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Egypt 2009
by Kirk Anderson
Us in EgyptBefore Options arranges a holiday to a new destination, especially a big, expensive holiday to an exotic location, we like to head there first ourselves to see if we think it would make a good destination. It's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it!

This is one of those visits. We wanted to take a group to Egypt, so booked ourselves a family holiday and off we went.

Sunday 5th April:
Arrived in Cairo mid-afternoon, had a hair-raising taxi ride through Cairo to the hotel in Giza.   Ordered room service then waited for the others to arrive.

Cairo BazaarMonday 6th April:
After a morning around the pool, we went to the Cairo museum.   Saw many of the displays and also our first mummy of the holiday!   Drove back through the busy streets of Cairo to a restaurant for lunch.

That evening we wandered the busy bazaar and bartered for some souvenirs.

We then took the overnight train to Aswan, no sleeper trains available so we spent thirteen hours in a "Harry Potter" style compartment.   Luckily we had it to ourselves.

CamelTuesday 7th April:
Arrived in Aswan on the train, and went straight to our hotel to drop off our bags.   Its a lot hotter here than in Cairo!   After lunch in the cool shade by the Nile, we crossed the river in a boat and rode on camel back to a ruined monastery.   Very hot and dusty, and camels aren't the most comfortable ride, but well worth it.

We rode the camels back to the river then caught the boat along the river to a Nubian village.   We climbed up the steep, sandy streets of the village to a Nubian house where the family cooked us a traditional Nubian dinner.   Back to the hotel in the dark.

Felucca BoatWednesday 8th April:
Went to the High Dam this morning, then on to the Philae Temple, a temple to Isis that had to be moved from the valley to higher ground when the dam was built.   Even now, you have to go across the water in a boat to reach it.

After looking around the temple, we went back to the hotel and loaded our belongings onto a felucca boat.   We set off taking up the Nile, lying on the comfortable deck mattress.   We stopped to cook lunch, then again in the evening.   A very relaxing day, just lying around watching the banks of the Nile slip slowly by.

The boatmen cooked dinner then lit a file on the sandy river bank.   They played drums and sang and everyone danced around the fire until bed time.

Kom OmboThursday 9th April:
Having slept on the boat, we rose with the sun.   The boats were tied together and we breakfasted drifting down the Nile.   Then the boats were separated and we set sail to our rendezvous with three taxi trucks.   We loaded up our gear and drove to the Kom Ombo temple.

It was very hot so we left our bags in an outdoor cafe and visited the temple.   We saw a skeleton in one of the rooms!   Back at the cafe we had a picnic lunch and ice creams before catching the coach to our hotel in the heart of Luxor, right by the Luxor temple!

After a shower we crossed the river in a boat and had dinner while an Arabic band played and a whirling dervish danced.   Then back across the river to our beds.

KarnakFriday 10th April:
Up early this morning, saw the hot air balloons over the city at dawn.   After breakfast, off to the Valley of the Kings.   Queued our way though three tombs with our guide lady, and saw all the intricate coloured decorations on the interiors.

Then had a short drive to Queen Hatshepsut's Al-Deir Al-Bahari temple.   The day was getting very hot by now.   We had a look around the temple then rode donkeys through the countryside and villages back to Luxor.

After lunch we visited the Karnak temple.   Had a look around and took plenty of photos, then back to the hotel for a shower.   Dinner this evening in a restaurant down by the river.   Then of to the Luxor bazaar for some more bartering.

Balloon flightSaturday 11th April:
Up at 4:30am, onto the coach by 5am!   Drove to the river then drank coffee while crossing the river in a boat.   On the other side we got into another coach and drove to the balloon launch site.   Flew in a hot air balloon high over Luxor, could see all the way from the Nile to Queen Hatshepsut's temple.

We were back at the hotel by 7:30 for a quick breakfast, the then long coach ride to Sofaga on the Red Sea.   We checked into our hotel and spent the afternoon around the pool.

Red SeaSunday 12th April:
No Easter eggs for us today :-(   Caught a boat out onto the Red Sea where some of us went snorkelling over the reefs.   Had lunch cooked on the boat then a few people had a competition jumping into the sea.   We stopped on a sandy island for a while, then cruised back to the shore, spotting a dolphin along the way!

Monday 13th April:
Up at 3:30am (eek!), took the bus to the airport then flew back to Cairo.   First stop, the Pyramids.   They are Sphinx and Pyramidhuge and also very dusty!   Also saw the Solar Boat, and went down into one of the tombs.

Went on to the Sphinx then, took loads more photos then went to get a drink as the day was getting very hot.   Stopped at a falafel take-a-way for lunch, then had a tour of a papyrus museum.

After freshening up back at the hotel we had a long drive through Cairo to a pancake restaurant in the Cairo bazaar.   Did a bit more shopping before going back to the hotel for our final night.

Tuesday 14th April:
Did battle with the Cairo traffic again in a taxi, made it to the airport intact and flew back to the UK!