Can you remember the first time you saw a photograph of Giza’s Great Pyramids or the treasures of King Tuts Tomb? Maybe you were very young and studying Egyptian history in school? What thoughts popped into your head? Why? Where? How old?…HOW?
Fast forward 40 years (a blink of the eye in Egyptian time), and I finally had the chance to visit this place of mystery for myself. And it did not disappoint.
Apprehensive? Yes, I must admit I was. Even though I have traveled internationally since 1991, I had a little apprehension about visiting Egypt this past December. However, the moment I landed in Cairo and met our local team, that apprehension vanished. Insight Vacations works with a fantastic local company with whom they have built a 40-year relationship. We, and all guests, were welcomed almost immediately after stepping off the plane. It was a seamless transition to our hotel, with any concerns or issues addressed immediately. And this set the tone for the entire journey.
IMPECCABLE SERVICE AT EVERY TURN
From our drivers, the hotel staff, to Local Experts, and every Egyptian we met along the way, everyone as genuinely happy to be of service and make you feel welcome in their country. Tourism in Egypt was an unintended victim of social and political changes almost ten years ago, and it’s slowly making a comeback. Those in the tourism industry recognize this as they sincerely appreciate visitors and make every effort to make them feel at home.
The local family who welcomed us in their home, outside of Luxor, was no exception. With open arms and a cup of delicious tea, the family explained the extended family structure and process of baking bread for 300 to 400 family members every week. Such immersion is a unique life-changing experience to learn about other cultures and lifestyles. When they happen with such warmth and sincerity, no wonder I felt at home so seamlessly!
CAIRO – MAGNIFICENT CHAOS
Cairo was just WOW… Of course, it’s a city plagued with the same issues most cities this size have traffic, smog, and, well, traffic. But I have never felt such a vibe in any other capital where the ancient and modern collide. It was as if I could hear the modern structure whispering of the ancient civilization. The old and new clash in unexpected ways, leaving me in awe of this chaotic but fascinating capital, should not be missed or overlooked.
Whether stopping at the beginning or end of your Egypt Journey, it’ll transport you from the ancient to the present and you’ll experience how this modern city still lives and breathes its glorious past.
WONDERS OF THE PAST DO WONDERS FOR THE SOUL
Located just on the outskirts of modern-day Cairo, the Great Pyramids of Giza – wonders of the ancient world are indeed that: WONDERS. I understood what this meant when I learned about them in school or saw pictures of the pyramids, but never fully comprehended the meaning of that word until that moment. That moment when they appear, and you understand the first glimpse from the window, from the gasps coming from guests. Even from a distance, the pyramids impress; their shadow providing a glimpse of their immensity in the early morning sunlight. And as you walk up to them, listening to your Travel Director, a certified Egyptologist, share his extensive knowledge of the pyramids, that moment you stop and take it all in, that’s when the word WONDER took on its full meaning.
Whether starting or ending your itinerary with the pyramids, be prepared for that sense of wonder to leave you, for the most part, speechless -thinking of labor, time, and attention to detail to achieve such impressive tombs, temples, and structures.
THE NILE RIVER – THE SOOTHING PACE OF RIVER CRUISING
Our time on the Nile was almost magical and gave our journey a real change of pace, and relaxed feel to contrast the intensity of the desert and many sights to visits. For millennia the Nile was and still is the lifeline of North Africa, and throughout, I couldn’t help but imagine the countless souls who sailed its waters and lived (and died) along its shores over centuries.
Aswan – Located over 400 miles south of Cairo on the banks of the Nile, is personally my favorite city in Egypt. Aswan still retains the charm of an incredible industrial and cultural hub. The Old Cataract Hotel High Tea is something no one should miss. Located at the cataracts on the Nile, Aswan was the perfect location for the first attempt to control the untamed river with a dam constructed in the late 1800s. However, the new dam built in the 1960s is an engineering feat unmatched in the modern world. It also created another unique opportunity for Archeologists who sought to preserve the impressive Temple Complex at Abu Simbel.
ABU SIMBEL – THE ONE WORTH IT ALL
This short flight, another 280 miles south of Aswan, is worth the early wake-up call. Have you ever considered moving a mountain to save your most precious heritage? And not just any mountain. A mountain with a 3,000-year-old work of art carved into it. Indescribable is my best adjective, and I’ll leave it there. It’s a must-see.
So, did I enjoy my journey to the center of the archeological world? Unequivocally… YES! It was so much more than a pleasure trip for me. It was an opportunity to connect all the dots, still floating in my head from studies of the ancient world, and it satisfied my inner explorer and provided me with memories of one of the most incredible destinations on the planet. So go for it. You will never, ever, regret or forget this Insight Vacations journey. I guarantee it!
Tracy is Strategic Account Manager for Insight Vacations located in our USA office. He traveled to Egypt with Insight Vacations. To find out more about our Egypt journeys, discover our itineraries or read about our past guest review – Egypt: A Guest Perspective