From the blog

Exploring Egypt

From the heights of these Pyramids, forty centuries look down on us.

Napoleon Bonaparte

I can’t remember how old I was when I first watched The Mummy, but I know that it started a lifelong fascination and love for Egypt and its ancient history, art and architecture.

Wanting to ease back into our travels post-Covid, we decided to forgo long-haul for somewhere a little closer to home and fulfil a long-held dream of visiting Egypt.

Not that getting there was much swifter than had we traveled to a farther continent. With no direct flights currently operating from Malta, we resorted to Lufthansa stopovers in Munich (going) and then Vienna (coming back) before landing in / leaving from Cairo, so the external travel portion was long and tiring considering the short distance between Malta and Egypt. That is not to say that it was not well worth it.

Egypt’s wonders exceeded all my expectations and my nerdy-heart’s desires. The treasures left to modern Egyptians by their ancient ancestors have to be beheld to be appreciated, and even then you will leave scratching your head as to how such feats of architecture could have been so immaculately executed thousands of years ago.

I will say that Egypt was more visibly third-world than I had imagined. As opposed to my trip to India, where I had prepared myself for culture shock with extensive reading before visiting, I was too preoccupied with the sights I would be visiting in Egypt to research on the surrounding realities. Most areas will be dingy and run-down, with parts of Cairo being even more hectic than New Delhi. Throw upon that the common practice of vendors running after you to sell their wares and people constantly trying to pull you into shops or sell you tours or taxi rides and it can be quite tiring. Immersing yourself in these realities is, in my view, one of the traveller’s privileges and the greatest education, but I can understand if it is not for everyone, so I thought I would point that out. Other things to keep in mind include the fact that some of the sights will be quite physically taxing, and that traveling between the main sights of Egypt will also involve considerable distances.

Bottom line, Egyptian people are lovely and Egypt is a magnificent country to visit for history, architecture and art enthusiasts. It is an experience that I will carry with me all my life.

If you want to read up on the history of Egypt, I can recommend Toby Wilkinson’s The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt.


Top 10 useful tips and notes for your visit:

i. Weather is a huge factor of when to visit. The summer months will be unbearably hot. We visited in the beginning of October, and even then we sweltered in the heat of the sun. Pack your sunblock and hats whenever you visit, and stay hydrated throughout your trip.

ii. Be respectful to local culture, and practical, when it comes to your clothes. While you will see many tourists bearing their midriffs and thighs at popular tourist sights, this clashes with the conservative culture of Egypt. You will be both more comfortable and respectful if you dress appropriately – long, loose pants or skirts and loose t-shirts or shirts. Think cotton or linen. Long sleeves might seem mad to some when you think of a hot country, but this can help protect your skin from the sun. Finally, wear comfortable and practical shoes, ideally good walking sneakers to protect your feet from the hot earth and sand you will find everywhere.

iii. While there will be wifi in most hotels and some restaurants, it is a good idea if you wish to stay connected to buy a sim card with a 3G package upon your arrival. We bought a Vodafone sim from the arrivals luggage belt hall at Cairo airport.

iv. While you will be able to pay with card in many places, particularly for tickets, hotels and some restaurants, you will need cash. I choose to always withdraw from an ATM upon my arrival for ease, but you could look into cash exchange for a potentially slightly more economic method.

v. You will need a visa to enter Egypt. You can apply for this in advance on-line but this includes filling in a detailed form and some fields are unclear. You might wish to go down this route for peace of mind, but in our case we opted to obtain it upon arrival instead, and all this included was paying the fee and being handed the visa, no details or questions asked. If you opt for this, simply ask for the visa desk upon your arrival, as it is easy to miss. You will need to pay in cash so take Euro, British Pound or American Dollar with you – it is meant to be 25 of either, but they ended up charging us a little more than that (a small kickback for the teller, I imagine), so carry at least 30. Please research this amount before your trip in case it changes from the time of writing of this post.

