any damage…) and go into tombs reserved usually for only ‘special people’. Apparently the most recent visitor was Barack O Bama and even the taxi driver on the way home was asking to see photographs! We also drove out of the city to visit some of the less popular pyramids such as the step pyramid and the former capital city- Memphis.
Of course we took the usual photos in front of the pyramids, but our experience was definitely one of a kind. From all-inclusive hotels, to cruise ships, to sleeper trains, we feel that we were so much more exposed to what the country had to offer than your traditional package tourist… who is likely to step out of the confinements of their hotel only to take their flight back home.
Thinking about travelling Egypt? Do it properly, leave the hotel, meet the local people and grab yourself some of the fantastic bargains on offer! Go… explore a little!