Egypt Unveiled: A Journey through Time
Beyond the ancient pyramids and bustling markets, Egypt’s historic land offers an array of ancient archaeological sites, activities for adrenaline junkies and intrepid explorers. From diving in the Red Sea to trekking through ancient archaeological discoveries, its diverse landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable adventure travel experience. No matter how much time you have to spend in Egypt, it feels truly impossible to run out of wonders to explore.
Navigating the Nile
The Nile River is a must see in Egypt. You can travel along the Nile in a few different ways, allowing you to see more or less depending on your time and budget. Kayaking or paddling along the gentle currents offers an active but peaceful way to see ancient temples and lush greenery far removed from the bustling tourist attractions. Multi-day kayaking expeditions allow for deeper exploration of the river’s banks, where traditional villages and local communities offer a glimpse into daily life along the Nile.
Personally, we chose to do a small cruise tour. Given the expansive itinerary in only 4 days, I would say it was absolutely the best part of my time in Egypt. If you’d like to read my full review on the trip, go here! The cruise includes a private tour guide through several temples including the famous Abu Simbel, a traditional Nubian village, a hot air balloon ride about the Vally of the Kings, and more. I thought the best Nile Cruise of Egypt was through iEgypt, so definitely check them out when you’re there! If you choose to do this option, I’d say it can fit really well at either the beginning or ending of the trip. One thing to be aware of is that the tour guides will often include local shops and business in the trip. They can be a bit pushy when it comes to you buying something, so if this is something you’d like to avoid it may be worth going on the cruise without a guide for the local sites.
Transcending Time: Visiting Egypt’s Pyramids
Visiting the iconic pyramids in Egypt is a journey that captivates the imagination as you walk through these historic pieces. Constructed over 4,500 years ago, these marvels of engineering and architecture continue to stand as a testament to the ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians. The Great Pyramid remains one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is an enigmatic monument that has beckoned travelers, historians, and explorers for centuries. As you explore the sprawling complex, you’re immersed in the rich history of a civilization that mastered the art of building monumental structures aligned with the cosmos. Most of the pyramids are closed for public walkthrough, but you’re able to go into the Great Pyramid if you’d like. When I did this, it was about $20 more to do this as opposed to just walking around outside. It’s a pretty small portion of the pyramid that you’re able to explore, but I personally thought that it was worth it just given how unique of an opportunity this is.
Seeing the pyramids from afar can honestly be just as incredible. There’s a number of hostels that you can stay at nearby that offer excellent views. We chose to stay at the Pyramid Hills View, it was fantastic. Not only was the staff amazing (after I left my bag in a taxi that had left, they called the company and arranged the driver to come back so they could get my stuff!), but the breakfast and tour options were fantastic. The best part though really was the views. Beginning and ending the day by eating on the rooftop and watching the pyramids, which we could also see from our bedroom window) was incredibly surreal.
As with the businesses you’re taken to on the Nile Cruise, there are also plenty of people outside the pyramids trying to sell you everything from rides on a camel to bracelets, necklaces, and more. They can be quite pushy, so if its something that you’re not interested then I suggest just continuing to walk when they speak with you. Though I felt rude not acknowledging people sometimes, I noticed that often times when I tried to politely decline it just encouraged them to follow me and keep trying.
Unveiling the Desert Mistique
Egypt’s deserts hold an air of mystery and intrigue that beckons adventure seekers. The sprawling Sahara Desert, with its rolling sand dunes and otherworldly landscapes, offers a unique opportunity for desert treks. The White Desert, named for its chalky rock formations, presents an ethereal setting that feels straight out of a sci-fi movie. Guided expeditions allow travelers to camp under the star-studded skies, discovering the quiet beauty of the desert at sunrise and sunset. The weather does cool down quite a bit, but even for someone like myself who is perpetually cold, I found that it was surprisingly comfortable at night. Star gazing here in the isolated desert is absolutely breathtaking, so if that’s something that peaks your interest then be sure to fit it into your time here! During the day, sandboarding down dunes and navigating through ancient oases are just a few of the options you can take advantage of during your time here.
Diving into the Depths of the Red Sea
Beneath the waves of the Red Sea is some pretty stellar diving with vibrant marine life and colorful coral reefs. World renown, it is a haven for divers and snorkelers. Dahab, Hurghada, and Sharm El Sheikh are the three diving hot spots that offer plenty of underwater adventures. Any of these locations will be sure to take your breath away, but if you’re looking for something in particular in can be helpful to know the little variations.