vi. There is a huge tipping culture in Egypt. Tips, or baksheesh, are naturally discretionary, but expected. Feel free to give what you want/can but a good rule of thumb is 10-15% in restaurants and cafes and LE150 for a half-day or LE200/250 for a full-day tour to your guide and about half of that for the tour driver. While tipping might seem an extra expense to you, please do keep in mind that most people you meet earn little. The three different Egyptologist guides we had, university graduates with steady jobs, all said that they had never traveled outside of Egypt, because they do not afford to, and these were probably the best paid of the people we met.

vii. Drink and wash teeth with bottled water. A course of traveller’s probiotics are recommended, as is carrying diarrhoea medicine – I was fine with street food but had a bad experience with a restaurant in a 5-star hotel, so there is no saying how you will be affected. You might also wish to carry insect repellant spray, particularly if you’re cruising the Nile.

viii. Check up on your vaccinations well in advance of your trip.

ix. Uber is widely available in Cairo, which we made use of, although you will be able to hail taxis easily. In most places in Luxor and Aswan we hailed taxis from the road when required. You will find plenty of taxis at airports, but we pre-arranged transfers with our hotels/B&Bs (although when arriving we ended up waiting over an hour for our taxi to arrive when there were plenty available waiting around).

x. Haggling is not only common, but expected. Whether it’s taxi rides or market stalls, haggle the price offered, and haggle strongly (unless something already feels dirt-cheap; don’t be too mean!).


Our trip format:

Our trip was 2 weeks-long (including our external travel portion). We arrived and spent a few days in Cairo before flying to and spending a few days in Aswan, then catching a dahabiya cruise to Luxor for a few more days there, before catching a flight back to Cairo for a short stay before our return flights to Malta. I would have loved to visit the White Desert and the Red Sea, but with all the sights on our list that would have required more days. You can spend longer or shorter in Egypt, depending on your interests and priorities. We used Egypt Air for our internal flights and have no complaints to report.

This was a solo travel trip, but we did book a few day trips (for added comfort and convenience, and to have the added benefit of an Egyptologist guide) and the Aswan-Luxor cruise with Real Egypt. There are various tour companies, but I happened to read many good reviews about them and we were not disappointed (save for one issue with a hot air balloon ride, which was resolved – more on that later). You can design your own trips with the help of the lovely Hala by emailing on

More on all of this below!


Money matters:

Exploring Egypt won’t come as cheap as you might imagine. We spent around Eur3,000 for our two-week trip (including flights, accommodation and all spending money), and we stayed at very basic accommodation and ate mostly from simple places. That said, the Nile cruise, internal flights, private taxis, hot air balloon ride, day tours and all entrance fees will rack up the price, so if you’re on a tighter budget there are sacrifices you can make to still make the trip.



We spent a total of 3 days exploring Cairo during our trip. We based ourself in Giza at the beginning of our trip because we wanted to be up, close and personal with the pyramids, and Zamalek at the end of our trip.

In Giza, we stayed at Egypt Pyramids Inn, in a room with a balcony and pyramids view. The hotel is very basic and there is no lift, but price reasonable considering the view, with a great rooftop area where you will have your generous breakfast and can also have a simple dinner while watching the Pyramid evening light show.

We arrived in Giza in the early morning darkness, but there was some moonlight. I almost tripped over trying not to look up upon arrival, because I wanted the grand pyramid reveal in the morning light. When we woke up, we opened the windows, and I cried a little. 

At the end of our trip, we spent a night at the Fairmont Nile City for our traditional end-of-trip spot of luxury. The rooms were comfortable, the service excellent, and the rooftop and some restaurants nice spots, but the interior design is gaudy and the spa facilities very limited.

An important stop in Cairo is the famed Egyptian Museum, the oldest archaeological museum in the Middle East. You could spend days exploring the unrivalled collection of ancient masterpieces housed here. The crowning jewel of the museum is the Tutankhamun collection, including the iconomic mask of the pharaoh, which cannot be photographed. Some of the items are planned to be moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum, set to be the largest archaeological museum in the world, whenever that finally opens.

