If you haven’t yet read the article on Tips and Tricks regarding my trip to Egypt you can find if here. As a big part of seeing this country is going on trips to famous places, you will have to plan your days wisely. We only had 6 full days and the half-day when we got there, and 6 trips that we wanted to make. It was extremely exhausting but definitely worth it, here is how it all went down.
As I mentioned in my previous article, we decided to go with local agencies, they sent us the prices and we paid for them as we went. I will add the price for each of the trips below, along with details on what to expect.
1. Sindbad submarine – 55 $ per person, was also the single trip we booked with the hotel agency, only because it was not in the list of the other agency and it was the only place where they asked for more in dollars than euros. I do not recommend you buy it from them, seek local agencies, or even contact Sindbad themselves.
You will be picked up from your hotel and taken to a meeting point. There you will get on a boat, sail for 30-40 minutes until the place you will be taking the submarine. A number will be given to you, with the place you will get to sit, this way there is no chance of people being all over you. If the places are respected, clearly not, many will switch and kids will be all over the place. The submarine has two sides (duh!) so don’t panic if you don’t see the pretty area from the beginning, it will turn and you will also get to see it too.
A diver will be out of the submarine and will feed the colorful fishes, there is a complete set of statues that you will get to see on the bottom of the sea. Unfortunately, due to the intervention made in the ecosystem the coral and the reef are mostly dead, possible because the fishes are now fed and no longer clean the reef.
As an experience, it’s great, going under the water and being in a submarine wasn’t something that I ever thought I would be able to do. So if you have a couple of hours to spear I think you can book your spot.
2. Cairo by bus – 54 euros per person
The most anticipated trip from my entire life was getting to see the Great Pyramid of Giza, I imagined myself standing next to it and looking at one of the greatest creation made by menkind. It’s safe to say that between what I imagined and the reality was a bit of a difference.
We left at 1am from the hotel and the bus drive was a long one (around 7hours). We took to-go breakfast from the hotel and the ones organizing the trip gave us some snacks and water for the road. Our first stop was the Egyptian Museum from Cairo where we got to see only a part of the artifacts that were present, probably the most important ones are Tutankhamun’s mask and treasure. My biggest regret from the museum was the fact that we didn’t get to see the mummies, because our guide told us they were “not worth it” and the ticket was an extra 10$. Since we ran out of time, I wasn’t able to purchase the ticket and left with the disappointment of missing it. Also in the museum, I observed the guides lack of respect for the monuments, since she kept on touching the artifacts with her hands and hitting them with a plastic bottle. I told her that it really bothered me and she stopped doing it, but I observed the exact same behavior on the rest of the guides. In the next couple of years, I don’t think there will be much left of them if they don’t change their behavior.
After the museum, we went to the pyramids and we were offered some choices with how we want to see them: first was spending 1.5 hours around the Big Pyramid and then walk to the Sphinx, the second was going by camel to see the panoramic view of the 6 pyramids, going by bus to the Big Pyramid and stay there for 30 minutes and by bus to the Sphinx and stay only 15 minutes, last option was to stay near the Big Pyramid and walk around it and even purchasing the ticket to go inside it, then by bus to the Sphinx.
We all went for the second option, the camel ride cost us an additional 10$ and the tip for the camel owner. Our guide recommends the tip to be 1$, but expect a show since they will try to force you to give them more, the ride has one stop where they will take pictures with you and the panoramic view of the pyramids. All in all, the trip was fast, the animals abused and the tip part horrible, since they will be aggressive in trying to get more money from you. The view is indeed beautiful, but you have less than a few minutes to see it since they will rush you back. After the ride, the guide negotiated a few souvenirs, big scarf 2$, small one 1$, and 10 statutes at the price of 10$. Personally, I only got the big scarfs.
In the 30 minutes that we got to stay around the Big Pyramid, we were constantly annoyed by street vendors that didn’t really want to sell, but try to trick or steal from us. We were advised by our guide to keeping our distance from them since they are skilled in tricking tourists. We did manage to go into the small pyramid (this one is included, for entering the big one you have to pay extra) and we were disappointed by the fact that there is nothing left in them. My imagination of staying in front of such a masterpiece and really enjoying the view was ruined by some many people constantly trying to sell things to and the fact that others were riding skinny hoses and beating them, along with the fact that many carved their names in the blocks and climbing on them even if that is not permitted.
We then went to the Sphinx were since we requested extra time, we also managed to see it closer and not only from near the bus. Over here the story is the same, so many street vendors and people saying that they just want to take a picture for you, but as soon as you hand them your phone they start asking for money and might even refuse giving it back unless you pay them. All the beauty that this place is shadowed by the fact that you cannot let your guard down.
In the end, we were taken to a factory shop, where they presented how they make oils and perfumes and try to sell you some, the price starts at 25$. I didn’t buy any, but as I understood from others those are only a tourist trap. Also, this is the place we stayed the most from the entire trip, the mummies weren’t important to them, but the perfume shop was (!!!??!??!?!!!). Again, here in the streets of Giza, I saw the most disgusting and filthy place, garbage all over the place, people fighting in the streets, kids screaming, people on horses beating the animals that were so skinny it hurt looking at. I was so disappointed by the lack of respect they show to everything around them. Unfortunately, the Egyptians that created the pyramids are long dead and gone, they were conquered first by the Greeks and later after the 600BC by the Arabian people.
The Nill cruise is not impressive at all and I consider it not worth it, even if it’s just 10$.