Dahab alone is hailed for being one of the top diving locations in the world. Located there is the Blue Hole, a type of cave that is approximately 130 meters deep. It is also teaming with coral and fish, making each new dive and unique as the last one. Because it is protected from waves and currents, it is an especially popular place for freediving. Instructors and expats alike are abundant there, and if freediving is something that interests you then you would be hard-pressed to find a better location like this to learn in. Whether you have a passing interest or are a well-established diver, I would recommend booking through Freedive Dahab!
Hurghada is another highly valued diving region along the Red Sea. With introductory and advanced diving courses, wreck diving, night diving, and an explosive wildlife, its not hard to see why many people choose to make this their diving hub when visiting Egypt. Hurghada can easily become the focal region for an entire trip as well considering the amount of dive resorts you can choose to stay at. Dive Hurghada is a great company to help you make the most of your time there, offering both day trips and liveaboards!
Dahab is fantastic for freediving and Hurghada offers extensive day trips and wreck diving, but Sharm El Sheikh also boasts an impressive set of sites to see. Some wreck dives that are accessible from Hurghada are also accessible from Sharm El Sheikh, but more dives in this region have clearer waters with fewer people. Fewer resorts and tourism may mean more intimate dives and greater chances to see wildlife that isn’t scared off by a higher number of visitors. Circle Divers is a great organization whether you’d like to increase your dive certifications or just for a day trip to one of the local dive sites!
Preserving the Past: Desert Conservation Projects
Traveling to Egypt doesn’t have to mean leaving a negative impact on the environment. Egypt has seen the rise of ecotourism initiatives and conservation projects aimed at preserving its unique landscapes and cultural heritage. Travelers can actively participate in programs that promote sustainable tourism such as desert clean-up activities, wildlife preservation, supporting initiatives that protect the ecosystems of the desert and the Red Sea, and more. There’s a huge number and variety of volunteer opportunities, so if there’s something interests you I highly recommend checking out different options that you can fit into your time there!
Important Egypt Travel Requirements
In regard to Egypt, entry requirements can vary depending on the country that you’re coming from. The country has been fairly stable for the past several years, but its always a good rule of thumb to check your government’s travel advisories before planning a new trip somewhere. Be sure to ensure that your passport is valid for 6 months past your planned travel time. Most foreign nationals will also need to obtain a visa as well. This can be obtained upon entry or you can apply for an e-visa before you leave your home country. I’d recommend this option if you’re able to utilize it just to cut down on wait times once you’re in Egypt!
The currency used in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), so it can be helpful to exchange currency before departing or upon arrival. Card is accepted in many places, but there were quite a few markets that did not. Many places also charge an extra 3-5% surcharge for card, so it’s a smart idea to have at least some cash handy. Since I have a travel card that does not charge for foreign withdrawals, I also found that withdrawing cash at ATMs there was the cheapest method to get cash without worrying about the exchange desks.
As always, while travel insurance isn’t required, I do highly recommend it. Especially in a world post pandemic, its important to have the security of your finances being covered should something unexpected happen. It can provide coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and more.
Women Traveling Egypt
The Middle East in general is fairly conservative, so it is beneficial to be aware of this when choosing clothes to pack. Many of the tourist areas will have people dressing in fashion of all kinds, but I’ve found that being respectful of the culture and having clothes that cover at least the shoulders and knees is the best way to have a positive reception with the locals. My friend and I recognized a noticeable difference between stares and feelings of safety when we wore opposing clothes, so while it is always your choice, its something to keep in mind.
Overall, I felt very safe traveling around Egypt. Everyone was very friendly and eager to share their beautiful country. The best rule of thumb is, of course, if something feels off to you then listen to your gut and remove yourself from the situation as best you can. If you do not feel safe going by yourself, group travel tours are always an option! They’re also a fantastic way to meet people. Checking out Facebook groups like Women Who Travel or tour companies can be a great way to see the country while also meeting friends along the way!
Egypt’s allure as a destination for adventure travel is undeniable. From the timeless wonders of the desert to the vibrant underwater realms of the Red Sea, this country offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to the thrill-seeker within us all. Beyond the well-trodden path of historical sites, Egypt’s natural beauty and adventurous spirit beckon those who are willing to explore beyond their comfort zone. So, whether you’re diving into the depths of the Red Sea, scaling the heights of Sinai, or exploring historic archaeological treasures, Egypt promises an adventure of a lifetime that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a newfound appreciation for the wonders of this ancient land.