For traditional Egyptian food in walking distance or a short taxi ride from the Egyptian Museum, try Felfela (a standing food spot) for delicious shish and taaemya (bright green falafel with fava beans and herbs), and Koshary Abou Tarek for kushari (Egypt’s national dish consisting of a mix of pasta, rice and brown lentils, topped with a zesty tomato sauce and garlic vinegar, and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions – weird, hearty and surprisingly satisfying).

Explore Historic Cairo, by wandering down Al-Mu’Izz Street, a major street running from Bab al-Futuh in the north to the gate of Bab Zuwila in the south in the walled city of historic Cairo. En route, stop at Khan-el-Khalili, Cairo’s most popular market, and grab a tea or Arabic coffee at El-Fishawi Café, one of the oldest coffee places in Cairo, established in 1797.

We did not have time to visit the Walled City of Saladin and the Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Ali Pasha within the same complex. They come highly recommended if you have the time.

We had delicious Shish Tawok (chicken shish kebab) and Hawawshi (pita stuffed with minced meat and spices) at Marriot Mena House with a slight view of the pyramids (thank you moonlight) – visiting during the day must be beautiful.

The highlight of our Cairo stop is, of course, the Giza pyramids. 

We arranged a full-day tour with Real Egypt to visit Giza, Memphis and Saqqara in one day – it was a tiring day, but so rewarding.

The Giza Plateau is one of the most important and famous archaeological sites in the world, home to the Fourth Dynasty Giza Necropolis including the Great Pyramid of King Khufu, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still survives, and the Sphinx. 

Looking up at the Great Pyramid is a humbling experience. It is built from 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each one weighing on average more than a ton. Once completed at 146 metres high, it remained unsurpassed in height until modern times, when the Eiffel Tower claimed the top spot. Engineered and aligned with immense precision, its orientation to true north diverging only by one-twentieth of a degree, it has attracted wild speculation on theories to explain its bewildering size and perfection, including those insisting it is the work of visitors from another planet.

There is way too much interesting information to be told about the pyramids to do it justice here; read up or rent the services of an Egyptologist to make the most of your visit.

You can climb inside the Great Pyramid to the burial chamber against an extra fee (you will have to choose this when buying your ticket). However, if you’re claustrophobic or have mobility issues, I would give this one a miss. It is a very tight and low passageway, you will be walking hunched over and pushing against people coming the opposite way, and it is very hot in there. The burial chamber is empty save for the granite sarcophagus and you will be shooed out a few seconds after arrival. For me, it was a once in a lifetime experience to climb inside and I am very glad I did.

We were originally planning to eat at 9 Pyramids Lounge, where you can get a great view of the pyramids. However, this is a quite a touristy spot, and Real Egypt suggested they arrange a lunch for us Blue Lotus Farm near Saqqara, and we were very glad to have taken them up on their suggestion. This lovely woman cooked up a delicious, fresh spread for us – a whole buffet just for us. We also got to relax in their peaceful garden and feast on freshly picked dates.

Memphis is the oldest capital of ancient Egypt, now located within the boundaries of Mit Rahina village. Mit Rahina Museum is a largely open-air museum, built around a magnificent fallen colossal limestone statue of Ramses II. 

The Saqqara Necropolis is one of Egypt’s richest archaeological sites. Home to the 4,700-year-old Step Pyramid of King Djoser, Egypt’s oldest surviving pyramid that is about 200 years older than the pyramids at Giza, the site was used as a burial ground for more than 3,000 years. Walking inside Djoser’s pyramid is a far different experience; a leisurely stroll and entirely empty when we visited. There are various open tombs that you can visit, but excavations at Saqqara continue, and one can only imagine how many treasures still lie buried beneath the sand.

Another must-visit museum in Cairo is the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. The modern museum houses some magnificent artifacts, but its greatest draw is the Royal Mummies hall, displaying one of archeology’s greatest finds – the mummies of 22 of ancient Egypt’s kings and queens. The mummies were discovered discovered in two locations, the Royal Cache in Deir el-Bahari and the tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor (more on that later) and brought to rest in one place. This allows visitors to get pretty up close and personal with the mummies of some of the greatest pharaohs you will read and hear about during your time in Egypt, many of whom are impressively well-preserved. While I find the concept of exhibiting a corpse for public viewing somewhat disrespectful, there is no denying how interesting and unique an exhibition this is. We visited a few months after the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade, a remarkable event where the mummies were moved from their previous home in the Egyptian Museum (mentioned above) to their new resting spot – check out some highlights of the event here.

