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9th Jan 2017 2:55pm | By Editor
Egypt is crammed full of culture and heritage. We find out about some of the delights you can see on the Expat Explore Egypt tour
Around the world, Egypt is mostly known for its ancient pyramids, of which, up to date, 130+ have been discovered. Built as tombs for the pharaohs and their families, these age-old structures are indeed fascinating, but there is so much more to Egypt than long-buried cultures.
The Arab Republic of Egypt links North East Africa with the Middle East, and features natural wonders like the Nile and its fertile region, as well as barren deserts and coastal gems along the Red and Mediterranean seas. With a population of 82 million people, the country has the largest Arabic population in the world, most of which speak both English and Arabic.
This singular combination of natural wonders, cultural treasures and a burgeoning tourism infrastructure makes Egypt one of the travel destinations to watch in 2017.
Ananda, Melicia, Dani and Angus are all tenured members of the Expat Explore team, with Ananda heading up the customer service team. It is their job to help travellers from all over the world make their wildest wanderlust dreams a tangible reality.
Over the course of the last year, each of them joined an Expat Explore Egypt tour with complimentary flights sponsored by the Egyptian State Tourist Office, so they may see the many marvels of the land of the riverbank for themselves. Their travels took them to the best-loved archaeological, historic and cultural treasures in and around the cities of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, and Hurghada; they came back with plenty of stories and even more enamoured with Egypt’s vast and captivating diversity than ever before.
We've asked them about their travel highlights and why they think Egypt should be on everyone’s bucket list. Here is what they had to say.
Dani: The art in Egypt left me speechless - the stunning and colossal monuments of Ancient Egypt never fail to astonish. Abu Simbel on day five, the Valley of the Kings on day six, and the Pyramids of Giza were my top highlights. I will also always remember my camel ride in the desert. Moses, my camel, was from Sudan and I was his first ever rider!
Ananda: I’m a huge fan of natural beauty, so snorkelling in the Red Sea is always my absolute favourite thing to do in Egypt. In Hurghada, you get free days on day seven and eight of the Expat Explore tour, which gives you plenty of time to swim, tan and snorkel. You stay in a grand sea resort basically on top of the Red Sea. There is a massive swimming pool and even an ice cream hour at the resort where we stayed. I mean, what more can you ask for?
I also loved the Nile Cruise. It’s a five-star cruise and definitely the most relaxing part of the trip. Guests are treated to three great meals a day and you can spend your time as you see fit. Snacks and entertainment are offered on the deck. You can tan, chill by the pool or just hang around with fellow travellers at the bar. The deck allows for the best scenery and sunsets ever - you won’t believe the lushness of the area around the Nile.
Lastly, I absolutely loved the perfumery we went to on the second day. The ancient Egyptians cherished exotic perfumes, and we got to visit one of the famous perfume trading houses. You get to smell the finest aromatic essences such as myrrh, rose, natural musk and frankincense. Traditional perfumes naturally preserve the benefits of the essential oils it contains, unlike contemporary alcohol-based perfumes that dry out the skin. Remember to budget for this excursion - you can buy handmade perfume for anything from $5 to $10 for 10ml.
Tip! Try the Nubian dinner! The Nubians are one of the oldest civilizations in the world. They invite you into their home and cook you food in their humble way - it’s a real, honest look into their culture. Guests are entertained by dancers, get henna tattoos, and enjoy authentic Nubian fare. If you’re looking for a true cultural experience, this is it!
Ananda: Yes. We’re all aware of the political uproar we’ve seen in Egypt and the Middle East in the past, but in general Egypt is a very safe country. Our expert Egyptian tour leader was with us at all times and I’ve never met anyone who knows as much about a specific area’s culture and history. He could answer all my questions and I felt especially safe with him in the vicinity.
Melicia: We had a convoy leading us on all the long rides to destinations and temples like Abu Simbel and Aswan. None of the tourists or people we met along the way were oblivious to the political climate, but none of them were scared either. If anything, they were just happy to have Egypt all to themselves. Tourism in Egypt took a big knock after the widespread unrest in 2011.
Ananda: Egypt is still an amazing travel destination. If you're worried about your safety, don't be. I felt as safe in Egypt as I would in London.
Dani: There was not one moment that I felt unsafe. I would live in Egypt if I could.
Angus: Absolutely! The situation is very different now, compared to what it was during the Arab Spring. From speaking to tour guides and operators, I know they feel the country is back to its pre-2011 safety levels - that is to say, there is nothing to worry about. The Tourist Police are a large presence at most of the sites, so you always feel safe and secure. In fact, 2017 is the perfect time to visit Egypt - it's perfectly safe now, and it'll be your last chance to visit the Pyramids and Temples in relative peace and quiet, before the masses of tourists return!
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