In this trip report, we make a grand tour of Egypt, visiting Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Alexandria by train and a cruise boat down the River Nile.
There are quite many countries where I want to travel to on my shortlist. Some of these countries are a bit more ambitious (Chile, New Zealand) while others are much closer to home.
One of such countries is Egypt, which I always wanted to visit because of its ancient history. There is just something fascinating about ancient Egyptian culture and all those mysterious pyramids and temples.
Of course, there is far more to see in the country than just ancient Egyptian stuff. Cairo used to be the main city of the Islamic world during much of the Medieval age and I always had the wish to take a boat down the River Nile.
Even though Egypt has always attracted me, I never managed to visit it as I always opted for other destinations further afield, knowing quite well that an Egyptian holiday is not too difficult to plan living relatively close by in Europe.
With many countries across the world being closed because of the ongoing corona virus pandemic, my attention shifted back to Egypt.
I contemplated travelling to countries such as Mexico or Tanzania which don’t have any special corona entry conditions, but eventually decided against it when many airlines started to slash intercontinental flights to Latin America and Africa or imposed additional testing requirements.
Egypt on the other hand looked absolutely doable. It’s only a short flight away from my home in Romania, the country is fully open for tourism and you only need a PCR test of maximum 72 hours before arrival to get in (96 hours even in case you’re travelling from the UK, Germany, France or the US and Canada).
In Bucharest there are dozens of special labs charging around 50-60 EUR for a PCR test, giving you the the result within 24 hours. Fortunately, I tested negative and I was all set to go!
It wasn’t too hard to puzzle together a good itinerary for my Egypt trip. I started off by booking a direct flight with TAROM from Bucharest to Cairo, which at 102 EUR was decently priced.
Unfortunately, TAROM currently only flies once a week to Egypt, which meant that I couldn’t really use them to fly back home as I planned to stay around 9 to 10 days in Egypt.
One-way flights back from Egypt to Romania were expensive, so I decided to redeem some of my Turkish Airlines miles for an award ticket instead.
For an economy class ticket Alexandria – Istanbul – Bucharest on Turkish I used 19,500 miles and had to pay around 90 USD in taxes. Not a great miles redemption, but it was still a lot cheaper than buying a full price ticket which would have set me back at least 300 euro.
Planning my tour of Egypt was also quite straightforward as I planned the trip around a river cruise I would make from Aswan to Luxor. After booking the cruise, I then planned in the rest of the days and bought my train tickets to cover the distances between the places I would visit.
The first three days I would spend in Cairo, giving me plenty of time to see the pyramids of Giza, explore the Islamic old town of Cairo and to admire the exhibits at the famous Egyptian Museum.
In the evening of day three, I would then take the sleeper train to Aswan, arriving in the morning on day four.
There, I would link up with my private guide for my Nile cruise downstream towards Luxor which would take four days (three nights).
I arranged the entire cruise package, as well as some additional side trips such as a visit to Abu Simbel, through Luxor & Aswan Travel Agency. With excellent communication before the trip, an absolute great and knowledgeable guide and perfectly arranged logistics, I can certainly recommend their services.
After the Nile cruise I would stay one night longer in Luxor, from where I would return back to Cairo by daytime train. I added two more nights in Cairo so I had the time to visit some lesser known sights in the area such as the pyramids at Saqqara and Dahshur, as well as the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.
From Cairo I would again travel by train to my final stop of my grand tour of Egypt: the historic port city of Alexandria.
In this ‘Walk Like an Egyptian: A Grand Tour of Egypt’ trip report, you can expect the following highlights:
– Seeing a dozen pyramids from Giza to Saqqara and Dahshur
– Some lovely journeys by train across Egypt
– A magnificent cruise along the River Nile
– Exploring the Nubian villages of Aswan
– Visiting the great temples and tombs of Abu Simbel and Luxor
– Staying at two magnificent Sofitel hotels (Nile El Gezirah in Cairo, Winter Palace in Luxor)
In the next couple of weeks, I will detail every aspect of my trip to Egypt in individual chapters. You can find the trip report index below with links to each individual instalment.
In those chapters, I will not only show all the magnificent sights of Egypt and the historic and archaeological details behind them, but will also explain more about the logistical side behind the trip.
Hopefully it will inspire others and be of some help to those who want to plan or arrange a similar trip to Egypt! So let’s cue in the music – and join me on my Grand Tour of Egypt!
Trip report index
This Egypt trip report consists of the following chapters:
1. Red-Eye Ramblings of a Late Night Flight to Cairo
2. A Visit to the Pyramids of Giza by Camel
3. Review: Sofitel Nile El Gezirah, Zamalek, Cairo
4. Exploring the Medieval Old Town and Islamic History of Cairo
5. Visiting the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo
6. Mar Girgis: The Churches of Christian Old Cairo
7. Review: Ernst Watania Sleeping Train Cairo to Aswan
8. The Ancient Quarry of Aswan and the Unfinished Obelisk
9. A Boat Ride From Aswan to the Temple of Isis at Philae
10. A Visit to the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser
** rest of the chapters to follow soon **