We also enjoyed a walk around the upscale Zamalek neighbourhood. While there, we had a delicious lunch at Zooba (please note the ‘original’ version of each dish means the dish stuffed in a pita; we weren’t told and ended up fishing out half our lunch from inside half a dozen pitas), followed by luscious ice cream or other delicious local desserts from Mandarine Koueider.



Aswan, a Nubian city on the Nile river almost a thousand kilometres south of Cairo, has been southern Egypt’s strategic and commercial gateway from ancient times. It’s an hour and 20 minutes’ flight from Cairo. We took an early morning flight and spent two nights in Aswan.

We stayed on Elephantine Island, the largest island in the area. It’s a very short ride from the mainland, via a small boat which goes back and forth every few minutes. You can ride for 5 EGP each time. The island is all dirt road, so not convenient for lugging suitcases. A popular hotel on Elephantine Island is the Movenpick, but we were on a budget and stayed at Bob Marley Guest House. It’s only suggested if you’re good with very basic accommodation, but the people are lovely and the rooftop is a great spot with delicious home-cooked food.

If budget isn’t an issue, you might wish to check out the historical Sofitel Legend Old Cataract, on the mainland. The beautiful hotel has welcomed important guests such as Winston Churchill, Tsar Nicholas II and Agatha Christie as she wrote ‘Death on the Nile’. We had dinner at Oriental Kebabgy there, although we were not too impressed with the food.

The Temple of Philae, dedicated to the goddess Isis, on Agilkia island was one of my favourite spots in Egypt. You’ll need a taxi ride to the Temple of Philae departing dock, where you’ll pay for your ticket, and will then be directed to a small boat to be ferried to the island (this comes at an extra cost). The temple was originally located on nearby Philae island, but this was completely submerged with the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The construction of the dam necessitated the removal of the island monuments to the nearby island of Agilika (it still baffles me how such feats are accomplished). Our lovely boat driver took us for a ride around the area to show us the island’s surroundings.

We also took a felucca from the other side of Elephantine Island to the Aswan Botanical Garden, encompassing the entire Kitchener Island. Nothing too grand compared to western parks, but a good way to while away some time in the shade of the trees.

Other sights of interest in Aswan include the Nubian Museum, which houses hundreds of artefacts collected over more than 60 expeditions to save Nubia’s relics from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, as well as the Unfinished Obelisk, the largest known ancient obelisk commissioned 1500 years B.C. – we did not manage to visit either. Aswan also has a large souk from where you can buy food and souvenirs – this we did visit, and haggled our hearts out.

One of our most looked-forward to stops was Abu Simbel, just under 300km from Aswan close to the border with Sudan. To get there, you can either fly with EgyptAir, join a tour bus or hire a private driver. We arranged a private driver through our B&B; the price for the trip there and back (and wait) cost 3000 EGP (about 90 Euro), which isn’t too bad a deal considering it’s a 2.5/3 hr drive each way. Thankfully, our car was a modern and luxurious one; I would not recommend the ramshackle taxis often used in Aswan itself for so long a journey. Word of caution; the drive is on a single-track road, with cars often overtaking the slower group buses, meaning some pretty close misses with oncoming traffic – sit back, relax, and close your eyes if this is unsettling for you. There will be one or two stops that you can make for a toilet break and to buy snacks and, or water.

If you can withstand the sun and sweltering heat (and yes, there will be plenty of this), you might wish to time your visit to arrive at Abu Simbel at around 11:30/12:00, when the tours will be departing. We did this and there was a point when we were the only people inside the temple; a peaceful and magical moment. Keep in mind that the road back to Aswan closes at night, but 2 to 3 hours are plenty to see the site.

