Egypt

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Egypt – 5 Weeks

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8. Egypt

Our Route around Egypt

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I went to Egypt because I wanted to take my little brother away somewhere special to celebrate him finishing school and at the same time fuel my growing fascination with ancient civilisations and although ancient monuments and temples dominated our itinerary there was plenty more to see.

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It was a 5 week trip which began when we arrived in Cairo on the 29th of June 2010, the night before my 31st birthday. We spent a couple of days in the capital acclimatizing to the heat, the prices and the hectic pace of city life. From Cairo we travelled into the desert stopping at Bahariya Oasis to spend a couple of days enjoying the White Desert area. We also saw the Black desert (an area with tarnished black rock), crystal mountain (an area with crystalline rocks and a natural arch), then we camped in the white desert national park with its amazing mushroom shaped chalk rock formations. We camped that night under an amazingly starry night, the milky way was as clear as I’ve ever seen it, and we were visited by a few little desert foxes with their massive ears. In Bahariya Oasis we met a really friendly farmer who was really keen to show us his land and his crops, he ended up giving us a bag of grapes, dates and some kind of figs and his fresh watermelon was so friking tasty.

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The black desert hillocks

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The mushroom shaped rocks

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The White Desert

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The White Desert sunset

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The Big eared Fox

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Our generous farmer friend

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The Muzawaka mummies

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The policemen who invited us in for lunch

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From Bahariya we went to another oasis called Dakhla, from where we visited the Muzawaka tombs with their mummified Romans and sheep. The curator of these tombs seemed so happy to have some visitors that he sat us down, gave us tea, we smoked some sheesha and then played dominos for what seemed like hours. In this oasis we also visited Al-Qasr, an 11th century mud town with a really cool mosque and little mud buildings and it was here that we were invited to have lunch with a local policeman and his family who were very inquisitive and keen to have their photos taken.

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From Dakhla we spent 16 hours traveling to Luxor where we walked along the Nile, visited the Luxor temple, the simply massive Karnak temple and also flew over the Valley of the Kings in a hot-air balloon. The ballooning was amazing, we got really lucky and had an extended flight as the captain couldn’t find anywhere to land – this worked for us as we got to see the valley of the kings area, the sun-rise, we flew over little villages and farmland, over the Nile and then over the city of Luxor with its plentiful mosques. It was an amazing experience and a big thank you to those who made it possible.

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Hieroglyphs at Karnak

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The Karnak Obelisks

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Karnak Temple

 

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Filling the balloon with hot air

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Up, up and away

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Floating over the Nile

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Floating over Luxor

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From Luxor we took the train to Aswan for a couple of days before sailing down the Nile in a felucca. From Aswan we visited the Philae temple which had to be moved from Philae island to another nearby island due to flooding caused by the creation of a dam. Amazing to see the reconstruction and impressive how they moved it, labeling all the pieces of a massive puzzle with metallic labels. There was some nice hieroglyphics and I thought it interesting to see the stamps left by the early Christians who defaced the ruins not long after Jesus walked the earth, if he did.

8. Luxor

Map of the Upper Nile Area

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The felucca

 

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Exchanging garments

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From Aswan we left in a Felucca and spent 2 days admiring the scenery while floating downstream towards Luxor.It was interesting to see how important the Nile is to Egypt, I’d always heard people say it is the life blood of the country and travelling through you could see how the vast majority of the population lived close to the Nile. We decided not to visit the temples of Edfu or Kom Ombo as we didn’t want to become sick of temples before we visited the Valley of the Kings. We got to go inside 3 tombs in the valley itself to observe the impressive hieroglyphics and then we visited the Hatshepsut Temple, also with impressive hieroglypics. The heat in Luxor was intense so we left that day on a bus to Dahab, on the Sinai Peninsula, to relax on the beach for my brothers last week. Here we chilled, doing some kite flying, some beer drinking and I did a couple of dives at “Blue Hole” and “The Canyon”.

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Me steering the felucca

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My bro tasting apple sheesha

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The wind was so strong it snapped the strings

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After Dahab we returned to Cairo to meet my girlfriend Steph and we used her first day and Matt’s last to visit the Pyramids at Giza, Saqqara and Dahsur. I ate my Egyptian Flakes at the massive Giza pyramid then we took a look at the Step-pyramid at Saqqara, believed to be the oldest of the pyramids and a prototype for the later versions. At Dahsur we were able to go deep down under the Red Pyramid, sliding down a passage less than a metre in height to get to chambers that seemed to resonate sound.

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Arriving on the Giza Plateau

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Corn Flake time

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Me and my brother going under the Red pyramid

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The Bent Pyramid of Dashur

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Me and Steph dropped my brother at the airport then went straight to Alexandria on the train, enjoying the A.C in first class. In Alexandria we spent 6 days relaxing and we went on a horse ride, went to Cleopatra’s Palace to dive the underwater ruins and we got drunk with the locals.

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Riding a horse and carriage

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Steph dancing with the locals

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It was a fantastic trip but just a sample of a country that I will have to visit again.

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For More Details

My Travel Blog Link

For a look at this trip with bigger photos

Egypt

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My Book Link

diary extracts from this trip and all the other trips I went on in my 1st 10 years

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i also wrote an article about this trip for the United Networker Magazine

Spain Pages 1 + 2

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