Walk Like an Egyptian: A Grand Tour of Egypt

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.

Egypt

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.

nile sunrise egypt holiday
Sunrise over the River Nile. ©Paliparan

PCR test

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!

pcr test lab corona
One of the dozens of PCR test labs in Bucharest. ©Paliparan

Flights

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.

egypt trip flights
From Bucharest (OTP) I would fly directly to Cairo (CAI). The return journey would be from Alexandria (HBE) via Istanbul (IST) back to Bucharest. ©Great Circle Mapper

Itinerary

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.

grand tour egypt
My grand tour of Egypt would take me along the most famous sights along the Nile from Aswan in the south to Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea. ©MapHub

Highlights

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)

pyramids giza egypt koen camel
A camel ride at the pyramids of Giza. ©Paliparan
abu simbel egypt
The famous temple of Abu Simbel – which I had all to myself! ©Paliparan
sofitel cairo swimming pool
Relaxing at the Sofitel in Cairo. ©Paliparan
egypt night train koen
Travelling in style on an Egyptian night train. ©Paliparan
qalawun mausoleum cairo
The magnificent Mirhab inside the Qalawun mausoleum in Cairo. ©Paliparan

Travel along

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

** rest of the chapters to follow soon **

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

2 thoughts on “Walk Like an Egyptian: A Grand Tour of Egypt

  • April 23, 2021 at 12:59 pm
    Permalink

    Looks amazing. Looking forward to the full trip report.

    Reply
    • May 8, 2021 at 4:34 pm
      Permalink

      Would love to be taking this trip! Always been fascinated with ancient Egypt!

      Reply

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