If you have time to spare, you might wish to stay overnight in Abu Simbel town, enjoying the site in the peaceful hours of sunrise and, or sunset.

The journey is well-worth it. The historic site, comprising two massive rock-cut temples commissioned by Rameses II to commemorate his victory at the battle of Kadesh, is magnificent. 

The four colossal statues of Rameses in front of the main temple, along with the smaller figures of his wife Queen Nefertari and children, carved out of the mountainside, are spectacular examples of ancient Egyptian art. One of these figures collapsed during an ancient earthquake. The temple was built with such precision that on two days a year, the 22nd February and 22nd of October, the sun’s rays enter the temple and illuminate the innermost statues. These dates are thought to correspond to the coronation and birthday of Rameses II. The second temple to the north is dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari.

Like the Temple of Philae, both temples were entirely relocated from their original position to prevent them from being submerged with the creation of Lake Nasser.


Nile cruise – Aswan to Luxor

The next leg of our trip was a 3-night Nile dahabiya cruise with Real Egypt. This was a beautiful experience, with some discomforts.

Most tourists make the journey between Aswan and Luxor (or vice versa) on luxury cruisers, but we chose the authentic dahabiya, a (usually) two-mastered sailing boat in the form of a barge that was the norm for travelers on the Nile until the late 1800s. The history of the dahabiya goes back to Pharaonic times.

The pros: The choice of vessels afforded us a peaceful and authentic journey. We were lucky to have been 3 of a total of only 8 tourists on the boat (out of a 16-person capacity). That means that we had plenty of deck space to lounge and relax on our journey. Being on a small boat also allows you more flexibility (one night, the staff docked on a tiny island and set up a BBQ dinner there), not to mention accessing sites that some of the larger bosts don’t dock in (such as Gebel el-Silsila – see below). The tour allowed us to interact with the locals, have a glimpse at local life, and contribute our money towards villagers rather than large companies (see more below). There were more staff tending to us than there were travelers, and the service was second to none. We were lucky to be amongst a lovely and diverse group of fellow travelers, not to mention the incredible staff (communal eating is a great way to get to know other travelers, although it means you will need to ‘socialise’ at each meal, which might not be for everyone). The Egyptologist tour guide provided by Real Egypt for the duration of our stay was fantastic, and went out of his way to give us the best experience. The included three meals a day were freshly prepared, simple but delicious. The programme was just the right mix of stops for sightseeing and lounging time, allowing us to regain some of the strength lost over the first hectic days of our trip.

The cons: Electricity on the boat naturally requires a generator, which makes some noise. It is not too noticeable when you’re moving, but they switch it off at night for a calmer experience. That is when the air-conditioning switches off, and the reserve batteries instead allow you to operate the fan in your room. Unfortunately our cabin did not have an insect screen on the window, so opening was not an option unless we wanted to invite in the mosquitos. The issue is that the batteries did not last us all night, resulting in us waking up with the heat at around 5am. After a while, the staff would wake up and switch on the generator, but the situation did disrupt our sleep. Pair that with the sound of the water hitting the hull of the boat and light sleepers like myself will not have the best night’s sleep. The second thing to point out is that while a dahabiya is a sailing boat, whether you will sail or be pulled by a smaller reserve motorboat depends, of course, on the direction of the wind. The wind was against us on all our journey, but the crew still gave us a taste by opening the masts and sailing in the wrong direction for a while, a few times throughout the trip. if you’re lucky with the wind, I can tell you that the silence of sailing on the Nile is magnificent. 

Overall, those few days cruising the Nile were an experience I will cherish for a long time to come. If I had to do it again, I would choose the dahabiya once more.

Seeing the sun set on the Nile, lush greens flanked by desert sands on both sides, a steady breeze through my hair, as I sip on a cup of mint tea is one of those special moments that stand out for me when I look back over my life.

Along our journey, we visited Daraw. 

The Daraw Camel Market is one of the largest camel markets in Egypt, where camels imported from Sudan are sold, most for meat, some for transport. This visit might distress some people, but it also gives you the opportunity to see these impressive creatures up close en masse. 