As for Cairo, I have never seen such chaos and filth, the plastic is everywhere, it is smelly and disorganized. The cars look awful, the insurance is not mandatory and there is no such thing as driving lessons, they just have to take the exam. On the roads, if there are 4 lanes, but 6 or even 7 rows of cars can be fitted this is how it will be. Along, with cars, you will see people crossing the streets, carets, people riding horses or donkeys, people caring childer, and so on. I understand that they are poor, but I cannot understand the way they treat their history, animals, and even kids. To me, this is a place I WILL NEVER EVER step foot in again.
Lunch is also included in the trip, but I have to admit the food didn’t look very appealing and since we already had an upset stomach we avoided it. We were back at the hotel at 11pm at night. This trip is the longest and unfortunately also the biggest disappointment.
3. Scuba diving in the reef – 28$
They picked us from the hotel and took us to the boat, where we sign some papers that we are in good health and we can perform scuba diving ( I suggest you ask your doctor in case you have any lung or back problems). One of the divers from the boat gave us a short demo on how this will do and how we should breathe and remove water from our glasses in case it enters.
We took turns on doing the dive and while we waited we were able to swim and do some snorkeling. I recommend you bring your own snorkeling equipment, the one that we got from the boat was pretty damaged. But the reef is still pretty nice and colorful, yet when diving the instructor insisted I touch the reef even if I refused it multiple times, also signs of the corals dying can be seen.
Probably the best part while here, it was a dolphin that decided to join and play with the divers. We got to see it up close and swim with it. The only remark here will be NOT to try to touch it, every time someone did it ran away (DUH).
Another thing to consider is not to throw anything in the toilet, not even the paper since it will go right in the water and you will dive among everything that goes out. Yes, it is possible to encounter some poop since all the boats are parked near and the diving is made right there.
We were offered food on the boat and a glass of cola. The trip took almost all day.
4. Orange Bay island – 35$ per person
Once again we were picked from the hotel and taken to a boat where we sailed for Orange bay island. The water is beautiful but very shallow so you cannot actually swim, if you want to take pictures at the swings you will get to spend around 30 minutes to an hour in the line. On the beach, you can get a henna tattoo for 10$ and there are drinks available (not included) at the bar. Honestly, I think this place is only for taking pictures.
After the island, there are 2 stops for snorkeling (again, don’t forget your equipment). In the first, we followed the instructor and got to see the amazing reef, in the second we decided to go on our own and enjoy the view without having to worry about the others and have our own pace. Again, while here make sure you DON’T touch the reef, by mistake an idiot ruined a big chunk of the coral when he stood up in the water.
Same as for the scuba trip, they gave us food and cola, and we got back to the hotel after 6pm.
5. Luxor and Valley of the Kings – 54$ per person
The trip is scheduled from 5am up until 9pm and was also by bus. Since the trip begins right at sunrise, it’s very beautiful to see this while driving between the rocky mountains from the Sahara desert. Keep in mind that in this area the temperatures are very high, reaching up to 50degress Celcius in the summer. We got around 40, yet the fact that the wind is not present, made it feel way worst. Also, while preparing for this trip don’t use any sweet or powerful perfume, since this can cause others to feel nauseous.
The first stop was the Amon Ra Temple, where we got to walk and hear the story of how it was created and what type of ceremonies were kept here. It is amazing to see that even after 4000 years the colors are still visible. Apart from going with the guide and hearing the stories we also got around 40 minutes of walking and taking pictures.
The second stop was the Valley of the Kings, where we visited 3 tombs of 3 pharaohs named Ramses. This part is extremely beautiful, the paintings, colors, and beauty are beyond words. I will insert some photos but trust me those don’t do them justice.
The third stop is at Hatshepsut Temple, still beautiful to watch, yet not as impressive as the others. The fact that the heat was getting worse and we were tired from the last stops made us not enjoy the walk as much. Another rather short stop is made at Memnon Colossus, this time we only got to take some photos and got back into the bus to go to lunch.
There was an additional stop at a statues shop, where they showed us how they create the Alabaster stone, the prices were really big therefore we avoided buying anything.
Same as in Cairo, the food wasn’t very good looking so we only eat some rice and dessert. but we were cautions, most of the people did enjoy the food.
Before we left we were taken on a trip to Banana Island on the Nile, the cruise itself is not impressive and neither is the island, we got to see the banana and mango trees, some caged crocodiles and monkeys that were kept in small places and fed for the tourist entertainment. The good part is that in the end, we got to eat some fresh fruit. The cost of the trip is optional and is 10$.
From all the trips made in Egypt, Luxor is probably the best for anyone interested in this place’s history. I loved the fact that we didn’t have much interaction with the street vendors and that they were not allowed in the temples.
6. Sahara Safari – 25$ per person
The last trip for our holiday included going on a Jeep in the desert, riding an ATV, a camel (again), and a beach buggy. Also, we got to see how the traditional pita bread was made by the Beduin people and how they used to create their rugs. For me, this was not really worth it, since we would have liked to have some extra time at the hotel, but we were curious about having this last experience.
If I were to recommend you to drop one of the trips, it will be this one, yet most of the men loved the fact that they got to ride the ATVs and the beach buggies, so I am guessing it depends on what you like.
All in all, each trip has its own charm, and visiting the history of Egypt should be a priority while you are here. If I were to do it again? NO, that is for sure! But it is a once in a lifetime experience that I am happy I had. It was very different from what I imagined it to be, and have to admit that it hurts to see the last remaining ancient wonder destroyed by indifference and hunger for money. Furthermore, I strongly advise you to visit this place soon if you have it on your bucket-list since in a few years from now the signs of heavy tourism will be even more visible.