Walking through the bustling Daraw town, including its marketplace, afforded us a look into everyday Egyptian life away from the larger cities. 

The highlight of the stop in Daraw was the impressive Kom Ombo Temple. This is an unusual ‘double temple’, with double designs (double halls, double sanctuaries etc.) since it is dedicated to two gods – the local crocodile-headed god Sobek, and the falcon-headed god Horus. Until very recently, the Nile was infested with crocodiles of which the ancient Egyptians were naturally scared, although they believed that if they worshipped the animal, it wouldn’t attack them. One of the highlights of the visit to this temple is the Crocodile Museum, where some of the many hundreds of mummified crocodiles found in the area are exhibited along with intriguing explanations.

We also enjoyed a short visit to Gebel el-Silsila, including the Temple of Haremhab, various tombs, and the ancient quarries, a stop which is not often visited by tourists, on the narrowest part of the Nile. The steep sandstone cliffs are cluttered with ancient reliefs and graffiti. The good quality sandstone quarries here were worked during the New Kingdom, when large teams cut out impressive blocks that were floated down the Nile as far as Luxor to be used in buildings such as Karnak Temple and the Ramesseum. 

Our stop on Bisaw island afforded me one of the best days ever. The island is inhabited by around 180 people, most not yet adults. We ate a traditional breakfast in a local home before walking around the island, meeting the locals and many cattle, and learning about their many species of trees and irrigation systems. We followed this with an idyllic row on the river with some local fisherman, where our job was to bang agains the boats to scatter the fish into their nets. We ‘helped’ catch 30 fish, which their families then dined on.

It was a gorgeous day, with a cool breeze, clear waters, and dragonflies, kingfishers and herons flying all around, and I felt entirely immersed in the beauty of Africa. These interactions and unique experiences with locals are, for me, the highlight of my travels. 

Another stop was the magnificent Temple of Horus at Edfu. The temple, dedicated to the falcon-headed god, is one of the best-preserved of the ancient Egyptian sanctuaries. This is because for many years, the structure was buried under almost 12 metres of desert sand and silt from the Nile, which helped to conserve it to near-perfection! The stupendous extensive walls carvings have provided historians with invaluable information on the religion, mythology and way of life during the Hellenistic era.

Upon disembarking in Luxor, the final stop was Esna Temple, dedicated to the ram-headed god Khnum, the god of creation. When we visited, an intense restoration project was underway, in order to clean the interior from so many years of dust and soot, revealing the magnificent original colours underneath.



Any visit to Egypt must include a visit to Luxor. Today’s Luxor sits on the site of ancient Thebes, the pharaohs’ capital at the height of their power in the 16th to 11th centuries B.C. The city today surrounds the two main surviving ancient monuments – Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple, linked by the 3 km-long Avenue of the Sphinxes. Across the Nile on the west bank one finds the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens amongst other treasures. We spent 3 nights there.

We stayed at Nefertiti Hotel. The rooms were comfortable, if basic (although the bathroom was less than ideal), but the hotel has a great rooftop overlooking Luxor temple serving good food, such as nice dips and fateer, and I even tried a camel burger there (tastes pretty similar to beef). You can visit the rooftop restaurant even if you’re not a hotel guest.

Our first visit was to the sprawling Karnak Temple. Amongst the impressive remaining structures, the cake is undoubtedly taken by the Great Hypostyle Hall – Sety I’s colossal forest of 134 giant sandstone columns, soaring to a height of 20 metres. The entire hall covers over 400 square metres, and was originally completely roofed.

The Avenue of the Sphinxes once contained 1057 statues – all pedestals, but only some of the statues, remain. You can make the walk along the avenue to visit Luxor Temple after Karnak Temple or vice versa. A word of caution, however – save for a few rest spots along the route, the avenue is open to the elements. That made our 2:00pm walk in the sun a very hot affair, but on a positive note, it appears that no one else is that crazy, meaning we had it all to ourselves.

The beautiful Luxor Temple was constructed over a period of hundreds of years by some of the greatest pharaohs, and it was the largest and most significant religious center in ancient Egypt. Amongst its most striking features one finds Amenhotep III’s Great Colonnade as well as Rameses II’s peristyle courtyard and massive pylon and obelisk.

A popular dinner spot that comes widely recommended in Luxor is Sofra Restaurant; the ambience was inviting, but the food was just ok.

The most intensive day of our trip was the one spent exploring Luxor’s West Bank. We arranged a day tour with Real Egypt for the benefit of a driver and tour guide. The latter adds a lot of value to the sites visited.

Our first stop was at Medinet Habu, built by Rameses III and dedicated to the god Amon. The stunning temple, with its magnificent, colourful hieroglyphics, is a great spot to explore on the west bank, one skipped by many tourists.

We also visited the popular and impressive mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt’s most powerful female pharaoh. Set amongst a tall canyon, this photogenic temple is a work of beautiful symmetry, and its unique, almost ‘modern’ style stands out amongst the other temples in Egypt.

Deir-el-Medina village is another important stop. This was the Egyptian’s workmen’s village, home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The documents found here (including marriage and divorce contracts, “police” reports and the like) provided historians with great insight into the everyday life of ancient Egyptians. The workmen worked on tombs for themselves and their families right next to their town. While inside decorations are simply painted, not carved (due to the softness of the limestone), the colours are immaculately preserved.

Naturally, we visited the Valley of the Kings – one of the most famous archeological sites in the world, the burial ground for kings and nobles from approximately 1539 to 1075 BC. 63 tombs have been found so far, of which 11 are open to the public.

The general entry ticket grants you access to your choice of 3 out of 8 of them. We paid extra to visit the 3 extra tombs – those of Tutankhamun, Rameses V and VI, and Seti I. The Tutankhamun tomb includes the boy king’s mummy, and is widely visited, with a low entry price. The other two tombs are not cheap in total, but it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. Such beautiful ancient art, on such a scale, is a magnificent thing to behold. It would be advisable to visit once the crowds aren’t thick; either early morning or early afternoon; some of the tombs were unbearably hot and the crowds that were present late morning certainly didn’t help, apart from the fact that detract from the experience. The ‘extra’ tombs were practically empty by the time we entered in the early afternoon.

We also made a stop over at the Valley of the Queens, to visit the Tomb of Nefertari, the great wife of Rameses II. This comes at a steep cost, is nowhere as impressive in scale as the tombs of Rameses V and VI and Seti I, and you can only visit for a few short minutes, but the tomb is one of the best preserved (if not the best preserved) in all of Egypt, with vivid colours and magnificent detail.

The Colossi of Memnon, the two giant stone statues of the Amenhotep III, standing at the front of the ruined mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III, were our final stop. We then enjoyed lunch at the authentic Queen Restaurant, right nearby, arranged by Real Egypt.

As part of our West Bank tour, we had also booked a sunrise hot air balloon ride with Real Egypt. There was an issue the night before our day trip – we were told that the sunrise journey was fully booked, and that we had been scheduled for a ride in the next time slot. Having booked months in advance, we insisted against this, and we managed to get a sunrise slot the next day. If you use Real Egypt to book, perhaps draw attention to this at time of booking. Sunrise is the most magical time to enjoy the flight, if you don’t mind the early wake up call. Since I am a nervous flyer, I was apprehensive about the whole thing, but it was a smooth ride and a magical experience looking down on Hatshepsut Temple and other sites of the West Bank from above as the sun rose.

Our final temple for the trip was the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, one of Egypt’s most well-preserved ancient temples. We arranged a private transfer with our hotel for the almost 2-hour trip. Most tourists do not make the trip here, and it was essentially empty when we visited. If you have the time, however, a visit is highly recommended. This is a very impressive building with intricate carvings, long climbing passageways, and some stunning blue colours. A truly beautiful place.

Thank you for coming along on our Egyptian adventure. If you have any questions, feel free to DM me or send me an email.

I hope you get to visit this fascinating country one day. Until the next one! K x